Brandon Jay McLaren on ‘Falling Skies’ Season 2

McLaren talks about his stint on TNT's hit sci-fi series and his next project, “Graceland.”

Fred Topelby Fred Topel


SPOILER WARNING for the most recent episode of "Falling Skies"! Don't read this interview until you get caught up on last night's shocking turn of events.

In the latest episode of "Falling Skies," we witnessed the last episode Brandon Jay McClaren will ever film of the show. His character, Jamil Dexter, died dramatically when alien bugs exploded from his stomach.

We’re sad to see him go, but happy to have a chance to interview him about his memorable scene, and his upcoming role on USA’s drama “Graceland.”


CraveOnline: Were you satisfied with your death scene?

Brandon Jay McLaren: I got to see it in ADR. I did some ADR for the scene and it looked great. I think the special effects team did an amazing job. It’s quite horrifying.

CraveOnline: What was the special effects process to create that?

Brandon Jay McLaren: For me it wasn’t much. I just had to act on the day. I just had to act as if all these alien spider creatures were just pouring out of my mouth and they just inserted all these actual images in post production.

CraveOnline: How do you imagine something like that?

Brandon Jay McLaren: It was pretty easy. It was cold, I was on the floor, it was wet. You’ve just got to go for it. I guess it’s akin to when you’re just dry heaving and you need to get something out of you. But I know the next morning my neck was really, really sore because I was just doing that over and over again.

CraveOnline: How did the producers of the show prep you for this?

Brandon Jay McLaren: You know, I showed up on set one day and Greg Beeman pulled me aside and he was like, “Hey, so the next episode, I think Jamil’s going to get the axe.” So I was like all right, all right, it was cool. He just pulled me aside and told me the next episode when I get the script, don’t be alarmed.

CraveOnline: Was there any part of you that was like, “Aw, man, can’t it be Pope or Weaver?”

Brandon Jay McLaren: [Laughs] No, no. I’m probably a little disappointed, only because I’d just started to get good with the rest of the cast. You just start to get into your groove with the character. I just enjoyed everybody on the show so much, the crew and the cast and everybody, so I was a little disappointed but I had just booked a pilot, so it kind of worked out. I booked a pilot the week before. It all just kind of worked out well.

CraveOnline: What are you going to miss about being on “Falling Skies?”

Brandon Jay McLaren: Every time we go to work, there’s always a group of us. Everybody was always  in good spirits. There was a lot of night shoots. The weather’s cold and still everybody managed to always be enjoying themselves. It’s a really nice inviting fun set to come to work to every day.

CraveOnline: Even though you’d been warned ahead of time, what were your emotions when you read that final script?

Brandon Jay McLaren: It was sad and I just hope that the audience feels a little bit of sadness too because I did like Jamil’s character. He’s a good dude which is good. I think it makes for good television when some of the good characters get offed because it just reinforces the stark reality of the world that these people live in where anybody can die at any time.

CraveOnline: What did you enjoy about your time on “Falling Skies?”

Brandon Jay McLaren: I enjoyed pretending to be able to fix stuff. That was nice because I can’t fix anything in real life. I’m really not a handyman and Jamil can pretty much make anything out of anything, so that was fun. I enjoyed working with guys like Noah Wyle and learning from them. That was great.

CraveOnline: What were some of the toughest parts of shooting?

Brandon Jay McLaren: Some of the tougher parts, there were a lot of tough parts. I would say just the weather in Vancouver in the winter can be kind of unforgiving. It can be challenging at times when it’s just pouring rain but like I said, the cast and crew who are so great, they make it a lot easier because their spirits are always up.

CraveOnline: Where will you be on Sunday now to watch “Falling Skies?”

Brandon Jay McLaren: I’ll just probably be in my apartment just taking it in inside and reading the tweets. Hopefully there’ll be some shocked fans out there.

CraveOnline: Have you been waiting a long time to see what happens next, since you stopped getting the scripts?

Brandon Jay McLaren: Yeah, I don’t really have an idea what happens after Sunday’s episode. I am looking forward to seeing what else happens in the following three episodes.

CraveOnline: What was your favorite episode for Jamil?

Brandon Jay McLaren: I think this one will be my favorite episode only because I went for it in that death scene and I think it’s going to be pretty shocking and hopefully kind of heartbreaking, so I’m looking forward to this one.


