Jason BehrLeading

Teen Role Is Not So Alien

Thanks to Jezzaj for sending this in!

This article appeared in the Sunday Times, TV extra magazine on June 18 (from Western Australia)

Teen Role Is Not So Alien

There’s a storm aging in Los Angeles which seems to be playing havoc with the telephone connection, and it doesn’t help that Jason Behr speaks quite softly.

But he’s friendly and eager to talk about his popular new show, Roswell, which is, curiously enough, showing in the US back-to-back with another show about angst-ridden teenagers – Dawson’s Creek, in which Behr feature last year.

In Roswell, Behr plays 16-year-old Max Evans. He and his sister Isabel (Katherine Heigl) and friend Michael (Brendan Fehr), are survivors of an alien spacecraft that landed in an New Mexico desert in 1947.

The teenagers have been living quietly in Roswell since emerging from incubation but suddenly everything changes. While waiting on tables at her father’s caf�, Liz (Shiri Appleby) is accidentally shot.

Her high-school classmate Max puts aside a life long pact of secrecy and miraculously heals Liz’s gunshot wound with his hand.

In saving Liz’s life, Max not only exposes himself, but also Isabel and Michael, putting all their lives at risk through discovery.

Behr described Max and a “very careful” person.

“He’s living life which is a secret and living this life causes him to be more aware than the average teenager,” he said. “Max wants to reach out and do things, spread his wings a little, explore who he is through relationships with people, but he can’t because of who he is.

“With that, his mere existence causes him to be very restrained, very careful. It’s a lonely and depressing existence to be that confined when you are wanting things – it’s a sad kind of existence.”

Behr admitted he shared some of Max’s personality traits.

“There’s always a little piece of you in your work; it’s inevitable that it’s sort of in there somewhere,” he said.

Behr would be familiar to fans of Dawson’s Creek, where he played party animal Chris Wolfe.

Behr said Chris was the antithesis of Max.

“He was kind of a trouble maker, the rich classmate who was carefree and out to have a good time,” he said. “I like to think of him as free, while he was always trying to have a good time at everyone else’s expense.

“He didn’t care about stepping on a few people’s toes, didn’t think about the consequences of what he was doing.”

Behr described his stint on Dawson’s, filmed in North Carolina, as a wonderful experience.

“There was so much support from everyone out there, and I’d never met any of them before,” he said.

“Because you’re out in the middle of North Carolina, I didn’t know how they would treat me, being the new guy. I didn’t expect them to be so friendly, but they welcomed me with open arms.”

At 26, Behr said he hadn’t found it difficult to play a 16-year-old high-school student.

“Giving wedgies, shoving people into lockers – it’s easy for me to do that,” he laughed.

“I have a younger brother who has just graduated from high school.

“But I think that the overall themes about high school life are always there.

“Back when I was in high school and now, the themes remain the same – those metaphors of the aliens who represent alienation, self-discovery and trying to find your place in this world.

“Technology, pop culture, music and movies all influence how we act and our general way of thinking.

“The whole idea behind the aliens is that they’re not so different from us.”

Asked how he prepared for the Roswell role, Behr said he had to try and imagine what it would be like to grow up in such a strange place, where you could expect to be asked everyday about aliens.

“I can’t go and talk to any other aliens about their experience, I can only read books about Roswell and watch videos about the town and imagine what it would have been like to grow up in a place like that. Everything is geared up to make something out of nothing or, if it’s a big secret, shrouded in mystery, and might be all true,” he said.

“Behr made his acting debut at the age of five.

“I was playing a flower – I didn’t actually say anything,” he said.

He did a lot of theatre work in Minnesota, but on-screen opportunities were few and far between so he decided to move to Los Angeles.

He was soon appearing on such programs as JAG, Profiler and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. He also played the lead role of Dempsy Easton in Push. Then came Dawson’s Creek.

Behr also stared in the independent film Rites of Passage, co-starring Dean Stockwell, which made it’s US debut at the 1999 Palm springs Film Festival.

But Behr said his main focus was Roswell on which he has finished work on the first season.


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