'Falling Skies': Drew Roy discusses playing 'evil Hal' in tonight's nail-biter episode
Ever since an alien parasite wormed its way into the head of the oldest Mason brother, Hal has been creeping out viewers all season long on Falling Skies. Tonight the TNT sci-fi show ramped up the creep-out and the shocker factor of the evil Hal storyline.
SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read on if you do not want to find out what happened in Sunday’s episode of Falling Skies, “Be Silent and Come Out.”
Drew Roy, who plays Hal on Falling Skies, delivered a chilling performance in tonight’s episode as Hal took his own father (Noah Wyle) hostage, threatening to kill him if he didn’t reveal the details of the mysterious Vohm tech being prepped for an attack against the invading Espheni aliens, and revealing to all of Charleston this alien parasite-influenced side he’s kept secret throughout the third sesaon.
EW chatted with Roy about his experience shooting the intense episode. Read on for his memories of playing the push-and-pull between “good” and “evil” Hal, how difficult it was to point a prop gun at 13-year-old actor Maxim Knight, and what is in store for Hal in upcoming episodes.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What do you remember from when you first read the script for this episode?
DREW ROY: When I got to read that script, we’d been hearing about it for a good for weeks before [the script] actually came out. The producers would come up to me and say, “Oh you got a good one coming,” which was both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. But more exciting. Then when it came out, I was like, “Alright, we have some fun stuff to play with here.” I guess the the thing that made me nervous the most was the fact that I was going to take Tom hostage. I love working with Noah, but the fact that it wasn’t gonna be a father-son thing, it was going to be more of a head-to-head, I knew I was gonna have to bring my A game because Noah’s not gonna let you walk all over him in the scene.
How did you approach this “evil Hal” character — is it Hal under the influence or another creature that’s taken over him or something else?
I never wanted this infection or mind-control Karen has over Hal to be Karen in complete control. I wanted there to still be a little Hal, and it’s just a side of him that she’s manipulated into him wanting to do whatever she wants him to do. So the idea behind when this bug crawled into my ear [at the end of season 2] and I made that face was that it was almost like this euphoric rush. It was almost like doing a drug with Karen, and that was an addiction that he kept coming back to.
So in this particular episode, we get to see that a little bit of Hal trying to come back and push out again. Karen doesn’t have complete control over him because if it was a complete control, then there’d be no way for Hal to ever come back on his own, and ultimately what brings him back is that strong will and strong nature that we’ve seen Hal display throughout other seasons. Even if it takes him having to take his own life, he would do that for his family.
Tell us about how you decided Hal fighting to break through would look, like when his hand holding the gun is shaking.
I talked about that with the writers and the director. Because of the nature of this show, we don’t do many extreme close-ups. It’s usually a little more relaxed of a shot. So something extremely subtle could be missed, particularly in television when you don’t have the complete attention of someone. I know when I come home and I watch shows with my parents and my sister, there’s usually something else going on to distract me, so we wanted to make sure that wasn’t overlooked, and we needed a physicality to show what was going on. But at the same time, you don’t want to get too big because then that’s going to start looking silly and over-acted. So anytime it was good Hal cracking through the evil Hal, I wanted the character’s mind and attention to be very sharp, really concentrating on what he was doing, and then a small, physical aspect going on, like the hand [shaking], or when they’re in the Hummer where he’s just having a hard time keeping that focus.
Was it difficult to put a gun — even a prop gun — on Noah and Maxim?
Yeah, though with Noah, not as much. But for some reason with Maxim, it was. It was a brother pointing a gun at his younger brother — that’s always a pretty violent image — but on top of that, the way that I decided to play that was here’s the evil Hal surrounded by his father, his girlfriend, and his younger brother, and he’s almost out of luck with being able to get away with this. He realizes at that point, “You know what? I’m gonna go down, but I’m gonna take somebody with me.” I could shoot Tom, but by basically taking two of his sons away — Hal and Matt — that would be a harsher blow to Tom, and that’s what he chooses to do until the good Hal really starts cracking through. And if we didn’t have Ben there, it would have gotten bloody quick.
I loved the moment when Tom is saying sorry for missing so many lacrosse games before the invasion and telling Hal that his mother believed he would be a fighter pilot.
When it was on the page, it was just that Hal wanted to be a pilot, and that was it. And Noah came up to me and said, “You know, I’m just not feeling like that’s what Hal would have been.” So we talked about it, and we decided being a fighter pilot was more up Hal’s alley. I thought that was really cool for Noah to come to me and talk that part through, so when we shot it, just the fact that he’d come to me and we’d talked about it already gave it a little bit of history in that line, so that was always such an easy cue for me to take it to that next level in that scene.
