By Curt Wagner
4:23 PM CDT, July 7, 2012
Drew Roy can't complain about playing teen-turned-alien fighter Hal Mason in "Falling Skies." Despite a constant alien threat, Hal seems to find time for romance.
"I'll agree with you there," Roy said, laughing. "You know, being Hal, they throw a new girl at you about every other week. It's great."
The 26-year-old Alabama native was exaggerating just a bit, but during our phone interview before the TNT hit's second season began Roy explained that fans of Hal's relationship with his fellow scout, Maggie (Sarah Carter), should be pleased with his favorite episode of the season, "Love and Other Acts of Courage." It premieres at 8 p.m. July 8.
"I think it's one of the best episodes of the season," Roy said. "In the first part of the season we have all these things going on between Hal and Maggie, and [they're] trying to figure out where they stand with each other and what not. Well, the fifth episode is where some stuff comes together and they find themselves in some crazy situations. There are some great action sequences that should keep you on the edge of your seat.
"And the culmination of their story throughout that hour, I think, was just very nicely done."
Being the Southern gent that he is, Roy didn't tell about any kisses, but with all the flirting that's gone on between Hal and Maggie in previous episodes, one can only assume they'll get even closer. Yet some fans might be wondering about Hal's feelings for his former love, Karen (Jessy Schram), who was enslaved by the aliens and now serves as their messenger.
With Karen coming back onto the scene soon, Hal will have his hands full, and Karen's presence will be yet another obstacle in the way of his relationship with Maggie. "I don't think he'll ever be able to completely forget about Karen," Roy said. "I think he still has a little flicker of hope that some day they can ... de-harness her and all will be well."
Roy, on the other hand, had more than a flicker of hope that he could become an actor when he moved from Alabama to Hollywood just out of high school. A basketball and baseball player at Chilton County High School in Clanton, Ala., Roy had never participated in drama classes, but after meeting a modeling agent in Atlanta, decided he would make acting his career.
"I [couldn't] even call myself an actor, because I'd never been on stage before. I'd never acted in front of a camera," he said with a chuckle. "A little naivete goes a long way. If I'd have known what I was getting into, I'd have never come."
Roy got a valet job at the Beverly Hills Hotel, parking the cars of famous patrons while auditioning for TV and movie roles. He and five friends who were in a band shared two one-bedroom apartments, with three guys and three beds in each bedroom. Despite calling the two years they lived and partied together the best times of his life, Roy said, "I wouldn't want to live like that anymore."
After those two years his friends moved home, but Roy stayed, even though that flicker of hope he'd work as an actor was fading. He worked five years as a valet, taking acting classes and doing auditions before things started happening for him. He finally landed a guest role on "Greek," followed that up with guest spots on "Lincoln Heights" and "iCarly," which in turn led to him playing Miley Cyrus' boyfriend on "Hannah Montana" and a big-screen role in "Secretariat."
"Falling Skies" came next, and he was cast as Hal Mason, a role he humbly suggests he got because "the people that they originally wanted couldn't do it." He didn't have any special interest in doing a sci-fi series, he said.
"To be absolutely honest with you, when I booked this thing I was just interested in a job," he added, laughing. "The fact that the job was as cool as it was with such great people, I was like, 'Oh heck yeah! I hit the lottery.' So I'd like to say, 'I had 19 scripts and this was my favorite one.' No, I just got lucky."
Roy talked more about playing Hal, Hal's relationships with Maggie and Karen, working with such TV vets as Noah Wyle, and his career before "Falling Skies."
What's going to happen with Maggie and Hal?
If anybody's a fan of that storyline, you are going to be excited. Over the course of these three months, Hal and Maggie have found themselves on these scouting units and they've really become very, very close friends. I think that's all either one of them ever really feels it is. It's just a very close connection between a guy and a girl. They have each other's backs.
As things unfold throughout the season, and a few near death experiences happen, and a couple other scenarios, I believe they both start finding that maybe there's something more here. They come from such different backgrounds. Maggie, we're not even really sure who she was before and what all had happened to her. What happened to her when she was with Pope and his gang? Hal comes from this clean-cut, all-American background.
The two of them find this attraction for each other. At the same time there are a lot of obstacles there that they have to get over to be able to make this thing happen, if it can even happen. Who knows? Is this even a time in either one of their lives that they should even be looking for love? Is that going to be a distraction? Is that going to be something that actually makes them stronger and more able to evade the skitters and what not? Who knows?
Has he completely forgotten about Karen?
The way I played it, I don't think he'll ever be able to completely forget about Karen. There are a couple of different things that are brought up throughout the season. Whether it's my brother mentioning it, just an innocent bystander who happens to say something, Maggie herself saying something. It's still a touchy subject for him, because with the way that Karen was taken, it was right in front of Hal. He's just been knocked out by the mech, and he was coming to as they were dragging her away. I feel like he feels an incredible amount of guilt about that, that she was taken right in front of him and he couldn't do anything to stop it. I think that's something that's going to haunt Hal for a long time. But Karen is always going to be on his mind.
