Interview with Colin Cunningham of "Falling Skies" on TNT - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Colin Cunningham

Interview with Colin Cunningham of "Falling Skies" on TNT 7/20/11.

I really enjoyed this call. Colin was very kind and really funny. If you watch the show, you know that he is one of the best things about it, and I was not kidding about that when I spoke to him below. I look forward to seeing what else he can do. He's certainly busy!

Moderator: Wendy Levison
July 20, 2011
1:30 pm CT

Operator: Good day and welcome to the Turner Entertainment-hosted Colin Cunningham conference call. Today's conference is being recorded.

At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Ms. Wendy Levison. Please go ahead.

Wendy Levison: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining the Colin Cunningham "Falling Skies" conference call. "Falling Skies" is currently airing on TNT Sunday nights at 10 p.m. Eastern.

The conference call is now open for questions. Please press star, one to ask a question. Thank you.

Operator: At this time if you would like to ask a question, please press the star and one on your touch-tone telephone. You may withdraw your question at any time by pressing the pound key. Once again to ask a question, please press the star and one on your touch-tone phone and we'll wait for questions to queue.

Colin Cunningham: I have a question. Why isn't anybody asking me any questions?


Operator: And our first question comes from Jamie Steinberg. Please go ahead.

Jamie Steinberg: Hi, it's a pleasure to speak with you.

Colin Cunningham: Hi, nice this is really weird for me. It all seems so robotic.

Jamie Steinberg: Well ((inaudible))

Colin Cunningham: And weird. Anyway, I'm sorry, what's your name?

Jamie Steinberg: Jamie.

Colin Cunningham: Hi, Jamie. Thank you for your question. What is it? You there, Jamie? Hello? Hello?

Wendy Levison: Hi, Colin, I'm here. Hold on. I think we're having some technical difficulties. This is crazy. Hold on.

Colin Cunningham: No problem.

Operator: Okay, we'll take our next question from Suzanne Lanoue. Suzanne, please go ahead.

Suzanne Lanoue: Well, hi. Nice to speak with you today.

Colin Cunningham: Hi, Suzanne, you, too. I hope you're well. Good morning.

Suzanne Lanoue: Thank you, you, too. Well, it's afternoon here on the East Coast, but good morning to you.

Colin Cunningham: Ah.

Suzanne Lanoue: So congratulations on the show being picked up for second season.

Colin Cunningham: Well, thank you very much.

Suzanne Lanoue: Any reaction to that?

Colin Cunningham: What's that?

Suzanne Lanoue: Any reaction to that, beyond just...

Colin Cunningham: Yes, well, I'm incredibly look, I mean, yes, I'm grateful. You know what? Yes, here's my reaction to being picked up. I'm still trying to get over the fact that I even, you know, shot the first season, that I even got the audition, you know, let alone got the part, let alone actually got on set and shot a scene that didn't end up on the editing room floor. For me, that's still I'm still trying to just sink all that in, you know? I mean, I'm working with on a Spielberg project with TNT and DreamWorks, and I'm still trying to get over that. So when all that sinks in, I'll start thinking about the fact that we've been picked up and do it again.

Suzanne Lanoue: Well, I'm sure it's pretty normal for actors to be insecure and be grateful for any job they get, but let me tell you, your character and the work you do on it is the best thing about the show, no question.

Colin Cunningham: Oh, wow. Hey, thank you, I appreciate that. And everybody's working well, you know, I've got to hand it to the writers. I mean, they wrote somebody really cool, and I'm so blessed that I'm able to show up and you know, and put on my rubber noses and make it happen. It's great.

Suzanne Lanoue: Yes, no, it's great. And ((inaudible)) upcoming episodes ((inaudible)) not everybody has seen yet, your character makes a spectacular turn of events happen, and that was awesome to see, because you sort of forgot about him for a while, he went away, and it's like, oh, good, he's back.

Colin Cunningham: Oh, no, thank you. I appreciate that. I actually just I usually know when somebody's blowing smoke, even if it's a reporter, you know, so...

Suzanne Lanoue: Oh, no, no, I'm not.

Colin Cunningham: I take you as being a very earnest person, so thank you.

Suzanne Lanoue: No, thank you. I enjoy the show and all. I love any science fiction. But it's like, when your character shows, it's like, oh, good, someone different, you know? It's like...

Colin Cunningham: Right.

