For 90210 alum Matt Lanter, playing an alien on TV is no night at the Offshore bar – and that’s just the way he likes it.
In Star-Crossed, which premieres Monday at 8/7c on The CW, Lanter plays Roman, a sarcastic teen alien whose species (called Atrians) is forced to integrate with the human race 10 years after crash landing on Earth.
Along the way, Roman catches the eye of a human girl (Friday Night Lights‘ Aimee Teegarden) with whom he shares a complicated history.
In other words, it’s a far cry from where we last saw the actor.
“Some of our days look quite different than they did on 90210,” says Lanter about his latest series. “The show’s got all kinds of stuff – it’s got action, underwater stuff, flames, explosions, it’s got this whole new environment.”
Lanter recently spoke with TVLine to discuss his “conflicted” character, the show’s sci-fi love story and what the Atrians have in common with Game of Thrones‘ Dothraki.
TVLINE | The last time we saw you on a CW show, you were playing a bad boy on 90210. What’s it like to play an alien?
I’ve had a lot of fun with it. It’s a very different character – a very strong character. Roman’s got a lot of layers to him. He’s thrust into a leadership position without wanting it or asking for it, and that’s a really interesting position for anyone to be in. I think it says a lot about that person in how they deal with that. Roman’s got, quite literally, the world resting upon him.
TVLINE | In the pilot, we see Roman wants to integrate the aliens and humans, whereas his family is against it. What is that journey going to look like for him?
In a nutshell, his journey is that his father was a leader of the Atrians and also the leader of the human-Atrian relations committee on the Atrian side. He’s murdered. Now Roman is being looked to fill that position. He’s a young kid, he’s 16 years old; he didn’t want it. It was never in the cards. And now Roman has got this destiny, in a way, with Emery, who was this human girl that saved him when he was 6 years old. They reconnect in high school, and now he’s totally conflicted [about whether to] feed into that love and that destiny he feels with this one person, this soulmate of his, or do the right thing for his people.
TVLINE | What’s that going to be like for Roman, trying to do both those things?
What you will see is that it puts both Emery and Roman in an outcast position. Roman is an outcast because he’s got this love for this human girl, which is unheard of and really frowned upon by both sides. And you’ll come to find there are groups of people within both cultures — some are for integration and some are against it.
TVLINE | The aliens have markings on their faces. Will we find out what those markings mean?
At first appearance, what we really only see are the markings on the body. We know they have some different anatomy; they’ve got two hearts, two lungs, which obviously lends itself to different types of strengths and weaknesses. They have certain allergies not common to humans and actually age faster. You will see the markings do have a function [in that] we can breathe underwater, we can actually breathe through our skin. I was trying to keep that tight but [series creator] Meredith Averill said it in an interview and I was like, “OK I guess we’re telling people.”
TVLINE | There’s a little mention in the pilot about Atria, the Atrians’ home planet. Will we learn more about that?
We learn a little bit. We learn a very small amount about it in Episode 4. But in general, we don’t know much about who these people are. One thing is the Atrians have their own language that they speak on their planet called Sondiv, and we speak that a lot in the show. It’s a real language built by a language specialist — by the same guy who built the Dothraki language for Game of Thrones.
TVLINE | That is really awesome!
He actually built our language the same way he built the Dothraki language – from scratch, from the ground up. It’s real. Every time we speak it on the show, we get sent the audiotape of him speaking the language and how it’s phonetically spelled out and how it’s pronounced. It’s pretty cool.
TVLINE | Final question. What would Roman think of Liam? Would Liam survive in 2024?
[Laughs] I think Roman would think that Liam is, I don’t know, perhaps unintelligent. I feel like Roman is a witty guy and he’s very smart, but Liam’s problems are so minute and ridiculous compared to Roman’s. Roman would think, “Man, you have it easy!”