Did he see her at the end of season harnessed when she was bringing the messages and everything?
Yeah he did. He saw her, I think it was in the seventh hour, when we were in the little room with the crazy old lady ... The first time we see the overlord through the peephole Karen's with him and Hal tries to go to the door and they stop him. That's when they see that the overlord was out there and it actually would have been a very bad decision to have let Karen in. He's fully aware of what all is going on with Karen. But I think he still has a little flicker of hope that some day they can find her, and de-harness her and all will be well.
You have a new showrunner with Remi Aubuchon. Do you feel like the tone changed?
I think when you change a showrunner like that you're really taking a big gamble as far as what's going to happen. But in this situation I think it was a fantastic choice. Everything that was going wrong in the first season, and I never felt it was predictable in any regard, but there toward the end I think some people might have had some ideas of, "OK maybe this is going to happen in the next season. Maybe that's going to happen." But it's all flipped up on its head, because you have this whole new team of writers who have come in and we're really elaborating upon what these aliens are here for and why they're harnessing the kid, and what that means, and what that's going to do to maybe tell that story line. We're basically the right on a dog leg. It's a whole new direction.
One of my favorite parts of these new guys is the darker, grittier side that they've taken the show. ... You see some things that are going to make you cringe. There are some creepy things going on. There are these new aliens that we're finding things out about them, and the tactics that they use. It's just very dark. I never felt like it was glossed over or cute, but this year it is dark, gritty, more action. I think it's pretty much everything that any fan I've ever talked to, the things that they wanted to see happen, we're taking it in that direction.
Were you a fan of the sci-fi genre?
Science fiction, I'm the kind of guy that will watch [it]. Whatever I'm watching it's because of good story, or I've heard that it's an interesting story. I don't watch something just because it's a specific genre. I felt the way they did "District 9" was just fantastic, so I thoroughly enjoyed that. Just because you throw some aliens in a movie doesn't mean I'll watch it. Too often that's the crutch for a bad script; just because [they say], "All right, we're going to throw an alien in there, and now it's science fiction. We have some science fiction fans that are going to come watch it." I've never held myself to one genre. But yeah, I'm happy to be on this show.
How's it been working with Noah and all the other veterans?
Oh yeah it's a blessing for a young actor like myself. There are things that you pick up, whether it's acting things or just how to handle yourself on set. I feel like that's what I get the most out of, is just seeing the professionalism among these guys and girls, and how they deal with things. How generous they are. We're quite blessed with the fact that we don't have any wild diva stories on the set. Everybody shows up, knows their lines. Not only knows their lines, but is prepared to deliver them to the best of their abilities. So it's really set the bar high for me as far as how you handle yourself on set.
You moved to L.A. from Alabama and into a house with five friends?
That's true. We moved out right after high school. They were all in a band ... We move out here and we actually had two one-bedroom apartments. So there were three of us in each one. So in the bedroom we had three beds. We had a bed on every wall, and then the other wall would be the closet. We were really getting our dorm/college life in right in the middle of Hollywood. It was the best times of my life. I wouldn't want to live like that anymore, but every time you'd open that door to come home you had no idea what was going to be going on on the other side. It was always some sort of party or some crazy stuff, or somebody daring somebody to do something. It was pretty fantastic.
Did you just move out and start auditioning and everything?
Yeah, well I moved out because I had met this manager in Atlanta. I was over in Atlanta for just a second before I went to college. He talked me into moving out to Hollywood. Like I said, I came up with this brilliant idea that, "Yeah, I can do that!" So I did do it and quickly learned that I was way in over my head. I needed to start buckling down and learning what it was I was doing.
I'm the kind of guy that once I decide I'm going to do something I have a hard time just giving up on it without giving it a fair shot. I told myself, "OK, one year and we'll reassess." Well the one year comes and I was like, "You can't know anything at one year. I'm going to need two years and in two years I'm going to reassess.'" Well that happened and the same thing. "OK, I need three years."
So I got to about the five-year mark and I decide, "Well, I might have made a bad decision." All my buddies had moved home at this point. I'm still out here. I'm valeting. That was my day job, and acting has not found me. I probably needed to hang it up and go home at that point, but my pride was too big. I just couldn't up my fail and go back. So I stuck with it and kept getting into classes. I was in two or three classes a week and buckling down.
Then luck just happened to cross at the right time and I started booking jobs. ... I was prepared for this audition. I'm sure the people that they originally wanted couldn't do it, and that was my chance, and I got fortunate booking this show.
Want to give your pitch about the season?
I think the pitch of the season is, if you liked the first season we have more action, more creepiness with the aliens, and more of their mythology coming at you from the get-go and it doesn't stop until the final seconds, and then it's just going to leave you even more impressed with where this thing's going.
Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC