The third episode of Roswell, New Mexico ended with an unleashing of energy that sends the town into a blackout — and that might just be one of the catastrophic abilities that the alien Max Evans (Nathan Dean Parsons) exhibits.
Last week during the Television Critics Association Press Tour, we sat down with Nathan Parsons to talk about this moment as well as more things that are coming on the CW drama which airs Tuesdays on the network following The Flash. Enjoy, and be aware that some spoilers are being discussed!
KSITETV’s CRAIG BYRNE: When you were reading the scripts for Roswell, New Mexico Season 1, were you shocked by some of the power that Max can harness?
NATHAN DEAN PARSONS: Yeah. Absolutely. I hadn’t seen the original series and I haven’t read the books yet, so I knew that there was a potential, because this is sci-fi, to really have limitless power. I wasn’t sure how far they’d actually be willing to go with it, but as we got more and more into it, I would go “oh, I can do what? I can do this? That’s so cool!” It’s so much fun.
At the end of Episode 3, he put the whole town in a blackout.
When Max and Isobel were adopted, was there a reason the Evans didn’t take in Michael as well?
There is. We’ll get more into that in upcoming episodes. We meet more of the family and get a little more backstory of how all that went down. I’m excited to see the reaction to the actors that we brought in to play our family.
Do you think the fans felt betrayed at all when they found out that Max was hooking up with Jenna Cameron?
Absolutely. I was betrayed when I read that! Unfortunately, one of the complications in advancing our ages is that we have lives. We’ve had lives for ten years. The relationship with Liz is incredibly complicated, and I think a lot of times your natural instinct in a very difficult situation for some people is to run to what is safe, and what is known ,and what is convenient, as a little shot of morphine.
I know you have known [Roswell Executive Producers] Carina Adly MacKenzie and Julie Plec for a long time, but how did you become aware of this project?
Actually, Carina was the one that reached out to me about it, early on. We worked together a lot on the Originals, and she came to me and said “hey, I’m doing Roswell, and I’d like you to take a look at the script.” I read a very early draft of it, actually as the character Michael, and I started going through all of the audition processes for Michael, and by the time we got to crunch time they still hadn’t found a Max. So they were like “Nathan, read this,” and everyone saw what I could do with it, and that’s how we all kind of fell into it.
What is something unique that you feel that you bring to Max?
I think my version of Max, I have a lot more secrets. A lot more repressed frustration and repressed anger. Michael is very outward with his expressions of how he’s feeling. Max is incredibly internal in how he deals with things. He internalizes everything. When I went back to the script from Max’s perspective, the whole world opened up to me in a way that I hadn’t seen before, and I was able to bring a lot of my personal life into it, and a lot of things that I’ve been dealing with, and I hope that that can be communicated.
We’ve seen a few actors from The Originals on Roswell, New Mexico already. Is there anyone that you’d love to work with again?
I had a great time on The Originals. We were talking earlier about Charles [Michael Davis] who was a good friend of mine on that show. Also, Colin [Woodell] and I were really close then. Any of them, really. Steven Kreuger… there were a lot of good people on that show.
Liz is finding more and more reasons to not trust Max. Can you talk about how Max is going to be reacting to that?
Well, unfortunately I’m very good at giving her reasons not to trust me. That stems from a place of my own fears and insecurities about who I am and what I’ve been trying to do, and the fact that I’ve lied to the woman that I’ve loved my whole life. That conflict is at the very heart of who I am, as Max.
Did it scare you at all that Max could possibly be Rosa’s killer?
No. That didn’t scare me. I don’t think Max is necessarily a stranger [to death]. I’m a cop. Death is not an unusual thing for me. The thing that would scare me is what it would do to Liz, not the act itself.
Can you talk about how different it is to play a younger Max in flashbacks?
It’s fun, because it forces you to hearken back to when you were 17, and the whole world was your oyster, and you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and you didn’t really know what was going on, and midterms were your biggest concern. So, being able to bring levity and bring in an innocence that we don’t get to see later in life, was such a blessing.
What is it like to film in New Mexico?
It’s incredible. New Mexico is absolutely stunning, and I don’t think we could have shot this show anywhere else, because the landscape and the people… the culture, the food… everything about New Mexico is so unique to New Mexico that you can’t recreate it. Working with people who live there, who grew up there… you get such a sense of the community there, and being in a small town in New Mexico, being someone who’s never left my home town… it sort of becomes a character of its own in our script.
What was your first reaction when you first entered the Crashdown Cafe?
