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HitFix Interview: Moon Bloodgood talks 'Falling Skies'
TNT leading lady also talks sci-fi and short-lived dramas
Many actors say they enjoy balancing film and TV work, but few straddle those two ever-blurring worlds as evenly as Moon Bloodgood.
In the past five years, Bloodgood has starred in hits like "Eight Below" and franchise pics like "Terminator Salvation," while also taking lead roles in intriguing -- intriguing but short-lived -- TV shows like "Day Break" and "Journeyman."
When you need a tough, attractive actress whose ethnicity you can't quite pinpoint, Bloodgood's name is high on the speed-dial list.
Bloodgood's latest TV project is TNT's "Falling Skies," in which she plays Anne Glass, a pediatrician living and working with the human resistance in the aftermath of an alien invasion.
Last month, I had the chance to sit down with Bloodgood (and also co-star Noah Wyle and co-executive producer Mark Verheiden) about "Falling Skies."
I was Bloodgood's first interview in a long day with the press and I think that yielded an amusing back-and-forth, which covered "Falling Skies," her earlier TV shows and her favorite sci-fi movies.
Click through for the full conversation, kept intact because I like reading Moon Bloodgood praising me...
Moon Bloodgood: OK. You're my first, so let's get me warmed up! I want to answer smart questions.
HitFix: Hmmm... I feel like I may need to start with something basic, though, since I've seen seven episodes, but the readers won't have seen any...
MB: You've seen seven?
HitFix: Is that more than you've seen?
MB: Yeah, I think I've only seen three or four and that was a while ago. I haven't seen the new cuts. Maybe you can tell me about them after you interview me.
HitFix: So when you saw it it was mostly people in suits and dangling tennis balls for aliens?
MB: It was. One of the aliens was definitely a guy in a suit. It still looked really good, but it just shows you that good editing and music and people having time to go back and re-look at the story, you're just going to get a better cut.
HitFix: But you still believed the illusion?
MB: Absolutely. And I was actually impressed, because... I don't know. I don't have the ability to be objective when I'm doing something, so nothing ever seems as good to me when I'm doing it and then when I watch it, I'm always surprised at how good it is, because you get to put all of the pieces together.
HitFix: At this point, you've done plenty of projects with extensive effects...
MB: Exactly and the subject matter is always so extreme that it can walk that line of being a bit silly or really cool and dark and interesting.
HitFix: I have to assume that unless you're being really well-directed, the tendency is towards silliness?
MB: Yeah, well, I think it's your job to try as much as you can to forget about your surroundings and use your imagination and feel like you are in that world. You try. I don't know if we all succeed, but we try.
HitFix: After you've done it enough enough times, does handling this sort of thing get easier?
MB: I think anything you do after a while gets easier. Anything. And I think that with this show, I'm still finding my footing. I still don't know what it is and I think it takes time. You do a movie and you kinda know where you are. I think know I know where I'm at for "Falling Skies," so second season I'd be prepared with my character. But I think I was still finding it when I was doing the first season. With TV, you find out every week something new. It's not a script you've gotten to sit with. You find out something new every week and it's like, "Oh. Now you're going this journey and you're going to get shot or you're going to lose an arm or you're going to fight an alien," so you're always a little disoriented.
HitFix: So your character loses an arm is what you're saying?
MB: Nope! I didn't give anything away. They want me to have all my limbs.
HitFix: OK. Let's backtrack for those readers who haven't seen the show. Set your character up for me, if you would...
MB: I play Anne Glass. I'm a pediatrician and I lost my husband and child during the invasion and I start to form a strong bond with Noah's character. We connect on many levels. We're both in jobs of service -- he's an English professor and I'm a doctor -- but I think we're cerebral people who connect because of our losses and I think I gravitate towards him because he's very stoic and calming. I think Anne is very much a support system, one of the pieces of a support system for Noah's character.
HitFix: You use those words like "connection" and "bond" and you see the characters in the first episode and you assume we're going down a basic relationship road, but these characters are too messed up and busy for love, at least initially. Was that appealing to not have to go down that familiar, inevitable path?
