Pretty often during his new series "Falling Skies," Noah Wyle really needs to scrub up.
The still-baby-faced actor, who turned 40 a little more than a week ago, is the star of TNT's new sci-fi alien invasion series (produced by Steven Spielberg!), a vast departure from his more-than-decade-long role as Dr. John Carter on the medical drama "ER."
Are you glad the doctor role went to co-star Moon Bloodgood and not you?
Well, there was no way I was going to take the doctor role first and foremost. Moon [was] relieved to have me standing at her elbow - she got the benefit of 15 years of television medical education. She gets to look slick with absolutely not having to go through the boot camp.
How did you get attached to this series?
It came about because of a pretty fruitful and long-lasting relationship that I have with TNT making the "Librarian" movies with them. I was enjoying having a freer schedule, and nothing really caught my attention until this. I really like the character.
What did you like about him?
I really liked how dynamic this character was, and it kind of scared me to step up, front and center, and play the heroic leading-man role. I've been very accustomed and comfortable working in the body of an ensemble.
How was it working with Moon and Will Patton?
They're great. I think I'd follow Will Patton to the end of the Earth. We had a lot of fun playing together. And Moon was terrific - she's a great actress and she's beautiful and she came to work absolutely game to get filthy dirty.
Was "Falling Skies" difficult to shoot?
It was kind of tough shooting - it was all practical locations, no studio work. And you're filthy and it's raining a lot and it's cold. It takes a very interesting chemistry of people to get along and have a good sense of humor in those conditions, and have the same work ethic at the same time.
It must have been pretty different shooting "ER."
Well, "ER" is just the opposite - "ER" is [chiefly] stage work. Mostly I lived on Stage 11 on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Calif., for a decade.
On TV: "Falling Skies" debuts Sunday at 9 p.m. on TNT.