It was great. It was a place I’d want to go hang out all the time. The fries are delicious, the milkshakes are good… what’s not to love?
Can you talk about the first time you worked with Jeanine Mason?
The first, first time I worked with her was on a show called Bunheads years ago. Before we reconnected on this show, we did that show five, six years ago with Amy Sherman-Palladino and Sutton Foster. It was a fun dance show. She played a teenager and I played Sutton Foster’s love interest, so we were in very different worlds. She thought I was 40, and I thought she was about 16. And come to find out, we’re only a couple years apart. It was great to reconnect and swap stories about working with Amy and Sutton, and going down memory lane.
You also did an episode of Ravenswood. Did you work with Tyler Blackburn then?
I didn’t get a chance to work with Tyler, no. I was familiar with his work, though. And when I found out that he was signed on to this, I was so grateful that he was willing to come in and help us do this.
How long will we have to wait to find out how or why Max is changing since Liz’s return?
I think that takes the whole season, and I think even by the end of the season, we still may not know the extent of it. Max is such an onion, and every time you peel back a layer, there are seven more to get through, and he’s so hesitant to reveal those layers… it’s such a fight every time. I hope that even by the end of the season, we’re still doing “who is this guy and what is he really capable of?”
Was the mystery part of the show fun for you?
Absolutely. Thankfully, Carina and the other writers were very wonderful about sitting down with Jeanine and I and kind of talking us through what was upcoming, so that we could build in a little bit of that mystery, and sprinkle it In here and there. It’s fun in kind of a twisted way to know secrets that you shouldn’t, and to be able to play with that, and pull what you need to, and give just enough to keep stringing Liz along a little bit. It’s fun in a very dark way.
Michael and Isobel both have issues with Max’s connection to Liz, but Max doesn’t seem to have a problem with, say, Isobel’s husband. Why is that?
I think for Max, he accepts Isobel and Michael for what they are, unconditionally. Unfortunately, I’ve also imposed rules on them, and I have sort of forced them to live according to what I feel is right, and what my fears are, and what my controlling sense of them is. So it’s less that they’re concerned about Liz, and more “how is this person who has forced us to live a certain way, now completely betraying all of that? How dare you do that to us?” And of course, naturally you’re suspicious of someone who is going to break all of their rules.
Speaking of rules, will we learn why Max decided to become a cop?
Yes, we will.
Is it fun to play Max the cop?
It’s the best. I’ve had the good fortune of playing soldiers in the Civil War, and U.S. Marshals, and now a deputy sheriff in the sheriff’s department. I love that stuff. I love putting on the uniform in the morning. I love the badge. I love all of the equipment that you have. There’s an authority but there’s also a responsibility in putting that uniform on, and there’s a leadership that you have to really embrace. I love being able to play the confidence that comes with that.
Speaking of authority figures, will we get to see Max interact with Master Sergeant Manes at all?
Not as much as I’d like. They definitely are familiar with each other, and we’re definitely eyeing each other. Military and law enforcement, you always see this in other cop shows, the battle of whose jurisdiction is whose. What’s best for the county vs. what’s best for the U.S. Government. It’s not always the same thing. That’s a fun dynamic that hopefully we’ll get more into.
Will we get to learn more about Max’s childhood?
Absolutely. It’s like I was saying earlier with the onion thing. We get to see little peeks into who I was as a child, and who I was growing up, and who I was in high school, and I think all of that really, hopefully informs what we’re doing in the present day.
What is Max afraid of?
I think more than anything, there’s a whole lot of conversation about “well, we can’t risk exposure because they’ll cut us up in a lab.” But really, we can’t risk exposure because I’m afraid of what I am capable of. I don’t know the extent of my powers. None of us do; we’ve all suppressed them. For 20 years we’ve suppressed all of our abilities. What happens if we unleash them fully? What can be done? What can we do? I think that is the biggest fear that runs through all of us.
What excites you the most for fans to see as the season goes on?
It’s the peeling back; it’s also finding out what happened to Rosa and building the relationship between Liz and Max. Getting back to the heart of the matter, this is a love story, and we have to work really hard to get there.
Are you happy with the reaction the show has gotten so far?
It’s been wonderful. People have been so supportive. Fans of the original, the original cast… Shiri [Appleby] came and directed an episode for us, and she was amazing. The support’s been overwhelming and I’m so grateful.
Roswell, New Mexico airs Tuesdays at 9PM ET/PT on The CW. Take a look at photos from this week’s episode here; a trailer for “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” can be found below!