Project Blue Book is based on the true story of Dr J. Allen Hynek (Aiden Gillen), an astronomer and professor who was hired by the US Air Force as a scientific consultant during the Cold War era to investigate and debunk the UFO sightings that were being reported throughout the USA.
Hynek started out as a UFO sceptic but as his work with the US Air Force progressed, he became a believer and went on to become one of the world’s most prominent ufologists. Throughout the series, Hynek goes about his investigations under the watchful eye of military veteran Captain Michael Quinn (Michael Malarkey), while at home his secret, all-consuming work starts to impact life with his wife, Mimi (Laura Mennell) and son Joel (Nicholas Holmes).
At the beginning of the series your character, Mimi Hynek is essentially the perfect 1950s housewife but she wises up pretty quickly. Can you talk about Mimi’s journey and what drives her to evolve?
I loved Mimi’s journey; it was part of what attracted me to the show in the beginning. Yes, she is definitely the quintessential housewife of the 1950s, and she starts off also kind of sheltered and not fully in her own skin in terms of being comfortable with being who she is.
But she definitely goes through a transformation in the first season and really is forced to in many ways because of Project Blue Book coming in and placing a threat on her and her family. She was in the dark a lot of the time because Allen would tell her absolutely nothing since his job was top secret, and because of that she was coming from a place of fear, but little by little she got a lot stronger.
This season she will really implement that strength and we will see a stronger, smarter Mimi who’s really getting out there and breaking that mould of the 1950’s housewife and doing a little truth-seeking herself, which I was very excited about.
The relationship between Mimi and Susie (Ksenia Solo) is a strong onscreen dynamic. Susie seems to bring to Mimi’s world aspects of what she’s missing herself. Why do you think we find that relationship so fascinating?
I know I did because first of all it’s a complicated relationship and I think life is that way sometimes. A lot of us will find ourselves wanting more in life and being stuck in a bit of a rut and I feel like Susie comes along and fills something that Mimi was needing – she really saw Mimi, she really heard her, and she helped her come out of her shell and find her inner strength.
It’s almost like they had a bit of an emotional affair in a way because they were able to be so honest and vulnerable. You don’t always find that type of relationship in life so it wasn’t surprising to me that Mimi’s feelings got so confused in terms of how she felt about this other woman. This season things will switch up a bit because she does love her husband and her family and she doesn’t want to mess with that. She will start to refocus and start doing a little bit of digging for Allen in terms of his work and they will have more of a connection that way, more of a shared passion for the UFO phenomenon.
And Susie will be busy as well doing her own thing and working Captain Quinn but I do need to say to audience members who love Mimi and Susie – do not worry, you’re going to have a little bit of a break from us being together, but I think it’s necessary. After a bit of a wait, we will come back together on screen and some pretty epic things will happen, but sadly you just have to wait a little bit.
Project Blue Book creator, David O’Leary, says he has been fascinated by extra-terrestrials since he was a child which is why he took on the project. What is it about the series that made you want to get involved? Have you also always had an interest in UFO’s and extra-terrestrials?
You know I’m so embarrassed when I get asked that question because originally, I wasn’t that interested. Is there intelligent life out there other than ourselves is one of the biggest mysteries of all time so it’s not like I hadn’t thought about it, and it’s not like I hadn’t thought that it’s an interesting topic, I just hadn’t thought of things in the same way as I do now.
What originally drew me to it when I started to read the script was I loved that Allen Hynek was hired by the US Air Force to investigate and in many ways debunk these cases that were happening in the 1950's and ‘60s, and I love that he wasn’t your stereotypical flying saucer enthusiast at the time - he was this very reputable man who came at these cases from a scientific perspective and little by little he changed his mind and started to become more of a believer in this UFO phenomenon.
I think for me and a lot of viewers as well, they go on that similar journey with him and also with Quinn as they become more invested in the mystery. Even if you don’t believe anything from the beginning, I think with some of the cases we present, you can’t help but be drawn in and then start to wonder, wow, that’s surprising, could this be true?
Not only did Hynek become a believer in UFO’s, but also a believer in government conspiracies. While Project Blue Book is a historical show, some of the parallels with what’s going on in the world today are pretty interesting.
It is exciting because Project Blue Book is in many ways the original ‘fake news’ that we are still dealing with today. It was created as a misinformation campaign to distil any possible mass hysteria that could have happened at the time if the public learned about these things. Especially during and after something like Roswell happening in 1947, the government didn’t want it to get out of hand and didn’t want this information to get into the public.
I think it’s so fascinating and exciting and kind of scary too when you start to think about how much information the government can and has kept from the public and this is an example of that. But at the same time, there might be good reason for that. Could we handle knowing the truth about these things even today? Could we handle full disclosure of something like that? I don’t know.
We have season 2 of Project Blue Book premiering here in February. From what we’ve seen in the trailer we are going to hit the big ones first – Roswell and Area 51. What can you tell us about season 2?
This season we start off with Roswell, one of the hugest cases of all time – you can’t get much bigger than that and it goes hand in hand with what’s really behind Area 51. I think one of my other favourite things that we explore is the CIA secret mind control program which is great. We just keep going deeper and deeper with the global conspiracy of it all, it’s a great year.
Project Blue Book season 2 starts on SBS Wednesday February 19 at 9:35pm, with episodes airing weekly. Season 1 is available to watch at SBS On Demand now, and season 2 episodes will be available to stream after broadcast.
Watch the season 2 trailer now: