What to Watch

What To Watch With Project Blue Book Star Aidan Gillen

Game of Thrones’ Littlefinger dishes on his documentary obsession, government cover-ups, and whether we are alone in the universe.

by | January 17, 2020 | Comments

When paranormal series Project Blue Book first premiered in January 2019, it brought many comparisons to The X-Files. And while the procedural, alien-hunting, “I Want To Believe” aspect runs through the show’s DNA, there is one stark difference between the adventures of Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and the History Channel series: Project Blue Book is inspired by real people and actual government cases.

Season 1 ended with an otherworldly cliffhanger that presented two hard-to-explain, seemingly extraterrestrial details that’ll surely inform the show’s new episodes: Dr. J Allen Hynek (Aidan Gillen) and Captain Michael Quinn (Michael Malarkey) testify before Congress after unexplained lights are witnessed flying over the National Mall, which is a direct reference to 1952’s highly publicized Washington D.C. UFO Incident; and the reveal of an alien obelisk in Antarctica in the episode’s final moments. With famous cases like Roswell and Area 51 on the docket for season 2 — which will premiere on Tuesday, January 21 at 10 p.m. — it seems like Project Blue Book‘s scope is about to expand.

Rotten Tomatoes caught up with Aidan Gillen to discuss his character’s trajectory in the new season and to check in on what he himself is watching. While the Game of Thrones actor admits he stays quite busy when he’s at home in Ireland, he is still able to dig into some small screen entertainment when gets a minute or two to himself.


WHAT IS APPOINTMENT TV FOR YOU?

(Photo by © Netflix)

One thing I decided I was going to watch, start-to-finish, in one go was a show called The Devil Next Door. It’s a documentary on Netflix about the man who was believed to be “Ivan the Terrible.” That was fascinating. Documentaries, mostly. You know, I watched that one, the other night, about the Bikram yoga guy. Wild Wild Country, which is another one about the cult in Oregon. Those documentaries, I watched straight start-to-finish. I just sat down and watched them in a day.

WHAT IS ON YOUR DVR?

(Photo by © FX)

Do people have those, anymore? You know, the last series that I watched start to finish was Fargo, which in my opinion, is probably my favorite kind of TV entertainment show.

WHAT IS IN YOUR STREAMING QUEUE?

Kit Harington in the Game of Thrones series finale (Helen Sloan/HBO)

(Photo by © HBO)

I do watch stuff on Netflix but there is so much on there and they kind of keep throwing stuff at you that you get two episodes into something that you might really enjoy and suddenly they present you with something else, you know? I don’t have subscriptions to a lot of the big premium services, even though I’ve been in shows on them. A new series comes out on a certain channel, I’ll probably just take a subscription that’s a kind of an on-off subscription. So, if I want to watch season 8 of Game of Thrones, you know, I’ll turn to HBO Go or HBO NOW for a couple of months.

WHAT IS COMING SOON THAT YOU CAN’T WAIT FOR?

I don’t really know what’s coming to TV. I am going to watch season 4 of Fargo, though.


NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 17: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Aidan Gillen discusses his career and his new show "Project Blue Book" with "In Depth" with host Larry Flick at SiriusXM Studios on January 17, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Aaron Pruner for Rotten Tomatoes: Season 1 of Project Blue Book ended with Hynek and Quinn facing the first very real possibility of a UFO interaction in the skies over Washington D.C. How does this moment shape the events that transpire in the new season?

Aidan Gillen: The reality is that that UFO flying over D.C. was so widely witnessed and reported, and they did send jets up there to chase these objects, to try to find them. But that incident, it really happened, you know? It’s one of the more widely reported incidents that is currently in the public, still. The people Hynek and Quinn are working for — the higher-ups, if you like — Air Force General Harding (Neal McDonough) and Valentine (Michael J. Harney), they now have a pact. They see that the way forward is to kind of hide the truth, to an extent; to not say what they really think and work from the inside. It’s always good to have those resources. The resources they have are kind of limitless. And at least speaking for Hynek, he has that appetite for investigation and for getting to the bottom of a phenomenon that’s becoming more and more intriguing. More unsolvable cases come his way, reported by credible witnesses.


(Photo by History)

Their teamwork led to a hashtag #Hynekquinn. So that’s something.

Gillen: Yeah, these guys now have a bond that’s made stronger, I guess, by hiding facts, almost. I think Allen Hynek always had a healthy skepticism. I think he was always skeptical and always hopeful that there might be something out there. That’s the way it remains to the end. He never really found the empirical evidence that he was looking for, but he never stopped looking. There was definitely some satisfaction for Hynek that he did become a kind of counterculture icon. Without him, there was no Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which I get in trouble for talking about too much. I always end up talking about Close Encounters, and not enough about Project Blue Book. But, there’s a definite link and it’s also something that we address at some point during this coming season.


