When Moon Bloodgood was growing up, there weren’t a lot of Asian actors on TV or in the movies, much less Korean ones, so she is doing her best to change that with a leading role as Dr. Anne Glass in TNT’s sci-fi series “Falling Skies,” premiering its third season on Sunday, and as Blair Williams in “Terminator Salvation.”
Bloodgood, whose father is an American of Dutch and Irish descent and whose mother is Korean, earned a Saturn Award nomination for Best Actress for her role as Anne, one of four nominations the show has received.
This season Anne’s storyline on “Falling Skies” centers around the birth of her first child — who is way too precocious to be a normal baby, but no one but Anne sees it.
“They think it is postpartum depression,” says Bloodgood, who is also a new mom in real life. “The baby is not [talking] around other people. Any normal, rational human being would think it is in my head. But Anne is the most rational person. She is so calm. She never has off-kilter ideas, so when this happen, she really resents the fact that nobody believes her. So she takes matters into her own hands.”
What action she takes will not be revealed by Bloodgood until the series unfolds. But she did sit down for an exclusive interview with XfinityTV in which she talks about how she came to her acting career by default, why action roles are perfect for her, what it means to be Korean in American, and more.
After working for many years in big budget Hollywood films and television, you’ve recently turned to smaller, indie films, like “Beautiful Boy” and “The Sessions,” for which you won an award at the Sundance Film Festival for Dramatic Ensemble Acting. What draws you to these smaller, intimate projects, as opposed to films like “Terminator Salvation”?
I think most actors want to do movies that are more intimate. I think, for me and a lot of actors, it is the road you want to travel on because the story is more unique, there is more time spent on character development, and the narrative is more interesting than big-budget films. Big-budget films have their place, too, because you get to do action moves, it is more broad and it has more of a macro view of a story, whereas the indie films are more character driven and more intimate. I am very drawn to stories that feel more realistic and that the audience can identify with more.
Catch-up on past“Falling Skies” episodes before Sunday’s premiere
You’ve been in the entertainment business for many years: as a Laker Girl in your teens, and as a professional voice and film/TV actor since the late 1990s. Where did you initially develop your acting skills?
First of all, I never thought I would be an actress. I didn’t start acting until I was probably 28 or 29. I really wanted to do music. I started off as a hip-hop, jazz dancer and I knew that had a short lifespan, so I also wanted to do singing and song writing. I worked with people like Paul Anka and some other songwriters, but it never really happened for me.
Then acting just kept coming my way, and I kept refusing it. Finally, I started to embrace it and started to study a little bit, but I still feel like I am a novice when it comes to acting. I don’t feel like I am seasoned whatsoever. I never went to Julliard. I took class for a little while, but I don’t feel like I am a true-study actor, but I certainly respect the craft. I am always trying to hone my skills and be better.
I have an insecurity with my acting because I think I am more musically inclined, or as a dancer, which is why action films work well for me because of the dancing background. I had done a million commercials. I remember there were commercial agents who would ask me when I was going to start acting and I never really wanted to. But then, for some reason, that door opened for me. It is certainly hard and a lot of work but it has been the easiest of all the vocations I have tried. But I always feel I could do better if I had gotten more training.
As hard as it’s been, don’t you also learn a lot on set working with other actors?
You do. It is like what people say when they go to business school: You can go to business school but until you open your own business, you are not going to understand the fundamentals. That’s how it’s been for me. So much of my learning has been absorbing what I see. For example, in “Sessions,” I just methodically watched John Hawkes and Helen Hunt, probably not letting them know I was watching, to see how they handled themselves.
Your mother is Korean. How has that influenced you?
Words can’t explain. I was raised primarily by my Korean family and my father is Caucasian. I feel as if I exist in two worlds. There is my Korean culture and then there is my American culture. Sometimes the two are in alliance; sometimes they are in conflict. I feel always pulled between the two. I never felt completely American; and I have never felt completely Korean because I am mixed and because I am second generation Korean-American.
I have been influenced by my mother enormously. So much of my relationship to my culture is because of my mother and my family, including my values and how I view family. Then, I have also realized as I have gotten older that there are things that I reject as well. I think that is customary for anyone who was born in two cultures.
Is there anywhere you feel as if you fit in?
I have talked to other friends who are half-Asian/half-white, and we feel as if when we go to Hawaii — there is nowhere else in the world that when you go there — you feel you are part of the majority, not the minority when you are mixed. Because when you are mixed Asian and white, you are always the minority. There are so few of you, so when you go to Hawaii, you feel as if you are amongst your people.
Your father is American of Dutch descent and your parents met when he was stationed in South Korea. Do you still have any ties there? Any family stories about those days?
My parents met in Korea. I wasn’t born yet. My sister was born in Korea. I was actually born in Nebraska, believe it or not, a town called Alliance. I was there until I was 2-1/2. I have no memories or it and I would like to go back.
I have spent a lot of time in Korea because at one point I was the Korean-American Ambassador for Tourism. It sounds like a really exciting title but I don’t know that I really did anything with it. So, I have been to Korea five times, but I wasn’t raised there. Still, it feels very familiar when I go there. I feel I understand it on a core level because of my upbringing with my Korean family, who, like a lot of first generation families, are very much not Americanized.
