Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction for Aidan Gillen on ‘Project Blue Book’

© 2018. Credit: Ed Araquel

For seven seasons Aidan Gillen portrayed the cunning Lord Petyr Baelish (a.k.a. Littlefinger) on Game of Thrones. So when it came time to bid adieu to the man and his misdeeds, Gillen said he knew what he needed to do. “That was quite a momentous release to just walk away from. But that’s what I do. When I’m finished with a part, I just stop thinking about it. I literally just walk away. Take the jacket off and don’t look back.”

Although he wouldn’t have had time to even if he wanted. This past year the Irish actor has been immersed in high-profile projects that found him playing a hitman in Peaky Blinders, Queen’s manager in Bohemian Rhapsody and a brilliant astrophysicist in History’s new thriller Project Blue Book (Tuesdays beginning Jan. 8 at 10pm ET/PT).

Based on top-secret investigations into UFOs and other related phenomena conducted by the United States Air Force during 1952-69, the series tells the story of Dr. J. Allen Hynek (played by Gillen), who the government recruited to debunk reports surrounding the unexplained. Hynek spent years meticulously researching thousands of cases, hundreds of which were never solved, trying to have science prove the unexplainable.

“I was always quite taken by Star Trek. It was a big show for me when I was a kid, and Close Encounters was a huge film for me when I was growing up. So you could say I didn’t have to be converted to get involved in this project,” Gillen shares. “What’s interesting about it is that it is fact-based and science-based and history-based. This is a real character. It’s based on real events that happened in a very interesting era.”

Some of these stories covered in Project Blue Book will put goose bumps on the back of your neck — you’ll be dumbfounded that these events actually took place. It’s really a fertile ground for a TV series to cover, as Project Blue Book ran for 17 years, and the first season alone only covers six months into Hynek’s tenure. “Truth is stranger than fiction,” Gillen attests. “All of [Blue Book’s] stories are based on actual reports of things that people reported. They said they saw it. They believed they saw it, in most cases and sometimes not. We’re not afraid to dramatize a hoax either because once people start seeing the stuff, people start faking it, too. Even people who do go to massive lengths to create a story to fool people, to keep that story up for years, you know, why would you do that? That’s also of interest to me. What puts somebody in that mindset?

“Also cases with multiple witnesses — UFOs in the 1950s over Washington, D.C.? There were mass reports,” he continues. “They sent up fighter jets, and were scrambled to go up and try and shoot them down. These were seen by hundreds of people. I mean, that’s pretty interesting.”