In the next episode of The CW series Roswell, New Mexico, entitled “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” a series of flashbacks to 2008, including some glimpses into the prom, will help to uncover secrets about Rosa’s final day. And while that will provide long sought after answers for her sister, Liz Ortecho (Jeanine Mason), it could also destroy any chance of a romantic future with Max Evans (Nathan Parsons).
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Nathan Parsons talked about the positive feedback he’s gotten from fans of the show, what it was like to revisit high school for this episode, the fun of exploring prom, the Tess Easter egg, the bond he’s formed with Lily Cowles (“Isobel”) and Michael Vlamis (“Michael”), dancing with Jeanine Mason, having to give up your dreams for family, whether the answers provided in this episode can really be trusted, and what a roller coaster the last four episodes of the season are. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Collider: We last spoke before the series premiered, so now that you’ve had a few episodes on the air, which means you’ve had plenty of time to hear from viewers and fans, what are you finding that people are most responding to with the show?
NATHAN PARSONS: There’s been so much positivity towards it. A lot of the comments that I get are about the scenes with Jeanine [Mason] and myself, and how that’s working, and how people are surprised by this new, different Max that we’re all meeting, over the course of the series. It’s been really fun.
With as deeply as Max loves Liz, how much do you think it hurt him to have her ask him whether he’s the one that killed her sister?
PARSONS: That was brutal. The idea that you could hurt not only the person that you love, or anyone close to them, but that they could think that or assume that so quickly, or jump to that conclusion, is brutal. But, she has good reason. You can’t really blame her for it. He hasn’t made it easy, and he hasn’t done a good job of saying, “It wasn’t me, and here’s the proof.” He hasn’t really told her that, until this episode.
I loved this episode. We’ve gotten glimpses into when these characters were younger, but what was it like to have a whole flashback episode that more deeply explores who these characters were, 10 years ago?
PARSONS: It was really interesting. I’m quite a bit removed from high school, so it was funny for me to revisit that. I had to be clean shaven, every day for a week and a half, and you raise your voice a little bit. You have to have a little coffee, so that you have a little more bounce in your step. It was just funny, trying to recall a little bit more of the innocence of youth that, in these circumstances and under the conditions of the show, has been eroded a little bit. It was fun to forget a little bit of the weight, for a minute.
We get to see these characters get all dressed up and go to prom. What was it like to get to explore that, and to see what Max, Isobel and Michael were like at prom?
PARSONS: That was really fun. We had a lot of conversations about, “What kind of suits are we renting? Where did Michael go? Was he able to rent one with Mike and Isobel, or did have to scrounge around?” It was just playing with the whole dynamic of the three of us going together. When they’re standing in front of the little walkway awning, just goofing around, it was so fun to play with all of that and just really, really try to embarrass Isobel, as much as we could.
Your showrunner, Carina Adly MacKenzize, had mentioned to me before that she had a reference to Tess in the series, and we get that in this episode, when Isobel name checks Tess at the prom, as someone that Max should’ve asked out. Were you aware that was a nod to the original series when it was in the script, and it is it fun to be able to have those little Easter eggs for the fans?
PARSONS: It was absolutely fun. This one, I was aware of. I have probably missed a few of them because I’m not so familiar with the original series. But I remember, right when we were starting, or it might’ve even been before we got picked up, we were doing a little panel, and somebody in the audience asked, “Are you going to have a Tess in this show?” At the time, I was like, “What does that even mean?!” And it was explained to me afterwards that she was this character that everyone just wished wasn’t there. The whole story got explained to me, and I was like, “Okay, good, now I know how to deal with that, going forward.” So, when I saw it in the script, it was fun to be able to like, “Okay, all right, not this time around.”
What’s it been like for you to go on this journey with Lily Cowles and Michael Vlamis? How is your relationship with each other grown, over the season, as we’ve gotten to see the bond between your characters grow?
PARSONS: It’s been a blast. The two of them are both so talented, and they’re so playful on set. They’re so playful, as actors. From the get-go, we’ve just been messing with each other and really have developed a pretty tight bond. I see them as siblings. I see Michael as the quintessential little brother. In this episode, in particular, we’re really inhabiting a time when the three of us were happy together and all on the same page and it was so much fun. We just got into such a great rhythm, in the way that we were able to talk to each other and joke with each other. That’s been one of my favorite parts of the whole season, and we continue to see that growth, moving forward.
There are also some really sweet moments between Max and Liz, in this episode, whether it’s Liz sharing with Max how much she misses her mom, or the two of them dancing with each other in the desert. What was it like to shoot the moments where you get to dance with someone who’s as good of a dancer as Jeanine Mason is?
PARSONS: You just try to keep up, but it was great. The part about it that was so much fun, for me, is that we got a glimpse of what could’ve been, which is something that, to this point in the season, we really haven’t seen. Max has just been pining and chasing the whole time, and Liz has had her defenses up. This is a time before all that, and it was really bittersweet to see it. And then, of course, at the end of the episode, there’s the realization that it’s all just getting ripped away. It’s a really dynamic episode, and I can’t wait for people to see it.
This episode also shows us that Max wanted to go explore other countries and become a writer, and that he had dreams before he decided to stay in Roswell and become a cop. How hard do you think it was for him to realize that he couldn’t make his dreams a reality, in order to protect his family?
PARSONS: It’s crushing, but it’s also a decision that people have to make, every single day, especially in poor communities and smaller communities. I remember growing up myself, in Texas, the idea was that, no matter what you wanna do, you’re gonna stay home and take over the family business, and you can’t get too far away from your family. There’s all of this pressure to just ground yourself and say, “Think smaller.” When I was a kid, thinking about moving to New York or L.A. was a pipe dream. I had never been to those places, let alone thought, “Oh, I could move there and make a living doing something crazy like acting.” It just didn’t seem realistic. I remember applying for colleges and thinking, “Make sure you have one that’s nearby ‘cause that’s probably the one you’re gonna end up going to.” For me, thankfully, I was able to move out to L.A., right after high school, and start [acting] full-time, but there’s a lot of pressure on people in smaller communities or poorer communities to stay put, and take care of family and loved ones. That’s something that we don’t talk about enough today. Even today, some of those dreams are really, really hard to achieve. They’re impossible, in some cases. So, I love that we’re able to bring in a little bit of that to the conversation.
By the end of this episode, viewers will think that they have the details of who killed Rosa, how she was killed, and how and why there was a cover up. Can that information and what we learn be completely trusted, or will we learn that we still don’t know the whole story?