Suzanne Lanoue: ... oh, kind of a bad guy, but an interesting, you know, charismatic, intelligent bad guy, and it was really great, the interplay between your characters. So I loved all that. Great.

Colin Cunningham: Oh, thank you.

Suzanne Lanoue: But I don't mean to just gush. Sorry.

Colin Cunningham: No, hey, cool, man. I'm excited, too. I think it's wonderful. Just even last night, I was just saying we did a screening at a place here, and it was the first time that the cast all sat in a panel and then had all the you know, the audience essentially made up of fans new fans of the show, and it was all of a sudden, it was like, wow, there's it was really neat, the first time I'd ever seen people you know, fans of the show. It wasn't just a screening for TNT people. It was like regular people coming to see it and ask questions, and it was like, wow, this is really, really cool, you know?

Suzanne Lanoue: Oh, that's great, yes, because ((inaudible)) immediate interaction like you would in a play when you're on TV, right?

Colin Cunningham: Yes, it was just really neat. And I was saying to (Chrissy), the TNT publicist, that when everybody you know, when they finish with the Q&A, they said, okay, well, that's it, and everybody immediately got up off of their chairs. And I thought, oh, Jesus, boy, we went on way too long, like they're all running for their cars, you know, like, we're out of here. Instead, they came up to the stage to ask for autographs. I thought everybody was leaving to go home.

Suzanne Lanoue: Oh, no. That's funny. So you have another TV show coming on TNT?

Colin Cunningham: I've got a couple of them. Right now, I'm also a lead on a TV show on HBO called "Living in Your Car." It's an HBO Canada series called "Living in Your Car." And I'm a lead on that, as well. And I also did I'm also recurring on CBS's "Flashpoint." I play Hugh Dillon's brother.

Suzanne Lanoue: Right.

Colin Cunningham: And then also, I did another TNT pilot this year called "Perception" with Eric McCormack, so it's been a really busy year for me. It's been wonderful. In fact, if anything, when I was shooting "Falling Skies," I was shooting my other show on the weekends, and I was working seven days a week. It was really intense.

Suzanne Lanoue: Wow. So are you getting recognized now more when you go out or...

Colin Cunningham: No, and that's perfectly fine by me. It's kind of what I do. Look, I've never been a big fan of just my face. And all my you know, I'm a character actor. All my favorite actors are character actors. So, you know, on the show, I've got very, very long hair. That's all extensions and all sorts of stuff, and I've got a full beard, and I've got I'm covered in tattoos, whereas I've got short blonde hair in real life, and I'm clean-shaven.

So if anything, it's great, because people can appreciate the show, and yet I can still have my, you know, anonymity, which is great, because it's always much more fun to me to go to a park and watch people than to go to a park and have people watching me. So I'm able to keep my life the way I like it, but also do what I love to do. It's kind of cool.

Suzanne Lanoue: Oh, well, that's great. And, yes, they kind of made you look like Jesus almost when you first came on the show. It's like, oh, motorcycle gang Jesus.

Colin Cunningham: You know what? It's great, but I've literally got I've got well, I guess I call it my tackle box. It's a big, gigantic make up kit, actually, and it opens, and when you open it up, the lights come on, and I've got contact lenses and different dentures to change my teeth. And I've got at least three different wigs that I'll use, because, again, you know, I'm an actor. I like to do different things. I can't I'm not a big fan of just showing up and looking like me. It doesn't do much for me, you know?

Suzanne Lanoue: Well, that's great. And I'll let somebody else ask some questions, but thanks very much.

Colin Cunningham: No, thank you very much. Have a great afternoon.

Operator: And it looks like we'll take our next question from the site of Jamie Steinberg. Please go ahead.

Jamie Steinberg: Can you hear me now?

Colin Cunningham: Hey, Jamie, how are you?

Jamie Steinberg: Good. I guess my call before got a little muffled, so I appreciate you speaking with me.

Colin Cunningham: Not at all. I appreciate your time. Thank you.

Jamie Steinberg: What it is about this particular show that made you say you had to do it?

Colin Cunningham: Well, it wasn't me that said I had to do it. It was my landlord. But, well, I'll tell you. Here's it was interesting. Sort of the story with my audition, I never ask what it is. I never ask, because if it's a little thing, just some little nothing thing, then I don't want to get lazy. I want to go in there and do the best job that I can. And if it's a big, gigantic thing, I don't want to freak out or become intimidated, you know?

