In The CW’s new Tuesday-night series ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO, three extraterrestrial siblings try to conceal their alien nature from the locals. Michael Vlamis plays Michael Guerin, the most disaffected of the three. Unlike his brother Max Evans (Nathan Parsons) and sister Isobel Evans-Bracken (Lily Cowles), Michael was not adopted by kindly parents as a child, but instead was left to be raised by institutions and foster care. He still resents this, even though they’re all adults now, and Michael is as protective of his family as they are of him. Michael’s life is further complicated by the fact that he’s in a passionate off and on affair with one of the military men trying to find evidence of aliens in Roswell.
Vlamis, originally from Chicago, co-wrote and starred in the miniseries VLAMCARTER. He has appeared in a variety of film and TV roles, but Michael Guerin in ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO is his first series regular turn.
When The CW holds a press event in the former Tower Records building on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, the space has a variety of replicas of ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO sets. There’s part of a crashed spaceship, alien orbs, and the local diner. Vlamis seems pleased by the décor as he talks about playing Michael.
ASSIGNMENT X: Had you ever wanted to play an alien before getting ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO? Had you ever thought about it?
MICHAEL VLAMIS: I had not spent that much time thinking about playing an alien, but I had spent a lot of time thinking about playing this exact [type of] character, which reminds me of that Matt Damon GOOD WILL HUNTING-type guy – really smart, misunderstood, tough kid, drinks a lot, gets in a lot of trouble, but a really good heart. And that’s what this guy is.
AX: Besides Matt Damon, were there any other characters or performances that you sort of looked to for inspiration on this?
VLAMIS: Not exactly. I didn’t study Matt Damon in that role, I just knew that guys like that, underdogs, Michael B. Jordan in FRUITVALE STATION, or even Stallone in ROCKY – I’ve always been attracted to underdog-type guys, and that’s how this guy feels. It seems like he’s got the weight of the world on his shoulders, because you expect a guy with great test scores to go off to college. He doesn’t care about that. He doesn’t care about what everyone else cares about. He just wants to figure out what the hell he’s doing here.
AX: And where he’s from, and whether he can get back there?
VLAMIS: Exactly. And just who he is, who his parents are, who anybody is in his family.
AX: Michael seems fairly overwhelmed by what’s happening around him. Can you say how much he’s affected by the return of his ex-love in the pilot, and how much he’s just affected by feeling over-protected by his brother and sister?
VLAMIS: Oh, man. I think everything goes hand in hand for this character. I think Michael Guerin is someone who’s looking for connection and a place, whether that’s in love or family, and he feels like he’s lost everything. And right now, even though maybe some people are coming back into his life, he still feels like he’s at a loss, which is why his main goal is to find his alien home.
AX: Did you spend any time before shooting with Nathan Parsons and Lily Cowles, who play your brother and sister? Did you guys go through any kind of a “Let’s go out to lunch and figure out who we are,” or did you just get thrown in the deep end?
VLAMIS: We got thrown in the deep end immediately, but we also got thrown in the deep end as friends immediately. And the chemistry was so strong that, after meeting them for two-and-a-half weeks on the pilot, I had my birthday party, that was back in March, though, now, which is coming up again, but they actually threw me one of the best parties I ever had in my life, and I had known those people for three weeks. And that’s pretty special. I think it just goes to show what the chemistry is like on set with the cast.
AX: Michael’s super-power is telekinesis, right? He can move objects without touching them?
VLAMIS: Telekinesis, exactly. Which I can’t control that well, which you know from the pilot.
AX: A lot of times, television superpowers are added later in CGI. Michael’s look like they’re done practically on set …
VLAMIS: They were.
AX: Is that fun for you, going, “Hey, I made a table move”?
VLAMIS: It’s amazing, because the coolest thing is when I affect an actual other person, because we have an amazing stunt team on set. I push someone, and a guy is going flying twenty feet into a wall, with no padding. No pads. He’s just hitting concrete. And these stunt guys are that good, to make it look that believable and that real, and that has been the most fun. Because when I get to do something like that, I have a genuine reaction of what I just did, instead of just doing it in post.
AX: And for your own stunts, do they let you do anything, or does it have to be your double?
VLAMIS: I do pretty much everything. The stunt team gave me a nickname, “NPV,” on set, “No Pads Vlamis,” because I like the pain, and I think it adds to the performance [laughs]. But there are a couple times where I got thrown against a truck maybe fifty times in a day, and the body’s really bruised and sore, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, because it looks more organic that way.
AX: ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO shot its pilot in Albuquerque, and then moved to Santa Fe for the rest of the season. Had you gotten to work in either of those cities before this?
VLAMIS: No, that was my first time. Albuquerque was nice. Santa Fe, where we shot the rest of the show, I’ve got to say, I lean toward Santa Fe. Better food, better art. It was nice, it was beautiful.
AX: Had you seen the original ROSWELL series before? Did you have any thoughts about that?
VLAMIS: I had seen the original series, but I did not go back in and watch it again for this, because I knew we wanted to take a fresh take. So we honored what was created and what was written originally, from the books, but it’s definitely our own fresh spin that I think the fans are going to really enjoy.
AX: Are you a fan of sci-fi?
VLAMIS: I am, yes, so it’s been a lot of fun. I didn’t know I was going to be doing this. It was a pleasant surprise.
AX: Do you have anything else coming up that we should know about?
VLAMIS: Yeah. I produced and starred in my first feature film, 5 YEARS APART, with Chloe Bennet, from MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD, and we’re submitting to festivals now, so that should be coming out sometime in the near future.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO?
VLAMIS: That it is a hell of a good time.
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