‘Roswell’ Reunion: Shiri Appleby, Jason Behr and Jason Katims Reminisce at ATX TV Festival

Roswell

15 years after The WB/UPN’s “Roswell” first premiered, the cast and creator reunited at the ATX Television Festival in Austin to regale a packed theater with their memories of filming the cult alien drama. Stars Shiri Appleby, Jason Behr, Brendan Fehr, Majandra Delfino and Nick Wechsler were on hand, along with creator Jason Katims and several hundred fans who eagerly crammed themselves into the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema for a trip back to the eventful New Mexico town.

In a surreal turn, “Jersey Shore” star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi — apparently a diehard fan of the short-lived but much-beloved series — flew in from the East Coast specifically to attend the reunion panel, and even asked a question during the Q&A. (The reality star wanted to know whether the cast believes in aliens — Appleby and Delfino said yes, for the record.)

Katims recalled reading the first book in the young adult series that spawned the show and admitted to being “charmed” by the central love story and larger, more mythic themes. “It was an idea I never would’ve come up with on my own,” he admitted. “It seemed like an incredibly romantic idea to me, these two characters, Liz and Max, being in love but having this very real thing that kept them from being together. I’d never worked on anything that had the kind of stakes that this show had… That was the thing that I was drawn to, and I was also drawn to the fun of the idea.”

As with many series in Katims’ oeuvre, “Roswell” primarily explored the inner lives of teenagers, telling personal, character-driven stories in much the same way as “Friday Night Lights” or “Parenthood,” but filtered through a more fantastical, sci-fi lens.

“With everything that I’ve done, it’s always been about– the thing I thought I could bring to the show that’s unique to my voice, is hopefully a way of building these characters so that you were really invested in the relationships and really cared about them, and hopefully if you bought into the premise of the show, you could enjoy it because of the relationships and the connections between [the characters],” Katims explained. He said that his interest in writing teenage protagonists started with his work on “My So-Called Life,” when the writers embraced the idea that “when you’re a teenager, life is an emergency.”

“I think there’s something about writing about that period in somebody’s life that is really compelling to me because it’s a time when we’re really formed, it’s a time where you’re both a child and an adult at the same time,” Katims explained.

The cast agreed that their time on “Roswell” was a formative experience — and in many cases, provided their breakthrough role.

“‘Roswell’ was the first time I had a real story and was given a lead,” said Appleby. “I think I was so excited to have a real character, something to grasp onto. I was at the same age, excited about falling in love for the first time, sort of feeling a little uncomfortable with myself. Jason’s writing is so good, it was so easy to sink into it emotionally — every script I would get that was his, it felt like a really well-written fit for me… I look back on this character and this time with so much fondness.”

Behr recalled, “When I first read the script I was really drawn to the two worlds that Jason put together. There’s a very real, honest human emotional feeling to it, and had all the metaphors of being a teenager and being somebody who was really trying to find themselves … I feel like that’s something everybody wants, to just be seen for who they are and appreciated, and what Jason did so wonderfully in his script was that there’s no hiding in that, there’s no pretense, [Max’s reactions are] just coming from his very naked, honest perspective, and [Liz] gets to see it. Those human elements of just wanting to be understood, I was very drawn to, and then to have the science fiction element that ties it together with these experiences, like a first kiss — what that might look like — we were able to show that in a very different way.”

Fehr admitted that while he had originally auditioned for the role of Max, he really fought to play Michael, because the character was “an outsider of the outsiders.” The actor also seemed to consider the job an important learning experience, and seemed to imply that he might’ve done things differently if given the chance.

“I get to look back on all the mistakes I made in terms of how I handled things … you were just a child, there’s a certain level of maturity and experience you don’t have,” Fehr mused. “Looking back on it, it’s taught me how to be a better actor in terms of being professional and appreciating what you have…  We were so young — just as a cast, we were all learning at the same time, and if we had been in the place we are now, it would’ve been different. I don’t have any regrets, but I think we all know that we’ve matured in some way that it would be a much more interesting experience — it would be easier on some levels.”

For Delfino, the hardest part of the experience was letting it go: “I had a really hard wake-up call leaving the show, going onto other projects where the writing, the dialogue required so much more from me, workwise, to make it ring true,” she said. “That was a big learning experience where you realize, ‘wow, my first big job was so easy.’ You’d read your dialogue and know it after one pass because it was so exactly what you felt and what you knew, and then you get out there into the business and don’t necessarily encounter that every time… What we were handling was grade-A material.”

Wechsler, now an integral part of ABC’s “Revenge,” admitted that he always doubted his own abilities during his time on “Roswell” and told Katims he was “touched” that the creator gave him a chance when he was still relatively new to the business.

“I was nervous — I think it shows a bit [in the pilot], that I was feeling my way through it,” he admitted. “I would try to entertain myself — I would find moments to do weird shit, or give it a slightly weird read … I look back on this time so fondly, because I loved not knowing any better. I always felt like, ‘I’m not really an actor.’ I had to learn so much over the course of it, but [Jason] started to tweak it in the direction of my strengths. Once it ended and we went out into the acting workforce, we had a harder time with other dialogue.”

Katims spoke of the actors with a paternal fondness, admitting, “It was an incredibly talented cast, for a lot of them it was a very early role, and that is always really exciting, to work with people at the beginning and to [see them] go from that initial excitement and nervousness to really owning it. The great thing about doing TV to me, is you have a long life and you tell many stories, and the actors just get comfortable in their roles and own those roles and become those characters… you start learning from them who their characters are.”

