‘Roswell, New Mexico’: Amber Midthunder on Rosa’s Return and the Character’s Demons

     March 23, 2020

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From show creator Carina MacKenzie, The CW series Roswell, New Mexico is back for Season 2, and Liz (Jeanine Mason) is torn between having her sister Rosa (Amber Midthunder) back and the sacrifice that Max (Nathan Parsons) made, in order for that to happen. At the same time, Rosa is struggling with her new life in Roswell, as she realizes that she’s been kept in the dark about what really happened the night that she died.

During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Amber Midthunder (Legion) talked about how different things feel now that her character is back from the dead, which cast member she accidentally spoiled about her Rosa’s return, where Rosa is at mentally, working on the present-day sister dynamic with co-star Jeanine Mason, having Max Evans haunt her character, getting to have some of the cast members from the original Roswell series involved with their version of the story, that Rosa is going to continue to struggle with her own demons, and the addition of a new character that will be fully on her side.

Collider: Now that Rosa has been brought back from the dead and she’s living in the present day, do things feel very different for you, being immersed in the present-day storyline and not just exploring her backstory anymore or her past?

AMBER MIDTHUNDER: Yeah, totally. In my life and also for her, they’re both very different. Before, I felt like I was in my own cool little club, getting to just feel things out and re-explore the time period, with the 2000s, and what that was like. In a weird way, it’s a period piece. And now, what comes with being able to be there full time is that there’s a lot more elements, with everything else that’s going on for her, having returned from the dead and all.

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Image via The CW

After the events at the end of last season, that clearly affected your character in a major way, what was your reaction to learning about where things would be headed for her, especially at the start of Season 2?

MIDTHUNDER: I was just as curious as anybody else. It’s funny, I knew before that she was coming back to life. When a lot of people didn’t know that, I think I actually spoiled it for Michael Vlamis. He said something like, “Oh, maybe you’ll come back to life.” And I was like, “Yeah, when that happens, hopefully, I’ll be here.” And he was like, “What?! What did you say?” And I was like, “Huh? Nothing happened.” So, it’s been a lot of fun.

Rosa is clearly struggling with being back and figuring out what it means and who she is now, compared to everyone else who’s gone on living around her. What’s it like for her, mentally, at this point? What are the biggest issues for her, right now?

MIDTHUNDER: It’s tough. Her journey is like weirdly timely, with what’s going on and what we’re dealing with. (Showrunner) Carina [MacKenzie] and I had a lot of conversations about that. She feels like a ghost, and she said that, in her fight with Liz, where she said, “Before, nobody used to come near me, but now they don’t even know that I’m here.” That is isolating, on such a level that even she doesn’t know how to deal with. There are a lot of elements about it. It’s not just that she has to hide, it’s that she lost out on ten very important years, with all of her loved ones and her peers, and she can’t get that back. There’s this feeling of being left behind. Liz and Rosa have this relationship of, “No matter what, it’s you and me. No matter what, we’re sisters. No matter what, I’m always gonna have your back.” And they couldn’t keep that going. So, to now step back into that place, brings a lot of pain for her. Not only was she not there, Liz started to move on, and that’s a whole other can of worms. That’s super complicated and painful. She has to deal with this all by herself, also. She doesn’t have anybody that she can go to.

What do you think Rosa’s ideal life would look like, if she could live what she wanted?

MIDTHUNDER: Well, it’s funny that you ask that. I’m just gonna leave it there. I feel like you’re a little intuitive. She’s very hard on herself, and sometimes she’s the one who believes in herself the most. She and Liz both have this dynamic of wanting to be the hero, and I think she really sees herself as the protector, which is a huge part of what throws her for a loop and makes all this lonely stuff super complicated. Her one job, she’s now completely inadequate at because her sister is now older than her and super accomplished. She, in some ways, views herself as the hero, and she has this consistent idea of how she shouldn’t be and how she will be, in a perfect world. It’s like, “I’m gonna be the perfect big sister. I’m a great artist. I’m a great daughter. I’m a great thing and that thing. I’m a good friend.” And every time she tries, she just hasn’t been able to get there. What I love about her is that she doesn’t stop trying. She never stops chasing that, as many times as she fails.

What’s it like to also get to work with Jeanine Mason on this different kind of dynamic now? We’ve only seen the past dynamic between these sisters, and now they have to figure out how to deal with who they are now, so what’s it been like to work with her?

MIDTHUNDER: It’s a very complicated dynamic. I love Jeanine. She is my sister now. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It’s great. As a human being, I love her and am obsessed with her. She’s my friend and my sister. I feel like I couldn’t have had a better partner on this. I feel like that’s why the sister dynamic is so present between us. We’re very honest with each other. We’ll show up to work, or we’ll talk to each other like outside of work, and be like, “How do you think we should do this?” And we always have the common goal of being honest. No matter what fight they’re having, the feelings are real. You’re never gonna fight with your sibling about “Oh, my gosh, I died, and you took all the stuff off my walls.” But the feelings of, “I can’t believe you’d leave me behind like that,” is very real. So, she’s the best. She’s great. I love it.