Photo Credit: Joe DeAngelis


CraveOnline: Tell us about the pilot you booked.

Brandon Jay McLaren: Absolutely. We just got picked up about two weeks ago so we’re going to series. That’s great news. It’s called “Graceland” for USA Network and it’s about five undercover federal agents who live in this house, this mansion on Venice Beach.

A new guy comes to live with us, a new undercover agent who’s fresh out of Quantaco and it turns out that he’s there to maybe investigate one of the guys in the house. But we don’t know that. It’s really, really cool. Jeff Eastin is the creator. He’s the guy who does “White Collar” so we’re going to go to camera in a couple months.

CraveOnline: Did you do a lot of training and research to play a federal agent?

Brandon Jay McLaren: Yeah, yeah. We had a gentleman come in, an ex federal agent come in and do some workshops with the main cast. We got to ask him a bunch of questions and get into the head of these people who lead these kind of lives.

CraveOnline: Is there a lot of action on that show?

Brandon Jay McLaren: Yup, a lot of action. We’re all undercover agents so there’s a lot of guns and shooting and motorcycles and high speed chases. There’s also a little bit of surfing because we’re on the beach so it has elements of everything.

CraveOnline: Does this apply to agents, would you do ride-alongs and shadow anyone on the job?

Brandon Jay McLaren: No, not for the pilot but now that we’re going to series, that would be great. That might be a possibility now that it’s going to series.

CraveOnline: Since you had experience on “Falling Skies,” was the action on “Graceland” pretty easy by comparison?

Brandon Jay McLaren: I mean, it’s obviously different. “Falling Skies” was this fictional world with aliens and stuff. With this it’s more police sort of law enforcement type of action but it’s exciting nonetheless.

CraveOnline: Where are you shooting “Graceland?”

Brandon Jay McLaren: Well, we shot the pilot in L.A. I’m not sure where we’re going to shoot the series but I’ve heard rumblings of South Florida.

CraveOnline: Do you surf?

Brandon Jay McLaren: No, I don’t surf. But I don’t think my character in the show surfs either, but oh well.

CraveOnline: What character do you play in this house of agents?

Brandon Jay McLaren: I play Dale Jakes. I’m an undercover federal customs agent so I deal with anybody who smuggles things in and out of the country, drugs, contraband, firearms, that sort of thing. And I’m a little hotheaded, a little quick on the trigger if you will, and I kind of give the new guy a hard time. But also once you break down Jakes, he’s also very, very loyal. He’s just one of those guys who takes a while to penetrate.

CraveOnline: Does he have some personal issues we’re going to find out about too?

Brandon Jay McLaren: Yeah, yeah. He has a whole backstory that we’re going to really delve into in the first season. Nothing that I really can divulge right now because I don't know if anything is absolutely set yet, but I’m sure once we start shooting, we’re going to get into that.

CraveOnline: What else is going on in your life between “Falling Skies” and “Graceland?”

Brandon Jay McLaren: When I wrapped “Falling Skies” I took a trip to the Caribbean to visit my grandma which is great. I was out there for two weeks in Grenada. Then after that I went to Poland for two and a half weeks to go watch some of the European soccer championships.

I got tickets to three games. I’m a huge soccer fan. Now I’m back in L.A. and just trying to maybe get another movie or something before we start to shoot the show.

CraveOnline: You mentioned reading comments on Twitter. What sort of comments do you get on the movies you were in? Are there She’s the Man fans out there?

Brandon Jay McLaren: Oh yeah, a lot of She’s the Man fans, a lot of “Harper’s Island” and a lot of Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil fans. Yeah, there’s a lot of fans from all the projects.

CraveOnline: “Harper’s Island” was a pretty bold experiment at the time. How do you look back on that?

Brandon Jay McLaren: Oh, that was fantastic. I met so many great friends on that show. At the time it was a pretty massive deal. I was so grateful to be a part of something that could really try to break some ground with the concept. It was a great experience.

CraveOnline: You’ve been killed off of a number of shows by now.

Brandon Jay McLaren: Yeah, exactly. I’ve been burned alive. “Harper’s Island” I got stabbed in the eye and Sunday night was a whole other one.


Photo Credit: Joe DeAngelis