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JASON BEHR THINKS STARRING ON ‘ROSWELL’ IS OUT OF THIS WORLD
Date: Friday, December 10, 1999
Section: FEATURES – ACCENT & ARTS
Byline: Ian Spelling
Source: New York Times Special Features
Jason Behr had a close encounter.
Well, sort of.
Driving to work a few months ago, the star of the WB hit sci-fi series Roswell experienced a sudden rush of fame and recognition. And it blew him away.
“I’d heard the rumors about Roswell billboards going up, about Roswell posters at bus stops and on buses,” he says. “And all of those things had our faces on them. But I was coming to the studio at 6 or 8 in the morning and not leaving until 10 or 12 at night, so I wasn’t getting a chance to go out and see much of anything. Even on weekends, most of my time was spent with family or friends, or by myself, just relaxing.
“Then I was on my way to work one time,” he recalls, “and I was late, speeding through the streets. I didn’t quite make a yellow light, so I stopped. I looked to my right, and I saw myself on a bus stop, staring back at me.”
Behr smiles broadly at the memory.
“It was a pretty bizarre and surreal moment,” he says. “I was like, ‘Wow!’ After a minute I was able to really look at it, and it was tastefully done — dramatic and dark and mysterious — yet there was something very engaging about it.
“So that was the big moment,” he says, “but I’d say it wasn’t so much a defining moment as surreal. It was bizarre because, two years earlier, I was sitting at that bus stop.”
Sitting in his trailer on the Paramount lot after a long day of shooting Roswell, Behr’s still full of energy and eager to chat.
The series casts him as Max Evans, and Katherine Heigl as Max’s sister Isabel, with Brendan Fehr as their friend Michael. Max, Isabel and Michael are aliens residing in Roswell, N.M., and they’re desperate to keep their identities a secret.
Recently, Max complicated matters by using his powers to save Liz (Shiri Appleby), a human teen he’d adored from afar. Max and Liz now share a special connection, but they don’t dare act on their feelings for one another.
“We’re still finding ourselves, but I think the show is good,” Behr says. “Episodes like ‘285 South’ and ‘River Dog,’ our two-parter, were really good. They had a nice mix of relationships, character studies and development.
“Those two episodes were . . . as close to what I envisioned Roswell to be as we’ve done so far. It’s important to stay on that track, and when I talk to people who watch the show, they seem to feel . . . the same way.”
Behr has a knack for hooking up with popular shows. A native of Minneapolis, he counts among his credits guest spots on Dawson’s Creek, 7th Heaven and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the latter in the popular episode “Lie to Me.” But Roswell is his first stint as a series lead.
“I don’t think it’s ever quite how you picture it when you’re thinking about it,” he says. “This has been a lot of long hours, but it doesn’t really seem like work because of the people I’m surrounded by every day.
“We’ve got a great cast, a great crew and great producers. The company I keep makes it fun and makes it a treat to be around here all the time.”
If Roswell sustains its popularity, Behr may remain in that company for the next several years. That possibility prompts the actor to contemplate the end of the series, specifically the last episode.
Do Max, Isabel and Michael return home? Get caught by Sheriff Valenti (William Sadler)? Figure out they’re descendants of the aliens that crashed in Roswell in 1947, or that they actually are the Roswell aliens?
“I don’t know,” Behr says. “I don’t have the answers, because there are so many other questions that remain unanswered. Are our parents back there? Are our parents alive? That would be a big factor in my decision to stay or go, assuming we’re given a choice.
“Could Liz come with me? Would Liz want to go with me? Could I ever come back, or go back and forth between home and Earth?”
He pauses in thought.
“Dramatically, to make it a more weighty issue, it’s probably got to be this or that — I’ll have to choose.
“Max can’t have his cake and eat it, too.”