Connor Jessup on his character’s evolution in ‘Falling Skies’
June is a big month for Canadian actor Connor Jessup, to put it lightly. First off, he’s finishing high school, and later this month he turns 18. On top of all that, Jessup gets to celebrate the second season premiere of TNT’s science-fiction series “Falling Skies,” in which his character, Ben Mason, plays a much bigger role than in the first season.
It must be stressful trying to juggle promoting a TV show and finishing high school.
Yeah. It’s less stressful than trying to juggle shooting the show and finishing high school, which was basically impossible to do. So now I’m suffering for the time I spent shooting, trying to catch up with everything. I graduate the day before my 18th birthday, so it’s very exciting.
Your character gets a lot more to do on the show this year.
Last season, Ben was the guy who stayed back and didn’t go out on any fights. He was more passive, more bookish. He was less involved in the actual action of the show. Between seasons one and two, there’s a time gap of three months, and in that time he’s become a fighter. He’s become much more aggressive. He’s become very angry because he thinks his dad is gone and probably dead, he’s lost a lot of people in these various battles. He’s become much colder and more distant. When the season takes off, he’s fighting. He’s very angry at the aliens, but a lot of that anger is a manifestation of his own fear and confusion. I like to describe it as puberty on steroids — he doesn’t know what’s happening to him, there’s a lot happening to his body, to his emotions, and he’s trying to deal with them through angst and violence and aggressiveness. But also this season Ben plays a much more central role in the mystery of the show.
What was your reaction when you heard how much more you’d have to do?
It happened in stages. We found out that the show was getting picked up for a second season in July, almost a few weeks after it aired, but I didn’t hear anything after that about what the season was about, about what was happening, until September, which was only three or four weeks before we started shooting. So it’s mid-September and I get a phone call from one of our executive producers and directors, Greg Beeman. I love him a lot, but he has a very succinct way of talking. He gets right to the point. He just said, “You’re going to be an action hero. Buff up” and hung up, pretty much.
Aside from a lot of time in the gym, you had to do some weapons training as well.
Last year, I was always very envious of the other cast members with their AK-47s and their pistols and grenade launchers and all those things. I was always hoping that I could use one. I always thought that it was a distant possibility, but sure enough my character, beyond just using one, always has one now. … You get to pick your weapon in the show, so the guns end up reflecting the characters.