From executive producer Robert Zemeckis, the 10-episode History Channel drama series Project Blue Book is based on the real-life top-secret investigations into UFOs and other unexplained phenomena that were conducted by the U.S. Air Force between 1952 and 1969. Throughout the season, Dr. J. Allen Hynek (Aidan Gillen), a college professor recruited to lead an operation that researched thousands of cases that blend UFO theories with real historical events, and his investigative partner Captain Michael Quinn (Michael Malarkey) will uncover mysteries that merge science and the exploration of the unknown.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) talked about his fascination with the subject matter of Project Blue Book, how quickly he knows whether or not he wants to play a character, getting to meet Hynek’s sons, what he most appreciates about the real Hynek, the Quinn-Hynek partnership, whether he’s ever been curious about the possibility of other life in the universe, what most surprised him about these real-life cases, and his hope that he’ll get to keep exploring this character’s life and work.
Collider: This series explores such interesting subject matter. When Project Blue Book came your way, were you immediately intrigued, or did you feel like you needed to dive a bit deeper into what this could be and how the material would be handled?
AIDAN GILLEN: Look, I’m familiar enough with the subject and the era, and I thought it was quite fascinating. I did want to have a conversation with the showrunners to see what their vision for it was and to see if it was a script that was gonna be shot. It was worth having those conversations, since things have changed. Generally, my feeling on things are quite instinctive. One read of something, if it’s read out loud, can give you a fair idea of whether you’ve gotta work on it, or whether you’re the right person for it or not. It was certainly the type of thing that I was looking to do, playing a warm positive character, as opposed to a cool, cynical, conniving character.
You probably have much more pleasant nights, once you go home from work, when you’re playing a guy who’s not trying to manipulate everybody and who’s not responsible for the death of people.
GILLEN: I know. It depends on how much you have to say the next day, though. There were nights that were overloaded with learning stuff for tomorrow, which is great. The density of the workload on this was actually a lot more than I’ve had on other shows, so you’re in that headspace, almost all the time. You’re right, it makes your job easier, when you’re not having nightmares every night.
Having come off of a show that you’ve spent a few years on, like you did with Game of Thrones, before you sign on or even consider doing another TV series, do you take time to think about telling this story and playing this character for what could be a few years?