The relationship between the characters of Michael Guerin and Alex Manes — or “Malex,” as the fans call them — has been one of the great surprises of The CW’s Roswell, New Mexico series, and since there sadly isn’t a new episode of the series on The CW tonight, now felt like a good time to share an interview with the actors that play them, Michael Vlamis and Tyler Blackburn.
Michael, of course, is the “black sheep” of the trio of aliens in the series, left to fend for himself when his siblings Max and Isobel were adopted by the Evans family. Alex, looking for an escape and facing pressures from his father, enlisted in the military where he was critically injured, losing a leg. The characters recently reunited on The CW series, and that’s just the beginning for this pairing.
You can read the interview below; Roswell, New Mexico returns with new episodes Tuesday, February 26 with “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
KSITETV’s CRAIG BYRNE: How much of your characters’ backstories were laid out for you when you did the pilot?
TYLER BLACKBURN: Individually, not, like, a whole lot, because I think they wanted the opportunity to develop them, but I knew that we had a backstory, for sure, and that really drove all of our scenes from the pilot.
MICHAEL VLAMIS: All we really knew and needed to know is that it was a love that you can go ten years without seeing someone, and be right back in it once you’re back together. And that, obviously, is like a once in a lifetime kind of love. So, we approached it in a way where we haven’t seen each other, and that’s weird ground where I don’t know that he got hurt at war, and he doesn’t know what’s going on with me or what I’m working on. All of that is just kind of our armor that we’ve got to play with, but it’s when we look at each other when we’re vulnerable and open, and that love from ten years ago needs to shine.
BLACKBURN: And I think also, just, that last kiss from the pilot, it was charged in a way that wasn’t just like “oh, I love you.” It was almost painful. What we knew was there was an incident that occurred prior that almost made it forbidden for us to be together. So that added to it.
VLAMIS: You’ll find that out as the season progresses. We didn’t know exactly how it went down, but we knew something happened before we started [the series].
Both of your characters have difficult family histories. Can you talk about that?
VLAMIS: That’s probably what we were able to bond over as kids, too. Kind of feeling like misfits and outcasts. In Episode 2, you see a picture of us with guitars as kids. I think that’s something they bonded over; being musically inclined, which is also like music as an escape from your reality, like, the arts are an escape, and I think both of us were looking for exactly that, and both of us are used to hiding things, so we could also kind of vibe on that level.
BLACKBURN: I feel like home life is something that you don’t always want to talk about. In high school, out of high school, or whatever, because there is a flashback episode. I feel like it was sort of this unspoken outcast mentality that they both had. They were totally different people, but just that alone kind of brought them together.
VLAMIS: I think people who have had to sit with their feelings and their thoughts, and then have maybe other people to express them to growing up, have more of an organic bond than those who didn’t. And I think that our characters definitely have that.
Do you think Alex’s father has more of an issue with it being Michael than the fact that it’s a guy that Alex is into?
BLACKBURN: That’s a great question. I don’t know for sure! I mean, he does not want me to be gay. We know that for sure. But I think it’s compounded by the fact that it’s this troubled guy. I think mostly, though, it’s just about being gay, only because there’s a flashback to high school, right as we are kind of starting things up, and he is not a rebel at that point. [Michael] is actually a very good guy, and my dad has a huge issue with it then, so I think it’s compounded.
If Michael had been raised by the Evans family like Max and Isobel had been, do you think he would have been better adjusted as an adult?
VLAMIS: 100%. Because their parents are good people. It’s that nature vs. nurture thing. But when you look at Isobel and Max in this show, they definitely have their problems and what not, but they were taken care of. A kid who has to fend for himself is also like a wolf in the wild who is also being attacked. He didn’t have an easy upbringing in foster care. It wasn’t just not having one specific family in his life, but he was brutally attacked, at least in my mind, you know? Whether we talk about it or not, that was my character prep. So I think that does inform somebody. It makes you feel like the weight on the world is on your shoulders; that everybody’s against you. One big thing in this show is always my character’s posture. I always felt like he was a guy who has been beat down. How tall do you want a guy who has been beat down in the room? Whether he thinks he can take on the world or not, he might not be standing the tallest, you know, and that’s something I thought about a lot.
How much does Alex know about Michael’s true lineage?
BLACKBURN: Thus far, nothing.
Is there more to Michael setting up his trailer at that very spot, especially since he does have alien tech in there?
