For a small town, a heck of a lot goes down in Roswell, New Mexico.
The CW drama has it all: there’s aliens, murder mystery, and some pretty steamy romances — that tragically are all on hold for the time being as their participants deal with catastrophic secrets and lies that have the potential to keep them apart indefinitely.
One of the relationships on the show that has stolen fans’ hearts and earned its own moniker on social media (#Malex) is the one between human veteran Alex (Tyler Blackburn) and extraterrestrial jaded genius Michael. In desperate need of more dirt on what’s to come between them and ahead of tonight’s high school throwback episode “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (WHERE EVERYTHING CHANGES!!), we caught up with Blackburn to talk all things #Malex and what the future holds as the truth outs.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s go back to the beginning a little — what was your initial impression of the reimagining of the series and Alex as a character?
TYLER BLACKBURN: I remember the original series from when I was younger so when I heard of the reimagining, I was pretty nostalgic about it. I just thought it was great to have a character in this world that’s extraterrestrial — and pretty unrealistic in many ways — be so real in very human ways and complex. I feel like I can understand his journey a lot; he’s really lost himself throughout his teenage and young adult years. He’s a broken man and I feel like we all understand that idea of needing to pick ourselves back up after losing bits and pieces of ourselves along the way. I just thought it was intriguing to play someone who has so many layers to him in a show that’s also so magical.
Did you then go back and watch the original series or did you want to come at this from a fresh perspective?
I actually started watching the pilot of the first run and then I kind of decided that I wanted it to be its own thing and I hope it turns into its own thing, so I didn’t want to be influenced by the old one much. Alex is a very different character and I feel like it wouldn’t have done it justice, so I chose not to.
One of the differences in Alex in this version is that he’s gay. Was the show’s more inclusive nature this time around part of the appeal?
Yeah, I feel like the coolest thing that made this very relevant was all of the different topics that were covered, including Alex being gay, including him being in the Air Force as a gay man, his struggle with his own identity, and his struggle with his own emotions towards someone who he feels like he can’t really be with easily. I just found that all to be very appealing. It gets juicer and juicer too, so it’s really cool to play the progression.
Do we get to see more of Alex’s military past this season?
This season we do not get flashbacks of that. I actually asked for that, but they were like, ‘It’s not in the budget this season.’
I’m sure that kind of setting wouldn’t come cheap…
Right? To create a war zone…So, no, we don’t really get the flashbacks. I feel like what’s interesting this whole season, though, is that he’s needing to confront really old emotions and really the fundamentals of his insecurities. I hope that in season 2 we can kind of see a little bit more of his life as an adult man throughout that time and his journey because even though he never really wanted to join the Air Force, — he was kind of forced to by his father — he found solace in it in a way. I think it was important for him to be part of something, part of a group of people who are fighting for the same thing. In some ways, it was really good for him to be in the Air Force, so I hope that they do explore it a bit more.
Did you have detailed conversations with the writers about his backstory then? To understand where he’s coming from?
Oh yeah. One of my favorite things about this whole process was how collaborative it actually was among the actors and also with the writers and with Carina (Adly MacKenzie, show creator). It was fun to sit there and create backstory that isn’t in this season. Some of it’s known by Carina or the writers and we’re just not finding out quite yet, so to get those definite answers was good too. Like, how did he lose his leg? And just learning a little more about that.
Okay, let’s talk about #Malex. Fans are crazy for the romance between Alex and Michael. How has that reaction been for you?
Honestly, it just fills me with joy. All of the relationships on this show are complex and have their own nuances to them that I think people can relate to in different ways. But just the fact that a gay relationship is being celebrated in this way — and it’s not even being celebrated because it’s a gay relationship, it’s just being celebrated because it’s such a tangible one that there’s so much history to — I take a lot of pride in that. Working with Michael Vlamis was honestly surprising. I wasn’t sure how it was going to play out and it exceeded every expectation; we created such a magnetic chemistry. We gave permission to each other to just go to the depths that we needed to go to in order to make this a real story. I think that it’s so beautiful that we live in a time where our audiences are celebrating this in that way. It makes my heart so full — it’s progress for sure. Even for Michael, he too is complex. He’s a little more sexually fluid so for him to represent a category of people who aren’t necessarily gay or straight, they just feel what they feel for who they feel it, that’s just a beautiful thing. It really makes his character so juicy too.
How do you think Alex would deal with knowing the truth about Michael? Could a relationship between them withstand that information?
I feel like Michael’s being cautious. I think Alex has really given him the runaround up until this point. I don’t think the Michael would have as big of an issue as one might think in telling Alex, I think he just needs to fully trust him first. Because he loves him so much, I think he’d be more willing to be open up. Alex isn’t left completely in the dark for the whole season. You’ll have to watch to see how that unfolds and how that changes the relationship.
Eeek! Speaking of learning new things, let’s talk about tonight’s episode. It’s a flashback to the Roswell inhabitants as teens graduating high school. Was that just so much fun to play Alex as a teen goth kid?
Yes! I graduated high school in 2004, so it was close enough to my real high school experience. Honestly, I always secretly wanted to be a goth punk! So I just love that Alex was that. It adds another level to him that I loved playing on where it was like, before all the trauma he was this free-spirited rebel. It’s just really cool to be able to play that then, and now play this closed-off, uncertain version of him. It really takes it full circle.
Was it difficult to leave behind all later traits of Alex’s you’ve picked up over the season?
It wasn’t too hard because I feel like I know Alex really well, but it was fun. Some of the content in this flashback was a little hard to shoot. The woodshed scene? That was really crazy to shoot. We spent a lot of time on that scene.
We can’t say anything else about that for now (check back here after tonight’s episode for an in-depth interview with MacKenzie), but one more thing on this episode: Alex’s style! Did you have any say in his hair/makeup/jewelry?
[Laughs] Little things were collaborative, like would his nail polish be chipped or would it be solid? Also with costume fittings, that tux really was my favorite suit of all of the ones I tried on for the prom.
We see some tension between Alex and Kyle (Michael Trevino) in this episode, but last week they were bonding a little and Alex seemed to forgive Kyle for bullying him in the past. Can we expect to see more of a friendship between them in the rest of the season?
They start to join forces a bit. Trevino and I joked around about being the Hardy Boys going on these little excursions together. They definitely put their differences aside. They always kind of give each other sh—, but they start to understand each other on a different level and care for each other more. They each have skills that can be used to undercover the mystery of what is going on. I don’t want to say too much, but as you saw last episode, Alex found the piece of alien glass and now he has questions that he needs answered, so Kyle’s a source of answers.
Can you tease anything else about what’s to come this season? Tonight’s episode feels like a massive turning point…
I’m very excited to see this episode. I remember reading the last script or two and there are some turns that I just really wasn’t expecting in regards to Rosa’s death and things of that nature. I thought we had it figured out and answered, but it’s revealed even more in the finale as far as that goes. So it keeps you hanging until the very end — it’s pretty wild. It isn’t exactly what you think.
Roswell airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.
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