The lessons Alan Tudyk learned on "Resident Alien"

At a recent press event, the actor revealed secrets, including not knowing how to say his alien name. Plus, pizza

By Alison Stine

Staff Writer

Published August 14, 2022 8:00AM (EDT)

Sara Tomko as Asta Twelvetrees and Alan Tudyk as Harry Vanderspeigle in "Resident Alien" (SYFY)
Sara Tomko as Asta Twelvetrees and Alan Tudyk as Harry Vanderspeigle in "Resident Alien" (SYFY)

As someone with food allergies, I just want to say: Alan Tudyk, I feel you.

The actor, star of "Resident Alien," which has now returned for the second half of its second season, was asked on a recent Television Critics Association panel in support of the show, what he had learned from his character on the Syfy hit. While his talented castmates gave thoughtful answers like discovering they were always part of a community or that listening is more important than talking, Tudyk considered for a long time. He finally said, deliberately: "I personally have learned that I love pizza." 

"Resident Alien" finds Tudyk ("Firefly") as an extraterrestrial being who crash-lands his spaceship in rural Colorado. Once there, he kills a doctor named Harry (it's fine — he was actually a bad guy), assumes the former life of the man and takes his human form. 

In human disguise, Harry befriends his nurse colleague, Asta (the magnificent Sara Tomko). She eventually learns his secret and that he was sent to Earth to destroy it. More of the wonderful small town, including a small child (Judah Prehn) who can see not dead people but aliens, and Asta's loving father (Gary Farmer), uncover the truth about Harry. And Harry uncovers that all people aren't so bad, after all. He loves some of them, actually. And there is much to appreciate, protect and fight hard to save about Earth, including its pizza.

So much pizza.

Harry awkwardly fumbles his way around being human, and as Scraps from the Loft writes, "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?'"

Alien Harry adores the hot greasy goodness of pizza. This is complicated because Tudyk? He's allergic.

As the actor said, he has "just a lot of food allergies, and I can't eat pizza. I haven't been able to really eat pizza for a few years now, and because the character eats pizza, I have to eat pizza." He described "a whole props department and chefs and things that find ways to make pizza that I'm not allergic to. So, the only time I can ever eat pizza is at work." 

Another revelation Tudyk disclosed on the panel? He doesn't know how to say his character's name, despite performing it on the show.

Resident Alien Panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2022Alan Tudyk and Judah Prehn at the "Resident Alien" Panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2022 (Todd Williamson/Peacock)As an alien, Harry has a native language that is complicated, at best. On screen, as viewers see it on an alien artist-created mural, it recalls signage from the video game "Stray" or maybe a Meow Wolf art installation. Tudyk described the spoken aspect of that language as a collaboration between himself and the writers. As creator Chris Sheridan said at TCA, "At this point, now that it's established, once we get to any point where Alan is going to talk in his language, I don't know if we write in something like 'alien nonsense' or something, but we pretty much leave that up to Alan to riff on it."

That sounds like a good idea on paper, given the massively talented Tudyk's gifts include comedic vocal stylings, and Harry's alien utterances feature clicks, warbles and guttural swallows. "I come up with the sounds, and then the editors put in whatever they want," Tudyk said, describing the scene at the end of Season 1 when Harry tells Asta his real identity — and real name: "That was a couple of different takes that they married together . . . so it extended the name."

In practice, Tudyk says he can't remember what he did. At least, not on cue. At least not yet. But he swears he will. "And now that we've been to Comic‑Con, I've learned that I need to learn that so I can recite it on cue, and I promise to do that before my next Con."

As for the pizza?

Resident AlienAlan Tudyk as Harry Vanderspeigle in "Resident Alien" (SYFY)To my expert, allergic eye, the slices that Harry holds lovingly up before devouring them look possibly like a rice-flour based crust. As someone who cannot eat more traditional pizza either, due to food allergies, I can personally vouch for cauliflower crusts

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"I have really come to love those days when I eat pizza," Tudyk said. "It's pretty deep but true." As the frequent deliverer, but not always consumer, of piping hot pizzas to Harry's cabin, Tomko chimed in, "I don't like it when actors don't eat on screen . . . If you are going to write it in the scene, then I will eat it. I will eat anything you put in front of me, but please make it reasonable and yummy."

And to the creators of "Resident Alien," I beg you: please send me a pizza recipe. 

"Resident Alien" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Syfy and next day on Peacock.

By Alison Stine

Alison Stine is a former staff writer at Salon. She is the author of the novels "Trashlands" and "Road Out of Winter," winner of the 2021 Philip K. Dick Award. A recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), she has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, and others.

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