For me it's all about telling
a good story. Something that whether or not you
agree or disagree with that it's trying to say, it
pro-vokes thought and some type of emotion.
pg. 40 Behr Essentials
Jason Behr is being kept very busy. Filming the
eighteenth episode of his new series, Roswell High,
under the direction of executive producer Jonathan
Frakes, he appears in virtually every scene, which
means that he should value every free moment he
gets. Instead, he's sitting cross-legged on an easy
chair in a side room off the soundstage at
Paramount Studios in Hollywood, chatting easily
about his new role.
The twenty-six year old verteran of over 75
commercials, numerous stage performances, and TV
guest appearance, including a major stint in teen
angst drama Dawson's Creek, is clearly having a
great time. He stars as Max Evans, outwardly a
normal teenage boy, who hids a mysterious secret --
along with his sister Isabel and friend Mike, Max
is a survivor of the alien spacecraft which crashed
in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.
When he saves the life of human teenage Liz Parker,
Max chooses to share his secret with her, just as
other people are starting to become suspicious and
their love affair unfolds alongside the drama of
the pursuit of the aliens.
You've done an extensive number of guest
roles in very popular shows on television. How did
you feel when you found out that you'd got a lead
in a new pilot?
I found out about Roswell when I was in North
Carolina shooting Dawson's Creek. The script came
my way via the normal channels. When I first read
it, I thought, 'Here's a great idea'. There's a lot
of teenage shows out there right now, but this one
definitely separates itself from others because of
this science fiction spin to it. What I immediately
responded to was the characters and the story, but
initially I thought in the wrong hands it could be
done either very well or very badly. After I found
out about [executive producer] David Nutter being
involved, and [producer] Jason Katims being
involved and Jonathan Frakes being involved, I knew
that we were in very good hands, so there was no
decision to be made. I felt I really wanted to be a
part of it.
How do you feel now that it looks as it it's
going to be a resounding success?
It's been pretty amazing. The response has been
wonderful. People have really responded well to the
show, and that's been very rewarding for everybody
on the set. You work really hard, put a lot of long
hours into it and you just really want to tell a
good story, and the response has been very nice.
It's a great feeling. It's a bit surreal at times.
Are you getting much chance to pursue your
other interests outside acting, such as sports?
I'm a big basketball fan. There are actually two
nets here on the lot, and every now and then you
can get a good pic-up game in the gym, but they
don't relly wnat you to do too much physical
activity, especially when you're at work here.
'Stay in your amke-up. Stay in your trailer. Don't
sweat anything off, and above all other things,
don't hurt yourself.' When I get time, I play
basketball. I spend a good amount of time with my
I don't have that much free time. We're either
on stage here or on location, so the free time I do
have I like spending with my family and my
friends... and catching up on sleep lost.
You've had a chance to do independent movies,
working with people like Dean Stockwell. Did you
enjoy the experience?
I had a great time on Rites of Passage. We shot
that film in 21 days. It was real tight. A lot of
emotional, long, character-driven scenes, just a
lot of dialogue. A lot of night scenes, so for
about three weeks I spent a good part of my life in
the dark, which took a little bit of time getting
used to, but once I acclimated to that schedule, it
was fine. I didn't mind living like a vampire. The
movie itself is a testament to what you can do if
you really are passionate about something. Everyone
worked really hard on that in a short amount of
time to really make a good film.
Working with Dean was great. He's the
consummate professional. Always knew his lines, hit
his mark, walking backwards blindgolded. He was
just incredibly well oiled -- he knew exactly what
he was doing. He's a damn good actor too, so I had
a great time working with him. Victor Salva
directed and wrote it. I found out earlier today,
it's doing the festival circuit now, and it won the
Grand Jury Prize at the Santa Monica film festival,
so that was kind of cool. It's nice -- the icing on
Would you want to work on something outside
the studio grind during the hiatus?
In a perfect world, I'd be on the beach of
Tahiti, doing some kind of movie, but I don't thing
that is going to happen. For me, it's not about
where I'm shooting. First of all it's about the
story. For me it's all about telling a good story,
an interesting story. Something that whether or not
you agree or disagree with what it's trying to say,
it provokes thought that some type of emotion.
(Hopefully it's positive. You can't presume on the
story.) Secondly, it's the people I'm working with.
I want to work with people that I respect, that I
find interesting or intriguing, because you're
going to be spending a vast amount of time with
these people and you want to make the most of it.
Location doesn't mean that much to me. It would
be great if I could spend every day in the sun
sitting on the sand on a beach in Tahiti, but if
it's in the middle of the night in a studio in Los
Angeles downtown somewhere, it doesn't matter to
me. The most important thing is to find a really
good story and tell it the best way that I can.
You've done a lot of diverse work. Is there
anything that specifically stands out that you're
Generally, I've been really lucky with the
people that I've worked with. I don't have any
really big horror stories. I think that Roswell is
by far the best thing that I've been involved with.
It's just been one wild ride! But it's been great
for me, just wonderfula all around. I'm working
with a great group of actors, a great crew, and the
producers. We have such a great opportunity to tell
a really interesting story, and given that we're on
The WB here, they allow Katims a certain freedom to
do what he feels is right. The fact that they gave
us 22 episodes meant we were able to spin a web in
a way that we didn't have to worry about thinking
'we can only do six, we've got to give all this
information right now'. It's not that we're telling
a very slow story, it's just it's developing at a
pace, not too quick and not too slow. I think that
Roswell is so far probably the best thing I've
From what we've seen up to now, there's a
very definite shape to the season. Have you had any
input into the storylining, apart from moulding the
characters? Or was it set when you came in?
Oh no. One of the great things about Jason
Katims is that he's very very open to your input. I
think that he understands that an actor, especially
in a series, puts in a lot of time in the
character, and eventually knows more about the
character than anybody else including him, because
they've only got one character to worry about. He's
got eight characters to facilitate, and then on top
of that, he has to worry about the storyline -- the
A story, the B story -- and then the overall arc of
the season and production. He's got a lot of things
to worry about. So he's very open to people
suggesting thigns to him. If it works, great. If it
doesn't I'm sure he has a good reason for it. Here
it's been a very collaborative effort on everyone's
Were there surprises for you when you picked
up the scripts -- did you think, 'I didn't see that
Some things. I can't give away too much
information, but some things that will come about
here towards the end of the season. . . We're
allowed another creative freedom, in that we're not
telling a story just about human nature. We're not
confined to those rules. We've got alien nature
here. We can do whatever we want -- pretty much.
How do we know something can't happen? There were
certain things that I used to think, 'God that
would be so cool, but will the network allow this,
will the studio allow this, is that acceptable to
the masses out there?' And some of the things I
didn't think were going to happen are, but it's
told in such a way that you understand. It's not
this, 'we thought it was this, but it's completely
different in alien nature'. There are things that
will surprise you because they surprised me.
I put in a lot of work trying to figure out the
possibilities - what can we do here? Do we know how
long we live? Could we wither away and die
tomorrow? How do we know at some point that we
don't completely change into something else? A
cocoon-like state? Who knows? There are so many
things out there, so many question marks and no
answers, but I think the ending of the season will
be enlightening for a lot of people. . .
Do you have any thoughts about the
possibility of extra-terrestrial lif? Are we
Who knows? I guess the answe is that we don't
have an answer. It's still aquestion. It's a big
sky out there. If you look up at night, you realise
how insignificat we all are in the grand scheme of
things. We have no idea what's out there, and we
won't know until we have absolute tangible proof.
If everybody adhered to the popular rational
thought of that time, then we'd be having this
conversation with two tin cups and a very long
string. You have to believe in something without
really having any tangible evidence. You have to
have faith without proof. You have to believe in
something and I think we have to reamin open minded
in our lives or else we aren't going to move
Did you look into any of the background
material about what really happened in Roswell in
I watched this great video, hosted by Jonathan
Frakes, called Alien Autopsy [the supposed autopsy
of the alien creature found at Roswell]. I was so
captivated I had to watch it five, six, ten times!
He didn't know I'd watched it; I told him and he
just gave a chuckle. It was part of my research,
I wanted to get a general sense of what was the
overall thought about Roswell, the overall
conspiracy of this 1947 crash and what it was like
for the people growing up in that town to have that
as part of their everyday life. Are they destined
by it? Are they making money out of it? Are they
completely sick of it -- or are they interested?
Are they really believers? Just the idea of what it
would be like being a teenager growing up in that
town, so I did a lot of research on all the
theories, all those books, the Alien Autopsy, to
make me more informed.
Did you look at the original book series?
Yes, I read those as well, and we have
definitely taken a different direction since that.
the overall concept, the general idea is still
there, but we've deviated form the books.
What about your own future? Do you see
yourself staying this side of the camera? Would you
like to direct or write?
Absolutely, I write now, and take my camcorder
out whenever I can. I ask questions all the time of
our director of photography, our camera operator. I
try to talk to the directors as much as possible to
try to get an idea where they're coming from. I
know every actor says they want to direct. . .
well, some don't, I guess, but there are a lot out
there. At some point yes, it would be wonderful to
have that opportunity.