Alias stars admit even they didn't understand the Rambaldi storyline
When EW spoke to series stars Victor Garber, Michael Vartan, and Carl Lumbly to celebrate the iconic spy drama coming to Disney+, they all laughed as they admitted they may have said the lines but they never actually knew what was going on when the story explored a sci-fi prophecy from a fictional fifteenth century philosopher.
"I never. Followed. Any of it," Garber says with a laugh. "I still couldn't tell you who Rambaldi is. Jennifer [Garner] and I, we laugh about this all the time. I didn't follow anything about that. I'm not smart enough. My imagination doesn't work that way. It's true, I can't lie anymore, I'm too old. I can't pretend that I knew what I was doing. I didn't. There were many episodes where Jennifer and I would look at each other like, 'What just happened?' 'I have no idea.'"
That's actually one of the reasons why Vartan is excited that Alias is now available on Disney+. "If you had missed one episode, you wouldn't understand what was happening in the following one," he says. "Being able to watch it whenever you want and not miss an episode I think is hugely beneficial to the story that's being told. A lot of my friends would say, 'Oh, I missed the last couple episodes. What's going on in the show?' And I was like, 'Don't even bother. So much has gone on since then, just watch something else.'"
Lumbly plans on rewatching the series so he can finally understand what was going on with the Rambaldi story arc. "I look forward to seeing it across the whole series myself because even working on it, I was never exactly certain what had come before and certainly I had no clue as to what was coming after," he says with a laugh.
Vartan jokes it's a good thing they were all talented actors, because they successfully made it look like they knew what was going on with the story when they most certainly didn't. "Once they introduced the Rambaldi storyline, things definitely got more confusing and I had a hard time following," he adds. "I think it was season 5, Victor and I were sitting next to see each other reading this script and he turned to me and he said, 'Do you understand this?' And I said, 'I have no f---ing clue what is happening.' That entire episode, we're just basically reading lines we didn't understand. I had to say — and I still remember this — stuff like, 'the team developed something called micro encapsulated cytokines.' Who remembers that 20 years later? Someone who literally spent six days learning that, that's who."
Even though some of the more confusing sci-fi components of the show were hard to follow, Lumbly loves that it didn't affect how much people loved Alias. "The anchor of the show is, of course, the relationships in this intrepid group of people on a weekly basis trying to save the world, and the science fiction was like this bizarre icing on the cake," he says. "So the fact that I didn't fully understand it worked for me and my character, because I think part of my experience with Alias was that none of us could actually be sure at any given moment who we were working for, but we knew who we were working with. Also, I believed Dixon knew who Rambaldi was and where he was living, but he was holding onto it."
Vartan laughs as he admits, "I didn't know if he was alive or dead," to which Lumbly quips, "That was the whole point, Michael! No one did."
Rambaldi lore aside, Garber still counts Alias as one of his favorite shows of all time, both for the experience he had working on it and the project itself. "For me, it was a seminal experience," he says. "The number of times I get asked about, 'Are you going to do a reboot of Alias?' I think, 'Why? We did it. There's nothing more to say or do.' So I'm really, really happy that Disney+ is going to show it, because I think it will find new fans and I think for people who want to discover it again, it will be wonderful. I thought it ended when it should. It was time. I don't think we could've gone any further than we did."
His costars feel differently, however. When asked how they feel about a potential Alias revival, Vartan says, without hesitation, "Yes! Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes." Lumbly agrees, but adds that he'd only reprise the character of Marcus Dixon if he never smoked another cigar. "Of all of the things I had to do in Alias, there was one evening where I had to be enjoying a cigar and I was sick for days after," he says. "I was not a smoker so I did not know that the point is to not inhale, you puff but you don't inhale, which was brought to my attention some few hours into it. So I would be come running back as long there were no cigars."
As for Vartan, his request would be for his character Michael Vaughn to never run again. "I've always hated running," he says with a laugh. "The hardest thing in the world to do is to pretend you're running at full speed but you're not. Because if you were, you would pass the camera. To make all these weird facial expressions and flap your arms even faster, even though your legs aren't going, is very awkward, so I would stipulate, no running for Agent Vaughn. I'm too old for that for that now."
But that actually gives Lumbly the best idea for what an Alias revival could look like. "I wonder if there's a community of retired spies and operatives somewhere in Florida where you sit down and you have all your old, favorite weapons, and you talk about old missions and then there would be bingo," he says as Vartan jokes, "There might be a walker or two. Alias: The Golden Years."
All five seasons of Alias are now available to stream on Disney+ in addition to Hulu.
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