I slept on the floor, I ate on the floor until I was 18. We didn’t have a dining table. I still sometimes eat on the floor. We have these little, Korean tables, so I feel very steeped in my heritage.
You once said, “I wish people thought of me that way, especially young Asian/American girls because it’s so important to have someone like you that you can see in movies or on television and think, ‘She’s just like me.’ I don’t know if people even realize I’m Korean – well, my mom is Korean and my dad is Dutch-Irish – but I’m very proud of my heritage. I’ve gone to Korea several times and I identify more with my Korean side than my Dutch/Irish side. I know from experience how good it feels when you see someone of Asian heritage up there on the screen, because there weren’t many of them when I was growing up.” So, the question here is, did you have any Asian icons to watch on-screen growing up?
Zero. I am 37. What was on TV but “M*A*S*H”? Nothing until … I remember when “The Joy Luck Club” came out. I was, “Oh, great. Finally an Asian movie with American actors, who are Asian and speak English.” When I was growing up, what Asian figures were there? If you watched “Magnum, P.I.,” you maybe had a couple of Hawaiians in there. If you watched “M*A*S*H,” you had a couple of Asians, who weren’t even Koreans. There were zero role models. I remember looking in fashion magazines and there weren’t any Asian models. It is so normal now, but you still don’t see a lot of Asians on covers of magazines. Cindy Crawford, I remember, was a big deal because she had brown eyes.
I didn’t consider myself an attractive person. I was ashamed at times. I think as a human being … as much as we want to think we are individuals and we don’t need other people, we absolutely need images that reinforce that we are not alone. Kids need role models because it makes them feel less alone and isolated. I think that is why Catcher in the Rye is so popular. Part of being young is the feeling that you don’t fit in. When you don’t have anyone to model yourself after, especially if you are mixed like me, you feel alone. I know Mariah Carey has talked about being half-black and half-white.
Now, it’s cool and its beautiful and its interesting and unique. It just wasn’t that way when I was a kid. Not that I am telling you a sob story. I don’t know if kids need a role model anymore, because there are more of them, like Maggie Q.
I remember one of the women from “The Joy Luck Club” telling me that she was supposed to have a whole love arc on “M*A*S*H” with Alan Alda, but they got such hate mail, they cut out the whole storyline. That is how it was back then. I looked at her and I thought … I guess I have done a little bit more than she has, but I thought, “I am no different than her. In fact, I have had it better than she has, and the girls under me, will have it better than me.”
If you didn’t have any Asian idols growing up, who were your idols?
I had Bruce Lee. I had him but he was male. I was really into music when I was younger. I loved everything from Fleetwood Mac to Paula Abdul, because she was a trained dancer. I loved Cindy Crawford, I thought she was so beautiful.
You know what made me feel more normal was watching “Pippi Longstockings” — or Molly Ringwald — because Pippi had red hair, and she was poor and I was poor, and I didn’t look like the beautiful blondes in “Can’t Buy Me Love” … that is what I loved about the John Hughes movies. He took people that weren’t typical. They were unique. They didn’t have to be rich, but they were interesting. Those were my role models.
What have your trips to Korea been like?
One trip I went to the Puchon Film Festival and my mom went with me — and my mom is from Puchon. It is one of the port cities that survived against the North Koreans invading that MacArthur helped protect. It was great to be there and see my mom see that it was no longer the city she recognized. When she grew up there, I don’t even know if there was electricity. Watching her see that it has become a full, Westernized city, that it is a metropolitan, port city … it was mindboggling to watch it through her eyes.
My mom told me a lot of stories about the Korean War and I always ached for her. I am a very emotional person and I used to cry. It was sad. They were starving and almost died. I would hear the stories about what she went through.
Being there, having been invited, and to get the kind of treatment we did, it was like coming full circle. My mom, with everything she had been through, got to see me be successful and be treated with respect. Seeing it through her eyes made it one of the best trips I have ever been on.
So your parents met during the war?
My mother is older. They met after the war. My father is about 10 years older than my mom. He was serving after the war. My mom and I feel so patriotic and so indebted to America and all the people who lost their lives, so we could be free. A lot of countries fought in the war, but if not for MacArthur and the United States, Korea would be a completely different place. It would probably be controlled by China.
Any stereotypes you’ve battled?
It is hard, because you don’t want to sound as if you are complaining and so many people have had it harder than I have. I have a very good life and have been blessed with a lot of opportunities. In the industry … look at where I’m at. I’m in leading roles and I’m Asian-American, so I can’t complain.
That being said, when I was growing up, my mother wasn’t always treated in a way that made me feel like she was an equal. There was definitely racism for sure. It wasn’t in your face and completely cruel, but it was subtle and a sense of not feeling as if you belonged.
Can you cook Korean dishes?
I can. I am not like my mother, but I have recently gotten into cooking and I can cook some Korean dishes. I can do basic stuff. I can do Kimchi fried rice and a beef called Kalbi. I love it. I have really been getting into cooking. I mix some of my Korean ingredients with some of my more American dishes and I get creative.
“Falling Skies” premieres its third season with a special two-hour episode on Sunday, June 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on TNT.