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SYFY WIRE Resident Alien

How Resident Alien's Alan Tudyk Channeled Robin Williams' Mork for Harry Vanderspeigle


By Josh Weiss

Before Harry Vanderspeigle, there was Mork from Ork.

How to Watch

Watch Resident Alien on SYFY and Peacock.

Spanning four seasons between 1978 and 1982, Mork & Mindy famously helped launch the acting career of a young Robin Williams, who played the titular extraterrestrial visitor known for his quirky behavior and regular exclamations of "Nanu! Nanu!" and "Shazbat!"

Naturally, Alan Tudyk looked to this outer space visitor for inspiration when he first landed the role of a fish-out-of-water visitor to Earth in SYFY's hit adaptation of Resident Alien (all three seasons are now streaming on Peacock).

For More on Resident Alien:
Resident Alien's Alan Tudyk Reveals Unused Spit Take from Wild Dinner Scene with Edi Patterson
Alan Tudyk Says Resident Alien Was Nearly Put on Hold Before He Landed Role of Harry
Resident Alien Stars Do Their Best Impressions of Harry's Smile - and Yes, It's Hilariously Creepy

How Mork & Mindy Prepared Alan Tudyk for SYFY's Resident Alien

"Robin showed a lot of kids that there was so much humor to be had in voices and characters," the actor said in a recent conversation with The Los Angeles Times (via Yahoo! Entertainment). Tudyk, who was around 7-years-old when the sitcom first premiered, even owned a pair of Mork-inspired rainbow suspenders. "Shows like this aren't just a job," he later continued. "Harry Vanderspeigle has a big room in my heart, like my left ventricle. He's going to camp out there for the rest of time."

While Mork & Mindy can certainly be regarded as a spiritual predecessor to Resident Alien, the latter show is able to push the concept beyond the comedic boundaries of classic, multi-camera sitcoms. "There are some television shows that are live-action [and] a little cartoony that are hysterical and I love," creator and showrunner Chris Sheridan told Gold Derby in 2022. "But we're also trying to do really strong emotional stuff and for me, that emotional stuff plays better if the whole show feels real. If segments of the show feel too broad or unreal, it takes away the stakes from the rest of the show. It's trying to find that balance and make sure everything lives a grounded area."

A split featuring Alan Tudyk and Robin Williams.

He continued: "Luckily, we do have this alien, where we can take advantage — a little bit — and heighten some of the comedy of what the alien is doing. Whether it's the visual stuff of the things that the actual alien does or Alan Tudyk, who's a comic genius in this body playing this 45-year-old man-child ... You couldn't have, on a normal show, a 45-year-old man calling a kid an a**hole or a d***head. But in this show we do because he's really kind of 8 himself. He just got here, he doesn't know. So, we try to take advantage of those weird things that have happened with the logic of the show. He's new to this planet, he doesn't know what he's doing and we have a lot of leeway there. From the pilot, he was trying to kill a kid. Typically, that would pretty much end it for how much you care about your main character, but you also look at him like a lion that got loose from a zoo ... Harry's sort of on the loose and he's doing the best he can."

How to Watch SYFY's Resident Alien TV Series

Want to catch up on the story so far? All three seasons of SYFY's Resident Alien — which hold an aggregate and near-perfect score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes  are now streaming on Peacock right here!