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SYFY WIRE Resident Alien

A Tale of Two Coreys: How Steven Spielberg's The Terminal Predicted Resident Alien's Sheriff Mike

Major props to Corey Reynolds for agreeing to play along with our wacky pitch!

By Josh Weiss

Forget Jaws and Jurassic Park for just a moment, folks. Today, we'd like to bring your attention to a criminally underrated Steven Spielberg movie: 2004's The Terminal (now streaming on Peacock), which turns 20 years old this month.

How to Watch

Watch Resident Alien on SYFY and Peacock.

Loosely inspired by the actual experience of Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri, the film stars Tom Hanks as Viktor Navorski, a warm-hearted visitor to the United States, who finds himself trapped in a New York airport after his country — the fictional nation of Krakozhia — plunges into civil war. Unable to return home or step foot on American soil, Viktor begins a strange existence inside an international terminal, striking up a relationship with stewardess Amelia Warren (Catherine Zeta-Jones), incurring the ire of U.S. Customs official, Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), and befriending the eclectic airport staff.

A delightfully quirky tale about breaking down cultural barriers and taking a moment to step away from the hectic rat race of life, The Terminal also serves as an origin story for Resident Alien's Sheriff Mike Thompson (played by Corey Reynolds). Well... sort of. Okay, stay with us on this. Things are about to get interesting. You might want to buckle your seatbelt. Ready for takeoff? Alright, let's do this thing!

For More on Corey Reynolds:
Resident Alien Star Corey Reynolds Breaks Down Sheriff Mike's Big Revelation in Season 3 Finale
Resident Alien's Corey Reynolds on Sheriff Mike's New Romance, Feasting on Sunflower Seeds & More
'Resident Alien' star Corey Reynolds explains what Alan Tudyk's Harry can teach us about humanity

How Steven Spielberg's The Terminal Predicted Sheriff Mike on Resident Alien

Aside from Hanks, Zeta-Jones, and Tucci, the movie also features early acting turns from Zoe Saldana, Diego Luna, and — wait for it — Corey Reynolds! "It’s wild to think it’s been 20 years since The Terminal was released," the actor tells SYFY WIRE over email. "I was cast ... after Steven saw me in Hairspray on Broadway. It was an incredible way to begin my Hollywood journey." 

In particular, the future star of SYFY's Resident Alien plays the part of U.S. Customs official, Officer Waylin, who seems a lot like proto-version of the hilarious and blustering Patience police officer we all know and love. What if Officer Waylin was so disgusted with Dixon's treatment of Viktor, that he quit his job at JFK, changed his name to "Mike Thompson," moved to Washington, D.C., became a cop, and then relocated to Colorado after the death of his partner? Are Waylin and Mike long-lost twins separated at birth, perhaps? Stranger things have happened, right?! Okay, maybe we're reaching a little bit, but here's a little meta tidbit for you to chew on: both The Terminal and Resident Alien were both made possible by the participation of Spielberg's famous Amblin Entertainment banner.

For his part, Reynolds does concede that Waylin and Mike "are similar in some ways," with obvious key differences. "I think, Waylin's just happy to be there, you know?" he explains. "Whereas, Sheriff Mike is probably more happy to be seen being there. They’re both honest law enforcement officers with good hearts and good intentions. But if they were to tussle with one another in the 'Corey-Verse,' I’d probably have to give the edge to Waylin because he’s 20 years younger than Mike and has eight-shows-a-week conditioning. But it wouldn’t matter anyway, because Mike’s would just tell everyone that losing was a part of his strategy to win, so in reality, he won." 

Steven Spielberg and Corey Reynolds share a moment
A signed The Terminal (2004) placard from Steven Spielberg to Corey Reynolds that says "Corey- First time!".

While Reynolds' first-ever film role isn't very extensive, the character of Waylin does have a major impact on the overall narrative. He basically incites the film's third act by giving up a crucial piece of information that allows Viktor to finally visit Manhattan and fulfill a promise to his late father. Reynolds also made quite an impact behind-the-scenes, chatting up the "A" camera operator about Saving Private Ryan (also streaming on Peacock at the moment), snagging "a really nice cigar" from Spielberg's personal humidor, and gaining the nickname "Slick" from the director's longtime cinematographer, Janusz Kamiński. He remembers the director always exuded "warmth and kindness," with just a hint of mischief.

"He and Tom even pranked me on set," the actor continues. "Hard to explain, but they got me pretty good. Steven sent me a photo capturing the moment right after [shown above]. I didn’t always know what I was doing, but he’d take the time to walk me through his shots and even handed me that handheld camera thingy to look through, so I could see the shots as well. There I was, 29 years old, coming off a Tony Nomination, on my first film set ever, sitting next to Tom Hanks, while talking shots with Steven Spielberg! It was like, 'WHAT?!?!' Such a dope experience. In true fanboy fashion, I asked Steven to sign my cast chair back. And he did."

He concludes: "The Corey-Verse is a weird place…and The Terminal helped create it. Thanks again, Steven!"

The Terminal is now streaming on Peacock alongside the first three seasons of Resident Alien.