Xpose-Alien Love! Jason Behr Talks Roswell – Part 2
Appleby also has kind words for executive producer Jonathon Frakes, the actor/director best known for playing Star Trek: The Next Generation ‘s Commander William T. Riker. Frakes has been a strong guiding light in the project and actually guest-starred as himself in the pilot episode. He has already praised Appleby’s stand-out performance in the series, claiming “She has everything it takes to be a star. She is going to be a star.”
“He’s got this wonderful presence when he walks into a room,” says the actress. “I was in the make-up trailer on the night we filmed the crash scene and I was like, ‘Wow, this guy is so big!’ He just came over and introduced himself to me and he was so gracious and very complimentary. He’s going to direct an episode (River Dog, recently transmitted), so I’m excited to work with him and get to know him a lot better.”
One person Appleby already knows very well, of course, is Behr. The two young share plenty of screen time together as the young wannabe couple and their incredible chemistry is evident on screen.
“He is absolutely wonderful,” raves Appleby. “A very gracious gentleman. We have become very good friends and I really admire him. He really holds my hand through a lot of this stuff. He�s a very down-to-Earth and great guy.”
Unlike many shows in the same genre, Roswell is not an action extravaganza. There are minimal effects, as yet no spaceships, no laser guns…Despite the wild premise, at its core this is a series about people, and the fact that Max, Michael, and Isabel are aliens serves as a wonderful allegory for the alienation that everybody can feel within our society.
“I was always an outsider as a small kid,” offers Behr. “I was four feet eleven in the eighth grade and all my friends were twice my size. I didn’t grow until high school anyway.
I think my upbringing was a little different than most. I traveled around a bit and was never able to get to know someone for too long. In that sense, I felt like I could never quite fit in the way I wanted to with my new group of friends. But I think that we all feel like we don’t fit in from time to time. I think we’re all searching for ourselves and trying to find out who we really are and where we came from.”
“I think everybody growing up has a need to fit in and a need to belong,” continues Appleby. “I was lucky. I’ve been raised in the same place and I’ve had the same group of friends since I was in first grade. But even then, when you have a group of friends, you are still questioning what somebody is thinking. Growing up you definitely go through awkward phases where you’re not as confident in yourself as you should be.”
Although they are both playing teenagers, both Behr and Appleby are actually a little older than their screen counterparts. He is actually 25 (born December 30, 1973), she is 21 (born December 7, 1978), but despite their relative youth, both performers have a huge list of credits on their CVs.
You may have seen Appleby in Xena:Warrior Princess, Doogie Howser MD, Beverly Hills, 90210 or even the very first episode of ER. Her film credits include The Killing Time, Blood Vows and The Thirteenth Floor.
“I started acting when I was four years old,” she reveals. “I took a big interest in it and my parents were very supportive. I started out in commercials and guest appearances in television shows. The first thing I did was a Raisin Bran commercial!
There were 10 or 11 really successful kid actors at my school, so it wasn’t abnormal at all. It was like, ‘That’s the girl from that show.’ It wasn’t a big deal.”
Success and recognition at such an early age can be unsettling for a young actor, but Appleby took it all in her stride.
“I have really fantastic parents who kept me very grounded. If I was working one day, I’d get up in the morning, go to work, bring my homework to the studio teacher, I’d do your three hours on the set, go home, do more homework, go to bed then go to school the next day. I wasn’t friends with any child actors, I didn’t go to any parties. It was just kind of my hobby.”
Of course, Appleby has never before starred in a project of the scale of Roswell Broadcast on Wednesday nights following Dawson�s Creek, the show is one of the WB�s hottest new properties of the season and a massive publicity campaign has ensured that Appleby�s face has been seen across the nation. How is she coping with fame now?
“It�s not something that I�m trying to prepare for,” she sighs. “You just wanna make sure that you are safe. It�s not something I�m really thinking about. It�s not my goal: I�m not hoping to be noticed on the street.”
Her determination and level-headedness are impressive. A student at the University of Southern California, Appleby is taking a break in her education but already has plans to return to major in English.
