Hal Mason (Drew Roy) suffers from alien earworm-caused paralysis in the… (TNT )
Drew Roy's Hal Mason ended Season 2 of TNT's alien invasion drama "Falling Skies" with an evil smile on his face after an alien creature crawled into his ear and took control of the freedom fighter.
It was a cunning smirk I suggest few knew the always pleasant Roy could produce.
"Probably my sister knew," the 27-year-old recently told me, laughing. "My mom probably knows."
That evil smile returns to Hal's face in Season 3, which launched with back-to-back episodes Sunday on TNT, but not before Hal faces some extremely difficult days and even more frightening nights. (Spoilers ahead if you haven't watched the premiere!)
That nasty earworm sets Hal on a darker path this season that includes the paralysis revealed in the premiere, which is set about seven months after Season 2 ended. In the season's backstory, Roy said, Hal had originally been unable to move at all, but through rehab has gained control of his body from the waist up.
"We open up seeing Hal in that first scene when he needs help to get out of the Hummer," Roy said. "And all looks well with Hal. He's laughing and carrying on. He's flirting with Maggie. I chose to play it that when [Hal] was out in the public he made everything seem like it was all good ... It wasn't until he was behind closed doors and with Maggie that you see the frustration and the confusion going on.
"That was such a fun thing to get to do, to find those moments."
Hal is the third Mason to be infected by alien technology. Brother Ben (Connor Jessup) was taken by the aliens in Season 1 and harnessed to be an alien slave before he was saved. In Season 2 an alien eyeworm briefly infected their father Tom (Noah Wyle) before being removed.
Hal doesn't have it as easy as Tom did. Not only has the earworm disrupted his mobility, it's also controlling him. And although he suspects the aliens have done something to him, he can't stop their control over him.
"It's like he's this sleeper cell that the aliens can use anytime they need, but he's aware that something is not quite right," he said.
For Roy, it's been a treat to go from heroic Hal to "evil Hal," as he was called on the set during filming.
"It's fun to be able to walk on that dark side," he said. "So I feel like I have the absolute best of both worlds. I'm the guy that shoots the gun, that rides the dirt bike, that saves the girl and gets to play bad."
Roy talked more about playing evil Hal, his research on paralysis and getting all the girls (in the show).
Let's talk about where Hal is at the beginning of the season.
OK. Well we had the bug go into Hal's ear last year. We've seen a bug go into an eye before. So the fact that it was going into his ear, we weren't sure where that was going to take the character. Actually the writers knew we could do all sorts of cool, interesting things with it, but when we actually shot that scene we didn't know where it was going to go.
It wasn't until the following summer when we were down at Comicon that Remi Aubuchon, who is our show runner, took me aside and he said, "Hey, I've got some ideas of what this is gonna actually look like for the character—how it's going to play out." And that's when he told me about the idea of the paralysis and that Hal, when he woke up from that coma or whatever had knocked him out, was fully paralyzed and through rehab slowly has gotten [back] basically all the mobility from his torso up.
And he's still having to deal with his legs being paralyzed. And it was an interesting thing to play because Hal is such a physical, active guy that to literally have his legs taken out from under him was going to cause some trouble.
What was most challenging or interesting about the wheelchair and not being able to use your legs?
I decided to just buy a wheelchair here in Los Angeles and wheel around in it and sort of get familiar with it. And then once we got out to Vancouver they wanted to put me in a sportier wheelchair so that I could get around and it sort of made more sense for Hal and who he actually is. I got this new wheelchair but I only had a day or two in it before we started filming.
And, of course, the first scene I film of this year is the one where they take me out of the Hummer and I then I hop in the wheelchair and I do a 360 and I say, "I'm mobile boys." And they wanted me to do a 360 in it. And I was like, "I'm going to get this down, but why would you make me do that on the first day, on gravel, on an incline?" [Laughs.]
How many takes was that?
I nailed it every take. [Laughs.] I was just frustrated because I look at it now and I can see that my wheels touch every now and then. It's smooth, but by the end of that first week, the entire day if I chose to I could have just stayed on the back two wheels. I had gotten so good at it. It was great to have a chair for you whenever you needed it wherever on set. [Laughs.] Some of the actors looked a little jealous that; I just get to sit down whenever I wanted and wheel around.