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Steven Spielberg created a sci-fi sub-genre unto itself with E.T. the Extra-terrestrial, the story of a child who bonds with a creature from beyond the stars and finds a friendship that shows we can all really love one another. The basic premise of Resident Alien is similar in some ways, but SYFY’s hit comedy is not exactly treading the same ground. Alien? Check. Cute kid who crosses paths with him? Double check. Sweet and loving friendship? Umm, not exactly.
One of the most entertaining relationships in Resident Alien is that of alien-in-disguise Harry (Alan Tudyk) and local kid Max (Judah Prehn), who just so happens to be able to see Harry in his alien form. Harry spent most of the first season either trying to kill Max (literally), or convince his parents he’s insane and to send him away. But by the halfway point of Season 2 they’ve come to an uneasy alliance, though not exactly a friendship.
“It’s the classic dynamic of a boy learning to be friends with an alien, like Elliot and E.T., but if E.T. was a total dick,” series creator Chris Sheridan joked at San Diego Comic-Con.
Tudyk says his connection with Max is literally the reason they have a second season in the first place, as Harry was headed off-world until he found Max stowed away in his spaceship: “He wrecked my spaceship in Season 2. He’s the reason we crash, the reason I’m back here.”
So, did Tudyk have any trouble getting into the headspace of an alien who has no problem trying to kill a kid (and the entire planet by and large)? Not particularly, mostly because Tudyk doesn’t have any kids of his own, which made it easier to connect with Prehn as a fellow actor on that level.
“He’s just, like, one of the little people. I love our relationship, the head to head. Every time he gets one over on me it’s so fun,” Tudyk said. “One of my favorite scenes we shot was when I got stoned, and I snuck into his room and I’m eating all of his snacks, and peed in his bed. I don’t think that part was written [Laughs.].”
Prehn added he feels both Harry and Max are “both like kids” in a lot of ways, as Max becomes more comfortable with Harry as he finds his place among the humans in Patience.
Co-star Corey Reynolds, who plays Sheriff Mike on the series, added that finding Prehn was really the key in building out the ensemble cast's chemistry. Because without the right kid in that role, all the attempted murder just might not have seemed all that … well, funny.
“We went through quite a few little kids,” Reynolds explained. “Ultimately what I’m saying is the show did not click until we found Judah. When he came in he really completed this thing.”
Resident Alien Season 2 returns on Wednesday, Aug. 10. New episodes will be available to stream on the SYFY app and Peacock the day after they air. The complete first season, as well as episodes 1-8 of Season 2, are now streaming on both platforms.