From Pandora to D.C.: 1 Man's Quest to Make Aliens Seem Real

Ben Terris

Reuben Langdon spent four years flying around on make-believe aliens as the lead stunt double on Avatar. Now, he’s in D.C. trying to convince the world that such extraterrestrial beings could exist.

This time, Langdon is behind the camera. And instead of a movie featuring technicolored dragon-banshees and sinewy blue beings, this one features another strange breed: former members of Congress.

For this movie, Just Cause Entertainment (of which Langdon is the president and whose most recent works include the last iterations of the "Resident Evil" video games) has brought to D.C. more than 40 witnesses to testify in a faux hearing attempting to prove the existence of extraterrestrial life. The documentary will be called Truth Embargo. The 13th-floor ballroom of the National Press Club has been decked out to look like a congressional hearing, and six former lawmakers have been paid $20,000 to listen to 30-plus hours of testimony.

Topics have included an elk that 14 people witnessed carried into the air by a beam of light; bovine tissue mutilated in less than two minutes by a mysterious force; and a seven-mile-in-diameter spacecraft that may have hovered above Phoenix for more than two hours.

“It can be really difficult to have a serious conversation about this stuff without the media talking about anal probes and little green men,” Langdon tells me outside of the hearing. “Having a hearing, with former members, is a good way to get the conversation out there.”

Langdon’s involvement with the project—which he says will cost well over $1 million when all is said and done—is deeply personal. He was born in Georgia, lived for a time in Japan, but had a defining moment after moving to Los Angeles, his current home.

“One day, right in the middle of the day, I looked up at the sky and saw all these dots,” he said. “They looked like stars, right in the middle of the blue sky, 40 or 50 of them. I watched them for 45 minutes, tried to record them, but couldn’t get a good image.”

Nowadays, Langdon is sure that more is out there. But he’s sick of the media and others laughing off the issue. By holding a citizens' hearing, with actual former members of Congress, perhaps the conversation could get a veil of legitimacy. Of course, even for $20,000 the number of former members who would make themselves available to an event sure to be ridiculed is small.

“I’m sure that many of these sightings can be explained, but not all of them,” former Rep. and current octogenarian survivalist Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland said during a recess break. “Balloons, clusters of balloons, searchlights off of clouds--that explains some UFOs. But even the Air Force has a list of 701 incidents they can’t explain.”

Bartlett isn’t the only former member who thinks something fishy might be going on. Former Sen. Mike Gravel, perhaps most famous for his quixotic run for president and for throwing a rock into a pond, agrees. He told me there is “no question at all” that the government is covering something up.

“What is despicable is the continued effort of the American government to keep this information secret to the American people and to the people of the world,” he said.

This is the “Truth Embargo” that Langdon is naming his film after. And in a sense, he is hitting on something that plenty of Americans feel: that their government is not always being completely honest with them.

“Even the former congressmen and -women are telling us how jacked up the system is,” Langdon said. “They’ve seen the way the government withholds information, so they are not surprised at all. They are surprised by the existence of ETs, sure, but the rest they consider typical government stuff.”