Noah Wyle, 41, returns as warrior-statesman Tom Mason in the second season of the acclaimed TNT series Falling Skies. Returning on June 17, the Steven Spielberg-produced drama promises new creatures and new threats.

Falling Skies chronicles the human resistance movement against a violent alien invasion, which sees Wyle’s character become the tactical leader of a band of survivors. Although it’s set in present day, much of modern technology is destroyed in the attack, reverting human condition back to 18th-century standards. “For good reason, man has to fear the night again," Wyle added.

In fact, there is much to be said about the Falling Skies’ parallels with the American Revolution, screenwriter Remi Aubuchon told the L.A. Times. A former history professor and now captain of the group 2nd Massachusetts, Tom Mason “gets to be one of the next Founding Fathers, and that's not lost upon him," Wyle told USA Today. "The trajectory is an academic who ditches his academic trappings and feels useless in the new world until he realizes he can use these historic parallels to inform tactical decisions in the present," he said, adding: "It's a type of leader we haven't seen much on TV. We've seen the warrior and we've seen the statesman. And he's both."

Wyle’s leadership also translates off-screen. As producer and forerunner of the sci-fi hit, Wyle says he feels like he has ownership of the show in a way that he never did on ER. "ER, in a lot of ways, I inherited," he said. "[Falling Skies] was starting at No. 1. I was very comfortable working in the body of an ensemble and really curious to know whether or not I'd have the stamina or patience to be the anchor." Although he seems to have succeeded, Wyle confesses that it’s an ungrateful position, and it’s hard not to become hall monitor.

How does he cope? "I'm obsessed with John Ford movies," Wyle admitted, explaining that he’ll put on a Ford movie — preferably one starring John Wayne — in the mornings while getting dressed on set. “It got me in a good head space for it all.”

When he's not filming, you will find Wyle enjoying “a fairly quiet life” at his Santa Ynez Valley ranch with his two children from ex-wife Tracy Warbin … or not-so-quietly getting arrested for protesting Medicaid cuts on Capitol Hill.

—GEMMA JUAN-SIMO

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