'Project Blue Book': After iconic roles on 'The Wire', 'Game of Thrones' and 'Peaky Blinders', Aidan Gillen stuns again with new History show
The recent lack of warm, inherently good-natured characters from Gillen is what spurs us to conclude that taking up the role of Dr. Hynek was quite the smart move for the actor
An actor's job might be to portray completely polar opposite characters on the screen, one after the other, but there has hardly been a contrast as striking as Irish actor Aidan Gillen's turnover from the crafter 'Littlefinger' in 'Game of Thrones' to the legendary Dr. J. Allen Hynek in the upcoming History channel show, 'Project Bluebook'. Of course, this goes without invalidating his credibility as an actor because between 'GoT' and the soon-to-be-arriving new show, Gillen has wowed us aplenty via performances in solid dramas, like 'The Wire', and the more recent 'Peaky Blinders', but this shift as Dr. Hynek is something different. In that, this is exactly what Gillen should have opted for when he could have done pretty much anything after 'Game of Thrones'.
Despite memorable, yet refreshing performances as Tommy Carcetti in 'The Wire', and Aberama Gold in 'Peaky Blinders', the reason behind Gillen's portrayal of Dr. Hynek being so highly anticipated is just how different from his aforementioned TV alter-egos this new character is. In that, both these avatars of his were much similar to the already established and highly critically acclaimed role of Lord Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish in HBO's period drama from George R. R. Martin.
As Littlefinger, we saw Gillen portray the fictional crafty conspirator on 'Game of Thrones', proving and misconstruing things on purpose to light a furious fire just to appease his own selfish motives. Cunning, knowledgeable, and extremely meticulous at the same time, the character of Littlefinger is like a vicious cat planning its attack, waiting to pounce on its prey at their vulnerable most, with a favorable knack for subtlety. Over the span of almost five years, we saw the character become the bane for countless other beloved characters — something for which the oncoming hatred from viewers was intense.
But there was no denying Gillen's personal talent in that because it truly does take another level of skill to make people unanimously hate a character just by playing it on screen.
Similarly, in 'The Wire', Gillen's character, Tommy Carcetti was an ambitious, driven politician who isn't afraid to utilize his contacts and indulge in indiscretions whenever the situation calls for it. It is almost the same as Littlefinger's debauchery when it comes to high treason and murder plots because it's remarkable, just how low he is willing to stoop for his own benefits. And while Carcetti might not be as vicious with his scheming as Littlefinger, he sure goes through too much to achieve his political goals.
Even as Aberama Gold in 'Peaky Blinders', Gillen played a Romany gypsy hitman-for-hire, his signature traits being 'a dangerous savage with little regard for the rules'. The only person the character feels any moiety of care for is probably his son, Bonnie Gold. This is pretty much like Carcetti being a diligent father, despite not giving a sh*t about his wife. And this again brings back flashes of Littlefinger because he was just a shrewd, cold-hearted personality who only cared about his own self.
Also, if seen from the romantic relationship aspects, Gillen's three most significant characters in TV haven't been all that different either. In his relationships, much like Gold blossoming a romance using unfair tactics with the only other widowed Gypsy criminal, and Carcetti constantly being unfaithful to his wife, Littlefinger actually marries the sister of the woman he has always pined for his entire life, only to murder the said sister — thus getting one step closer to the Iron Throne he is so obsessed with.
This is what leads us to believe that despite significantly strong roles with well rounded, intriguing plots to encompass, Gillen's characters have always been a bit too similar. They are always the devious, shrewd, ambitious people driven with selfish motives, and then comes the character of Dr. Hynek in 'Project Blue Book', which couldn't be any more different than the roles Gillen has been the most popular for.
"So many people saw 'Game of Thrones' and a character that's cold and manipulative," Gillen shared with Entertainment Tonight, mentioning that this massive shift in roles was an 'added bonus'. "It'd be nice to be known, hopefully, for not a scheming evildoer." The main reason behind this contrast being Dr. Hynek's inherently curious nature, and the goodwill to divulge the truths behind several unsolved mysteries of life on this planet.
"When I read the first [script]," Gillen said, continuing: "I was intrigued. I thought, 'I could do that.' This guy obviously has to come across as really intelligent, but not a bore, and approachable and warm. Not only can I do that, but I haven't done it for a while. I've played warm characters, but not many recently." And this recent constraint on the number of warm, inherently good-natured characters from Gillen is what spurs us to the conclusion that taking up the role of Dr. Hynek was quite the smart move for the actor. In a way, us viewers have been so conditioned and accustomed to seeing him as the negative personality, that seeing him as a positive lead would be a refreshing watch — perhaps ensuring History Channel a hit with the series already.
In its own way, 'Project Blue Book' — created by David O'Leary — is set to follow Dr. Hynek and his tumultuous encounter with the titular initiative by the United States Air Force back in the '50s. Dr. Hynek, a family man, college professor, and an astrophysicist, reportedly devoted his career to all things extraterrestrial. Charged with the title of the only civilian involved in 'Project Blue Book' and dedicating his life to explaining the unexplainable, Hynek managed to leave behind a heavy legacy after his death in 1986, and the upcoming series will finally entail his involvement with the project, which lasted 17 years, from 1952 to 1969.