Exclusive Blog Interview with Connor Jessup! Blackbird, Falling Skies Season 3!

Photo Credit: Josh Madson

Check out my review of Blackbird and interview with Connor Jessup’s super talented cast mate, Alex Ozerov!

So the coolest thing happened to me today. I answered the phone and heard “Hi! This is Connor Jessup!”

Earlier I had the great honor of being able to do a phone interview with Connor Jessup (Ben Mason), from the set of Season 3. We discussed his upcoming film Blackbird, and a little bit about Ben Mason going into Season 3. 

Blog: Can you tell us about Blackbird?

CJ: Blackbird is this Canadian indie film, coming of age story about this boy named Sean Randall, living in small town Nova Scotia with his dad. He is a city guy, grew up in the city that’s where he thinks he belongs. He dresses Goth. He feels somewhat lost and confused, feelings that most teenagers are familiar with to some degree. He is in love with this girl and she kind of spurns him at the wrong moment, he gets angry, writes some stuff online. Totally innocent kid, not violent at all, but because of the way he presents himself to the world, he gets accused of planning a Columbine like crime. He gets sent to juvenile detention.  The movie is basically about him, about his relationships with his family, this girl, the people he meets in prison, how he changes across the film and the year and a half the film takes place. It’s kind of a classic coming of age story with a modern twist.

Blog: Kind of a dark twist there.

CJ: Yeah

Blog: What attracted you to the project in the beginning?

CJ: My agent sent it to me; I think I was away at the time. I taped it on the road and I sent it in. You know, you send in tapes and you hope to hear something back, often you don’t. I was excited about it right off the bat because it was a Canadian project, fantastic script, seemed like something I would enjoy. I didn’t start getting really excited about it until I got the part and met Jason [Buxton] our director and Stéphanie [Biron] our DP and listened to the cinematic vision they had for the film, the way they were going to bring the script to life. It was my first time working with a writer/director on a feature film and that made a big difference. I got caught up in this vision they had for the movie. The shooting was quick and whirlwind, I was in basically every shot and we shot over twenty days which is very short for this kind of project. It was an incredible experience!

Blog: Jason Buxton mentioned that you did a pretty unique video audition for Blackbird; can you tell us a little about what that was?

CJ: He said that?

Blog: He did.

CJ: Let’s see, a pretty unique video audition. I think my audition was pretty standard, I remember him saying he liked it a lot. I taped it in L.A. with a friend of mine. Being really rushed, trying to mix it up. You’re trying to find something exciting to do that’s maybe not in the script, or other who have auditioned for it haven’t done before. So I was chewing gum, and reading lines different than they were in the script; just trying to amuse myself more than anything.

What was really weird was our call back. I found out they wanted to see me again, in person, that he [Jason Buxton] was going to be there. I walked into this room and everybody was sort of tense, giving me these sort of shifty looks. I was totally put off by this. Only later, after we finished shooting, did I hear that there had been a miscommunication; they thought I was an hour and a half late, and I thought I was on time. Somewhere along the way, between me, my agent, and them, somebody had messed up. That’s why there was all this tension in the room, and I was completely oblivious to it.

Blog: You said Jason Buxton was the first writer/director you worked with as an actor on a feature, what was that like?

CJ: I’ve done a lot of TV, you know that’s what I do mainly, and the directors are different. A lot of them are for hire, they are there for one episode maybe and they aren’t involved at all in the writing process. But when you have a writer/director, the movie is entirely their vision. It’s nice to work with someone and not have to interpret someone else’s vision; they’re bringing their own words, their own story to life. It gives you a lot of flexibility, especially with someone like Jason, who is very collaborative. You have in-depth conversations about details and scripts and semantics, you can hash it out on set.

Blog: I know you described your character, Sean, a little bit. Is he someone you identify with?

CJ: Yeah. I think you’d have to be kind of strange to not identify with the core of the film, which is a coming of age story. As most coming of age stories are, it is about universal themes like adolescence, feeling confused and lost, out of place; maybe surrounded by people who don’t make a lot of sense to you sometimes. These are all typical teenage “symptoms”. The great thing about movies is you can take these normal things we all know, and spin them in a way we haven’t seen before, make us all reconsider them. That’s why I liked Blackbird and responded to Sean. Obviously I’ve never dressed like Sean, or been as confused and lost as Sean, but the symptoms I think we’ve all experienced. Hopefully people can relate to it when they see it.

Blog: Now, most people in America know you as Ben Mason on Falling Skies. Whereas being on the Super Channel, I think not as many Canadians are aware. How do you think Ben has changed over the course of two seasons?

CJ: (Long pause) A lot.

He’s a completely different person now. In Season 1, he was never on the front lines, never fought, and never participated in any of the “fun stuff” as I called it. He was more passive and optimistic and super, super childlike. In Season 2, obviously the change is dramatic. He is participating in the action now, these changes that have been happening to him have become more pronounced. As a result, he’s become colder, more violent, and more resistant; he has a sort of blood-thirst to him which is odd, and sort of scary to his family. He’s much, much more physical. He’s doing things in Season 2 that I never even dreamt of doing in Season 1.

Blog: I know Greg Beeman basically gave you two weeks to get in shape in Season 2?

CJ: Pretty much. Actually it was three weeks if I’m being generous. As soon as he knew, he phoned me up and said “You’re an action hero now. Get buff.” As anyone who has been to a gym, or walked past a gym, knows, you just can’t get buff in three weeks; especially when you start out at base zero like I did. But, I tried my best and there was a lot of movie magic in there too.

Blog: Does Ben continue this action hero arc in Season 3?

CJ: I think I can say pretty much yes without giving away too much. He definitely doesn’t go back to being a civilian. Once you start fighting you don’t really stop. At the end of Season 2, the spikes are still there and the effects are still present, and still growing. It’s a continuing story line for sure.


OK. There you have it folks. The very first Blog cast interview. I am so excited about seeing Blackbird at the Toronto International Film Festival with Lauren on Sunday or Monday (our tickets are in flux). Make sure to check out all of the articles and video tagged “Blackbird!” 


I have previously mentioned Connor’s selection in the Toronto International Film Festival’s Rising Stars program, but I wanted to go a bit more in-depth on it, because it is such a great program and opportunity. 

This selection is such an honor for Connor Jessup and the three others selected. Over the course of four days they have an intense but super rewarding program to go through. Rising Stars attend a series of public events and private industry meetings. They spend time and receive intense professional development work with internationally acclaimed  casting directors, filmmakers, producers and development executives. They are front row and center at some of the biggest red-carpet events at TIFF. This program is a great and dedicated way to encourage and promote up and coming Canadian talent on a world stage! So, big big congratulations to  Charlie Carrick, Connor Jessup, Tatiana Maslany, and Charlotte Sullivan, the TIFF 2012 Rising Stars! Keep your eyes on these talented people, we will definitely be seeing more of them in the future!


~ by The Falling Skies Blog on September 5, 2012.

6 Responses to “Exclusive Blog Interview with Connor Jessup! Blackbird, Falling Skies Season 3!”

  1. Great interview…loved it!! Kind of jealous now 😉

  2. […] more information and perspective on Blackbird, check out my exclusive interview with Connor Jessup! Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  3. […] story Blackbird tells (check out my interview with Connor Jessup for a great synopsis of the overarching themes) is such an important one for today’s world. It […]

  4. […] out my previous interview with Alex, and my interview with cast mates Connor Jessup and Wayne […]

  5. […] sure to check out my interview with Connor Jessup, where he discusses both his recent film BLACKBIRD and Ben Mason going into Season […]

  6. Connor Jessup is so humorous !!!

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