(Photo by History)

Well speaking of Dr. Hynek, his son Paul is a consultant on the show. What was your experience like working with him to understand the character you’re playing?

Gillen: At first, it’s intimidating. The first day he came along, I was quite nervous about it. Because, you know, someone’s going to come along and you’re going to come out and start trying to capture the essence of this all, knowing that you’re not him. You don’t really look like him, you don’t really sound like him. Paul is very understanding because he has worked in the entertainment industry. He was also really encouraging. The first day I met Paul, he gave me one of Hynek’s original books, The UFO Experience. It was from the bookshelf in his house. It was Allen’s actual copy, and they inscribed it and gave me the family’s blessing. It’s really simple, but when somebody presents you with that and gives you the go-ahead, they understand that it’s always a tough task — half your own personality and half your interpretation, or as much of a realization of the character that you can get away with.

Part of getting into character is getting to wear some pretty cool wardrobe. Have you been able to take any items from the set home with you?

Gillen: I wore a pair of shades that I really liked in episode 1 of season 2 of Blue Book. They’re like a kind of Cary Grant–style shade. I convinced the props department — because it’s the props, not the wardrobe department, who look after things like shades, watches, and rings — [and] they very kindly let me keep those Cary Grant shades. I’ll keep them good. I think we’ve got a second set but, you know, I’ll wear them, I’ll break them in and then I’ll bring them back from that season. And then there was a scene where we flashed forward to the ’70s, and I had some quite nice reading glasses and they gave me those as well. So it’s all about glasses for me, man.


(Photo by History)

Let’s not leave out the hat, though.
Gillen: Oh, I’ve got the hat! What is it? A fedora? A kind of a fedora? Whatever, I’ve got that. It came with a blue feather that we couldn’t use because it looked a bit too much to wear, as far as costuming goes. One thing I did go for to make Hynek stand out, to show a little bit of difference, I wore a turquoise ring. You know, the real Hynek did wear a turquoise ring for a period of time and his one was even bigger than the one I got. I tried that with the exact size and made me look like Liberace. I felt like that little blue ring was enough of a flourish to show that this guy’s got something more to him than just like an office drone. So when we put the blue feather in the hat, it looked like too much. This hat came straight from the hatmaker with a blue feather. And when I took the hat home with me, at the end, I put the blue feather back in, and I wore it on the plane. I’m wearing it quite a lot, actually. But you don’t want to walk around in your costume all the time. It’s kind of bad form.

Can you tease some of the cases you guys cover in season 2?

Gillen: I think aside from Roswell and Area 51, there are a few others that may be a little familiar. There’s the Maury Island case, and there are the Men in Black, which were real. I don’t think it’s like we can only continue with this. If we give people cases that they’re familiar with, it’s just the way it fell this year. But you know, honestly, there’s like 400 or 500 really good stories there to exploit, if we wanted.


(Photo by History)

This brings me to the burning question: Do aliens exist?

Gillen: Does life exist? Yeah, I don’t think we’re alone in the universe. I don’t think that. I don’t think we’re the only life that has evolved. It seems to me a kind of ridiculous concept. In as vast a universe as we have, that’s like, this is the only planet in which life has evolved. I’d like to think that, you know? I’d like to think we’re not alone. In fact, I don’t think we’re alone. Will we ever meet? Who knows, but it’ll probably be quite difficult.

Project Blue Book season 2 premieres Tuesday, January 21, at 10 p.m. on History.


Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.