“Acting is the one thing I am very passionate about,” she says. “I would love to be able to work for as long as I live.”
A favorite of the WB, Jason Behr should already be known to many Xpose readers. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he spent his youth working towards becoming a professional actor, and made his first stage appearance at the age of five.
“It just seemed like the right thing to do,” he says. “I’ve always loved movies from a very young age and always loved storytelling.”
Behr has enjoyed guest shots in Profiler, Step By Step, Pacific Blue, JAG and was one of the supporting cast of the fantasy movie Pleasantville. However, it was his memorable appearance as Billy “Ford” Fordham in a second season episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that brought him to the attention of the WB. In Lie to Me, Ford is a terminally ill young man, who decides on a future as a vampire above no future at all…
“It was such a great creative experience.” says Behr. “Joss Whedon is brilliant. He has a great use of metaphor and he was the one who directed my episode. It was a great collective, creative effort with him and the rest of the cast.
Buffy was one of the best experiences in my career up until that point. I was given an opportunity to play one character in one episode that went from being the nice, non-threatening friend to someone who could be a real danger and his motives were almost understandable. That he would want to do something about the fact that he has terminal brain cancer, that he could possibly live on forever if he makes this choice. If you’re making a choice out of desperation you don’t always make the right choices.”
When asked to explain the appeal of shows like Buffy,Angel and Roswell, Behr responds that, “It�s another way to tell a story and deal with relationships. Buffy is very metaphorical. The characters represent something else in high school experiences. With Roswell, we do have somewhat of a metaphorical aspect to it.
I think that the WB just has a great knack for good storytelling: cutting edge, cool, hip, stylistic ways of telling stories and it reaches a very large younger audience.”
Before Roswell, Behr also appeared in six episodes of Dawson’s Creek playing Chris Wolfe.
“Dawson’s Creek was an opportunity to work with a great bunch of people and that character was a little more on the evil side,” he recalls. “He was the kind of snidy whiplash of Dawson’s Creek. He was the kind of antithesis to Dawson, but I had a lot of fun with him.
But Roswell is by far the most interesting character that I’ve been able to play. The possiblities of the different kinds of colours and dimensions to him and the relationships involved is gonna be a lot of fun to discover along the way.”
Thanks to its record-breaking ratings debut it seems almost definite that Roswell will grace the WB�s schedules for some time to come. As we go to press, only a handful of episodes have aired but lready there are signs of a massive fan movement building for the show. In a couple of years time, one might imagine that Roswell could be a phenomenon of The X-Files or Buffy proportions…
Given that Roswell is just one of many SF shows that are currently airing, do the stars watch the opposition?
“I’ve watched The X-Files numerous times,” says Appleby. “It’s exciting and it’s a little different.”
Behr, on the other hand, seems to be more of a Sci-Fi movie fan.
“ET had a very profound effect on me,” he admits.” I saw it four times and cried at every one of them. Star Wars was one of my favorite movies. The whole trilogy was a major part of my upbringing. Close Encounters Of the Third Kind..I loved movies as a kid anyway, but I liked the fantasy and the idea of something else being out there and how their technology and way of life differs from ours. That idea is fascinating.”
But what of the myth surrounding Roswell itself? It’s become a popular part of modern culture, bringing huge amounts of tourists to the town. It’s even fueled the storylines for several TV shows including Seven Days, The X-Files and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine So did something really happen way back om 1947-or was it just a weather balloon after all?
“You know, I don’t have any idea.” Appleby admits. “After working on this show and seeing what’s going on, we would be pretty naive to think we were the only thing out there. But at the same time you just don’t know. It’s kind of nice to let the mind play a guessing game.”
“We won’t really know the truth until we have some sory of tangible evidence,” continues Behr. “I think it would be very presumptuous of me to sit here and say that we’re the only intelligent life form that ever existed. But whether or not we are in contact with it, whether or not we are harboring secrets or taking their technology, I don’t know.”
One gets the impression that if aliens actually were alive in Roswell, and they looked like the cast of the TV show, few Xpose readers would be complaining…
I apologize for any typos. I typed the seven page article up by hand.