Roswell star Jason Behr ©Sue Schneider / Moonglow Photos

Meet Roswell's boy from Space – Max Evans. Ever since saving Liz Parker's life in the Crashdown Café, he’s had nothing but trouble. “I think Max has grown,” says his Earthly alter ego, Jason Behr

by Ian Spelling

Excerpts from Cult Times #64

Isabel, Michael and MaxThe aliens are still among us. For a sweaty-palmed little while there it was touch and go. It looked as if Max (Jason Behr), Michael (Brendan Fehr), Isabel (Katherine Heigl) and Tess (Emilie de Ravin) – not to mention their vehicle, the Sci-Fi saga Roswell – were not long for this world. Fortunately, a well-executed shift in tone from romance to Sci-Fi resulted in markedly increased ratings, then to a limited commitment to a second season and, finally, to enough episodes to complete year two.

“It always takes a while for a show that’s so high-concept to find its voice,” Behr says. “During the first season we were really trying to come up with these different combinations to find that voice. Towards the end of last season, we found a nice, comfortable pace that balanced out the Sci-Fi and the emotion and the relationships. At the beginning of the second season everyone felt really positive. The stories were good. The directors were good. The guest stars were good...

“And I think all the changes were welcome changes" Behr continues. "If the first season was the exploration of the aliens’ human sides, their relationships with other humans and each other, then the second season is more of a discovery of their alien side. It takes those relationships and puts them in extreme circumstances. So now we’re forced to care more about the characters. At least, that’s what we’re hoping is happening.

"Bringing in Emilie was crucial to introducing the mythology of the aliens. Before her, it was basically these three teenagers, these three orphaned aliens stumbling around on Earth trying to find their own sense of self. Now they’ve been told they have this enormous responsibility to a greater cause. After that, she became important to the Liz-Max relationship too, because as much as he loves Liz, he feels he has a bigger responsibility. And here’s Tess, who he’s apparently supposed to be with. So Emilie’s character has really changed a lot of things on the show.”

Any way you slice it - and despite his humble protests that Roswell is an ensemble show - Behr is still the star. He’s in practically every scene of every episode – take your pick, from Leaving Normal, Heat Wave, Max to the Max and Destiny during Season One to Skin and Bones, Harvest, Max in the City and A Roswell Christmas Carol so far in Season Two. And even when he’s not the central character, all roads ultimately lead back to Max.

“I think Max has grown a lot over the past year,” Behr opines. “I think he has become more comfortable in his skin. He’s become more comfortable with his position in the grand scheme of things. Earlier on he didn’t really want to tell people what to do because he believed everyone should have the chance to live their own life and make their own decisions. He also understood that other people’s decisions affect everyone. Now that he’s becoming more comfortable being the leader and being more confident in his choices and in his instincts. He’s learning to trust himself.”

Now that Roswell has found its storytelling footing, its place on the WB’s schedule and a spot in the hearts and minds of TV viewers, it seems likely that the show will be around for some time to come. It’s a prospect that pleases Behr. “If we continue on with these kinds of storylines and the balance that we have found and the voice that the show now has, I would be very happy for it to stay on for a while,” says the actor, bringing the conversation to a close.

“But if it goes away tomorrow, I don’t think it will be the end of the world for me or anybody else on the show. There’s no way I can look at Roswell as being a burden or a responsibility on me because then it wouldn’t be fun anymore. I enjoy what I do. I think the characters are interesting and I think the stories are interesting. I like the people I’m working with. The moment it all becomes a job and work for me, I might as well thrown in the towel.”

• This is just an excerpt. Get Cult Times #64 for the full feature, where Jason talks about Roswell's fast-paced changes, its most surprising development, and his favourite show so far

Roswell UK transmission: Season 1 currently BBC2, Thursdays 1800
Season 2 on Sky One from February
Images © Warner Bros, Sue Schneider / Moonglow Photos
Feature © Visual Imagination 2001. Not for reproduction.