‘Resident Alien’ Star Sara Tomko on the Joys of Playing a Woman Allowed to Get Angry
Patience, Colorado, seemingly lucks out when its (only) doctor dies and another one is able to step right in. What they don’t know is that an alien (Alan Tudyk) killed that doctor, Harry Vanderspeigle, and took his place.
This new Harry now rockily and bluntly (nuance is not a trait he understands) navigates his new life in Resident Alien‘s medical clinic alongside nurse Asta Twelvetrees, played by Sara Tomko. And ironically, what she likes about her new coworker, the actress says, is he’s “a man in her life [who] tells her the honest truth, [which] leads her to rethink how she looks at life and how she trusts men.”
But there’s much more to their connection. Showrunner Chris Sheridan says she and the alien are “both outsiders” because Asta, who’s adopted, was raised in a reservation, but isn’t Native.
Of course, Asta could change her mind pretty quickly about Harry should she find out who he really is.
“There’s going to be a feeling of betrayal,” Tomko says. “That will be something Harry’s going to have to deal with, and he’s not going to like it when Asta’s mad at him. He likes watching her get angry, but he’s never had it aimed at him.”
And speaking of Asta getting angry, Tomko appreciates her character’s range and authenticity. “Early in my career, I longed for a character like this. In the industry, if you get a role worth a damn, that’s a win. And if as a woman, if you get a role that doesn’t have to just do with how you look, that’s a win. And if the story’s great and the cast is great and on top of that, it gets picked up and people like it — it’s just one checked box after another with this show.
“I love being able to be a woman on screen who looks like a woman,” she continues. “I don’t have the perfect body or temperament, and there’s no shame [in that]. That’s the truth of being a woman and I get to be that. It’s not pretty all the time. She’s messy.”
Working opposite Tudyk has allowed Tomko to switch up her acting choices, she adds. “There’s so much range to what he’s doing, I can’t keep making the same face, otherwise it’ll just be one note,” she says.
Sheridan also discussed Tudyk’s range. Because the actor’s so talented, he adds, and had even studied clowning — just watch him in Episode 2 learning how to navigate a human’s body — it “gives you so many places to go. So much of it is stuff he’s doing on his own, sliding into the physicality of the role.”
Overall, says Sheridan, he wanted the show to capture “the soul of the comic” via an “outsider alien observing human nature and trying to figure out what it’s like to be human … in a light-hearted way.”
Resident Alien, Wednesdays, 10/9c, Syfy