Returning for its fourth season, FALLING SKIES quickly scatters its heroes and shows how tricky life can be to survive when each of them are on their own. The young Mason son, Matt (Maxim Knight) finds himself caught up in a special Espheni reeducation center. With the world as he knows it long gone, it was probably the last thing he ever expected: to find himself back in school. But like anything with the Espheni, there is always a darker side to seemingly good intentions. The reeducation center is not to really educate in the broader sense, but really to reprogram the surviving children to be compliant members of the Espheni society.
In an exclusive interview, newcomer Dakota Daulby talked about his pivotal role as a teacher inside the reeducation center and the challenges with such a tricky role.
What drew you to the role of Kent Matthews?
DAKOTA: I don’t get to play very interesting antagonist roles, so it’s always cool when I get to play something different. Kent is just very opposite of anything I’ve ever done before. So super exciting to play that. I love history as well and he’s very much rooted in history in terms of what he represents.
What do you admire about him?
DAKOTA: I admire his faithfulness to his beliefs. He is very dedicated to what he believes. I think he is a good person. It’s fun because I remember when I got the role and I came and did the read through on set. I was reading my stuff and everyone’s telling me, “oh, he’s evil, he’s so mean, he’s so bad.” Then it dawned on me that he was a bad character. I still don’t believe that. I think he’s just very dedicated to what he believes. He’s trying to help the 2nd Mass and just help in his own way. He thinks what he’s doing is right and I think he’s dedicated to those things. So I admire that about him — how dedicated he is, even to the last.
What exactly is Kent’s role on the show? What’s his journey for Season 4?
DAKOTA: This season is quite different than previous seasons because the 2nd Mass gets all split up. There’s Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) and his three sons, and they all get split up. It’s about their survival on their own for the first time. So my character, Kent Matthews, is involved in Matt’s (Maxim Knight) storyline this season and Matt finds himself in this Nazi-esque type of camp with brainwashing and rehabilitation, and Kent is there trying to influence Matt’s beliefs and trying to find out some stuff out about him. That’s Kent’s goal.
Do we find out if Kent has a backstory or is all of his story in the present?
DAKOTA: There definitely is a backstory, but we don’t go a lot into it in the show, unfortunately. But viewers will be able to imagine what it is based on what the other kids go through.
A lot of your scenes seem to be with Maxim’s character, Matt. Are Matt and Kent friends or mentor-mentee? What kind of relationship do they have?
DAKOTA: They are definitely not friends. That’s for sure. They’re quite the opposite. I doubt Matt likes my character Kent very much. Kent doesn’t dislike Matt. He just finds him frustrating. But he has respect for him, though Matt makes Kent angry several times. Kent respects what Matt stands for, but it’s a challenge trying to persuade Matt. Kent also knows what Matt is about and what that can lead to.
For you, was it challenging doing these heavier scenes opposite Maxim?
DAKOTA: Maxim was great. He’s a fabulous kid. He’s been doing this for a long time. He definitely knows exactly what he’s doing. It was cool to step into such a massive production and to have the role that I did. I remember from my first read-through at this big table with all the actors, writers, director and producers, and it’s neat because I had a feeling like, “Wow, I’ve earned my spot at this table with such well-established people who I’ve watched growing up.” Like Doug Jones, Noah Wyle, Will Patton and Colin Cunningham, who I’ve seen in films growing up. It was so cool to sit down and get to know them as people rather than characters on the screen. It was extremely cool. They’re all artists and they are all working towards the common goal to make this show good. It’s interesting to work with people who have done so much and have such well-established careers. It can be intimidating, but it was fun. You can learn a lot, and I have learned a lot.
What would you say you learned from working on FALLING SKIES?
DAKOTA: I learned the most from Noah Wyle. I didn’t work with him a lot, but when I did it was really cool because it wasn’t so much what he said to me, it was being able to sit back and watch him and see who he runs the set. He’s so professional. He knows exactly what’s going on and exactly what he’s doing because he has been doing it for so long. And that’s something I aspire to do. To have that type of ability to just walk on set and to know exactly what your character is and to know exactly what is going on in that scene. I did that myself, but he has a different way of going about it because he’s been doing it for so long. I remember one time, and it wasn’t even on set, it was while we were waiting outside and it was a nice sunny day and Noah Wyle and Will Patton were sitting on the grass just waiting for the scene to come up. I got to talking with Will Patton and I would imagine it can be so difficult because they have been doing this show for years and it may get repetitive, but for him, he’s got such passion for his character and every little detail is important to him. So it is really cool to see that passion from someone who has been doing a role for so long. It’s something I want to have — that passion. It’s really remarkable and he doesn’t let any little thing get past him that doesn’t feel right for his character. He’s an advocate for his character and it’s neat to see. To me, it’s not the size of the role; it’s what you do with the role. If you put something into it and you put something behind the words that you say and you make it a living, breathing, three-dimensional character, then people remember that.
