O’Mara finds himself traveling through time once more
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - The last time Jason O’Mara traveled into the past on TV, he only went as far as the ’70s, as Sam Tyler on the short-lived cop drama “Life on Mars.’’ As patriarch Jim Shannon on the new Fox family adventure series “Terra Nova,’’ the Irish actor heads back a little further, 85 million years or so. And instead of coping with polyester suits, he’s battling prehistoric wildlife that he can’t see. (The dinosaurs are inserted later via complex CGI effects.) Recently, O’Mara chatted with TV critics about the challenges of turning back the clock and shooting in picturesque Queensland, Australia.
Q. Were you excited to get back into the time travel business?
A. Well, I called my family, saying, “Guess what? I got a new show. It’s about a cop who travels in time.’’ And they said, “I think we’ve seen that one’’ [laughs]. I was aware of the similarities when I read the script. But the differences are so overwhelming that I can’t really compare the two. Sam Tyler’s challenges were internal, more so than Jim’s, which are external. His challenges are to do with getting on with the day to day in Terra Nova and trying to get past some of this wildlife, which can be a little tricky from time to time, just trying to stay alive.
Q. How much training have you had with green screens and how hard was it?
A. I took Green Screen 101, which was the class right after lunch on a Thursday. And that’s seen me through [laughs]. No, honestly, there is no training for it. And I think experience is probably the best thing. Luckily for us, I get a second take, which is always useful when I blow the first one. And we have Stephen Lang, who has become this kind of maestro of how to react to things that aren’t there. He did it for three years on “Avatar.’’
Q. Are there days where you just enjoy the beauty of where you are working?
A. Yes. I mean, it’s beautiful. I think also because we do all feel so far from home, we’ve had to create sort of a sense of adventure, that we are here to do something very special and something perhaps that hasn’t been done before. And so we already feel like we are sort of displaced pioneer families just showing up. So that makes our jobs a little easier as actors.
Interview was edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at email@example.com.