Season 2 of Foreign resident did a great job of fleshing out its character dynamic – not just when it comes to the relationship between Harry (Alan Tudyk) and Asta (Sara Tomko), but also everyone in the small town of Patience, Colorado.
While Mayor Ben Hawthorne (Levi Fiehler) and his wife, Kate (Meredith Garretson) aren’t caught up in any of the alien shenanigans — as far as they know, anyway — the series never gives up on diving into their des emotional beats, which help ground the larger-than-life elements of the hit SYFY series. The couple’s current whims on building the complex help keep the larger-than-life elements grounded and linked.
SYFY WIRE recently caught up with Garretson on Zoom to discuss Kate’s Season 2 arc, her real-life friendship with Sara Tomko, and the one actor she’d like to see as a father.
How do you and Levi work together to find those emotional beats when the cameras aren’t rolling?
I think what’s really important is that these two people love each other deeply. They don’t meet, which happens when you’ve been with someone for a long time. But they also pass a lot of their own inner turmoil on to each other, which we do to the people closest to us. They know exactly how to support each other and I think it’s important for us that their relationship is really dynamic. They can be fully inside in a warm, loving moment one second, then they can be undone and agitated by each other in the next second.
We always manage to keep a playful spirit available to us when we fight and I think we keep the vulnerability present instead of just anger. The injury is available and I think Levi is so good at it; he disarms me with the fact that we’re pushing each other’s buttons, but that’s because we know how to do it. We know each other’s vocabulary to know how to put ourselves in the other’s shoes. And because of where we are in our lives, we want different things. But I think we always find a way to figure out how to meet or how to keep humanity in contention. To keep love in conflict.
As you mentioned earlier, Kate and Ben have started clashing over the entire resort plan. Where can we expect to see this storyline go as the season draws to a close?
The station is a point of contention for Ben and Kate. Kate is good at what she does; she and Kayla try to stop this station from entering. . . I think his reasoning is valid. [in] that she wants to help preserve the city for what it is: a city that really has character and where real people live and not everything is a CVS and a target. I think what you’ll see is an evolving perspective from Ben on why he wanted the complex in the first place. You’re going to see a change in the belief that the station would have value in the city and you’re going to see that the station was kind of a symbol for other things. It was a placeholder for how to fix things and how to make things better.”
I love the moment in Episode 11 where Kate confronts Harry about the drums and, without missing a beat, he accuses the Hawthornes of being poor. Is it hard to keep a straight face when sharing a scene with Alan?
Alan sets the bar for stamina – for some great ideas for character depth. He’s a clown. He’s a playful, diligent clown and he comes to the table with a million choices – all of which are excellent. He’s a fantastic stage partner, he’s a great listener. The only problem is that he annoys Kate. Part of how she handles this world she finds herself in is maintaining order and control. [she has]. And he does things, like the drums, that make his eyes twitch, then says things that slip under his skin and it tickles me. Everything Alan does makes me, Meredith, want to laugh. So it takes all of my focus, attention, and belief in the circumstance to stay in the moment and stay engaged when he comes up with one of his crazy ideas. It’s just his delivery. He has good timing, he always does the exact thing that will undo me, and most of the time after they call ‘Cut!’ I have to let out a giant laugh. It has always been a joy to work with Alan and to watch all the things he has instilled in Harry. But yeah, the guy almost breaks me with every take. It’s a miracle we have usable outlets, frankly.
How do you think Kate and Ben would react if they learned Harry’s true identity?
I think for Kate, being able to create order around her universe is what she has to work on. Learn to trust others, learn to let others in, and then learn to deal with people who treat the world differently – even her own husband. So I think it would be very difficult for Kate at first and terrifying because of how close she was to Max. I think that would set off some major alarm bells, but in the end, I think it would be really good for her. He’s the kind of person who, at this point in his life, lacks magic. She lacks evidence of things beyond her way of seeing the world and she begins to let those things in. Like seeing Patience in a whole new light and seeing people in a whole new light and accepting some of the things that she does and carries and how those things affect other people. Learning there was an alien among her would really challenge all the ways she organizes herself. [the world]. I think she would have a pretty severe first reaction to that. Well [on the other hand] maybe a little different, but that’s not for me to say.
And I know you and Sara Tomko are like best friends in real life…
We are best friends. She was the bridesmaid at my wedding!
It’s awesome. Do you do all kinds of hijinks on set?
You know what we do when the cameras aren’t rolling? We climb into each other’s trailers and snuggle up. We huddle and sometimes we cry. Fortunately, we have this brand new family of friends. Our cast is a family and we all love each other. I think we’re pretty good at sharing love and spreading it around because we know we always end up with each other. Sara is always the person who is there when it’s been a tough day or a tough scene, she’s the one waiting in the wings to cheer me up. I am like that for her and I always have been and always will be. So we laugh a lot, we cry a lot, we cuddle a lot, and we pinch each other every day that we’re on set together. We’re like, “I can’t believe this! Can you believe this?! I can’t believe this! It’s really happening!” We’ll have more scenes together, but it’s a slow burn for Kate and Asta. They find their way to a more intimate relationship with each other.
Episode 13 makes a point of focusing on the books Kate and Ben read. Ben in particular reads The Guttenberg Bible (Hollywood Memoirs of Steve Guttenberg). What was the meaning of that?
Well, we love Steve Guttenberg. I don’t know why you would put this in an article, but I’m telling you, I want you to help me do this. I grew up on Three men and a little lady and three men and a baby. I watched those movies on VHS when I was a little person, so I love Steve Gutenberg, Tom Selleck, and Ted Danson. I love this little trio… Levi, for my birthday a few years ago, asked Steve Gutenberg to do a Cameo for me for my birthday. And I was like, ‘This is the best present I’ve ever received,’ and everyone knows I’m shooting [to have] Steve Gutenberg on the show. I think maybe he should be my father. We want it in the entertainment world. And so, this book was a little tribute to “The Gut”, Steve Gutenberg.
Hope this interview allows Steve to be your father.
Oh my God. Speaking of healthy, [look at] her Instagram content. He is so sweet. He wants everyone to love each other. Crossed fingers…
You have already been renewed for Season 3. Where would you like to see Kate go after this season ends?
All our characters have this beautiful evolution in front of them. I think Kate is evolving out of the phase where we met her, which was that she was in a box that she didn’t put herself in. Well, she chose to be there, but she’s not happy to be in this box. She was just someone’s mother and someone’s wife. A big part of her wasn’t happy and she picked on Ben and didn’t really invest emotionally in the community she was in. I think where she’s going is a place where she finds a way to be all that she is and all of who she is might surprise her. We [see] that development happens in Season 2. When you’re angry or disappointed, you can get tough, and I think Kate softens up in a way that allows her to let others in. It strengthens in places that have remained dormant. I think she’s on a path she doesn’t even know she’s on, and I have some very particular thoughts about it that I can’t say anything about. All I will say is that everything is going in the right direction.
Last question. Who’s cuter: Baby Yoda or Harry’s baby?
Oh, my God, don’t do this. Do not do that. I have to answer Harry’s baby. sounds [he makes] and the way Harry is with him. I have to say it’s Harry’s baby. The eyes sort of do, but Baby Yoda has those eyes too. It’s Harry’s baby by a hair’s breadth.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity
New episodes of Resident Alien air on SYFY every Wednesday at 10 p.m. Eastern Time, before hitting the SYFY app and Peacock the next day.