Was there any particular challenges working on the show?
DAKOTA: I found it interesting because this was kind of my first break into television and it was a cool place to break into it. But in television, you aren’t doing it every day, especially when the storyline is as fragmented as it is this season with all the characters split up. Everyone has their own little storyline. So filming jumps back and forth between the storylines, so you’re not working every day. I found it interesting after my first episode remember that I had to play this character again like a week and a half later, and there was a little bit of fear there thinking, “What if I forget my character?” But you don’t. He’s in your blood after you portray him for a while, and he’ll always be in my blood now. So that was a funny realization for me that these actors have to play these characters week after week, month after month, and it’s interesting when you don’t play them for a few days or weeks. Usually with filming for films, you do it all in one shot. You work on a film for a couple of months or a couple weeks, and you’re in that character’s head-space for a time. If you’re in and out, it’s interesting having to recall that — to recall mannerisms and body movements. But it comes back when you see the script again. It all comes back to you.
Who are we going to meet at the reeducation center? Who are the players there?
DAKOTA: There’s my character Kent and Matt, obviously. Then there’s another character. Matt finds himself having a little bit of a love interest this season, which is neat.
Does the reeducation involve any fight training for the students?
DAKOTA: No, it’s more mental. It’s based off of some Nazi/Hitler youth programs and how they tried to take over someone’s brain and rewire them, in a way. That’s another thing I admire about Kent: he’s a very charismatic person. He’s very smart in that regard and he’s quite good at what he does. He knows how to get into someone’s brain and rewire things quite well.
That has to be a juicy role when you have a character that has to come across one way, but is ultimately trying to achieve something else.
DAKOTA: It’s neat ’cause he’s a bad guy and when you get to play a bad guy it’s fun because you don’t have to go by the same guidelines and boundaries as you do when you play the good guy. Bad guys can just do whatever because they’re bad. So it’s fun to play someone like that. It’s interesting when you have a charismatic bad guy — you hate him, but you love him.
Does Kent really believe in the Espheni cause or he just trying to find his way in this world?
DAKOTA: Totally. A hundred percent.
Are we always going to see Kent and the trainees at the reeducation center or will we see them out in the field a bit?
DAKOTA: Yeah, they get out of the rehabilitation center as the season progresses and there’s a little more action.
Are there any actors you would have loved to have had the opportunity to work more with on the show?
DAKOTA: Doug Jones. Actually Doug Jones and I have become quite good friends. We talk and hang out quite a bit now. I would have loved to have worked with him more. And Will Patton. I talked with him a lot, but I didn’t get to work with him a lot as our storyline were quite separate. So I would have loved to have worked with him as well as Noah Wyle. I got to work with them a little bit, but they are actors I definitely aspire to work more with. That’s for sure, either in this project or another project.
One of the bigger goals of this season is revenge. FALLING SKIES was always about retreat, regroup, return. But they added a fourth element to the plan this year. How realistic is it that the surviving humans can actually get revenge?
DAKOTA: There’s a point when you can only take so much and the 2nd Mass has definitely taken a lot in the last 3 years. So now they’re on the offense now, rather than the defense, which is nice. It’s important for their survival because the Epheni have really been hitting them hard lately.
What about Kent? Where does he stand?
DAKOTA: He’s definitely quite involved with the Espheni and there’s some new characters that are revealed this season. In fact, he receives his orders from the Espheni and he’s a product of what he’s doing to these kids. He’s the result of what is to come with these kids if Kent does his job properly. Kent is also the kind of person that tries to live without regrets. He is so involved in what he believes and he believes in it so much. So he does everything he can to achieve that. And he is really trying to help these kids, in his mind.
What kinds of teasers would you like to offer for the fans about this season?
DAKOTA: I think this season is going to show a different side of all the characters. All the characters are going to grow because they are all a little bit on their own. They all have to fight for themselves. They are all going to grow as human beings and they are all going to find the strength within themselves because they are on their own. They have to search for each other and fight to get back to each other. There’s definitely a passion there because when you’re fighting desperately to get back to your family, that’s a fight and a will to survive.
Do you have any favorites amongst all the different types of aliens?
DAKOTA: Doug Jones and the Volm. They are just cool looking. They’re super tall and strong. Then the skitters are gross and freaky. But the Volm are badass. I’d love to work with the Volm.
To find out what is really going on in the reeducation centers and whether Matt will find a way to work with or against Kent, be sure to tune in for all new episodes of FALLING SKIES on Sunday nights at 9:00 p.m. on TNT.