We love you, Liz Parker, but it’s time to meet Liz Ortecho!
Roswell, New Mexico – The CW’s latest reboot premiering Tuesday , Jan. 15 at 9 p.m. EST/PST – is a sexy and politically savvy reimagining of the original alien-centric drama, which aired from 1999 to 2002.
In the initial iteration of Roswell, Shiri Appleby starred as high schooler Liz Parker, a curious, small town girl who discovers an out-of-this-world secret.
Twenty years later, Appleby is reminiscing exclusively with ET about her time on the beloved sci-fi series and the “full circle” way she’s connecting with the new cast of stars.
“It was my first experience. It was like falling in love for the first time, so I really learned everything through the show,” Appleby dished to ET’s cameras last November while we were on set for her directorial debut of Roswell, New Mexico.
While stepping behind the camera for episode nine, Appleby enjoyed beaming her knowledge onto new leading lady Jeanine Mason as she takes on the aged-up role of Liz Ortecho.
“Her version of Liz is 10 years old than my version of Liz,” Appleby explained. “So my Liz was very naive and very vulnerable and [Jeanine’s version of Liz] is very much a strong woman that knows what she wants, who happens to be in a similar situation. She’s really created her own character and her own Liz.”
“This is Liz Ortecho,” Mason dished of her character while giving ET a tour of the new Crashdown Café. “She is Mexican- American. She is a provider and a caretaker for her family and her dad is undocumented … Life is much more complicated, life has been hard on them.”
In addition to celebrating the character changes of Liz, Appleby added that her time spent on the Roswell, New Mexico set feels like a completely “full circle” experience.
“I’m giving Jeanine direction and saying like, ‘My Liz would do this, but how would your Liz ask Max to dance?'” the UnREAL actress continued. “So it’s pretty wonderful to come back and sort of be like, ‘Wow!’ Twenty years later, I’m directing. I’ve really grown a lot in this business and thankfully I am in a time where women are getting a lot of opportunity and I’m able to still be standing here and use all of my experience to grow.”
Appleby admitted that it was a “little shocking” when she first heard that The CW was moving forward with a new version of the series that launched her into stardom. “Then it’s sort of flattering,” she added.
Mason, best known for her role as Dr. Sam Bello on Grey’s Anatomy, revealed that she was so excited to take on the “iconic” role of Liz and that Appleby emailed her blessing as soon as she signed on to direct an episode.
“She just emailed me and was just lovely and supportive and was just saying, ‘If there was anything in any way I can be helpful, please let me know.’ And [actor] Jason Behr, who was the OG Max [Evans on Roswell], he as well has just been really lovely and has said, ‘I am so excited for you guys!’” Mason revealed with a big smile.
“It’s just like a special brand of delicious when alien-loving people [come together,]” she said. “It’s kind of kitschy – the romance, the murder mystery, the sci-fi world. It’s a kind of fandom that feels like a tiny club and the two of them have just been, like, shepherding us in. It’s been wonderful.”
Mason also explained that this Roswell will be telling different stories than the original series, focusing on the trials and tribulations of young adult characters, rather than high schoolers, and diving into the “complicated” situations that Liz finds herself in, as a provider and caretaker for her family.
“We’re trying to honor the living situation and the life circumstances of people in this part of the world,” she shared. “There are political undertones in the show… Our show is about otherness. It’s about feeling alien – and there are so many versions of that.”
Roswell, New Mexico premieres Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 9 p.m. EST/PST on The CW.