LOS ANGELES -- Some basic similarities exist between the new CW series Roswell, New Mexico and The WB/UPN series Roswell, which aired from 1999-2002. Both series were adapted from the books in the Roswell High series by Melinda Metz.
In the new version, which premiered Jan. 15, Max (Nathan Parsons), Isobel (Lilly Cowles) and Michael (Michael Vlamis) are aliens who came to Earth in the spaceship the U.S. government denies crashed just outside Roswell in 1947. Liz (Jeanine Mason) splits her time between dealing with her feelings about Max while working at her family's Crashdown Cafe.
The biggest difference between the two series is the players in the current tale have been out of high school for a decade. Roswell was a story about teen angst that unfolded in the local school's halls. Series creator Carina Adly MacKenzie (The Originals) decided to make the cast older to raise the stakes.
"They don't have a community or family to go running to for support," MacKenzie says. She also wanted to give the characters real jobs -- such as Max as a police officer -- to show along with their fears of being discovered as beings from another world, they would also have real adult responsibilities.
Cowles (Braindead) loves that Isobel is married to a man who doesn't know she's an alien. Having the characters be older gives everyone more complicated problems to face than being late for class.
"Adult life has all of these shades of gray and nuance where when you are younger, things seem a lot more black and white," Cowles says. "When you get older, it becomes a lot harder to say what is good and what is bad. People have so much more at stake."
Cowles gets to play Isobel as a capable, fierce and smart woman who is the peacekeeper of the three aliens. All she wants is for everything to remain calm. That changes when Liz returns and not only puts Max back on his emotional quest, but also threatens the safety of all three.
Mason also likes that Roswell, New Mexico takes place when all the characters have started creating their own career and life paths. In her case, Liz is a scientist who starts finding clues about the truth behind Max.
"What was exciting to me was that we would imagine that the unraveling of these secrets could happen to a group of people who are set in their ways a little more than high schoolers are," Mason says. "They are a little jaded. The world has been hard on them. They are tired.
"To have their world views flipped like this was just so exciting."
Before taking on the role on Roswell, New Mexico, Mason worked on several shows including Bunheads, Major Crimes, The Secret Life of the American Teenager plus a recurring role on Grey's Anatomy. The Miami native was also the winner of the fifth season of So You Think You Can Dance.
Part of her preparation to play Liz was to watch episodes of the original series, where her character was played by Shiri Appleby. Mason has pulled moments from the original series to use in her version as a way of paying homage.
In some ways, the Michael that Vlamis is playing is the same outsider and disruptive force Brendan Fehr played in Roswell. Some major differences will be revealed as the first season airs.
The main thing for Vlamis was to find the right balance between being a guy who isn't afraid to speak his mind without becoming a jerk. The Chicago native, whose past work includes New Girl and HomeBoyz, says the line was easy to find because it's close to how he has been his entire life.
"My mom always said to do whatever I want but to not get caught," Vlamis says. "I was a kid who got straight As and did the right things on paper; meanwhile Dad might be picking me up at the [police] station over the weekend.
"It's always been this thing of seeing how far I could push the limits. I have good intentions so -- like Michael Guerin -- I know when I have gone too far. Although Michael can be really hard on some the people in his life, at the end of the day he will punch you in the face and then save your life."
As for the idea that the show is based on an incident that remains a mystery, each cast member agrees we are not alone. Vlamis jokes it would be amazing if the truth behind Roswell was revealed while the show is on the air because it would send the ratings skyrocketing.
Roswell, New Mexico airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on The CW.
Style on 01/29/2019
Print Headline: CW's close encounter with Roswell, New Mexico