So I never ask. If anything, I said, well, what is it? And it's like, oh, well, it's an alien thing. I'm like, okay, great, it's an alien thing. So but during the for the audition, I went in ((inaudible)) guns. You know, it wasn't too much of a description of the character, but I went in there with ((inaudible)) short blonde hair, but being the kind of actor that I am, I love I love getting into character.

So I definitely ended up doing dark hair and extensions and all sorts of stuff. And I grew my goatee out, my beard, and I put tattoos all over me, so essentially I went into the audition looking like John Pope, the John Pope you see on TV. It really wasn't a whole lot of a much of a difference. So and I just thought, wow, what an incredible part. And it wasn't until I think I got the call back that my agent said, you know, Colin, do you know what this is? I'm like, yes, it's an alien thing. He said, well, it's DreamWorks. And I said, DreamWorks? You mean like Steven Spielberg DreamWorks? He says, yes, this is an TNT project with Spielberg. And I was like, holy crap.

So if anything, I'm really glad that I didn't know that going in, because I may have completely screwed it up. You'd have Rob Schneider playing Pope.

Jamie Steinberg: Yes, right. Well, there's such great chemistry between you and Noah, a great animosity between you.

Colin Cunningham: I'll tell you, Noah's amazing. When we shot all that dialogue, like his Noah Wyle's character, his the entire motivation was to get me talking and to keep me talking so he can get he can pull a gun and essentially kill me, you know? And Noah's an amazing actor. He really is. I was not only, you know, grateful for the help that he gave me, but just he's just a consummate professional. He's such a great actor.

And we worked on those scenes, you know? And I'd ask him for, you know, some ideas or what do you think of this? And what do you think of that? So and he was always very, very he's an incredibly generous actor. He's not a, "No, it's all got to be about me," or any of that crap. He's incredible to work with, and he really is the I guess he really raises the bar on the show. You know, the tone of the show is you know, he's the lead guy on the show, but he also is well, he's just a great representative. We all you know, he shows up. He's so prepared, and he's so good, he just inspires everybody else to be just even better, you know?

Jamie Steinberg: What's the hardest part of filming for you?

Colin Cunningham: Hardest part of this particular show is because it's television, you're lucky to get one take. I mean, that's it. You get one crack at it, because there's so you've got to move. Especially with this show, there's so much money involved that you may have 200 extras in the background, and they've all got weapons and wardrobe and make-up. And there's cars moving and things are being coordinated and motorcycles. And this is all in the background, and all you and I have let's just say it's a couple of lines going back and forth. Well, that may take 12 hours to set up, and if you screw up your lines, they've got to redo 200 people and re-mark everybody, bring the trucks back around. So there can be tremendous pressure. You don't have the luxury of really rehearsing and getting into it.

So that's really, really hard. And if anything, again, that's where Noah Wyle really impresses me, at how his choices that he makes and the economy and how fast he can get where he needs to be because, again, you're looking at all these everything with Noah ((inaudible)) with me, it's one take. And it's very difficult to do, because sometimes you just need to do one to get warmed up, you know what I mean? And we're not often afforded that luxury.

Jamie Steinberg: Well, why do you think people tune in to watch "Falling Skies" then?

Colin Cunningham: Well, hopefully because, you know, it doesn't suck, you know? Hopefully because it's good. I think there's two reasons. Number one, it is epic. It's huge. It's a big, giant show. I mean, it's not two people sitting on a couch sitcom kind of thing or it doesn't take place at the cop shop, you know, at the police headquarters, and it's a gigantic stage.

The other reason is the small part of it, and that is the characters, just the people themselves. I don't think people are tuning in you know, the trick with a successful show is, a sci-fi show is people don't tune in to see the aliens. They tune in to experience the stories and to get to know the characters, and then the aliens and all that other stuff is a perk.

And hopefully that's well, that's why I'd tune in, anyway. I think it's a wonderful show.

Jamie Steinberg: I agree. And apparently the critics do, too. Thank you so much for your time.

Colin Cunningham: Oh, thank you for your time. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

Operator: And once again, to ask a question, please hit the star and one on your touch-tone phone.

Colin Cunningham: Except for me. I can't do that.

Operator: And we will take our next question from Courtney Cashman. Please go ahead.

Courtney Cashman: Hi, it's a pleasure talking with you today.

