LeadingShiri Appleby

Living on a fault line – Shiri Interview

Thanks to Jaymz for sending this in!

NZ Herald – Saturday, February 19

Living on a fault line

The X-Files meets Dawson�s Creek in Roswell, the latest high-school drama to spirit our teenagers away. Frances Grant makes contact with the star.

Journal entry for Saturday, February 19: Four days ago, midway through an interview with Shiri Appleby, the phone line died.

After that things got really weird. We got reconnected and there was this background static – like there was a �force� operating on this phone call.
It�s just so ironic that stuff like this happens when you�re talking to one of the leads in Roswell, a high-school drama complete with aliens. Well, it would be, set in the town where the world�s most famous ET sighting (and autopsy) took place in the 50s.

�Spooky,� I say to Appleby, who plays Liz Parker, a human teenager who discovers three of her schoolmates are extraterrestrials. She laughs politely, she�s probably used to the odd paranoid journo.

Before the line went dead, on Tuesday, February 15, at 11:22 am, things were getting interesting. Appleby was saying she was open-minded about of life not of this Earth.

�After working on the show for at least six months now, I�ve seen so many things that it makes it hard to think that there�s not something else out there,� says the 21-year-old, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley.

�You see so many things, things I had never been exposed to and now I�m seeing somewhat first-hand. So you know, the idea seems a lot more feasible.�

Cool! What kind of things? But like her character Liz, who is trying to protect her three alien friends from detection, Appleby is good at keeping secrets. Too much information might spoil the plot.
Suffice to say: �Later in the season you learn more about the aliens� history and I don�t think it seems as impossible as it probably had before.�

There�s one thing she can let us in on right away, however: why the aliens are always getting stuck into Tabasco sauce. It�s just a matter of possessing an otherworldly palate. �The aliens like the combination of things that are very sweet with very spicy.�

And there�s another question which gets an outright answer. Which is the coolest teen drama on the box – Dawson�s Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Roswell? �Roswell, of course.� So that�s official.

(Against accusations of leading questions or bias, it should be noted that Roswell outrated both these shows in its first week on air here.)

Aliens aside, the show takes a more realistic approach to the state of adolescence than many other teen dramas have done, says Appleby.

�It�s written in such an honest way and they�re not really trying to make teenagers so mature or so worldly and experienced. They�re actually allowing us the opportunity to show how scared and frightened we are growing up in different aspects, like how we�re frightened of these aliens, the aliens are frightened of themselves.�
Perhaps we should forget all that conspiracy theory stuff about alien crash-landings and government cover-ups, then. Because, all that angst in the show about feeling like an outsider – that�s a metaphor for the teenage condition, right?
�I think that�s more the theme – that teenagers aren�t as confident or secure with their own identity as they�ve probably been perceived in the past.�

The show�s six young actors are encouraged to voice their opinions about the dialogue, she says. �If we read something and it just doesn�t seem, like, realistic, the writers are very helpful in changing it because they want to portray teenagers in the right way.�

Appleby began acting in telly commercials at the age of 4. She has had guest roles in shows such as ER and thirtysomething, but the part in Roswell, which she went through eight auditions to land, is the big break.
�It�s the first time I�ve had a part of this much substance before, where I�m actually able to create things. And people are really seeing my work for the first time, so it�s been a wonderful experience.�

The challenge of a role which is more than a one-off is keeping the character fresh, she says. �And showing she�s a lot more three-dimensional, she�s an intelligent and a deep person.�
Viewers will know that journal-writing Liz is analytical and smart – smart enough to check the aliens� claims of not being �from round here� with a quick test of her cell structure in the bio lab.

She�s not the kind of impressionable person who hears intergalactic listening devices in every international phone call.
�Sorry about the bad line,� I say at the end of the interview, hoping this covers both the static and dumb alien-interference joke. �That�s all right,� says Appleby kindly. �It�s not your fault.�

Who: Shiri Appleby
What: Roswell
Where and when: TV2, Tuesdays, 8:30 pm


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