USA Network drama “Colony” returned for its third season earlier this month, bringing audiences back to a world overtaken by aliens, drones and walls that keep residents from escaping. This year, the story goes beyond its Los Angeles setting to explore a darker, more widespread story that is drawing comparisons to the current political climate.
Josh Holloway stars as Will Bowman, a former FBI agent recruited to help enforce the new government who soon becomes part of the resistance movement. The “Lost” alum is put to the test mentally and physically as he fights to take of his family while trying to survive the dangers of the dystopian new world.
Here, Holloway shares with Variety the challenges of filming the new season, the show’s relevance in the Trump era and how playing Sawyer stacks up to his current character.
How is Season 3 different than the past two seasons?
Season 3 is a lot of changes. First of all we moved to Canada, so that was quite a change, and the story went with that. We left the LA block and we’re searching for the resistance camp, which brought us north. It’s different in that LA has been very much a part of the show, it’s a character itself if you will. To pull that off in a way that made sense, kudos to the writers. For me, it’s amazing. From the very beginning of the show I spoke to the creators about it and they said each season they wanted to completely be different in its own way, to stand alone in its own way and that it will change every season, it’s not going to be the same show. That really happened when we moved to Canada, the Bowmans are now living on the land and isolated in the forest. It was fantastic, I love being in the forest, I grew up in Georgia with three brothers so for me, that was amazing. But it’s a heavy season, it’s a desperate season.
How has this season’s heaviness been to portray?
Heavy and dark! Up in Canada with the rain, the heavy darkness as well, it’s been tough. This, for me as an actor, is probably my toughest year yet. I have children, small children, as well, and I wake up worried every day in this terrible climate that we’re in right now and with all of the school shootings and all this stuff, I just wake up in fear a lot for my children and our future and it feels a lot like ‘Colony.’ So it’s tough, it’s tough to stay on the positive side of things. I’m a father and I have to do that and the same on ‘Colony,’ I’m the father and we have to more forward, keep going, have to have optimism in the face of seemingly odds that we’re not going to win. It’s tough and it gets tougher, the season is just ramping up with that, the season gets darker.
Season 3 starts off with seeing the family happy for essentially the first time, why was that important to show?
Because that is real, that is life. Even in the middle of tragedy, we find moments of humor, moments of tenderness, of simple happiness. The show needs a breath, the audience needs a breath, I feel like, because it’s been so intense. The family was never together and they were always in danger and this is the first time they’re all together and semi not in danger, so they’re enjoying this breath of life, this moment before the s— hits the fan. Will, my character, is like ‘Can’t we just stay here and not engage in the s— storm that is life out there?’ But there are bigger things at play and Katie’s philosophy is correct as well, we can’t just hide and leave the world to die and our children be left with that.
The show really expands its universe this season, were there any challenges that came along with that?
The show kind of blew up this season. Now we have not only the universe of what we knew before, that we had these hosts we had to fight and the occupational government, but now we have a bigger enemy that we’ve recently found out is stronger than our other enemy— which conquered earth in less than eight hours — so that’s not good. We’re like ‘Oh no, how are we going to fight this enemy that these guys are running from?’ That really opened up the universe and changed perspectives, our show constantly messes with perspectives. Who is right, who’s wrong? When is a freedom fighter a terrorist, and vice versa? And now they’re playing with the perspective of ‘Wait a second, these were our enemy, now they’re our friend? Now they’re the reason we’re even going to survive?’ So now you don’t know who to hate, who you’re fighting now. And now the occupational government you’re like ‘Well maybe they weren’t so bad if they were trying to protect us,’ even though millions and millions of people were killed. It’s a scary thing and hard to wrap your head around and very much paralleling our current global situation. It’s scary.
We have this administration in office now, and it’s crazy, but we thought ‘Oh maybe something good can come out with the North Korea thing,’ and now whoops! That blew up. It’s this instinct in us, our show really delves into the instinct we have as human beings to polarize in the face of a common enemy. The common thing in our life right now is our planet. Can our planet survive, can we get along enough to have a planet for our children later? I don’t know. We get so close to the same goal and then we blow up and we’re back to square one and back to danger and the possibility of destroying our world. It’s scary the parallels of this show. We start building walls and putting dictators in positions and now the whole Cambridge Analytical with the aggregate data. We’re just giving everything out there to everybody and we also delved into the dangers of a surveillance state which we’re having to deal with as well, everybody is watching everything through our devices. I don’t like it. And then we find the resistance, we finally find what we’re looking for, a true resistance that we can have faith in and do something in, and it’s run by a dictator and again we polarize and try to destroy each other rather than facing what we have to face.
How have you seen Will Bowman evolve since the beginning of the show?
At first, his focus was simply to get his family back together and get them safe — that’s the father’s job, get the family together and protect them. That was his focus, and he was forced to collaborate with something he didn’t agree with in order to do that. He had to make those choices which were killing him inside, because he is a person with a real code of honor as an ex-military soldier, a patriot and does not believe in this government in charge at the moment. But he has to save a child so he was forced to do that, and then once he got the child back, in order to protect the family from all being killed anyway he was forced to collaborate still, and in the nature of collaboration it just gets darker. Even though he wasn’t doing the torturing or killing of other people, if you are involved you are guilty, so it’s the tainting of your soul just being associated with that.
So that really darkened Will in the second season because it got dark, with the torturing and killing of these young resistance fighters. Just the way they handled it was horrible for my character, so he’s been tainted and he knows he is guilty of it, if you don’t stop it you are guilty, so that hurt him. Finally he was able to stop the collaboration and get on the right side of things and make a run for it. So now it feels good, Will was finally healing a little bit in the mountains at the cabin with the family, everybody’s safe, he’s on the right side of things. Everything’s all good, until it’s not. They found the resistance and it was not what they expected. It’s kind of like finding the Democratic Party, they eat each other alive and they never get anything done. It’s like ‘Resist! Oh but we don’t like how you said that, we don’t like how you said that,’ and then we get eaten alive by each other. It’s just terrible.
Where would you like to see Will end up, or what do you hope is still in store for him?
I hope Will can balance the ledger in his soul, and that to me means finding a way to save the world, finding a way for the human race to survive when we’re caught in the middle of this war, and do it a way that he can stay human. Keep the humanity, because it’s being torn out of him. I don’t know that the writers have in store, maybe they’ll leave him an empty, torn up shell of a man or maybe there will be some redemption in there. I’m hoping for the latter.
Coming off of a massive show like “Lost,” how has this project compared?
It’s quite different because ‘Lost’ was very freeing, my character did not have family or ties or cares about anything, so it was light in that way. Yes they were in a tragic situation and so forth, but he was looking out for number one, and there’s a freedom in that. As the series progressed he went kind of from the darkness to the light, whereas Will started in the light. He’s a family man, a patriot, a husband, a father, and yet through the collaboration, through all the tragedy that has happened, he’s kind of going towards the darkness, so it’s a man of light going towards the darkness. They’re opposite perspectives actually. Will is a lot harder to play, just like being a father and a husband is a lot harder than being a young single male going ‘Wahoo, let’s get it!’