Exclusive: Colin Cunningham Talks "Falling Skies"

Exclusive interview with Colin Cunningham of Falling Skies
Interview by Jamie Ruby
Written by Jamie Ruby

Colin CunninghamColin Cunningham is not new to the entertainment industry. He has worked on films such as Stealing Sinatra and Elektra. Cunningham also wrote, directed, and produced the award-winning short Centigrade, which was the first short film to ever be in the Top 10 featured downloads on iTunes.

Cunningham has also appeared on many series, such as The X-Files, Smallville, and Eureka, to name just a few. He has had major roles in series such as Da Vinci's Inquest and The Collector. One of the roles he is probably most well known for is that of Major Davis on the series Stargate SG-1. He also reprised the role in the spinoff Stargate: Atlantis as well as the straight to video film Stargate: Continuum. Cunningham recently worked on the series Flashpoint and will be part of the upcoming TNT series Perception.

Colin CunninghamThis past season, Cunningham has played the part of John Pope in the new TNT hit alien invasion series, Falling Skies, which has already been officially renewed for a second season.

Falling Skies opens on the aftermath of a worldwide alien invasion. The series follows a group of survivors six months after the inital invasion as they try to survive, fight back, and rebuild. The series follows Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), a civilian and history professor, who uses his knowledge as the second in command of the 2nd Massachusetts, a group of resistance fighters protecting civilian survivors. He is joined by his three sons, one of who becomes abducted and "harnessed" by what they come to call the "skitters." The 2nd Mass is lead by Tom's commanding officer, Weaver (Will Patton).

The survivors eventually meet up with another group, led by Pope, who kidnaps members of the 2nd Mass, including Mason and his family, to trade their freedom for weapons. Pope is an ex-con, whose favorite past time is killing skitters, which he is really good at. He of course tries to use this to his advantage.

No one is entirely sure where Pope's loyalties really lie, maybe not even Pope himself, but one thing is for sure, he hates anyone who makes deals with the skitters.

Cunningham, who like Pope is charismatic and funny, recently sat down and talked to SciFi Vision about this season of Falling Skies and what's next for his character.

SCIFI VISION: How did you get started in acting?


SCIFI VISION: How did you become involved in Falling Skies?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Simple audition.

SCIFI VISION: Why did you accept the part?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Accept it? What do I look like, Brad Pitt? 'Cause I need to eat and it beat the hell out of IHOP.

SCIFI VISION: What originally attracted you to role of Pope?

Colin CunninghamCOLIN CUNNINGHAM: I felt I could do exactly what I wanted to do with it, and they'd hire me. As opposed to "fire me," which is also what happens.

SCIFI VISION: What do you think it is what attracts people to the series?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Hopefully, it's just a good show.

SCIFI VISION: Where do you draw inspiration in the portrayal of your character from? Who inspires you?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Hmmm. That's a tough one. If I drew any inspiration, it would have been from actor Peter Faulk. Peter had charisma. Something so very few actors have today. So, I tried to bring a bit of that to the role.

SCIFI VISION: Was there any special preparation or research you had to do for the role of Pope?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Not sure what "special" might be. I do my thing. Although I can have a good laugh, I take it more serious than a heart attack.

SCIFI VISION: What different challenges are there in working on this show compared to others?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Same challenges. Always. No time. No money. One take, gotta go.

I will say though that this show is much easier for me in a lot of ways. Script supervisors aren't counting every stupid comma. The writers on Skies are very secure as professionals. So much so that they'll let you go where you need to go. It's a real collaboration.

SCIFI VISION: Do you like playing the "good guy" or "bad guy" more? How do you approach it differently?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: It's the same guy. They just look differently to you.

SCIFI VISION: What has been your favorite part about working on Falling Skies?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Working with Noah and Will. Hands down.

SCIFI VISION: Do you have a favorite scene that you have filmed?

Colin CunninghamCOLIN CUNNINGHAM: Favorite, would be the next one. Would like more scenes with Will. I really enjoyed the few we had. Wouldn't mind mixing it up more.

SCIFI VISION: How do you relate to Pope? Do see any of yourself in him? What is your favorite or least favorite part about him?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Pope doesn't bullshit around. And so we most certainly have that in common. I HATE people who pussy foot around and ask for permission to live. Pope wouldn't spend a whole lot of time reading scum bags their rights. He'd have shot Clayton (Henry Czerny) on sight, and then gone for a sandwich.

SCIFI VISION: Can you talk about working with the cast?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Fantastic, professional and serious about what they do. Couldn't ask for better.

SCIFI VISION: Would you ever be interested in writing or directing for Falling Skies if you had the chance?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Absolutely. I think I could bring a lot to it.

SCIFI VISION: Do you get to offer input with the character? Are they strict with the script or do you improvise ever, and if you do, is that easier or harder?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: No input, other than what is happening on the floor, on the day.

SCIFI VISION: Was there anything cut from the series, like a deleted scene, that you'd wish they'd kept in?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Surprisingly, no. Very little of Pope was cut from the show.

SCIFI VISION: What have you learned about yourself that has been the most rewarding since working on the show? Is there anything that surprised you about working on Falling Skies?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Noah gave me a lesson by example once. He was being "rushed" to do his scene and instead of flipping out, which is what I would have done, he instead reacted with professionalism, calm and class. Learned a lot that day.

SCIFI VISION: Is there anything that you can reveal about your character's back story that hasn't been on the series? Even if you can't tell us, do you yourself know?

Colin CunninghamCOLIN CUNNINGHAM: There has been absolutely nothing written or discussed regarding Pope's criminal history. I suppose, until the writers fill it in, we'll all have to use our imaginations.

SCIFI VISION: Do you have any theories about Pope? What would you like to see happen with him if it were up to you? Any particular storyline you would like to see for him?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: I think I'd like to see him branch out on his own for a bit. Follow Pope as "he" hunts down and kills these things. And to see what "good" and "bad" comes out of it with regards to the 2nd Massachusetts.

SCIFI VISION: Pope's gang abused Maggie, did Pope know what was going on? If not, would he have stopped it if he did?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: I don't think he knew, but by then it was too late. And yes, he would have stopped it. But, to be fair, he most certainly knew afterwards and chose to do nothing.

SCIFI VISION: What has been your favorite role so far besides Falling Skies?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: That would have been lunch. I had a roll with mustard and roast beef.

SCIFI VISION: Can you talk about acting on both The X-Files and Stargate?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Chris Carter and Rob Bowman were the most generous and respectful of any producers I've ever known.

Stargate? What an incredible bunch of people. Not enough room in this interview to express.

SCIFI VISION: What would be your ultimate dream role? Who would you most want to work with?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Doing it right now. If this is my last gig ever, I'll have beat the odds. I'll have done it all.

SCIFI VISION: If you weren't acting what would you be doing?


SCIFI VISION: Do you watch yourself back when you act in something? Some people don't because they're too critical of themselves.

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: I may, but only to see how the "scene" came off. I can cut myself right out of the picture. Because I do so much writing, directing, editing myself...watching myself act is pretty superfluous. I'm watching the scene. How it all came together.

SCIFI VISION: What's something that fans might be surprised to know about you?

Colin CunninghamCOLIN CUNNINGHAM: I often dress up in crazy outfits and disguises. Just to see how other people might react. On the bus. At a market.

SCIFI VISION: What show now do people most recognize you from?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: DaVincis' Inquest and Stargate primarily.

SCIFI VISION: Do you have any advice for others who want to act?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Sure. Give it up. You suck. And it'll never happen. It was certainly the best advise I ever got.

SCIFI VISION: You've done a good bit of science fiction, were you particularly drawn to the genre or did it just sort of happen?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Purely coincidence. Vancouver shoots a lot of sci-fi.

SCIFI VISION: Can you talk about Centigrade? Do you have any other projects coming up, including any music videos that you directed?

COLIN CUNNINGHAM: Shot two music videos for CMT this year. Both for Sean Hogan. Centigrade is coming along "beautifully" and many other projects coming around. Quite happy about them all.

Thank you all!

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