Colin Cunningham: Hey, Courtney, you, too. Hello. Where are you?

Courtney Cashman: I'm in Boston, actually.

Colin Cunningham: In Boston. Oh, my god.

Courtney Cashman: Yes, I was going to ask you, have you had an opportunity to see Boston before an alien attack?

Colin Cunningham: No, I haven't. I haven't. I would love to see Boston. I really, really would. About the closest I ever got to Boston was in Toronto they locked down a freeway, like two miles of freeway, and they filled it with buses that had been tipped over and semi-trucks on fire and cars smashed into each other, but the sign on the bridge, it said, "Boston, one mile." And that's pretty close. It's as close as I've gotten yet.

Courtney Cashman: Well, we'd love to have you over on this side of the world.

Colin Cunningham: Sure. I'd love it.

Courtney Cashman: So I'm wondering if you had any bad guy role models that you kind of tried to slip in a little of them into John Pope?

Colin Cunningham: Well, yes ((inaudible)) person that comes to mind, actually, it wasn't so much bad guy, but I thought this guy has it's a word you don't often hear all that much anymore at the least character to me was charisma. There's something charismatic about him. And it's not a word that's often attributed to too many actors out there, except for one that I know of is Peter Falk, God rest his soul. But Peter Falk I'm a big Cassavetes fan. And Peter had charisma. There was just something about the swagger, the just his vibe, you know, because it's not an easily definable ((inaudible))

And so that was important to me, because bad guy, schmad guy, you know? And any smart actor naturally isn't going to play him as a bad guy. He's going to that's already done. The writers have already done that, you know? So for me, it was about trying to find something different about him. What is he? You know, he's kind of part Shakespeare's, you know, Puck. And on the other side, you know, he's you know, he's (Rector Howe). Or I don't know.

But so for me, it was about trying to find something that was different. And so much of that was already in the writing. He's so intelligent. He's so smart. He's articulate. He's an opportunist. He's incredibly selfish. But I think in another lifetime, if John Pope had you know, I can almost see John Pope and Tom Mason being best friends in school, in elementary school, and then, because of different choices in life, they ended up taking different paths, you know?

Courtney Cashman: Yes. Well, I'm also curious about John Pope's relationship with Margaret. Clearly, they've had a rough patch, and she did kill John Pope's brother. Are we going to see any sort of more tension, maybe even worse, in the episodes to come?

Colin Cunningham: I really hope so. I really hope so. It was interesting that there I was waiting for it and hoping for it, but there finally was a scene because basically throughout the entire season, those two never really talk. And I thought, wow, are they ever going to do something with this? And finally, I believe it's either I think it may be the last episode, it's either eight or nine or nine or ten, where we do have a scene. And so I know that the writers don't forget, you know?

But, yes, I think that's I would love to explore that relationship. Sarah Carter is amazing, you know, in the role, but it was interesting, because so much is not said. I mean, was John Pope a part of the (nastiness) before? You know, because it was never entirely clear.

I would for me you know, Sarah may have a different opinion but I would say absolutely not. I don't I think if Pope had have been there when that bit of nastiness was going on, it would have stopped. It would have ended. I think that that was that's something he does he wouldn't be a part of.

That said, I do believe that he knew about it or found out about it and chose to do nothing, because you're in a war situation, and still there's still strength in numbers, and it's unfortunate that you've got to fill your numbers with basically people who are garbage for the sake of being able to fight these aliens. And, you know, I mean, war creates strange bedfellows, you know?

Courtney Cashman: Well, I'm a big fan of the show, big fan of John Pope in particular, any scene he's in, so I'm looking forward to seeing more.

Colin Cunningham: Oh, thank you, me, too. I just I'm just I'm grateful for well, I'm just grateful for your time. You know, thanks. I know that it's kind of your job and stuff, but it's still is you know, people's time is important, and I appreciate your wanting to talk to me.

Courtney Cashman: Thanks.

Colin Cunningham: Thank you.

Operator: And this concludes today's question-and-answer session. It is now my pleasure to turn the call back over to Ms. Levison for any closing remarks. Go ahead, please.

Wendy Levison: Thank you, everyone, for joining today's call. As a reminder, "Falling Skies" airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. Eastern on TNT. The transcript of this call will be available within 24 hours.

Thank you so much, Colin, for joining us, and thank you, everyone, for participating.

Colin Cunningham: Thanks, everybody ((inaudible))

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