The beloved science fiction actor and Julliard thespian breaks down his process about what it was like pretending to be an alien living in a human’s body.
He’s been a pirate, a spaceship captain, a robot (twice), a chipmunk, a reality-bending Mr. nobody, and even the crown prince of crime. Yet, it is only now, playing a crash-landed space alien — a science fiction role that Alan Tudyk’s all too familiar with — where we finally get to see him shine in a SYFY Network TV lead.
Based on the popular Dark Horse comic series co-created by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse, Resident Alien sees Tudyk play Dr. Harry Vanderspiegel. A physician vacationing down in Patience, Colorado, who due to the Hippocratic Oath he knows absolutely nothing about, is forced to help the town as the area’s only remaining resident doctor.
Secretly however, Harry is an alien in disguise who knows nothing about humanity outside of Law and Order reruns and the bizarre human form he’s assimilated-in-hiding. Because Tudyk plays Harry as a human, who is secretly a space alien, who in turn is pretending to not understand what it’s like to be a human. From everything down to our mannerism, cultures, even our basic human desires, Harry’s doing his best to fit in.
In a recent conversation with The Workprint, Tudyk discusses a bit about what the role was like along with his process. Sharing the struggle about what it takes to make such an off-center character come to awkward life.
“He has everything to learn about being human,” Tudyk says about his experience playing Harry. “Physically, it’s about making this body walk with some coordination and balance. I luckily played a couple of robots in my career — Like, sonny in I-Robot — So we approached it like: How’s the robot walk? What’s the most ergonomically efficient way to walk? I think that’s what Harry is shooting for. It’s about the movement.”
Which, throughout the pilot episode, we see very clearly. As there’s definitely a curious, yet also macabre enthusiasm that Alan brings to the character. Especially in the show’s first few episodes. Though, what really stands out was Tudyk’s approach to language. As Harry speaks in an odd fashion. Often acting as if he were coming to understand the utterance of words for the first time with the sensations of his mouth being all too foreign to him.
“The speech patterns were similar in that words are almost, by themselves, Each. One. In. A. Row.” Tudyk explains, “The way that we talk, we blend everything together. We contract words and things like that. But he actually says each word out from the beginning to the end. It goes back to theatre school and how they taught us how to talk back then.”
It’s something that Tudyk’s skills have showcased throughout his career. As the actor does a fantastic job of creating people who are just slightly inhuman. And it’s something that Amblin Entertainment — you know, the guys who brought you E.T.? — and Syfy network are currently testing him out on. With Tudyk exceeding with flying colors.
Resident Alien is on Syfy Network every Wednesday at 10 pm EST. We’ve got reviews of each episode this season, along with some more interviews with the cast about the first few episodes, so definitely, check them out.