VLAMIS: That specific spot, I think you get a glimpse of that in Episode 2 when I say “you can’t build on a historical site,” and he says “oh, yeah. Because the UFO crash was here.” Well that’s exactly what I’m talking about, because that happened, and when I’m talking to Isobel in the bar, I tell her that I used to steak out at night and go there. So even though I don’t have a home, that’s what I equate “home” as. That’s why I’m there. I don’t think it has anything to do with anything that I’m working on, or prepping for. It has to do with feeling a sense of belonging.
Could Michael have been Rosa’s killer?
VLAMIS: Michael? I mean… at this point, anybody could be.
Did either of you have suspicions while you were filming of who it could have been?
BLACKBURN: To be honest, I didn’t even dig into that storyline for my own knowledge. I kind of just let it ride out.
VLAMIS: I mean, I knew a little bit, but… [Laughs]
BLACKBURN: It’s funny how the writers will give little pieces of information to certain cast members and then it spreads, or it doesn’t, and you’re like “wait! How long did you know?”
VLAMIS: That happened a lot at the beginning, but mostly that happened because certain tidbits of knowledge and secrecy, if a certain character didn’t know, they wouldn’t be able to give the performance they needed to give. So, truth got divulged to those who needed it. Otherwise, we’re all kind of in it for the surprise.
Fans of the original Roswell want to know: Will we get to see Michael interacting with Maria at all?
VLAMIS: Everybody’s been talking about that online! Everybody’s been talking about Malex too, though!
Well, I know that in Episode 2, she makes a comment about how I got hot in a “sex in a truck” kind of way or whatever… so, I think that shows that she’s got eyes on me. Whether we’re gonna end up taking it to that point or not, I’ll just let the audience watch that, you know? But right now, [Malex] is definitely the true love.
What is “5 Years Apart?”
VLAMIS: That is my first feature film that I produced and starred in this past year with some of my other buddies from Chicago. It stars me and Chloe Bennet from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. She’s also a Chicago girl. I met her randomly at a high school football game when I was like 15. So we got to do this movie together about two brothers born on the same day, 5 years apart, and they haven’t seen each other in 5 years since the older brother punched the younger brother, who is played by myself, in the face at a family Christmas party. So, they all kind of get rekindled at our parents’ getaway home in Arizona. It’s a weekend of crazy.
When can fans see it?
VLAMIS: We’ve just started submitting to festivals. I’m super proud of what we did. People said we couldn’t pull it off with the budget we wanted to, and we did, and I learned a lot of lessons, made a lot of mistakes, but it means a lot to me, making my first movie. That’s definitely something I’ve always wanted to do. Hopefully we have some kind of release late this year or early 2020. That’s the goal.
What would you like to see from Roswell New Mexico Season 2?
BLACKBURN: It’s hard to even go there, because we don’t want to give up what happens at the end of Season 1.
VLAMIS: I think we all trust Carina [MacKenzie] and the team so much, that I’ve never been like “what do I want to see?” out of Michael. It’s like “what are they gonna give me?” That’s how it’s felt this whole time, because everything they’ve given us has been really cool.
Has Michael always known that he was an alien?
VLAMIS: Yes. I believe that they’ve all known. They all have that memory of waking up in that pod. You’ll learn more about that as the season progresses, but they have all known. But that’s it! They don’t know what kind of alien, where they’re from, who their parents are, or anything like that. That’s all information that he obviously wishes he could know.
Will we get to see more scenes with Alex and his father?
BLACKBURN: Oh yeah. There’s a whole journey there.
Will either of you get to work with Michael Trevino at some point?
BLACKBURN: Oh yeah. Both of us.
VLAMIS: He cannot work with Trevino. He laughs every take!
BLACKBURN: We laugh at lot. For some reason. I don’t know why. We have very serious scenes, talking about governmental conspiracies… things that are funny for some reason, I don’t know. But we had a good time.
Is it difficult to act when you’re pretending that you have a prosthetic leg?
BLACKBURN: I haven’t played many roles where I had a physical handicap, so yeah, it was definitely something I had to think about. It was like “okay, so if I have the prosthetic on my right leg, where would I actually hold the crutch?” You would think it would be the other side for one reason, but then you’re like “oh, it’s the same side. It’s replacing the leg.” So there were things like that, that I had to think about.
What excites you the most for fans to see what’s coming up?
BLACKBURN: The season gets really bat-sh!t.
VLAMIS: That’s one thing. Right now we’re setting a lot of things up. Episode 2 was pretty cool with some of the action. A lot of Episodes 1 and 3 were setting up what happens to come, and it gets crazy.
BLACKBURN: One thing that’s really interesting about this season is that I think almost every single question that arises is answered, which is, I think, rare. All of the questions will be answered.
Roswell, New Mexico airs Tuesdays on The CW. See a trailer for the next new episode below!