During Falling Skies‘ first two seasons, fans watched Hal Mason grow from high school lacrosse hotshot to alien invasion survivor trying to prove himself to his protective dad, to seasoned soldier in the fight for the planet. Now, in season 3, Drew Roy, who plays Hal on the TNT sci-fi series, has flexed some more acting muscles with the ever-creepier and unsettling “evil Hal,” as he’s come to be known since an alien parasite wormed its way into his head at the end of season 2.
Falling Skies ups the ante for the “evil Hal” storyline in tonight’s episode, “Be Silent and Come Out.” When EW chatted with Roy, the actor provided a few teases for the episode. Read on to learn what you can expect from tonight’s episode and more about Hal in season 3 thus far, then come back to EW.com after tonight’s episode for Roy’s memories from shooting the intense “Be Silent and Come Out.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Last summer, you told us that you watched The Shining and Take Shelter in preparation for shooting season 3, but at that point you couldn’t reveal why. Now that we’ve seen what’s going on with “evil Hal” this season, what can you tell us about why those films were helpful?
DREW ROY: With The Shining, I just wanted to see how Jack Nicholson had that deterioration take over him from when he first stepped into the hotel to when he loses it and attacks his family. It felt like it was a similar theme going on with Hal in that he was being controlled by the aliens, but from the outside it was just like some mental problem he was going through. Anytime you can learn from a great film, it’s worth watching. But you never want to copy what somebody does, so it’s more of seeing how that path was laid and then take that into consideration as you move forward with your own performance.
And then with Take Shelter, that again was a guy who couldn’t quite tell what was truth, what was he seeing, what was he imagining. With Hal, again, there’s that thing going on of “what exactly is happening?” and “who should we trust? Should we trust him, should we trust what Maggie’s saying?” That was also a nice piece to get to watch. Really different but I thought it was worth looking into that mind of that character and studying it.
What was it like filming the scene in episode 4 this season when Hal is talking to the alien parasite-controlled version of himself in his mirror?
When I got script for the sixth hour, I was a little anxious about that one, but when I read the mirror scene in the fourth hour, I was even more nervous ’cause anytime you have a character talking to themselves in a mirror, there’s a very high chance that it could be cliche or cheesy, and that felt like we needed to take special care for this particular scene and hopefully avoid any of those traps.
When we actually got there on the day to shoot it, we were running behind, so we weren’t even going to have as much time as we were planning on having, which I think at the end of the day might have actually been best because it made everybody show up and bring their A game from the first take, and speaking of takes, I think we only shot each angle two maybe three times. We actually didn’t use a mirror at all until the very last shot where I punch the mirror. It was like a window, and they had mirror image rooms. So everything in one room was the reverse of the other room, and we had a stand-in come in and stand opposite me.
Tell us about learning to ride horseback for season 3.
Just like with the dirt bike, I had never been on a horse up until this season. With the dirt bike, I booked the pilot, I got two maybe three dirt bike lessons, and then had to go on set and ride this thing among 200 or 300 extras, uphill and doing all the stunts and everything, so I guess they figured since I pulled that off that I could certainly handle learning how to ride a horse. I think I had two, maybe three lessons, and then we just took off and had a good time.
For a scene at the end of this week’s sixth hour, we had a lot of extras around — the horses would get a little anxious when we had people standing all around them. My particular horse was a bit ornery. He loved to bite the other horses, and he tried to stomp on your foot if you weren’t paying attention. So when we were shooting the scene, it was probably the fourth take — as soon as I put my foot in the stirrup to jump up on top of my horse, he takes two big steps backwards, and I land on his neck. And I slowly slide to the underside of him and fall on the ground. We have all those extras around, and I’m trying to pretend like I’m all good. I didn’t get hurt, but you want to play it off smoothly, so I’m sitting down there laughing at myself, and the extras are all saying something to me, and it takes me a second to realize what’s going on. They’re like, “Get up! Get up!” I’m like, “I’m fine!” They said, “No, no, no — the horse peed right there a minute ago.” So I soaked up a good pant-load of horse pee.
But other than that the horses are great. I love being on the horses, especially when it was rainy and cold. It was like having your own personal heater you could sit on top of.
Why is tonight’s episode of Falling Skies one that fans won’t want to miss?
I feel like at this point we’ve all come to know Hal and what to expect from Hal, but this week we get to see a completely different side of him, and this whole evil thing that he’s had pent up is going to have to come apart at the seams because he’s backed into a corner, and to be able to pull off what Karen needs him to pull off, he has to make a couple of decisions that aren’t as well thought-through as he’d like them to be, so he ends up in quite a precarious situation.
The sixth hour of Falling Skies’ third season, “Be Silent and Come Out,” airs tonight on TNT at 10 p.m. ET/PT.