Interview with Colin Cunningham

Colin Cunningham is currently co-starring in TNT hit show “Falling Skies”, which is currently airing on Sunday nights on TNT. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Colin about working on the show and the upcoming episodes this season.

Mike Gencarelli: Congratulations on the show being picked up for second season, any reaction to that?
Colin Cunningham: Yes, I’m incredibly grateful. Yes, here’s my reaction to being picked up. I’m still trying to get over the fact that I even shot the first season…that I even got the audition…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. I’m still trying to just sink all that in, you know? I mean, I’m working 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 [laughs].

Q: Tell us about working with  Noah Wyle, there is great animosity between you two.
A: I’ll tell you, Noah’s amazing. When we shot all that dialogue with Noah Wyle’s character, the entire motivation was to get me talking and to keep me talking so he can pull a gun and essentially kill me, you know? Noah’s an amazing actor. He really is. I was very grateful for the help that he gave me and he’s just a consummate professional. He’s such a great actor. We worked on those scenes, I’d ask him for some ideas – or – what do you think of this? And what do you think of that? He was always very, very generous.He’s incredible to work with, and he really raises the bar on the show. He just inspires everybody else to be just even better.

Q: What’s the hardest part of filming for you?
A: 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 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. This is all in the background, and all you and I have is 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.

Q: Well, why do you think people tune in to watch “Falling Skies” then?
A: Well, hopefully because it doesn’t suck, you know? [laughs] 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, 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 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. Well, that’s why I’d tune in, anyway. I think it’s a wonderful show.

Q: 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?
A: Well, yes a person 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. 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. 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 aspect. So that was important to me, because bad guy, schmad guy, you know? Any smart actor naturally isn’t going to play him as a bad guy. The writers have already done that, so for me, it was about trying to find something different about him. What is he? He’s kind of part Shakespeare’s, and on the other side, Rector Howe. But overall 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. I think in another lifetime, 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.

Q: 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?
A: I really hope so. 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. I thought, wow, are they ever going to do something with this? And finally, I think it may be the last episode where we do have a scene. So I know that the writers don’t forget. I would love to explore that relationship. Sarah Carter is amazing in the role. I mean, was John Pope a part of the nastiness before because it was never entirely clear? It is interesting, because so much is not said. I would say absolutely not. I think if Pope had been there when that bit of nastiness was going on, it would have stopped. It would have ended. I think that that was something he does and 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. War creates strange bedfellows, you know?

Q: Tell us about your other shows that you currently have on your plate?
A: I’ve got a couple of them. Right now, I’m also a lead on a TV show on HBO Canada called “Living in Your Car”. I’m also recurring on CBS’s “Flashpoint.” I play Hugh Dillon’s brother. 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.


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