It sounds like Hal doesn’t remember anything from this week when evil Hal took over, but if he did, or if he asked his family about it, how do you think he’d react to learning his mom believed he’d become a fighter pilot?
I always thought of Hal as on the outside it doesn’t look like he cares much, he’s just a guy’s guy, and he’s tough, but he actually has this real soft side to him. So I think if he heard something like that about his mom, it would definitely affect him. I don’t know if he would ask too many questions about what all happened. As you see in that scene in the hospital before they hit the road, there’s a little bit of embarrassment that he would even unconsciously be able to do everything he did. He likes to think of himself as always being in full control, and the fact that something like that happened embarrasses him. So I don’t know if he ever would bring that up to Maggie or to Tom, but if it does happen, it would be a great scene just because of how complicated that would be for him to hear.
What was it like to see yourself in the extraction scene after the visual effects were done?
I love when I get to do a CGI-heavy scene, like that mirror scene in the second season finale. I just knew it was going to turn out cool, and sure enough, it was amazing. So this time, to get to do something even more intense, I was all for it. The way that I visualized it was completely different. I wanted to talk to the CGI supervisor so we could sort of be on the same page. We talked about how these things were going to come out and go into my eyes and my nose and my mouth. I always assumed they’d be green ’cause it was an alien. But this whole black stuff it just ridiculous. I’ve only seen that small little tease that they’ve seen in previews. I haven’t seen the whole thing cut together yet. So I’m really excited to see what that looks like.
In upcoming episodes, what will Hal’s relationship with Pope and other Charleston residents be like? Is he going to go through something similar to Ben’s experience last season when the 2nd Mass didn’t trust this kid with harness spikes?
I think it’s a good thing that we’re having to leave town. There actually was one variation of the script where, as opposed to all of Charleston being around when we’re leaving, that we had to sneak out in the dark of night because the anxiety was so high, and the trust amongst the Masons [and the people of Charleston] was at a point it had never been before, between Tom having been bugged, and Ben having everything going on with him, and now Hal actually flipping over to the dark side. We knew that we needed to get out. I’m not sure why it didn’t work out [to shoot the scene that way]. There probably were too many exchanges between characters that needed to happen. But it’s definitely beneficial for Hal that he’s leaving town right now. He better figure out some way to save everyone before he comes back because I don’t know if he’d be welcomed with open arms after that episode.
What will the relationship between Maggie and Hal be like moving forward?
It’s a tough for the two of them. She was there for him till the end, but I think it would be naive to think that didn’t have a toll on both of them. I feel like Maggie’s always looked at Hal as being the good to her evil, and now seeing that side of Hal, it was disconcerting for her knowing that in this world, sometimes having a significant other can weigh you down. She’s always looked at things as half-empty as opposed to half-full, whereas Hal looks at her like… At the same time, they’ve been through so much together that it’s just another notch on their belt in this relationship. Nothing’s ever going to be easy in this particular situation and the world they live in on top of the fact that their characters are on a TV show so things will probably never be easy. [Laughs] So we’ll see where things end up going, but I think we might have some turbulence coming up in the near future.
Is Hal really the mole?
I don’t know if we can actually answer that one. To say that he’s not the mole would feel like a lie. He’s definitely a huge asset and weapon of the aliens. But is he the only one? Who knows? We’ll have to wait and see. In this next week’s episode, we’re going to be moving out of Charleston a little bit, particularly the Masons, so we’ll have to see what happens back at home base with any of the potential moles being gone.
Was it tough to say goodbye to this evil Hal character?
I hate seeing him go. Once we finished this episode, I kept wondering if Hal really was completely free. Is this evil side of him going to come back out and cause more problems? Throughout the rest of the season, I always wondered if a new script was going to come out and there was going to be a new hint of that. With that being said, playing this character was so much fun. Before, I kept playing the guy who gets all the girls. But sometimes it’s nice to change things up and try some new things. I’m curious to see where all this goes from here. Even talking about the fourth season, what new things can I see Hal doing? But if not, we’ll go back to loving some ladies and hopefully doing it well. [Laughs] But regardless, Hal will be changed by this happening, so that in and of itself is something new to play. You always want your character to be ever-changing. Especially with Hal starting out so bold-headed and stubborn, it’s been nice to have this long story arc of him going through different situations and becoming a little more wise and helping other characters along the way.