Alex Barima of RESIDENT ALIEN | ©2021 Dale Klippenstein

Alex Barima of RESIDENT ALIEN | ©2021 Dale Klippenstein

RESIDENT ALIEN is a live-action series based on the graphic Dark Horse Comics novel by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse, adapted for television by Chris Sheridan. The show has its first-season finale on Syfy, Wednesday, March 31; it has been renewed for a second season.

The Resident Alien in question is an extraterrestrial who was tasked with destroying human life on Earth, but accidentally crash-landed in a small mountain town in Colorado. Assuming the form of town doctor Harry Vanderspeigle, the alien is confused by human behavior, but find that he likes people – which is at odds with his mission.

Alien Harry is being tracked by a secret government agency. Alex Barima plays David Logan, part of an alien-locating team. David’s partner is Lisa Casper (Mandell Maughan), whose violent methods David deplores.

Barima is originally from Montreal, but has been living and working in Vancouver for the past ten years. His previous credits include arcs on THE 100, RIVERDALE, THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, SUPERNATURAL, THE EXORCIST, THE RETURNED, and ONCE UPON A TIME. His feature film credits include TOMORROWLAND and BADGE OF HONOR. Barima also recently voiced the character of James “Rhodey” Rhodes, aka War Machine, for the animated miniseries LEGO MARVEL’S AVENGERS: CLIMATE CONUNDRUM.

In an exclusive phone interview, Barima talks about seeking the Resident Alien, and joining the Marvel-verse.

ASSIGNMENT X: How did you become involved with RESIDENT ALIEN?

ALEX BARIMA: It was much like any other show. I got an email from my agent, telling me about an audition. The only thing that is different for this show is that, when it came time to do the callback, I was actually working on RIVERDALE at the time, so I had to do it remotely, which was a bit tricky, because the reception over at the studio there is not very good. But with a little bit of help, I managed to get it done and send it over, and a couple days later, I got the call that I got the part.

Alex Barima as David Logan, Mandell Maughan as Lisa Casper in RESIDENT ALIEN - Season 1 - "Sexy Beast" | ©2021 Dale Klippenstein

Alex Barima as David Logan, Mandell Maughan as Lisa Casper in RESIDENT ALIEN – Season 1 – “Sexy Beast” | ©2021 Dale Klippenstein

AX: Did you do any research for your character?

BARIMA: Any questions that I had, I would always bring to Chris Sheridan, and he always had very detailed answers. So, I relied on him very heavily, and it seemed to work out fine. Especially when we got to shoot, when we shot the military scenes, everything looked amazing. When we transitioned onto some more covert ops, like when we’re in the warehouse, for instance, we really have the sense that this is a larger-scale operation than just a couple agents on a secret mission. There is a very heavy security detail, and the General [played by Linda Hamilton] clearly has some resources at her disposal to make this happen.

AX: Did you come up with a back story for David Logan?

BARIMA: Yeah, a little bit. I didn’t write it down, but I imagined him as someone who was a total geek growing up, who was so obsessed with sci-fi, and with aliens, alien phenomena, that maybe he grew up not having a lot of friends, but he grew up very determined to get to the bottom of the truth of what’s out there. And so, when you meet him, and you find out that he’s ex-military, he’s not the typical guy you would imagine being in the military, but it makes sense that he’s a scientist. He wants to be among the most knowledgeable and smartest scientists in the country, if not the world, and so it makes sense as to why he’s in that situation, when we uncover his past, that we see him being a part of a super-secret task force of alien intelligence in the military.

AX: Did you and Mandell Maughan, who plays your partner, sit down and discuss your characters’ relationship before you started?

BARIMA: The first time we met was on set. It was the scene where she murders the cowboy. So, we didn’t have a chance to talk all that much. But Mandell is very thorough when it comes to her work. So, she definitely had us sit down and explore the scene before we shot it, but she would do that every single day we worked together. She would always make sure that we took the time before we shot to talk about what was going on, to explore the beats together. She’s someone who I have learned a lot from, and who I’m lucky enough to call a friend. So, yeah, I pretty much got partnered with the perfect person for me.

AX: Did you guys decide how long and how well your characters had known each other before that parking lot scene? Because David seems quite shocked that she murders a witness.