MB: Yeah, I think it was a very deliberate choice and I think Noah was a part of that. I don't know know who said this, but it was pointed out to me that you don't want to disrespect that he just lost his wife, his kids are still around, I just lost my husband and so we're not just going to jump in the sack together. There's too much going on. There are priorities. There's a world that's just been destroyed. We also didn't want to get into that relationship too quick, because you want to earn it. You want to lengthen out the anticipation so that when or if it does actually happen, it's that much sweeter.
HitFix: It impressed me that that relationship isn't just the default direction.
MB: And we didn't do any of that, did we? Not in the whole show. It's rarely about romance. I like that. You think, "OK, are we going to do that?" And I wanted may a little bit more, but I think that's just being a woman. We want a little bit more romance, but you want it to be just a little bit of a taste.
HitFix: These are two damaged people. They don't have to rush it...
MB: Right. And I don't know. If this happened, would there be more sex? Would there be more love? Would there be less? Who has the answer? I guess you could compare it to what happens during wars. I think it bonds people together and separates people. You feel alienated and isolated, but also connected. It's not a world I'm familiar with.
HitFix: Except from this and a few other roles.
MB: Right, which I've done a few times.
HitFix: One of the things I like about this character is that she's simultaneously very capable, but also in way over her head. What's the challenge in playing that balance?
MB: That's great. I like that you said that. I'm going to steal that. "She's simultaneously very capable, but also in way over her head." That's exactly what I did and I'm going to take that soundbyte.
HitFix: I'll look for it in future interviews.
MB: You can be like, "That's not her! Where's my credit?" But that's so spot-on, because I'm a pediatrician. What do I know about massive surgeries and taking alien harnesses off? I'm in way over my head. So instead of being really, really prepared and being the doctor who knew everything, I wanted it to look like I was a little hesitant. I wanted her to be strong enough to walk in and have the authority take charge and be like, "I'm a doctor. I have my Hippocratic Oath," as they say. [She laughs.] Is that how they say it? Hippocratic Oath?
HitFix: Very convincing.
MB: Thank you. "I'm a doctor! See my stethoscope? I'm really for real!" But I also wanted her to seem a little like a deer in the headlights. That makes her more real. A pediatrician's just not going to jump into those situations. And it feels like it's the end of the world, as we know it. I like that. "Very capable, but in over my head." I'm noting that.
HitFix: When you've done TV, it seems like you've concentrated on a certain kind of very heavily serialized drama, whether it's "Daybreak" or "Journeyman" or this. How would you describe what draws you to TV projects or what TV seems to offer you?
MB: You never start out saying, "I'm only going to do a certain genre," but I think if I were going to look at it from a spiritual point of view -- humor me here -- I think it's because I like science fiction, but maybe it's also because, just on a superficial level, maybe I look like the future? Being mixed Asian and White, maybe I represent what they see as "futuristic." That could play a part in it. I think I tend to play the roles because I have this deep voice and maybe there's something in me that responds to situations that are really dark. But I don't know. I watch that kind of stuff, but I don't know how I became That Girl.
HitFix: Do you think it's that sci-fi more than other genres is just more welcoming to strong women?
MB: There you go! Thanks again! I'm just using you. I just want you to know. Honestly, there are all of these things you forget and you don't want to get all caught up in your own psychology of why you get hired and so I try to keep a little distance from that point. But yes. I have a very strong voice. I have a strong demeanor. I'm actually vulnerable underneath, but it's very real, my exterior. It's not phony. But it certainly leads me to tough roles. I'm very comfortable being strong.
HitFix: So how strong does Anne eventually get here?
MB: Not as strong as you'd think. I think she has the perfect amount of strength. I admire her, because she has the ability to say what she needs to say and know when to back off, but also she stays so fair. She doesn't let her emotions and that Hippocratic Oath that she took... She's about what's better for the masses. She's selfless. She's so strong, but it's never about her. It's always about Noah and his family and everyone else but herself. Sometimes you're like "Come on Anne. You need to talk about it." And I do. I lose it in one of the episodes. You'd have seen that one. I just lose it.
HitFix: We talked about effects and whatnot. How much were there practical effects for you to interact with in some of your more alien-heavy scenes?
