Noah Wyle turns into an Action Hero in TNT’s Falling Skies
Steven Spielberg produces Falling Skies, alien invasion action series
Noah Wyle likes playing a heroic character in the new TNT series Falling Skies, produced by Steven Spielberg.
Wyle says, “At the root of all heroism, resilience, strength of character, those are the moments when those untapped qualities come into the forefront and become the defining qualities for a person.”
Those qualities were certainly part of Wyle’s roles on ER and in The Librarian movies. But now he’s the good guy fighting intergalactic invaders, and he’s playing it to impress a very special young viewer.
Wyle says, “Half the reason I decided to do this show was to look slightly heroic to my eight-year-old son. And him getting to come to work and see his dad run around with a machine gun and fighting aliens. That was worth the price of admission already.”
Falling Skies sets its story in the chaotic aftermath of an all-out invasion of the planet by an alien military force. Most of the world is incapacitated. But survivors have banded together outside major cities to fight back. Each day is a test of survival as citizen soldiers protect the people in their care, while fighting an insurgency campaign against the occupying alien force. Along with Wyle, the show stars Moon Bloodgood, Will Patton, and Drew Roy.
It’s a very physical role for Wyle, who says, “ER didn’t have the physicality of Falling Skies, but it was certainly emotionally draining. So I thought this would be a good challenge as I enter my 40th year. The clock is ticking on how long I can do this sort of thing.”
“This was the most physically demanding work I’ve ever done in my life. It was incredibly intense. We were doing a tremendous volume of work in a relatively short period of time using all practical locations, shooting mostly at night in pretty miserable conditions.” But he says it was really fun filming in Toronto, Canada.
Wyle got some action in The Librarian movies, which are very special to him. “I hope one day we can make more of those because those are just pure joy. The Librarian didn’t have to carry a twenty-pound machine gun everywhere he went. There are certain built-in obstacles to this (Falling Skies) role that made it more physically challenging. But, as you go through your career, you try to do something a little different than you’ve done before.”
Wyle is familiar with working with Steven Spielberg, and says he’s a very hands-on producer. Spielberg first met Noah Wyle when he cast the fresh face young actor in the role of Dr. John Carter on ER in 1994. Wyle went on to work on a few other Spielberg productions with the TNT series of The Librarian movies, and the TV movie Pirates of Silicon Valley, in the role of Steve Jobs.
Talking about his ongoing working relationship with Spielberg, Wyle says, “Steven was tremendously involved with the beginning of ER. So I had the great fortune of getting to spend a lot time around him and see how razor sharp his mind is when it comes to developing story and character.”
“This job came about more probably because of my relationship with Michael Wright than Mr. Spielberg. Michael and I have now made four movies together, and we get along quite well. And he was very generous about showing me all the pilot scripts that he had. The fact that this was a DreamWorks project was a very enticing detail, but it was the quality of the script in itself.”
“But getting to work with Steven Spielberg again, especially in something that’s probably more in his bailiwick of interests, the sci-fi and alien genre, has been tremendous. And getting to see his notes come through, whether they were in preproduction, in casting, in script shaping, in the editing room, or in the post-production with the special effects, it’s like getting to sit at the foot of the master.”
Although an action hero in Falling Skies, Wyle is playing a Boston history professor, Tom Mason, who is the leader of a group of soldiers and civilians in the aftermath of an alien invasion. His wife has been killed, and one of their three sons has been taken captive by the aliens.
Wyle sees his character as “the author of the next set of history. Since the reset button on humanity has been pushed, the survivors will become the authors of the next gospel or constitution, or whatever the document or framework for society is going to have to live under. I think his back story of having been a college professor, a history professor, puts him in a great position to be that chronicler.” And it makes for great storytelling on TNT.