As for where the characters are now, the cast deferred to Katims’ vision (although Delfino offered, “I’m assuming Maria would have baby aliens? Three or four baby aliens.”)

“It was funny, last night when we all met and I’m talking to all these guys and they’re starting to tell me about their kids and their families,” Katims said. “To me, I’m frozen in time with you guys at a very different part of your life, so that would be the first thing I would think about, if I were gonna tell that story, is what they’ve been through over the last 15 years and catch them at another phase, catch them in adulthood.”

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  1. Another year is finalized, and again a new cycle on December 30 will make a new roundabout in the life trajectory. Friendship is built even in the direct absence of the contact of consciousness. May this date be a milestone in your artistic trajectory. Congratulations Jason. From Max Diniz Cruzeiro.

  2. Cynthia says:

    I have only just found this reunion. I felt like the show was definately cut short. It could have gone on at least a couple of years longer. I keep reading cast members wanted it over and that pisses me off. I dont think this cast got on very well and any friendships were superficial. I mean i get those who dated wont talk now but the rest? You hear so many shows now that actually are like family and it translates on film. However i did not see that in roswell at all the disharmony so does that mean they were good actors or was it a good script/plot. I know its still my fav sci fi drama show ever because of the love story. I am surprised the actors havent gone on to more lead roles other than heigel and shirly. I thought jason would have had no problems with those looks. I feel like the cast didnt appreciate the show thought the idea of teenage aliens was lame or something. They kept saying we were so young blah blah like when you say i was young i drank alcohol and it was stupid. There is not a lot of info on how they each felt about the show really i mean and whose fault it was that it ended. I think fans could crowd fund a movie so at least we are left satisfied. But the actors hve already said no to doing a movie but if there was enough cash raised to throw at them im sure they would change their minds.

  3. Imran C says:

    I had suuucccuch a big crush on Shiri Appleby as Liz when this first aired on BBC2 in the UK. I wanted to be Max and try and get in the same shape as Jason Behr!

    I had a collection of VHS tapes of most of season 1 which I always had playing the background while working from home. Terrific writing and acting. I think Season 1 is the best as the other seasons were not as character-driven.

    There’s a video interview with Shiri and Majandra somewhere on YouTube probably where they reminisce about Roswell after 10 years. The pair became close friends on the show and it shows in their chemistry on screen.

    Where was Katie Hiegl in all this? I guess being the most well known from the original cast she was too busy?

    Did anyone else spot Brendan Fehr on screen smiling for 2 seconds as a Nova security officer in “Guardians of the Galaxy”?

  4. Please do something more with Roswell. I just watched it all the way through on Netflix and I am in love with it!

  5. My personal interest in Jason Behr is my desire to someday my story come to make a film and having this actor as the main protagonist of the events that have befallen me. I already have all the necessary materials, only I lack monetary resources to run the project. And I know one day I will get because they never give up my ideals. The Human Mind and UFOS (Portuguese)

  6. Ciberia has an unusual way of contacting their … Every day 30 my people thank their existence, for a prejudice-free cosmos. Legend!

  7. Crashdown says:

    I wish Roswell had more fans when it aired so it could have gone the full six seasons and a movie but the new Roswell love I hope will inspire a limited Netflix series or a reboot; more Roswell please.

  8. Rowena Smith says:

    We just signed up to presto recently and I watched Roswell for the first time and once I started watching season one I was addicted…..I loved it so much I had to watch all three seasons even staying up for close to two days straight…. Now I’ve finished watching, I’m very sad. Hope there is more to follow…..please

  9. Linda Nash says:

    What is Jason Behr doing now? I wish he would be on a tv show or make another movie.

  10. Lex says:

    Didn’t watch the show until recently. I have DVDs for the first and second season. I was watching the second season and watched about 4 episodes the other night. I couldn’t stop watching.

  11. James Schaeffer says:

    I just watched the entire series in a marathon after not having seen it since it originally aired. I went in expecting to be disappointed, expecting it not to hold up to my memory of it which so very fond. I was wrong, it did hold up, and extremely well. The writing, acting, direction and music/sound effects are all stellar. Intense drama and frequent laugh out loud moments are what make this show so special. Great to see (some of) the cast is doing so well in their careers and lives — and they do look wonderful.

  12. Shirley says:

    I love ROSWELL!!!! I can watch this show over n over again!! It would be wonderful If they brought back Roswell!! Love Max & Liz story sooo much!! Bring Roswell back please!!!:)

  13. I would love to see more Roswell, it is my altime favorite show and i think the story of how they get were they are today with living on the run is a great story to tell and Max & Liz are the couple with the most chemistry i have ever seen in any show. I would love to see something wit Jason and Shiri if not Roswell something else please.

  14. Roswell was a one of a kind show, I loved the cast but especially the Max and Liz love story.. the Chemistry between Jason Behr and Shiri Appleby was out of this world… I would of loved to see Jason and Shiri work together again…. Roswell is my go to programme when the other shows on TV these days bore me lol…. Roswellian forever!!

  15. Melissa says:

    I simply adored this show! Have watched it many times on rewatch and never get tired of it. And this cast really made it all work so well.

  16. Me1023 says:

    This show was my original obsession… I love that they made it to a reunion.. Now we need a TV Movie about the last 15 years of their lives.

  17. Megan says:

    Love this show! Excited that they reunited!

  18. Amy says:

    I was just so incredibly happy reading this! Roswell was, and always will be, one of my favorite shows! Wish I could have been there for this reunion!

    P.s. The entire cast looks incredible!! It looks like 1 year passed rather than 15!

  19. annkelley14 says:

    Reblogged this on Ann'sRazzJazz and commented:
    Love this show too!

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