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Interview with Connor Jessup of "Falling Skies" on TNT 8/11/11.
Suzanne: How do you think Ben feels about having been taken by aliens?
Ben: Ben feels a lot of things to say the least. A lot of it is hard to put
into words, maybe because there are so many conflicting things or because
I don't even know myself, but I would say that he is primarily deeply
scarred. I always thought that Ben's response to his trauma would be to
become increasingly (outwardly) cheery and optimistic, because I thought
that was a more interesting response than the typical angst-ridden
anguished gazes. I also think he feels confused, because neither he nor
anyone else really know what the harness or his time with the aliens did
to him. In short, there's a lot going on in his head, which makes him
really fun to play.
Suzanne: Do you think Ben is glad to be back home? Because it seems like the kids
were treated fairly well by the aliens.
Ben: Again, I think he is confused and conflicted. He doesn't really remember
his time with the aliens that clearly, but he does remember the sense of
love he felt from them. To tell you the truth, this is a question that
carries over into the next season, so I really don't know the definitive
Suzanne: How do you prepare for your role?
Ben: I had this idea that Ben's personality before the invasion was a lot like
mine is now, so I kind of used that as a launching point to get into the
character. I did some research on things like Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder and Stockholm Syndrome, to try to see how my personality would
alter under those circumstances. So Ben is kind of an amalgamation of me
and my research.
Suzanne: How did you get the job? (What was the audition
Ben: I first auditioned for the pilot in the fall of 2009, back when it was
still called the Untitled Steven Spielberg Alien Invasion Pilot
(mouthful!). I got the role in the pilot, which was really just a few
hours of shooting, and then didn't hear anything for 6 or 7 months. Then
the next summer I heard that the show had been picked up, but that my
character had been expanded so I had to audition for the part again. It
was pretty stressful, having to audition again for a part I'd already
gotten. So I did a few more auditions and finally got the part officially.
Suzanne: How has working on the show changed your life?
Ben: Working on the show really has been a fundamentally life changing
experience. I learnt so much about acting and filmmaking, I made lifelong
friends, I had a simply stupendous amount of fun and I got an incredible
opportunity to break into Hollywood, which is something every actor hopes
for. I still don't think I comprehend just how much this show has impacted
Suzanne: Do you have a particular person in the cast and crew that you hang out
with when not shooting?
Ben: Not really, we were all close. I did spend a lot of time with Maxim
Knight, who plays Matt; he really became like a younger brother to me. The
entire cast really operated as one unit, a kind of temporary circus-style
family, which was really fun. We would have chess games going between
takes and basketball games during some of the longer breaks. I can't wait
to start working with everybody again.
Suzanne: Tell us how you felt when you found out that they are going to make a
Ben: I was ecstatic, naturally. Being able to work on the first season was
amazing enough, but being able to revisit the character, work with all my
old friends and hang out on set again is truly incredible. I feel very
Suzanne: Do you think we'll find out in the second season why the aliens are on
earth or why they're taking teens?
Ben: It's possible, but since I haven't read the scripts, I don't know any more
than you do. If I had to guess, I would say that as some of those
mysteries get peeled away, more will probably continue to pop up. I'm sure
there will be a plethora of intriguing reveals.
Suzanne: How has it been working with Noah Wyle?
Ben: I can't sing Noah's praises highly enough. Not only is he a talented,
experienced and generous actor but he is also a kind, intelligent and
thoughtful person. He led the set with an ease and confidence that was
infectious and really made everybody around him that much better.
Suzanne: What do you do for fun when you're not working?
Ben: I'm a huge film buff, so I spend a good portion of my time watching or
reading about movies. I'm also an avid reader; my bookshelf is
overflowing. I love to travel: I'm going to Japan for the month of August.
Suzanne: Are you still auditioning for movies and other roles or just concentrating
on Falling Skies for now? Do you have anything else coming out that we
should watch for?
Ben: Yeah, I'm still auditioning actively. Falling Skies does take up a lot of
time and effort, but I try to do as many auditions as I can. I just
finished shooting an indie feature called "Bye, Bye Blackbird", about a
teenage boy who gets falsely accused of planning a school massacre. It's a
realistic, gritty and very well written movie. Hopefully it will be
playing the festival circuit in 2012.
Suzanne: It seems like Ben has some kind of "super powers" now (being very strong,
running very fast). Do you think we will find out that he has more?
Ben: I really hope so! I was always jealous of the other actors who got to run
around with machine guns and participate in elaborate action sequences, so
I think it would be a blast if Ben's powers were elaborated on and taken
advantage of. I just have to cross my fingers and hope the writers agree!
Suzanne: Were you able to do any of the "stunts" on the show?
Ben: My character doesn't have too many crazy stunts, so I could do the vast
majority of it myself. There was the odd thing I just wasn't physically
able to do, but for the most part I did my best.
Suzanne: Were you able to work with the green screen, and is it fun?
Ben: I didn't work too extensively with green screen, but when I did it
certainly was a fascinating process to watch. It's incredible what they
can do in post these days.
Suzanne: Our readers will want to know if you have a significant other or not.
Ben: Nope, I'm most definitely single. The one thing about working 13 hour days
is that it doesn't leave all that much time for a social life.
Suzanne: Any pets?
Ben: Yeah, I have a 14 month old dog, named Mudgee. He's awesome!
Suzanne: Who inspired you to become an actor? Or who was your role model growing
Ben: I wasn't inspired by any specific actor, but more by films in general. I
grew up watching classics like The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music and
Gone with the Wind, and was always enraptured by them, so that's probably
where my inspiration came from.
Suzanne: What other goals do you have (directing, writing, etc.)?
Ben: I would love to write and direct in the future. I love making films; there
is nothing more rewarding than involved in a project from inception to
Suzanne: Are there any funny stories about filming Falling Skies that you can tell
Ben: We were shooting a scene in the school one day, when part of the ceiling
caved in. It was an old abandoned school, and, unbeknownst to everybody,
there had been asbestos in the ceiling. So, anyway, the ceiling caved in
and asbestos came out. Everyone left the room of course, and it was locked
off. The thing was that some of the most intricate and important props in
the show, which were needed for other scenes, were locked in the asbestos
filled room, where nobody could get at them. So everyone was in a crazy
rush all day to try to rescue the props and clean up the room. It was
quite the circus.
Suzanne: Do you have any brothers or sisters who are in the industry?
Ben: I have a younger brother, but he couldn't be more opposite to me. He's an
athlete and a socialite, and he has no interest whatsoever in the
Suzanne: What would you like to tell fans of the show?
Ben: I guess I would just like to say thanks for sticking with us throughout
the entire run, and for being as supportive and vocal as you have. There
is nothing more humbling and rewarding than seeing the show build such an
active fan base! Thanks for watching!
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