Alan Tudyk gets rare shot at solo stardom at 49

The seasoned actor talks about playing an alien, voicing animated characters and preventing an ‘extinction level event’ by a virus

If we were to get stranded during a virus-instigated lockdown, we’d much rather get holed up in a place like Patience, Colorado. It’s a quaint but visually breathtaking fictional tiny town in the middle of nowhere the perfect setting to play out the story of an alien after his spaceship crash-lands on Earth, following an as-yet-unaccomplished mission to blow pesky humans to smithereens.

In the 10-part comedy sci-fi series “Resident Alien,” based on the Dark Horse graphic novel, seasoned actor Alan Tudyk portrays that alien with quirky, inalienable (pun intended) gusto.

Alan is best remembered for his role in the 2002 cult TV series “Firefly” and its 2005 big-screen iteration “Serenity.” And while the 49-year-old actor’s name may not immediately ring a bell, we’re pretty sure you’ve seen him play supporting characters in such films as “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Deadpool 2,” “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “I, Robot.”

Alan’s body of work as a voice actor in animated films and series is even more formidable, boasting roles in high-profile projects like “Wreck-It-Ralph,” “Frozen,” “Ice Age,” “Big Hero 6,” “Justice League: War,” “Son of Batman,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and “Moana.” Whew.

But as they say, good things come to those who wait and Alan’s foray as the lead star of his own TV series couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time, when viewers appreciate being temporarily whisked off their daily woes and heavy burdens brought about by the global health crisis.

Alan’s big break came with character-shaping lessons he learned as a young boy in Plano, Texas, trying to fit in and dreaming of becoming an actor, Alan told us on this Zoom chat after we asked him what it was like wanting to belong.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?” Alan quipped, laughing. “It started early for me, as I was growing up in Texas and I think that’s what will appeal to viewers of ‘Resident Alien.’ For Harry, it isn’t just about fitting in, but also trying to pass himself off as human. People are so wrapped up in their own problems that they don’t notice how odd this guy behaves and that he could be a full-blown alien.

For me, that ‘fitting in’ time was middle school in the ‘80s, right before I discovered skateboarding. There are pictures of me with my hair sticking up like this (demonstrates) and my bangs coming down like that. I never put on black fingernail polish it never got that far but I was definitely trying all sorts of ways to make it through that period.

In those days, the idea of acting wasn’t as legitimate a pursuit as it is now. These days, young people have an opportunity to get into the business from their homes, because of the internet. With just a phone [as a tool], you can become an influencer! I wanted to become an actor growing up in Plano. The journey to that wasn’t very clear, but from there, it’s been truly exciting.

Asked what sets “Resident Alien” apart from other sci-fi shows, Alan pointed out,The thing that instantly resonates with me about the series is the humor in it. There are sci-fi shows that have gotten this right, and the Marvel Universe films do it wonderfully, as did ‘Firefly.’ I was sold on Joss Whedon’s humor the moment I read about those dinosaurs fighting in outer space!

As an actor, I learned to eat fake glass (laughs) because, in the beginning, Harry had to learn what he could and couldn’t eat. Seriously, it’s fun going through a process where you know you’re tricking yourself to play a character who’s feeling things for the first time, mulling over feelings of love and loss which all get covered in the first season. Going through that can be a moving or touching experience. It was nice to rediscover those moments.

With his stint on “Resident Alien,” Alan is getting his rare shot at solo stardom at age 49, so his recollection about how he became an actor really took our breath away.

I was going to be a hotel manager and attend the University of Houston, which has a great program for that. I was serious about it until my public high school speech teacher heard about this.

She said, ‘I thought you were going to do acting? And I answered, ‘No, no, no. I’m not good enough to make it as an actor. All the other kids in our drama program are better than me,’ and she said, ‘Let’s take a walk.

No offense to my friends from that class, who I still get in touch with, but my teacher said to me, ‘You’re better than they are and you can make it!’ In fact, it was just the support and affirmation that I needed to pursue acting. Armed with conviction, I became a theater major and decided I wasn’t going to stop until I got a real shot at this. And I guess that’s what brought me here with you.