He might be Medora, Wisconsin's biggest dork ever, but Aliens in America's (Mondays, 8:30 pm/ET, The CW) Justin Tolchuk manages to have a pretty adventurous life anyway. So far we've seen him get on school television, earn some major locker-room cred for his pillow-talk skills, and even crash a rockin' pizza-bagel party. All that and Justin's school year has hardly even begun. TVGuide.com caught up with his portrayer, Dan Byrd, to get some advice on getting girls, getting into "clubs" and getting out of scrapes with the law.
TVGuide.com: Dan, I wanted to congratulate you on being the eighth most bangable girl in Medora.
Dan Byrd: [Laughs] Well, thank you, thank you. I'm not sure that warrants congratulations, but thanks.
TVGuide.com: So what were you like in high school — were you every bit as dorky as Justin?
Byrd: [Laughs] Well, not nearly as bangable. You know, like a lot of people who acted, my high school experience was very irregular. Around ninth grade [I stopped going to high school]. I wasn't really able to integrate myself, especially [because I wasn't] there half the time, so I started doing a home-study program. So overall my high school experience was very lonely….
TVGuide.com: Just like Justin!
Byrd: Yeah, that is some sort of common ground. It consisted of me mostly sitting there trying to convince myself to get stuff done, and getting yelled at by my mother. I've always had some nerd in me, but I don't think I was classified like that, as Justin is — a straight-down-the-middle dork.
TVGuide.com: Well, genetically speaking, Justin has a hot sister, so he's got potential.
Byrd: [Laughs] This is true. Maybe he'll mature into something that's a little less sad.
TVGuide.com: Any chance Justin will have a love interest this season? Maybe some Amy Greenblatt action?
Byrd: I hear there's some sort of little hookup thing coming. But I don't think Amy Greenblatt is coming back — not in the near future, at least.
TVGuide.com: She must have heard about the pillow.
Byrd: Right, yeah. She's probably heard the rumors and is a little freaked out about that.
TVGuide.com: Are we going to see any love for Raja [Adhir Kalyan]?
Byrd: Unfortunately Raja can't be involved with anyone outside his faith, so the options are limited in the Medora social structure. Although we have an episode coming up in which some girl gets a crush on Raja and tries to convert herself, but it won't be anything long-term. The one remaining love interest for him will be Claire [Lindsey Shaw], and they'll start to play with that in future episodes.
TVGuide.com: So a lot of people have been comparing Aliens to Freaks & Geeks. Do you see a similarity at all?
Byrd: Yeah, I see similarities here and there. It's also about nerdy teenagers in high school, but I think our show is a bit more heightened. It's not the same tonally, it's got a different rhythm. Freaks & Geeks is a little bit slower and more paced out; ours is a little more animated and faster. But I can definitely see parallels, and it's a really flattering thing, because that's such a great show.
TVGuide.com: It reminds me of The Simpsons, actually, with its sharp wit, but each episode ends with a sweet sentimental message of feel-good love.
Byrd: [Laughs] Right! They're doing a good job of wrapping it up at the end, and putting a nice bow on things. Everything is pretty much resolved at the end, which I think is ultimately more gratifying for the audience. It works well; I don't think it cheapens it, because they find a creative, quirky way of getting the message across. And hopefully we're not beating people over the head with it.
TVGuide.com: What's it like working with Scott Patterson of Gilmore Girls fame?
Byrd: Scott's a really great guy, he's really integrated himself well into our little group. I think he was eager to do something different, [after being] on Gilmore Girls for such a long time. So he's embraced the character and enjoys playing the goofy comedy that we're trying to do.
TVGuide.com: I have to ask about the Palladino twins in Justin's school — is their name a shout-out to Scott's old bosses, Amy and Dan Palladino?
Byrd: You know what, it was originally the Palladini twins, but they had to switch it for legal reasons because there were some Palladini twins out there ready to sue us. So I'm thinking [the name] is a coincidence.
TVGuide.com: I've noticed a lot of references to Cameron Crowe — Say Anything, Jerry Maguire — and you look a lot like the kid from Almost Famous. Does someone in the writers' room have a Crowe crush or something?
Byrd: Oh, well, that's not a bad thing, right? Right? But I don't think there's a Crowe fetish, no. It won't be a recurring theme — no "You had me at hello"s, no Band-Aids.
TVGuide.com: What can you tell us about the next episode, "Rocket Club"?
Byrd: Justin has formulated this fictional club called Rocket Club, which has been going on for some time now. It's basically just a cover to get away from Franny and hang out in his friend's basement.
TVGuide.com: Wait, Justin has friends?
Byrd: Yes, there are friends introduced — Dooley [Adam Rose] and Craig [Nathan Mitchell]. They're two buddies who are in the same social situation as Justin, so they’re not really friends but they end up with each other because they have no other place to go, really. So Rocket Club is basically so Justin can go over to Dooley's house and hang out in his basement and do nothing.
TVGuide.com: They don't do anything down there — no poker, nothing?
Byrd: No, no, pretty much nothing. They might as well be staring at paint drying. It's just an excuse to get away and not be under any intense supervision — which, uh, Franny [Amy Pietz] is prone to. Then Raja inquires about Rocket Club, and Justin wants to keep it a secret because, you know, Raja would expect, you know, a Rocket Club. But through the pressuring of Franny he ends up having to take him anyway, so he asks Raja to lie to his mom about the Rocket Club, but Raja's never lied before, so his lies take on this whole new life, but then in order to make the club not a lie he attempts to, sort of, go to a hardware store to, sort of, make a rocket. Which sends some signals… to some people… and the police are called, and Franny finds out…. I don't want to give too much away, but that's the overall premise in a nutshell, although I know that wasn't very clear. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Or a nutshell.
Byrd: [Laughs] Or a nutshell, right.
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