Interview with Alan Tudyk of “Resident Alien” on Syfy by Suzanne 2/2/21
I was thrilled to be able to interview Alan, even if they only gave me about 12 minutes. He was very nice, and he was fun to chat with. I love this new show, and I can’t wait to see more.
Suzanne: Hi, Alan, how are you?
Alan: Hey, how you doing?
Suzanne: Oh, good.
Alan: I’m great.
Suzanne: I’m a huge– I’m a huge fan of yours, ever since “Firefly.”
Alan: Thank you very much.
Suzanne: And I loved “Con Man.” It was so funny, and I’m glad to say that “Resident Alien” is funny. I’m hooked on it. I watched the first seven episodes this weekend, and it’s just great. I can’t wait to see the next one.
Alan: Thank you, how brilliant. That’s great. Thank you.
Suzanne: You’re welcome. So, can you tell us how this role came about for you?
Alan: It came about in a very normal way, sort of like most roles that I’ve ever had. They’re all pretty much just a call, like, “Here’s the script. They can’t find this guy. Would you want to go in on this?” type of thing. They literally auditioned many people before.
I fell in love with it immediately, went and auditioned, and met David Dobkin who directed the pilot, and Chris Sheridan. They were, I think, on FaceTime. We didn’t even know about Zoom back then! They were on FaceTime, and I was in a casting office in Los Angeles, and it was one of the auditions that I got done with and walked away and said, “I think that went well,” because they seemed so happy. Not always the case.
Suzanne: When was it filmed?
Alan: Oh my gosh, so long ago we filmed this. We filmed the pilot two years ago. We started, and then Syfy liked it and said, “Okay, we’re probably going to pick this up. We’re going to pick it up. Yeah, we’re picking it up.” It took some time to come up with that idea. Then they said, “But we don’t know when we’re gonna shoot it,” and they kept – I don’t know what they were doing. I just assumed it had to do with scheduling and big corporate-y decisions that I wasn’t privy to.
So, we finally shot it, probably almost a year later we got into shooting the series, and then COVID came along and pushed us out another six months. We finished it just a few months ago, two or three months ago.
Suzanne: Had you worked with any of the other people on the series before this?
Alan: Never, nobody. It was great. Well, it was great, because we all got along, and they’re kind of like a whole new group of friends.
Suzanne: That’s great. There’re a lot of people in that cast.
Alan: I know. I know. I knew Corey Reynolds before, from his work, but I have to admit, I hadn’t met or hadn’t seen anybody else’s [work] from the cast prior. Everybody’s so great. I hope when people watch it, they enjoy the new faces. They’re so funny and good.
Suzanne: Even though it’s a big cast, they make each character so distinct that you don’t get confused. Sometimes, you watch a show and you’re like, “Who are all these people?” But they did a good job with it.
Alan: Right, yes, they did.
Suzanne: I heard that you went to clown school to help you prepare for the role. Is that true?
Alan: I did, well… I took a clown class in – my first clown class in the late 1900s, in 1993 or 1994 when I went to Juilliard. There’s a clown named Chris Bayes, and he runs a program at Yale, and one of his students Orlando [unintelligible] is a great friend of mine, who also went to Juilliard, but now he teaches clowning at NYU. I know lots of clowns. I love clowns, like real clowns. Clowning is a big part of theater training at the major schools around the United States, for sure.
When we did the pilot, I had identified… so much of who Harry was could be considered clowning because of his physicality, the challenges in the physicality, and his lack of knowledge. He’s just waved into situations without knowing the rules, the social rules, and he’s curious. You just have to put put your head in a place where you’re looking at the world where anything is possible. That’s kind of how clowns see the world, and I mean, I’m talking good clowns. These are like the Lecoq School of Clowning out of France. These aren’t the kind of clowns that hang out in sewers and kill children and make them float. These are the real kind of Charlie Chaplin type of Laurel and Hardy clowns.
Suzanne: It’s interesting that you brought up the physicality, because when they showed you learning how to walk and talk and all that, it really reminded me of like a comedy version of Jeff Bridges and “Starman” when he first arrives.
Alan: I saw “Starman” when that thing came out!
Suzanne: Yeah, me too.
Alan: Yeah, I love his performance in that. His breathing always freaked me out. [laughs] He went for real on that, like he was into the mechanics of how to – I don’t go that far, luckily, for me, because I can’t hear that sound again and again, but definitely the manipulating your mouth, you know, that sort of thought process behind some of the speaking when he’s learning to speak. It’s like you’re pushing air over the back of the tongue and you manipulate the tongue in this way to create these sounds and these sounds mean these things. So, he becomes alien pretty fast if that’s your thought process going on in your head.
Suzanne: When you’re looking like the alien, how long does it take for them to make you look like that?
Alan: Two hours. Two hours, and there is another version of the alien that we haven’t seen yet that is much more involved. It’s sort of torso piece that is closer to four hours, and that involves body shaving, and I’m not a hirsuite man, but any kind of hair becomes problematic. So, you try to go all swimmer with yourself and just lose all the hair. So, that’s no fun, but usually just the main one, whenever the kid Max sees me and you see me standing there in my flannel shirt with the alien head and hands, that’s a two hour process.
Suzanne: What was the best part for you, filming the series?
Alan: I love this stuff. Early on, you mentioned walking and talking and sitting and trying to figure out how to sit down. Any new experiences, especially the physicality stuff that is that the challenge for Harry, those are so much fun for me. I enjoy going to work and falling down. It’s just something I’ve done since I was a child. Then I learned to balance, and then I kept falling down, because I found it very funny. I like falling down and getting hit with things. So, anytime there’s more of the physical stuff, those are fun.
Suzanne: Thank you so much!
Alan: Thank you.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Based on the Dark Horse comic, SYFY’s RESIDENT ALIEN follows Harry, an alien played by Alan Tudyk (“Rogue One,” “Firefly”) that crash lands on Earth and passes himself off as a small-town human doctor. Arriving with a secret mission to kill all humans, Harry starts off living a simple life… but things get a bit rocky when he’s roped into solving a local murder and realizes he needs to assimilate into his new world. As he does so, he begins to wrestle with the moral dilemma of his mission and asking the big life questions like: “Are human beings worth saving?” and “Why do they fold their pizza before eating it?”
From UCP, in association with Amblin TV and Dark Horse Entertainment, RESIDENT ALIEN was adapted to television by executive producer Chris Sheridan (“Family Guy”). Mike Richardson (“Hellboy”) and Keith Goldberg (“The Legend of Tarzan”) of Dark Horse Entertainment (“The Umbrella Academy”), and Justin Falvey (“The Americans”) and Darryl Frank (“The Americans”) of Amblin TV also executive produce. David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”) executive produced and directed the pilot. “Resident Alien” also stars Sara Tomko, Corey Reynolds, Alice Wetterlund and Levi Fiehler.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda