Method Acting With ALF

Sure, everybody knows that the furry and funny alien from Melmac was actually nothing more than a puppet, operated most of the time by his creator Paul Fusco. However, this doesn’t mean that ALF was completely lifeless and that people referred to him as an it.

As Paul Fusco said in one of his many interviews regarding the show, sometimes he found it difficult to come up with a funny line. So, whenever that happened, he would just ask ALF. As Paul says, he just became the character and then the lines would come as easy as they could. Fast enough, new episodes and new stories were written.

However, this didn’t mean that Paul had a personality problem or that he suffered from a schizophrenic illness. On the contrary – this was method acting at its best, since it didn’t happen on the set, but completely outside of it.

We are used with method actors, such as Daniel Day Lewis, to become their characters on and off-screen for the entire duration of the shoot. And it doesn’t sound weird at all – this is something they do for their art. But when Paul Fusco (who isn’t seen in ALF) says that the character was an extension of him, we know that we have found something else, even more special.

One particular trait of this character thus finds an explanation. In the first and the second seasons we see ALF as being quite the party animal, drinking beer and doing, basically, whatever he wanted. When the studio said that he maybe should give up the alcohol because this wouldn’t be what a role-model would do, Paul Fusco just said that ALF was more than mature for drinking, being 225 years old.

Eventually, because there was a lot of merchandise to be sold, ALF had to go sober.

But he was still a beast, a beast that consumed especially time, since one single episode of 25 minutes necessitated two days of shooting (when an average sitcom episode would require only 5 to 7 hours).

Still, unlike others have said, Paul Fusco declared that it was a pleasure working on the set with ALF, despite being actually hard. Considering a comeback of the character, the creator said that these present times would also see a change in ALF – he doesn’t know what kind of change would be, but the complexity of the show would be much greater.

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