Published: Tuesday May 13, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday May 13, 2014 MYT 7:58:23 AM

90210’s Matt Lanter on new TV role

Fly guy: Former 90210 star Matt Lanter is the leading man in the sci-fi romantic series Star-Crossed, playing an extraterrestrial being. – J Squad Photography

Fly guy: Former 90210 star Matt Lanter is the leading man in the sci-fi romantic series Star-Crossed, playing an extraterrestrial being. – J Squad Photography

Actor plays an extraterrestrial being in love with a human teenager in Star-Crossed

IT’S hard to believe that the hunky Matt Lanter was once bullied as a kid.

“When I was young, I was really, really short, so I was always picked on for being short,” said Lanter, now a strapping 1.78m-tall actor.

The former 90210 star, along with Aimee Teegarden, were fielding questions from international journalists at a press conference on their latest TV project, Star-Crossed, in Los Angeles, California.

The 31-year-old Ohio-native continued: “It doesn’t have to be physical, it can be mental bullying. I think all of us have been in that situation to some degree, at some point. It’s something we can all relate to.”

Lanter was talking about his character, Roman, an “Atrian” (an alien species from the planet Atria) who faces discrimination by the humans on his first day of high school in the pilot of Star-Crossed.

This 13-episode sci-fi romantic series – which, unfortunately, will not be returning for a second season – is set in 2024 where the human race is gradually learning to accept the aliens into their fold. Ten years ago, the Atrians fled their planet and landed on Earth but as their arrival was met with a less than friendly reception from the humans, the two waged war.

Now, seven Atrians have been selected to attend a human high school for the first time in an effort to integrate the two species. Here, Roman meets a human teenager, Emery (played by Teegarden), and realise they have a shared history.

On the night the alien spacecraft crash-landed and the world was at war, six-year-old Emery discovered Roman who managed to escape and sought shelter in her family’s shed. As Emery fed and cared for him, they forged an unlikely friendship. But days later, military officials located Roman and took him away. As the series progresses, the two rekindle their long lost friendship ... and then some.

Lanter's character Roman is one of seven aliens chosen to enroll in a human high school as part of an integration initiative.
Lanter’s character, Roman (left), is one of seven aliens chosen to enroll in a human high school as part of an integration initiative.
 

“I have not experienced a ton of bullying...,” Teegarden offered before Lanter chimed in teasingly, “I bully you sometimes.”

Best known for her role as Julie Taylor on Friday Night Lights, the 24-year-old actress went on to share that she suffered “mild” bullying for her dietary lifestyle: “When I was growing up, people didn’t know what a vegetarian was. They were like, ‘you’re a veg-a-what?’ I still get that, definitely in the South.”

The issue of discrimination and equality undeniably forms the series’ backbone, what with the budding forbidden romance between Roman and Emery. Teegarden shared the show is a great way to give a different perspective to dividing issues like race and religion faced in the world today: “Our show handles a lot of political hot topics in a very unique, interesting, non-threatening way. We’re not saying black or white ... It’s fictional, so we’re talking about Atrians.”

But should these extraterrestrial beings come knocking on her door in real life, would the actress be as welcoming as Emery? “Oh! It would definitely be interesting, meeting somebody or something that you’ve never seen before. You’ve got to ask why, who, how, when? There will be more trepidation and fear than I think aggression,” enthused Teegarden, who doesn’t disregard the possibility of extraterrestrial existence.

Meanwhile, Lanter, who was asked if he would pull out a gun at the sight of an alien, hesitated: “Maybe, I don’t know. These Atrians are not like aliens we’ve been presented with in past projects. They walk, they talk, they have feelings and emotions. There’s nothing to be scared about, at least at first.”

And they look almost like humans, too. Save for the markings that stretch from the right side of his face to the nape of his neck (an indication of the tribe he came from), Roman looks just like any other human being (some might add he’s even more aesthetically-pleasing).

Aimee Teegarden believes Star-Crossed is more than just another highschool drama, addressing today's
Aimee Teegarden believes Star-Crossed is more than just another high-school drama, addressing today's ‘political hot topics’ in a non-threatening way.

Still, these aliens can do much more. By the end of the pilot, viewers will learn that Roman has a superpower. “More things are going to come out about the Atrians, what certain Atrians can do and what certain Atrians can’t do, the powers they have and what is different about them,” he revealed, adding “flying” would be a great superpower to have, if given the choice.

By now, readers might be thinking that the series sounds like a carbon copy of the 1999 hit sci-fi show, Roswell. But the co-stars believe the premises of the two shows are markedly different.

Teegarden said: “In Roswell, it’s like you’re hiding the aliens and just getting to know them. But in this show, they’ve landed and this is 10 years into the future.” Lanter continued: “It’s not an alien arrival story. It’s more about they’re here, they’ve been here. How do they co-exist together?”

Asked if it was a challenge to portray a high school student even though Lanter is in his early 30s, he joked” “Here on The CW (TV network), we have an age serum that we all inject.”

“It’s not uncommon for younger-skewed TV shows to hire older actors. You don’t really forget your high school years, it’s not difficult to remember how you felt with your first love,” he went on.

Speaking of first loves, the actor divulged: “I remember dark movie theatre make-out sessions. My mum dropped me off and I go, ‘Yes! I can make out now.’

“But I also remember heartbreak, it’s very powerful when you’re young and don’t quite understand it.”

Star-Crossed premieres tonight (May 13) at 9.55pm on RTL CBS Entertainment HD (HyppTV Ch 616).

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment, Matt Lanter, Aimee Teegarden, Star-Crossed, 90210, Friday Night Lights, aliens, sci-fi, romance, TV, entertainment

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