Tag Cloud

Sundance TV CBS finale ratings Amazon Studios Amazon Prime Winners USA Network Ovation science fiction Marvel Studios BAFTA IFC Films Sundance comiccon Universal screenings Song of Ice and Fire joker El Rey Fantasy Endgame FX Starz anthology Lifetime Opinion hist Mindy Kaling binge japanese The Academy Amazon Prime Video social media Chernobyl justice league Disney Plus dceu critics talk show MTV singing competition TCA Quiz toronto anime Video Games Syfy OWN green book crime drama The Walking Dead American Society of Cinematographers spider-man DC streaming service doctor who breaking bad video name the review TV aliens Vudu chucky Shudder TBS BBC mutant fast and furious documentaries Paramount DC Comics New York Comic Con crime thriller Year in Review Walt Disney Pictures cars parents jamie lee curtis Calendar Sneak Peek NBC IFC satire VOD spinoff obituary Apple TV+ Set visit cats casting television golden globes Tarantino Film cancelled TV series RT21 President Schedule Britbox Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ghosts Black Mirror kids CMT witnail Awards MCU Travel Channel thriller Emmy Nominations Mudbound animated remakes Cosplay asian-american Watching Series Sundance Now cops Pop war worst movies movies Paramount Network zombie Rocketman Comics on TV TV Land Bravo WGN Fall TV diversity vampires police drama halloween The Arrangement Turner Awards Tour TNT serial killer Nickelodeon news 4/20 See It Skip It Hear Us Out BBC America biography canceled halloween tv USA unscripted Toys ABC Musicals Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Pixar dogs Academy Awards YouTube films Black History Month free movies series A24 TCA 2017 The Purge blaxploitation Marvel Television stoner laika Dark Horse Comics cancelled TV shows scorecard ITV universal monsters Tomatazos french indiana jones nbcuniversal BET Awards Trailer DC Universe directors concert TLC stop motion Animation Hallmark Christmas movies 007 blockbuster Apple TV Plus Fox News Christmas boxoffice Writers Guild of America Family GLAAD 71st Emmy Awards X-Men teaser Valentine's Day docudrama Disney Channel Trivia First Look Reality spanish harry potter 72 Emmy Awards superhero OneApp werewolf best Netflix Christmas movies Best and Worst 99% 2015 TCA Awards Spectrum Originals PlayStation comics Mystery zero dark thirty emmy awards 2017 YouTube Premium Pop TV crime comic books Mary Poppins Returns renewed TV shows Captain marvel CW Seed Winter TV Trophy Talk psychological thriller Peacock Music E! Holiday Spring TV National Geographic quibi Film Festival theme song batman Heroines Character Guide TIFF A&E 24 frames Drama TV renewals Biopics game show Reality Competition Box Office Superheroe miniseries Pet Sematary archives DirecTV discovery 21st Century Fox ID Election CBS All Access 2020 die hard Creative Arts Emmys Rom-Com DGA Grammys sequels historical drama rotten movies we love streaming PaleyFest slashers romantic comedy ABC Family period drama toy story Marvel political drama RT History Masterpiece Hulu adaptation Interview versus Certified Fresh criterion children's TV dragons Television Academy spain Photos technology christmas movies HBO Go Disney streaming service LGBTQ AMC Mary poppins Kids & Family comic GIFs Acorn TV VH1 tv talk TCM LGBT Classic Film movie classics Oscars sports San Diego Comic-Con spanish language SundanceTV Turner Classic Movies natural history Comedy Central all-time cinemax 20th Century Fox rt archives NYCC Musical Tumblr Television Critics Association nfl Fox Searchlight Spike Elton John comedies dark reboot Sci-Fi Infographic Mary Tyler Moore spy thriller Super Bowl Countdown Rocky Red Carpet Logo Comedy cancelled television Stephen King 2016 Extras Columbia Pictures Disney+ Disney Plus festivals Esquire disaster romance Freeform hollywood scary movies Rock facebook south america Funimation Crackle Cannes screen actors guild true crime hispanic twilight adventure award winner black james bond video on demand dc child's play dramedy Brie Larson what to watch game of thrones HBO Max Apple The CW football Holidays robots Lucasfilm Pride Month Cartoon Network The Witch politics FX on Hulu Warner Bros. Premiere Dates festival Amazon cancelled Adult Swim FOX supernatural GoT medical drama Pirates Emmys Comic Book sequel Baby Yoda Epix mission: impossible Marathons ESPN PBS SDCC latino APB space zombies Horror crossover Western YA FXX reviews elevated horror BET worst Superheroes indie psycho Teen VICE Summer cartoon canceled TV shows italian australia Martial Arts Ghostbusters Hallmark Binge Guide Star Trek Nominations revenge BBC One sitcom cooking stand-up comedy transformers 2019 franchise HBO Anna Paquin MSNBC Polls and Games TCA Winter 2020 Star Wars nature Shondaland book Lifetime Christmas movies composers History travel SXSW Nat Geo Avengers based on movie deadpool independent YouTube Red CNN strong female leads E3 foreign richard e. Grant 45 Women's History Month Thanksgiving Arrowverse a nightmare on elm street Podcast rotten sag awards WarnerMedia 2018 cults Lionsgate Action Country TruTV Netflix Disney Food Network venice First Reviews Discovery Channel documentary Tubi Crunchyroll mockumentary Ellie Kemper Showtime Sony Pictures