The product of an interfaith marriage—Episcopalian on his mother’s side and Jewish on his father’s—Falling Skies and longtime ER star Noah Wyle enjoyed growing up with two traditions. “It was a line I straddled. I always thought that a kid’s reality is their definition of normal so it was normal for me,” says the 42-year-old Hollywood native, the middle of three kids who grew up celebrating both religions’ holidays.
“It was just the ritual pageantry of Christmas that my mother really enjoyed; it wasn’t so much that we were practicing Episcopalians. But there were certain tenets of both faiths that my parents thought were very important to instill in us. It was like a Chinese menu—one from Column A, one from Column B.”
Wyle, who has two children, son Owen, 10, and daughter Auden, 7, and is separated from their mother, is continuing the tradition of raising them with both faiths. “They go to a Jewish Sunday school but their attendance is spotty,” he admits.
He wasn’t a bar mitzvah, but Wyle is happy to have either of his children celebrate the coming-of-age rite “if they showed interest in it. It should come from them,” he says. “I think the best you can do as a parent is not say ‘This is how it’s going to be.’ Many people would disagree with this, but I think if you expose your kids to as many different aspects of life as possible, something will resonate with them, some element of faith, some element of the moral code.”
Wyle promises plenty of excitement in the third season finale of the alien invasion drama Falling Skies, airing August 4 on TNT. “There’s the mole that’s been sabotaging plans to engage the enemy in this big battle, and she hasn’t been caught yet. A power grid has been turned on and has been slowly irradiating earth and killing al the humans, and that’s something we’ll have to destroy. We’re going to wrap those stories up. Then there are things like my daughter’s bizarre alien behavior—that’s one of the cliffhangers.”
Wyle will be seen later this year in the drama The World Made Straight, co-starring Minka Kelly and Haley Joel Osment. “It’s about people living in the Appalachian Mountains in the ’70s,” he says. “I play a pot dealer who lives in a trailer who helps a young man find his way and get his life back on track.”