MB: A lot. At one point I attack an alien and kill it and I did have to work with them. I'm used to that, so it was very familiar to me. The special effects guys are standing there while you're doing the scene. Me and Seychelle Gabriel, one of the other actresses, we were moving stuff around and you could hear it and there was steam coming off and it was great. I love that kind of stuff.
HitFix: You mentioned you watch sci-fi. What are your favorites in the genre?
MB: I always say the same: "Blade Runner," 100 percent. "Mad Max." "Alien." "Aliens." "Alien" and "Aliens" are two of my favorite movies. I'll watch them any time of the day. I love them. They're perfection to me, in different ways. The first one is my favorite. I love "Predator." I feel more relaxed, I swear on my life, when I watch science fiction. I feel more relaxed. When it's good, I feel relaxed.
HitFix: Any theories on why that is?
MB: You know, when I watch TV, I watch it to escape my brain and when my brain's focused on something really stimulating, I relax. If I'm watching something that bores me, that doesn't stimulate me, I can't escape my brain. So I don't really like reality TV. I don't watch a lot of comedies. I like dark, intense and analytical things.
HitFix: Yeah, things like "Daybreak" and "Journeyman" were very much keep-your-brain-on shows.
MB: Yeah, I like to escape my own thoughts, escape my own neurosis, escape my own analysis of my life. I like to engage in something else. It has to really capture my attention. Anything that deal with time-travel and all of that, I've just always been fascinated by it. I'm probably not that intelligent about it, but I watched the History Channel "Star Trek" thing, showing all of the gadgets and the cloaks and I was like, "I love it!" The phasers and what they would really do and how if you really did use a phaser you'd be pushed back to like the other side of the planet. You couldn't even hold it. But I love stuff like that.
And I don't think I'm a geek. I think too many cute girls are like [she puts on a breathy voice], "Oh, I'm a geek." I'm not a geek, but I love geeking out about stuff.
HitFix: Obviously lots of people feel the same way, but "Daybreak" and "Journeyman" didn't have long lives. What do you make of the idea that America may feel differently?
MB: OK, I don't know why some things hit and I think we all want to give it a formula, but I think there's just an abstract thing that happens in all businesses. Why does PinkBerry hit and something else doesn't? I don't know why. I thought "Daybreak" and "Journeyman" were great shows. Sometimes people want to say, "Oh, they're too intelligent." I give audiences way more credit. I don't think it was that we weren't good. I think it's timing. I think sometimes things just don't catch fire. Maybe it wasn't good? But I know that I thought it was good and I, to this day, think they were good. I wouldn't have done them if I didn't think they were good.
HitFix: Both shows have passionate fanbases that stuck with them to the end.
MB: I can't tell you how many people come up to me about "Journeyman." I'm shocked about it. They come up to me and they know my character's name, they know all about it. I'm so flattered, because my heart really broke when both of those shows didn't work out. I haven't had good luck. I do think there's a bit of luck. Are they good? Yeah. But are we a bit saturated now with everything? I don't know. Don't you feel overwhelmed? I turn on my TV and I'm like, "I need an hour just to decide what I want to watch for the next hour." You know? "Do I want to watch cooking? Do I want to watch ESPN?" There's so much going on. I do think people want to watch TV and think. And some people don't. I do.
HitFix: There have been reports that a second season renewal for this may be close at hand. Do you have any specific hopes for what you'd like to have a second season be and how you'd like to grow with this?
MB: Just on a personal level, I'd love to do more stuff with the women. Just as Moon Bloodgood, I'm just yearning to do more scenes with the other women. I enjoy playing the strong woman, but I'd love to do more scenes with my co-stars. I'd also love to do more stuff with Will Patton. He's such an inspiration to work with. He's just one of the best, one of the best I've ever worked with. He just made me better and just for my own selfish reasons, I want to be around that. I think Noah is fantastic in this role and any direction he goes would be great. I want to go toe-to-toe with him. We're so in-unison, I think it'd be fun to watch us go head-to-head. It'd be interesting.
"Falling Skies" premieres on Sunday, July 19 at 9 p.m. on TNT.