'Project Blue Book's Aidan Gillen on Season 2's Dive Into Roswell, New Mexico

Damian Holbrook
Preview History

Destination: Roswell, New Mexico. After close encounters with roughly 3 million viewers per episode, History's scripted hit Project Blue Book is heading to the desert hot spot long believed to be a UFO crash site.

"It's an intentional move to go somewhere that people have a familiarity with," explains Aidan Gillen of this big swing by showrunner Sean Jablonski and creator David O'Leary. The actor — who returns as Dr. Allen Hynek, the real-life astrophysicist hired by the U.S. Air Force to look into reports of unidentified flying objects — notes that the series wasn't "trying to be deliberately obscure the first season out."

Still, out of the 12,000-plus cases in the government's now-declassified findings, several that were dramatized (like Texas' "Lubbock Lights" from 1951) aren't widely remembered. Now, Gillen says, the positive viewer response "has probably earned us the right to go for something as well-known as Roswell."

When last seen after an inexplicable 1952 incident witnessed by dozens in Washington, D.C., Gillen's crafty Hynek and partner Capt. Michael Quinn (Michael Malarkey) began to suspect there actually was something out there. In the two-part season opener (concluding next week), they reopen the file on 1947's much-debated Roswell crash. Was it a weather balloon, or did authorities covertly recover an E.T. from a downed spaceship?

(Credit: History)

The military isn't alone in its interest: Hynek's wife, Mimi (Laura Mennell), aligns herself with other regular folks seeking the truth about flying saucers — a storyline that echoes the origins of actual grassroots investigative organizations. "I was always quite interested in this area," enthuses Gillen. "The civilian UFO groups were seen as a big threat at the time."

Seems those in positions of power feared that the growing membership was "ripe for manipulation," he adds. Hmmm, by humans or by aliens?

Project Blue BookSeason Premiere, Tuesday, January 21, 10/9c, History