With his long and villainous run on Game of Thrones now over, Irish actor Aiden Gillen is turning his considerable talents toward playing one of the more polarizing scientists in the murky history of UFO research.
Deadline reports that Gillen has been cast in the lead role of J. Allen Hynek for History's upcoming scripted series Blue Book. The 10-episode series is executive produced by Robert Zemeckis (Contact) and will chronicle the secret Air Force investigations into UFO phenomena of the 1950s and '60s.
Project Blue Book was the third and longest-lived of three consecutive UFO investigations conducted by the Air Force, officially lasting from 1952 through 1969. It was preceded by Project Sign (1947–1949) and Project Grudge (1949–1952), and Hynek, already established as a brilliant astronomer in his own right, was recruited as a scientific advisor on all three.
What makes Hynek so interesting is that his outlook gradually changed over time: initially a skeptic about the existence and origin of UFOs — and specifically hired by the Air Force to act as a "debunker," to use his own description — Hynek eventually became convinced that the steady stream of sightings and unexplained phenomena could not be explained away as things like weather balloons, satellites or swamp gas.
By the time Blue Book came into existence, Hynek — while careful not to say definitively that UFOs did exist and were of extra-terrestrial origin — was arguing that the field required serious study, a position that put him at odds with many fellow scientists and the U.S. military.
Hynek grew increasingly disenchanted with Blue Book during his tenure on the investigation, criticizing the Air Force's research methods and general indifference to the subject. Blue Book was shut down in 1969 having officially determined that UFOs were not a threat to national security and were not of extra-terrestrial origin -- a conclusion that Hynek hinted was already pre-ordained.
Hynek eventually founded the non-profit Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) in 1973, with the organization still active today, and presented a statement on UFOs before the United Nations General Assembly in November 1978 on behalf of himself and fellow UFO researchers Dr. Jacques Vallée and Dr. Claude Poher.
He also came up with the "Close Encounters" scale of cataloging UFO reports -- which led him to consulting on Steven Spielberg's 1977 classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
In other words, Gillen has just signed on to play a real-life figure as fascinating and complex as his fictional Littlefinger was (but nowhere near as evil). There's no word yet on a premiere date for Blue Book, but it's likely to arrive sometime in 2018. We'll keep this one on our radar for sure.