(KGET) — You can add another television series based on a comic book to the growing list with the launch of “Resident Alien” on the SYFY cable channel. The series that is a blend of “My Favorite Martian” and “Northern Exposure” debuts at 10 p.m. Jan. 27.
Alan Tudyk – a mainstay of the science fiction genre from “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” to “Firefly” – plays an alien (the outer space kind) who crashes his ship on Earth. He takes over the face and life of a small-town human doctor – Harry Vanderspeigle – to blend in with the locals while he continues his mission to kill all humans.
That becomes a problem when the doctor is drawn into the investigation of a local murder. The more he has to work with the humans the more the alien has doubts in regards to his mission.
Tudyk was tasked with playing a character unfamiliar with human emotions who in reality is very alien in appearance but must look and act as human as possible. He describes it as an “uncomfortable” way to act.
“When I play the character, there is a lot of discomfort going on inside of me. It’s sort of you’re standing behind yourself, looking out, because that’s what he would be doing,” Tudyk says. “It’s like he’s wearing a mask, the mask that looks like me, as he’s looking at the world.
“I didn’t look in the mirror and find the creepiest, weirdest faces. It’s usually the other way around. Let me find the not creepy, weird face, which I spent a lot of time this morning doing.”
Tudyk’s past work has helped him understand what it is like to be working behind a mask. He provided the voice for the scene-stealing security droid, K-2SO in “Rogue One.” Plus he has done voice work as the Duke of Weaselton in Disney’s “Zootopia” and the rooster Hei Hei in Disney’s “Moana.”
His credits include roles where he has been seen on screen with the films “42,” “A Knight’s Tale,” “Patch Adams” and “Trumbo.” TV roles have included ‘Frasier,” “Arrested Development” and “Doom Patrol.”
All of that past work has given Tudyk the ability to play a role that is so alien to the real world. Sheridan continues to be amazed how his star can be joking with cast and crew one moment but as soon as the cameras start rolling, Turdyk becomes a completely different person.
In many ways, his role in “Resident Alien” is not that far from his work bringing K-2SO to life in “Rogue One.” Turdyk described that character as being “both childlike and childish.” He found it a great character to get play because he could say anything he wanted like a child. Harry has a lot of the same traits.
“I think the great thing, as an actor, to get to play, is that as he inhabits this body, it starts to play upon him. So he gets to feel emotions,” Tudyk says. “He’s not just a lizard brain or alien brain the entire time. He feels.”
Source material for the series comes from the Dark Horse Comic of the same name that was created by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse. The comics have been published in installments of four-issue miniseries since 2012.
Getting the story from printed page to the TV screen was the work of executive producer Chris Sheridan, an Emmy‑nominated writer and producer who spent 17 seasons working “Family Guy.” His participation started with a close encounter.
“The real first genesis of it was about 20 years ago. I actually saw a UFO on my honeymoon. And I don’t tell this story a lot because people will think I’m insane, although now, after doing this show for the last few years and working on it, I could care less about people, Sheridan says. “I was in the Bahamas. We were walking on the beach at 10 o’clock at night on a Sunday night and we both saw this dot on the horizon rising up.
“And then in two seconds, the thing was over us. I swear to God this is true. It was triangular, and it had, like, six circular lights on the bottom of it. And it slowly went over us. And it had a light on the front that was sweeping the beach. I’m not saying it was aliens, although obviously it was.”
The biggest change Sheridan made was in the publication, the reader always sees Harry in his alien form. The reader never knows what that human looks like that everyone else is seeing.
What prompted the change was cost and casting. It’s difficult and very expensive to have an actor wearing a mask the entire time. And, Sheridan knew it would be easier for the viewers to make a connection with the alien if they were seeing a familiar face as with Tudyk.