Earthlings, meet the aliens invading the planet — once they stop bickering, anyway. On TBS’ People of Earth, the Grey, White, and Reptilian extraterrestrials may be on the same human-abducting mission, but they’re not all alike. EW phoned home — or rather, creator David Jenkins — to uncover the special effects used to transform actors into the three types of aliens featured on the oddball comedy.
Though the wise-cracking Kurt (Drew Nelson), perished in a hit-and-run, his fellow Reptilians continue to lead the alien mission. If this sounds far-fetched, the creative team — including EPs Conan O’Brien and Greg Daniels — drew from actual conspiracy theorists, who believe Reptilians disguise themselves on Earth as powerful humans (Google “lizard Obama”). “They’re good at manipulating people, so I thought it’d be good to have attractive [actors] because they’d look good on human skin,” Jenkins says. “But take that off, they’re lizard people.” Time to put on a tinfoil hat and doubt everyone you meet!
The most alien-emoji-looking extraterrestrial on board took the longest to design. “The Grey was very hard, because it was like, ‘Is it still funny if it looks like an alien in a serious alien movie?'” Jenkins says. Luckily, Daniels (The Office) came to the rescue, drawing an exaggerated version of the traditional alien, complete with wispy hairs and a head “shaped like a butt,” as Jenkins puts it. On set, actor Ken Hall, who plays Jeff the Grey, goes through about three hours of makeup, including prosthetics for his head, face, and three-fingered hands. It’s an effort the fastidious Jeff himself would approve of.
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It might be easy to confuse the white-haired, promiscuous Don (Björn Gustafsson) for The Lord of the Rings‘ Legolas (Orlando Bloom). Despite their majestic coifs, White aliens are the most humanlike, benevolent, and vulnerable, making them the perfect target of other aliens’ jokes — and an easy species to depict on screen. “We’re doing sci-fi on a limited budget, so it’s good to have one of the aliens basically be a guy in a wig,” Jenkins admits with a laugh. Just don’t touch that hair — Jenkins says it takes half an hour to straighten Don’s glorious ‘do. Aliens… they’re just like us!
People of Earth airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on TBS.