Syfy fans have fallen hard for breakout hit, “Resident Alien,” also streaming on Hulu. Star Alex Barima opens up about why the series is among his most challenging roles to-date, and what to expect for the binge-worthy series.
Canadian actor Alex Barima’s résumé boasts critically-acclaimed shows like The Exorcist, The 100, The Man in the High Castle, and guilty pleasure Riverdale, but his career is just getting started. The multitalented star has captivated audiences as a mysterious antagonist in quirky dramedy Resident Alien, a series that seems so perfectly attuned to modern times that it can’t help but be binged during quarantine. Barima’s improv comedy background, coupled with his deep-rooted love for voiceover acting, makes him a rare gem of actors today – Barima’s determination is matched only by his infectious charisma, and it’s clear Alex Barima will soon be a household name.
Below, Barima opened up about why Resident Alien was a dream role for him, how he pivoted during the pandemic, and what’s ahead.
The Knockturnal: Congratulations on Resident Alien! It’s such a fan favorite, and has an incredible tone with something for everyone. What originally drew you to the script?
Alex Barima: I’ve always been a big fan of sci-fi. When I started acting, that was something I was really drawn to and luckily for me, that was something we do a lot of in Vancouver. I’m fortunate enough to be in close proximity to shows like The 100 and CW superhero shows like The Flash, so I was kind of getting my sci-fi fix just from being here.
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Resident Alien felt like a dream role for me. I managed to do the audition and actually the day I was supposed to do the call back I was actually working on Riverdale. After the call that I got the part, I was just super excited.
The Knockturnal: What was it like working with Family Guy writer-producer Chris Sheridan?
Alex Barima: I remember showing up to the office for the first fitting for my character and the first person I met was [showrunner] Chris Sheridan. He was just so welcoming, and told me that he was so excited to work with me and that he loved how I portrayed the character. That just gave me a big confidence boost going into the project. Honestly once we started shooting, everything just started making sense immediately. Chris was always there, he was there every single day on set ready to explore different parts of the story or different aspects of the characters. It was truly a labor of love on his part and in fact that really radiated throughout the production.
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The Knockturnal: You come from an improv background. Did you flex any of those chops on set with Resident Alien?
Alex Barima: When it comes to written shows like a full-on TV or film production, I try not to do too much improv unless the director is really telling me to go for it and then I throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. But with Alien, I thought the writing was so good and the jokes in it already were funny, so I always just try to stick to what’s on the page. I respect the writers and try to bring their vision to life first. If I do think of something that will add to a scene, then I’ll throw it in there but typically if i’m adding improv, it will really be at the end of a scene so it’s a button to something so it’s easy to edit it [if need be]. It wasn’t my modus operandi.
The Knockturnal: You also do a lot of voiceover acting, including Zoids Wild and a new yet-to-be-announced Netflix project. How is that different from on-camera, and did the industry shift during the pandemic?
Alex Barima: I love voice acting. I truly, truly love it. I think it’s so liberating to only worry about one aspect of a performance, which is your voice. Everything you’re feeling, everything you’re thinking has to come through that one medium. You can’t save it with a look or something physical. Voiceover is something that I’ve always, always wanted to do. I discovered it in my early teens; I remember watching a lot of cartoons growing up and recognizing the same voices in the cartoons and then later on around 16 or 17, realizing that a lot of the shows I was watching were recorded in Canada, Vancouver specifically. That was one of the key reasons why I wanted to base myself out of Vancouver because I knew that the voice acting scene here is very prolific. It took a long time to break into the industry because it’s a very small group of people, and the talent has been working in it for 20+ years so they’re very vetted and very well known and very good. It was very intimidating for me to step into that ring because I’ve been paying attention to these artists since I was 12 or 13, and now I get to work with them sometimes. So that was a huge moment for me to just realize that I kind of cracked the door open and that I was actually in, sort to speak.
As for the pandemic, it’s definitely been harder. I’m very used to recording shows with the cast present so we’re playing off of each other and really getting a better sense of what the other characters are bringing to the table. Now a lot of the recordings happen individually. It still works, and the directors are there to make sure there’s unity throughout the sessions, but as an actor you do feel like something’s missing. I’m looking forward to the day when we can get that back. It just brings more chemistry into the reads.
The Knockturnal: Looking ahead to 2021, what’s next for you?
Alex Barima: Right now I’m very very focused on Resident Alien. I’m auditioning quite a bit for projects here in Vancouver but also I’m getting some auditions in Los Angeles. I also have a French agent for projects in Quebec. I’m really just looking for what’s next. As far as the voiceover project I’m doing, I’m still recording it and it’s still very much so under wraps so we can’t say too much about that unfortunately but I think it’s going to be a very, very cool project. That will be my other big thing going on!
“Resident Alien” is on Syfy and available to stream on Hulu.