Doug Jones (inset) stars as the alien Cochise in "Falling Skies." (TNT & Getty Images )
After playing too many creatures to count over the years, Doug Jones has become the maestro of masked acting. So when "Falling Skies" needed someone to embody a new Volm alien, Jones was top of the list for the show's creature creator, Todd Masters of Masters FX.
"This is kind of my MO over the years," Jones said during a recent phone conversation from his home in Los Angeles. "Between doing the 'Hell Boy' movies in the blue fish guy makeup [Abe Sapien] and being the Silver Surfer in a silver muscle suit and then 'Pan's Labyrinth,' this Oscar-winning, beautiful piece of work where I'm a fawn and a pale man--this is kind of what I do."
Thanks to his old friend Masters alerting him via Facebook, Jones is now playing the pivotal role of Cochise the alien in TNT's "Falling Skies," which launches its third season with back-to-back episodes beginning at 8 p.m. June 9.
As we head into Season 3, seven months have passed since Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) and 2nd Mass, the human resistance group fighting the Espheni aliens, came in contact with another alien race, the Volm. Now they are working with the Volm leader Cochise, who has brought with him to Earth technology and know-how that will help the humans battle the Espheni.
While many in the 2nd Mass are wary of Cochise, Tom, now president of Charleston, has found common ground with the alien and welcomes his help, Jones explained.
"They're both leaders in their own right in their own way in their own worlds. And so they do understand each other," he said. "They both have a huge responsibility on their shoulders. I have to protect my Volm species and he's got to protect his human species. And together we're trying to figure out a way to overcome these horrible Espheni aliens. I come with some technology and some know-how to do that. So I'm rather crucial to these humans.
"But the question will remain, can Tom truly trust me all the way. He sure seems to, bless his heart."
That is the big question this season, one the Indianapolis native wasn't going to be tricked into answering, either. We talked more about working to create Cochise, wearing the rubber suit all day long, and how Jones was once recognized at the airport--for his voice.
You play the big new character this season.
I don't want to say "big." I don't want to boast, but yeah, he does seem rather critical. [Laughs.] Yeah, it seems big to me. He's rather critical to the storyline this year, yeah.
Is your approach when you can't show your face, is it different than if you were just doing a regular role?
Believe it or not, no. An actor has to start with his heart and soul and finding what makes his character tick. What are the character's fears, wants, hopes, desires? [It's] like anybody else would do with any acting role. But I get the added benefit of having layers of rubber put over my face, without which I cannot become an alien, of course. It's necessary, isn't it?
I do have to think something like an athlete as well as an actor because my days are a little bit longer and a little bit more [strenuous]. I huff and puff getting myself from Point A to Point B walking to the set because I'm very heavy with a big rubber suit on and I can't see very well. I can't hear quite as well because my ears are muffled. So there are obstacles I have to overcome and just kind of make that a part of the ecosystem for this Cochise character.
When we see you in the scenes you were actually in the scenes filming in the suit and mask?
Yeah, it's not a CG. There are some CG enhancements on the face that are very subtle. The eyes were wide set enough that those little yellow eyes are not my own.
Right. [Laughs.] Wouldn't that be a contact lens wonder? The vents, or the little wrinkles around Cochise's nose--that's where my eyes could see through. So the yellow eyes are a little more wide set. It was very tight to my head so there wasn't enough room to put mechanics in the head. So the eye movement and the eye blinking and the brow furrowing expression is something that wouldn't respond to my eyebrows because it's too thick up there. So that was CG enhanced. They did a beautiful, subtle job of it, too.
You can sort of do the old saying: Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but in heels and backwards. You can say "in a mask and heavy suit."
Right, right. [Laughs.] With muscles built on to me.
How did you prepare physically?
When I see a role like this coming where it's going to require a little bit more of me physically, I absolutely do have to make sure I'm in great shape before it starts. So this meant Dougie had to start jogging again and hitting the weights again. Yes, a tall, skinny guy like me does actually use weights, believe it or not.