BARIMA: Chris let us know that this was a very new relationship. We get to find out how they met later on in the show, around Episode 6, I believe, but before that point, it was clear that we had been together for a short time. Her killing that man was definitely something unexpected for my character. His reaction says it all right there. He doesn’t like her off the top, but then when she does that, he knows that he’s been saddled with somebody that he does not want to be anywhere near.

Alex Barima of RESIDENT ALIEN | ©2021 Dale Klippenstein

Alex Barima of RESIDENT ALIEN | ©2021 Dale Klippenstein

AX: How is working with Alan Tudyk?

BARIMA: Alan is great. He’s such a good leader for us as cast mates, such a good example to be around, very laid-back, but so creative, and so attentive with everything that he does. His improv is hilarious, everything that comes off the top of his head is just so funny, I don’t know how the crew manages to keep it together all day long when he’s on set. The few times that I’ve gotten to work with him, and the bit of time that I’ve gotten to spend with him in the production, again, I’ve learned a lot, even in those short moments, just wanting to be around someone who’s been doing what I want to do for so much longer than me, and so much better, I must say. He’s an inspiration, always, so we’re very fortunate to have him.

AX: Linda Hamilton plays your commanding officer. Were you excited about working with her?

BARIMA: Of course. Who wouldn’t be, right? She’s a legend. When we got the news that she was going to be playing the General, everybody was giddy with excitement. What’s cool is that she only worked with us [Barima and Maughan] as far as the main cast goes. We had her all to ourselves. So, we got spend a lot of time with her, got to talk to her about all kinds of things. Getting to know her has been such a blessing. She’s such a kind and generous person, I think everyone is better for knowing her.

AX: It looks like you’ve done a fair amount of genre work. Is the horror/sci-fi genre something you enjoy doing, or is this just where the work has been?

BARIMA: I would say it’s more so been where the work has been. I definitely am not a picky person when it comes to working opportunities [laughs], but that being said, I’m am very happy with the work I’ve gotten to do so far. I’ve always been a sci-fi fan, more so than horror. I’m pretty squeamish, so I don’t gravitate towards a lot of horror, but I definitely enjoy sci-fi, and I always have, so getting to work on shows like CONTINUUM, THE 100, ALMOST HUMAN, et cetera, those have been very, very cool for me personally, as a fan.

AX: You’ve worked for a lot of different networks up in Vancouver – The CW, Fox, Syfy, among others. Is there any difference in the way different networks approach different shows, or is there just a general work ethic that carries through everything?

BARIMA: As far as the networks go, I’m not sure, because for me, every show is different, every show is like going to a new school. The nerves are always there. So, it’s always a little disorienting, when you’re coming onto a new show. But the fortunate thing is that I get to work with a lot of the same people, I bump into a lot of the same friends at auditions. There is a very strong sense of community out here when it comes to film, as much between the actors as between the filmmakers, the directors, the writers, the crew members. So, it’s always such a relief when you step onto a new set, and you recognize someone, either in the cast or in the crew, that you’ve worked with before. It does wonders for nerves and tension. I’ve been here for almost ten years, and the relationships that I’ve built over time have made this so special, it’s hard to describe, but it really does feel like family a lot of the time.

AX: You were on an episode of PROJECT BLUE BOOK, which, very broadly, is sort of about the same thing, in that it’s a series that deals with a government search for extraterrestrials. Did any of that experience come in handy for RESIDENT ALIEN?

BARIMA: I would say no, just because my time on BLUE BOOK was so short, and the character was so different. I played a soldier, and it was a period piece. There were so many different aspects that I didn’t even make the connection. Of course, they’re both about extraterrestrials, but BLUE BOOK was very much a short-lived experience for me. Although an enjoyable one. It’s always nice to put on an Army uniform and grab a gun replica and just head out into the wilderness [laughs].

AX: Do you have any favorite scenes or episodes in RESIDENT ALIEN?

BARIMA: Yeah, my favorite scene, I think, is actually coming up, so I can’t say too much about it. To be safe, I would say that one of my favorite scenes has to be the one where I meet Harry in the bathroom at the gas station. It’s a very quick scene, but it’s the only scene I had with Alan in those episodes. I didn’t know what to expect, and we did maybe half a dozen takes, and he was just so funny every single time. He cracks me up, so I was wondering if they were even going to have something usable. I was glad that, by the end, I managed to keep a straight face, but it was so much harder than I thought it was going to be.

AX: You’ve done some shows where your character is embedded in the strangeness, like THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, so what’s going on is normal for him. And then you’ve got RESIDENT ALIEN, where your character is constantly going, “What the heck?” Do you have a preference between the two types of roles?

BARIMA: Personally, I think it’s always more fun to play someone who’s reacting strongly to what’s happening. When there are weird things going on, my reflex as a person is to have the same kind of reaction that David Logan would have whenever something strange or unexpected or dangerous happens. So, I always have a bit more fun doing that. But, to be honest, I love everything I get a chance to play, whether it’s embedded in the action and embedded in the intrigue, or coming in from an outside perspective. I think there’s interest to be had in every single angle, so my pleasure definitely comes from exploring as many of those angles as possible.

RESIDENT ALIEN - Season 1 Key Art| ©2021 Syfy

RESIDENT ALIEN – Season 1 Key Art| ©2021 Syfy

AX: You’ve also just been in the Marvel-verse, voicing Rhodey/War Machine in the animated LEGO MARVEL’S AVENGERS: CLIMATE CONUNDRUM. Were you trying to sound like Don Cheadle, who plays Rhodey in the movies, or were you doing your own thing?

BARIMA: I was doing my own thing. I don’t think I could do Don Cheadle, even if I tried [laughs]. That was really cool for me, just to have a chance to get my toes into Marvel, because obviously, who isn’t a fan of that whole universe they’ve created? But I stayed away from trying to do any impersonations of Don, and tried to make Rhodey my own, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I watched it when it came out, I think it was a month or two ago, and it’s so cool. It’s so cool to see or hear yourself and all those cool Lego action pieces. It always brings out the inner child in me, and I love that.

AX: Have you worked in the States at all?

BARIMA: I never shot in the States, no. The only time I shot abroad was TOMORROWLAND, the Disney film. We actually shot that in Spain, back in 2013, I want to say. Everything else that I’ve shot has been in Canada.

AX: How was working in Spain?

BARIMA: It was unforgettable. Obviously, getting to work with [director] Brad Bird and on such a big-budget film, I was speechless the entire time. We were there for just under a week to shoot one scene, and that was it, but the amount of time and work that went into that – I booked the part in I think it was July of 2012, and then shot in February of 2013, I had to go down to L.A. for costume fittings. There was a whole journey leading up to that point. We had days and days of rehearsals, and then we finally got to shoot it, and it was the experience of a lifetime.

AX: Was RESIDENT ALIEN shot during COVID, or were the episodes in the can before the pandemic hit?

BARIMA: We were not in the can. We had two episodes left to shoot when we got shut down, so we were all heartbroken about that, for sure. That was in March, just a year ago. We were shut down for six months, and we got to come back end of September and finish up the show. We were all so grateful that we got the chance to do that. Because all of us wanted the show to come out. We knew we were going to get to finish it, but it didn’t make waiting any easier.

AX: How was working with the COVID protocols?

BARIMA: Our set was very strict, and very careful about all of the precautions that were mandated. We were one of the first shows to come back, so it was all very new at the time, so we had to make sure that we were following the rules as best we could. And we did a great job. We went through the entire rest of the show without any hiccups, we were getting tested every other day. It was cool to see how quickly we adapted to those new norms, and were able to work through them, so I commend everybody who made it happen.

AX: And what would you most like people to know about your work on RESIDENT ALIEN?

BARIMA: I would just hope that people watch it and see that we had a great time making this show, that we wanted to make people laugh, but we also wanted to make people care about the characters. If people watch, and they relate to anyone in the show at all, or there’s someone that they can’t wait to see, week after week, then I think our job is done. I consider us a team, so when one of us wins, we all win. So, that’s kind of the energy that I want to bring to the show as well.

Related: Interview with RESIDENT ALIEN Creator Chris Sheridan and actress Sara Tomko

Related: Interview with Alan Tudyk on Season 1 of the new Syfy extraterrestrial comedy series RESIDENT ALIEN

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Article: Exclusive Interview with RESIDENT ALIEN actor Alex Barima on Season 1

 

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