Rosa has a real anger toward Max, which is justified, considering that his actions led everyone in town to feel a certain way about her. Clearly, that’s complicated by the fact that he’s haunting her now and begging for her help. How is that going to continue to escalate between them, when he is probably the last person she wants anything to do with?

MIDTHUNDER: I feel like, kudos to Rosa, for not just being like, “Forget you, dude!” At least, she’s considering it. She’s not just on board, but at least she’s thinking about it. It’s super complicated ‘cause there’s a whole history. She never liked him, from the beginning. In her eyes, he wronged them both. He made this big grand gesture to be the hero, much like Liz and Rosa try to do, but he didn’t ask. Rosa never said that she wanted to come back. Liz didn’t ask her that. She’s trying to process so much. The fact that this is happening and the fact that it’s him, if you were to ask her, “What do you think about Max Evans?,” she’s got a lot of stuff to say. But she’s more preoccupied with what’s going on then who’s doing it. I don’t even think she has time to think about how it’s this guy. She thinks about it, but it’s not number one on her list.

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Image via The CW

It’s fun to see Max Evans be the antagonist of her life, when he’s the hero to all these other people.

MIDTHUNDER: Yeah, that’s true, and that goes into her feeling like she’s in her own world. The one person that she has to talk to is grieving over him, and talking about how great he was and how much she loved him, while Rosa’s having her own experience of, “He wasn’t so great, if you ask me.” It’s very complicated.

It’s very cool that this re-imagining of this story has also been able to include some of the original cast members, with Shiri Appleby directing episodes and now Jason Behr guest starring in Season 2. What’s it meant to the cast, to see how the original cast is supporting the series, and what’s it been like to have them around, on set?

MIDTHUNDER: It’s legendary. It’s so cool. In this time period, when we’re attacking these stories that people loved so much, and they were so well-received and even we loved them, to have them around is everybody’s favorite day. When they’re around, I feel like everyone is geeking out. Roswell is geeking out over Roswell. It’s so great. It’s cool, having them around and seeing them still give 100% to this thing that they had in their lives, that also meant so much to them.

You got to spend the first season of this show, really exploring this character’s past and background, which is not something you get to do very often on a TV show. Now that you’re getting to explore her present, do you feel like you’re learning a lot about her that’s surprising you, as far as who she is?

MIDTHUNDER: It’s all exciting to me ‘cause it’s uncharted territory. It is undiscovered waters, and could be nothing that’s more exciting, especially having been able to spend so much time with her before. It’s cool. It’s exciting, every day, to show up to work and think that we have no established set of rules about how she acts and how she handles things, in this situation, because nobody’s been in this situation, ever. As all of the characters grow and evolve, hers is definitely very unique, and that’s super fun. I don’t think that this is necessarily who she would have been. If anything, it’s the total opposite. The thing is, she’s picking up where she left off. All this time has gone by to everybody else, but to her nothing has happened, except that she woke up and everything is different. She still, in a way, is dealing with the same things, but just now she’s got a lot more.

Rosa is also still fighting with whether to drink or not drink. That hasn’t just gone away because she’s back. Is that something we’re going to continue to see more of, when it comes to her own demons?

MIDTHUNDER: Yeah, absolutely. That was very important to me. When we started the season, Carina and I sat down and talked about how her addiction wasn’t just a passenger that came and went, and existed in TV world. It was important, to both of us, that it was represented honestly. This age group and this audience, and for anybody out there, there’s such a huge epidemic of addiction right now, in this country and in the whole world. I’m a strong believer that, the more that you are exposed to something, in the right way, and the more that you learn, the better you can make choices. I care about what we do, as storytellers. Whether we’re actors or writers or show creators, personally, I feel that we have a responsibility. I heard Jennifer Lawrence, in an interview, one time, say that, “Is someone is gonna listen to me talk, I better have something to say.” That always really resonated with me, and I feel like that’s true. And with this character, I saw a really big opportunity to say something really important, which is that, even in this fantastical world, she’s still dealing with very real things, like her mental health and her addiction. She’s going through all of this crazy stuff, not to mention that she’s bipolar. That’s a huge part of it. As we go through the season with her, it gets hopeful and it gets ugly, and the ups and downs and the inconsistencies are all very real. But the thing is, no matter how difficult it is, it’s known impossible, and that’s what I care about saying. As difficult as it may feel, if you’re in the hole, you can get out.

As the season goes on, will there be someone who Rosa can fully trust and who she feels like is fully on her side?

MIDTHUNDER: There is, yes. I don’t know what I’m allowed to say about that. There’s an episode that I’m really looking forward to people seeing, where we introduce a new character, who is right on Rosa’s level.

Roswell, New Mexico airs on Monday nights on The CW.

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