Roswell: The Final Day on Location – A Crashdown Exclusive
Written By Kenn Gold
The penultimate day of filming for the final episode of Roswell’s Season 3 found all of the regular cast at the Vasquez Rocks location near Aqua Dulce, California. It was what may have been the last day ever on Roswell for some of the actors, and indeed for the entire series. The question of whether or not the show will return for a Season 4 is one that has yet to be answered, although there seems to be a consensus that it will not (along with a sense of hope that it might somehow be pulled back from the brink one more time). Cast members Shiri Appleby, Jason Behr, Majandra Delfino, Brendan Fehr, Katherine Heigl, Adam Rodriquez, William Sadler, and Nick Wechsler were on hand to film three scenes for the season finale, tilted “Graduation.” Executive Producer Jason Katims arranged for members of Crashdown.com staff to be present on the set to cover the final day of shooting on location. Much of the action to be filmed on the final day of shooting, March 11, involved characters that are not series regulars.
Actor Brendan Fehr, who had broken his wrist the previous night playing hockey, wore a sling around his arm during breaks in the action. His scenes involved a close-up of a painful (emotionally for the characters, and physically for Fehr) hug between Michael and Max in a scene titled “They say their Goodbyes.” After the close-ups were done, the boom camera was brought in on a truck for a long pull back shot with the entire cast on hand watching the hug between Max and Michael. Kyle and Jim Valenti were standing by their truck, Jesse and Isabel by their car, and Maria and Liz stood together watching the exchange between the two characters. One of the production people commented to Executive Producer Jason Katims that this would be a perfect scene for the Season 4 premiere.
Finally, after the fourth take of the long shot, director Allison Liddi was happy, and the cast took a break to set up for the next scene (titled “Liz talks to Maria”). Fehr quickly left the set to see a specialist about his broken wrist.
This was the final scene of the season for actor William Sadler, and the cast and crew crowded around him, asking for a speech. Sadler made a few short comments, saying, “Thank you to everyone. It’s been one hell of a ride.” The group broke into applause and began making their way to give Sadler a final hug. One bystander later commented that Sadler had tears in his eyes as he quickly left the set. Before his speech, Sadler had commented that “It’s been one hell of a ride” was the sentiment for the last day (if this was, in fact, the last day). He hinted that he might soon be involved in a play in New York after filming wrapped for the season. (Details about Sadler’s upcoming performance were recently revealed at his official website, www.williamsadler.com.)
Adam Rodriquez and Nick Wechsler seem to have taken on the task of providing on-site comedy, and have developed a very friendly rapport with each other and those around them. Rodriquez, who was filming the entire day with his own video camera, was on hand to lend support and back-up vocals as Wechsler broke into his rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Young Guns.” On a later break, the two made the treacherous and steep 500-foot climb to the top of Vasquez Rocks to get a shot of the entire filming location.
While Nick was in the middle of his song, a wardrobe person came to take his watch from him, worried that he would leave quickly when his scene was done and forget to return it. Later, Nick had to scurry to find the watch for his upcoming scene. Both Rodriquez’s and Wechsler’s comments seemed to reflect that they thought the show was really over. Adam hoped that the fans would “keep track of everybody on the show, because everybody’s going to go on to do bigger and better things, so stick with it…stick with us.” Wechsler joked, “Thank you for everything! I’ll never see you again; I’m killing myself after this!”
When asked about the possibility of a Season 4, Katims said, “I think the chances are much less than they were in previous years,” and he did not know if the poor performance of the new UPN comedies which replaced Roswell during its hiatus will have an effect or not. Katims’s assistant, Karen Wyscarver, commented that there must be some reason that Special Unit 2 already has been notified about cancellation and that Roswell has not. Katims said, “As of a month or two ago, the feeling was very much that we weren’t coming back.” After being around Roswell for nearly four years, however, he has learned that “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
Whether or not the powers that be, or even the cast of the show, appreciate the campaigning by Crashdown members and others and want them to continue has not been clear until now. Katims clarified, “Absolutely, it should continue. I will say in all honesty that this year it seems less likely that we have a chance, but absolutely, I think that if there is any chance for the show, it’s really up to the fans’ support.” He went on to talk about the previous years of campaigning and how they had affected the show’s chance to return, commenting, “When I went in to meet with the networks in both cases, both the WB and UPN, it was made clear to us that the passion that the fans have was clear to them, and it’s what might have put things over the edge for us. It’s hugely important.”
As for comments made by various cast members that would seem to discourage fans from continuing to try to save the show, he said that he understood the cast’s frustrations. “There’s a part of them that wants to see the show come back and a part of them that wants to move on, and within that, there’s probably a continuum, depending on the actor,” he said. He was very complimentary of his ensemble cast: “These are young actors who have a very bright future ahead of them, so part of them wants to be able to get on with their careers. Any of them could be the lead of a new series.”
When asked her feelings about whether “save the show” campaigns should continue, Shiri Appleby replied, “If people still want the show to be on, I’m more than happy to be providing something for them. I’ve really enjoyed my experience on the show. As long as the story is around and wants to be told, I’ll be here to tell it.”
