Toronto actor Connor Jessup: from Hollywood to living on a Japanese rice farm, and back again

Connor Jessup is possibly the most interesting 19-year-old in Hollywood — especially since he’s not actually in Hollywood at the moment. Since wrapping production on season three of his alien invasion series, Falling Skies, the Toronto native has been on the road, most recently living on a rice farm in rural Japan, where he’s working on more film projects to write, direct and produce.

We caught up with Jessup just before the Falling Skies third season finale on a rare few days in Los Angeles.

Life on the road

“I was in San Diego on the weekend, which was awesome, and I’m here until Thursday, then back to Japan,” he says. “That’s where I’m living right now. I’m living on a rice farm, a run-down rice farm, actually. This is my first real year without high school, so I decided to just do some travelling. So since February I’ve been on the road, and since May I’ve been in Japan.

Finding time to be a filmmaker

“One of the nicest things about being on a TV show that’s relatively long-running is that you get six months of the year of hard work and then six months of the year of free time — well, not free time because you’re still working and trying to get stuff or on a movie or something — but generally the other six months are less full of work,” he says. “There’s a couple of shorts that I’m working on and a feature. But I’ve been doing stuff like that since I was 14 or 15. Right now I’m in Japan writing something that takes place in Japan. It takes place basically right in the place where I’m writing, so all I have to do is look out the window, which is convenient.”

Getting an early start

“When I was 15, there were these friends of mine who I admired who were recent grads of film school. They’d done some really great shorts and they were doing an indie, micro-budget feature so I helped produce it,” he says. “This is pre-Kickstarter, and they were doing the fundraising. I kicked in, so I was an executive producer and I did every odd job on set. I was a grip, a boom operator, an assistant director. But the movie got into (the Toronto International Film Festival) and a whole bunch of other festivals, so that was kind of my first exposure to behind the scenes life. It’s wonderful. It’s really the best part of the business.”

Season finale

Connor Jessup teases that the third season of Falling Skies, which wraps up Sunday evening, goes out with a bang for the city of Charleston. “It’s sort of an image of what life was like before, and we’re trying to maintain it, but it’s more fragile than we thought,” he says. “It kind of literally and metaphorically comes crumbling down. So we’re thrown back out onto the road, back into the wild world. Just like in season two where we were dashing about from place to place, going on missions, we were kind of nomadic. Season three, we managed to stay in one place for the most part, but that gets shattered very quickly. It affects my character, Ben, in the same way that it affects everyone else in that it sucks.”

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