Alien at­tack

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TV - By ELLEN GRAY

noah Wyle’s back, fight­ing alien in­vaders.

WHEN Steven Spiel­berg’s aliens launch their lat­est at­tack on Earth in TNT’s Fall­ing Skies, Noah Wyle will be there to meet them.

Not as John Carter, the fresh-faced young med­i­cal stu­dent we first saw 17 years ago in ER, but as Tom Ma­son, a wid­owed his­tory pro­fes­sor who finds him­self sec­ond in com­mand of the 2nd Mas­sachusetts, fight­ing the in­vaders and strug­gling to re­cover his cap­tured mid­dle son.

Wyle, who turned 40 in June, said: “I’m ready” – but about play­ing a guy whose old­est son (Drew Roy) is old enough to be fight­ing be­side his fa­ther.

“He’s play­ing 17, but he’s 24,” Wyle said of Roy.

“There are times when when I say, ‘ Doesn’t any­one think it’s ridicu­lous that I’m play­ing this kid’s fa­ther? How come no­body’s say­ing it’s ridicu­lous that I’m play­ing this kid’s fa­ther? Am I the only per­son that thinks it’s ridicu­lous that I’m play­ing this kid’s fa­ther?’” joked Wyle, whose own son and daugh­ter are eight and five.

When ER be­gan, “I was the boy­chik,” just 22 and play­ing a char­ac­ter maybe a year or two older.

On Fall­ing Skies, whose ini­tially fa­mil­iar post-in­va­sion sce­nario – think The Walk­ing Dead sans zom­bies – grad­u­ally deep­ens into some­thing more in­trigu­ing over a 10-hour first sea­son, Wyle’s un­de­ni­ably one of the cast’s grownups.

All jok­ing aside, that was prob­a­bly part of the ap­peal to the ac­tor, who, af­ter 11 sea­sons as a reg­u­lar on ER, didn’t need the money and wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily look­ing for an­other se­ries.

“Eighty hours a week on a sound­stage isn’t the best way to par­ent,” so af­ter leav­ing the show, “I took a few years and did a few small parts in movies and ded­i­cated my en­er­gies to my lit­tle the­atre com­pany in Hol­ly­wood and was very much an ac­tive dad,” he said.

Star­ring in TNT’s The Li­brar­ian movie se­ries, he de­vel­oped a re­la­tion­ship with the net­work, where pro­gram­ming exec Michael Wright “would send me all the pi­lot scripts that they were think­ing about putting into pro­duc­tion. And he’s got ex­cep­tional taste. There were a few temp­ta­tions over the years, but re­ally, I read this script and I had this real itch to get back to work. It was a good fit (and a) chance to work with Dream­Works again.”

Ma­son, who draws on Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War his­tory to plot strat­egy in a con­flict against a very dif­fer­ent en­emy, is “a very dy­namic char­ac­ter ... a very phys­i­cal char­ac­ter,” he said.

Filmed in Toronto, Canada, the show also uses only “prac­ti­cal lo­ca­tions”, not a stu­dio.

“It’s a chance to front an en­sem­ble as op­posed to in­herit one, from the jump. It’s a chance to be part of an enor­mous gam­ble TNT is mak­ing by step­ping out of the tra­di­tional pro­gram­ming fare into a new genre, try­ing to at­tract a new au­di­ence.”

For Wyle, artis­tic pro­ducer of Hol­ly­wood’s Blank The­atre Com­pany since the age of 20 – “I was in the in­au­gu­ral pro­duc­tion for the com­pany, which was Sex­ual Per­ver­sity In Chicago, when I was 19” – it’s also about hav­ing a lit­tle more con­trol over his TV work.

“The older I get, the more in­ter­ested I am in hav­ing a stake of own­er­ship in what I’m do­ing,” he said. “They were very gen­er­ous about giv­ing me ac­cess and al­low­ing me to feel very much like a col­lab­o­ra­tor all through the process. I was there when we worked on the script and I was there when we cast the other roles.”

He’s been in the edit­ing room, but “my con­tri­bu­tions, I’ve got to say, are most valu­able on the set. I’m a good prob­lem­solver. When some­thing’s not work­ing, and the scene’s not work­ing, the rhythm’s off or the block­ing seems stilted, that’s where sud­denly all sorts of fires go off in my brain.”

He’s also given a lit­tle thought to Hol­ly­wood’s fas­ci­na­tion with alien in­va­sion.

“When­ever you in­tro­duce an ex­te­rior threat to the planet, it’s re­ally the only chance you have to unify all the hu­mans on the planet, let them tran­scend prej­u­dices

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