Most (if not all) of the people involved with creating Roswell are impressed with the charitable activities of the show’s fans. Current totals for money raised over the last three years place the figure at slightly over $175,000 dollars. Katims seems particularly impressed by the fans’ efforts, saying, “It makes me feel really honored to be a part of something that got that going.” He went on to say, “I think it’s one of the most moving things about my involvement in the show…I’m blown away by that.”
Writer/Producer Garrett Lerner, who was on set escorting the winner of an auctioned set visit to benefit Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (FSMA), echoed these sentiments. “Roswell fans have shown their true good nature beyond all expectations. It’s just been incredible, and it makes something awful like this disease make you see something good in humanity,” he said. Lerner’s son suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and his posts about the disease on Crashdown have resulted in overwhelming support from Roswell fans, according to the FSMA website. Several other cast members have recently indicated that they will be pitching in to help this charity. Lerner hopes that the efforts of Roswell fans will “help push the doctors over the edge, and we’ll have a cure for this thing sometime soon.” He mentioned the possibility of a season finale party and charity auction with the cast attending sometime in May, in addition to the Philadelphia party (which Majandra Delfino is scheduled to attend), which will also benefit FSMA.
“Thank you for all you have done” seemed to be words echoed by every cast member and producer towards the fans of Crashdown. Adam Rodriquez said, “Thanks for all the love and support, and to the fans coming out to where ever we have been filming, and checking in on the website. The reason the show even lasted a second and third season was because the fans cared about the show. I certainly appreciate them, and I know the rest of the cast does.” Jason Behr echoed that sentiment, saying, “I just want to say thank you…thank you for all of your support, and the kindness in your hearts. We couldn’t do this without you.” Shiri Appleby also made a point to thank her ‘net fans, saying, “We are all really appreciative that you guys have rallied around the show, because we know if it wasn’t for you, the story wouldn’t have been told for such a long time. It really means a lot to all of us that people have enjoyed what we have been spending many hours doing. I don’t really know what to say, except for thank you.” Shiri then signed a copy of the Variety ad for Picaza that he and other fans (The Applesaucers) had paid for the previous year to support her.
Katims went further in explaining why he was thanking Crashdown and the ‘net fans. “I believe, first of all, it [Crashdown and the Internet fan base] was a big part of what kept the show going as long is has, so we owe them a great deal in that sense, and also, it’s really much more than that. Crashdown has sort of been our bridge to the audience, and has been our way of sort of finding out how we come out on the things we have been doing on the show, and more importantly has been the way that we have been able to be tuned into this great passionate audience that we have, and to know that they are out there, and to know that this show is meaningful to them. We all work very hard on the show, long hours and long days, and come long distances and to weird places to do the show, and to know that we have that kind of audience who cares so much is really a wonderful thing. And it’s not something that every show has, and while we don’t have a huge audience by television standards, we have a special audience, and we all know that.”
A small group of dedicated fans was waiting outside the secured set area the entire day, hoping for a glimpse of their favorite stars. This group was comprised of people who had come to Los Angeles from New York, Australia, and other distant places to be a part of what may be Roswell’s last week, and had taken time out of work and their regular lives to be there. These were people who had met each other on the Crashdown message boards and who had become friends because of their common interest in the show. This was not the first trip to LA for Roswell-related activities for most of them.
Rehearsal for the third scene to be filmed (entitled “Together Again”) began with members of the cast taking their places and rehearsing their lines. The actors, especially Jason Behr, seemed to take an active role in discussing how the scene fit into the episode’s continuity, and whether Liz’s written actions were consistent with what had happened in other recent episodes. The director called Jason Katims over and a mini-conference was held to discuss the scene. (It was decided that neither Liz nor Kyle would be doing what the script called for.) Katherine Heigl also was quick to point out that if Nick Wechsler were to stand where the director had placed him, he would be in the path of her alien blast. Jason Behr also questioned how likely it would be for the group to have just come from where they had been in the previous scene, and to not be more cautious than the script called for them to be. Since Brendan Fehr was away at the doctor having his wrist examined, a stand-in read his lines and got his movements down for the rehearsal.
Jason Katims perhaps best summarized the overall mood on the set, describing it as a “bittersweet time.” Roswell was wrapping another season, and the cast and crew may have been together for the last time that day. It was a touching and meaningful experience to share with them, and to realize how much of an impact Roswell has had on so many lives. It was also great to hear that our efforts at Crashdown have indeed been noticed and appreciated by those who created the show. While Roswell may soon fall victim to low ratings (and to an arguably outdated Nelson ratings system that cannot begin to measure the passion of the show’s fans), William Sadler’s words again come to mind. It has indeed been one hell of a ride. Whatever happens with the show in the next few weeks, it has been a force for good that has united many of its fans in a way that has not happened with any other show. The Crashdown staff truly hopes that the UPN network will give that some consideration as they decide Roswell’s fate.