Shiri Appleby was 21-playing-16 when Roswell premiered on the WB 20 years ago this fall, and she'd already been working steadily as an actress for years before. She went on to a similarly prolific career post-Roswell, appearing a slew of television shows, most notably starring in the groundbreaking reality drama Unreal. It was during her time on Unreal that she first got the opportunity to direct television, and has spent her most recent projects behind the camera. In what now feels like a foregone conclusion, she got the opportunity to direct an episode of reboot Roswell, New Mexico's first season, participating in a new iteration of the show she'd led two decades before.
Ahead of the reboot's premiere, CBR spoke with Appleby who shared her unique perspective on this next generation of Roswell. The actress/director was enthusiastic in her support of the new venture and everyone associated with it, making it clear she sees the series' return as a huge compliment.
"To be honest with you it feels very flattering," Appleby said. "It feels like there’s a legacy and that the show, our version of the show really hit a core to the point that there’s enough of an interest to bring it back and reboot it. I take it as a compliment, quite honestly. When I heard they were doing it I was very flattered."
She also expressed excitement and interest at the new directions the show was taking by aging up the cast and tackling more mature issues, including politics, immigration and racism, as opposed to lighter high school romance the 1999 version focused on. Those tonal changes are heavily manifested in the new Liz and Jeanine Mason's portrayal of her -- the two Liz's are starkly different, but understandably so.
"Liz (really has) a strong point of view that was very different from my Liz," the actress explained. "Our show was very much about what does it feel like to grow up, to feel like an alien in high school and not know your place. And this is very much what is it like when you’re an outside trying to fit in the world that you live in already… I think that’s awesome, I think it opens up the show, they’re tackling big issues. And at the same time the show is really about relationships. [That's what] the original show was really about, it’s about human emotion. And so it’s interesting how they’re able to take these new topics and at the same bring it back to what made the show work in the first place.
"It feels like passing the baton," Appleby continued. "My version of Liz was 16, her version of Liz is in her late 20s. So I think my character had so much vulnerability and she was really trying to figure out who she is. And her version of Liz knows who she is. She’s a very strong woman, she’s capable of asking a man to dance without having a lot of insecurities. So it’s like in some way she’s just a much stronger much more mature evolved character. And I think a lot of that has to do with just how Jeanine is. And what she’s bringing to it. I was a young girl myself at the time, I was just like holding on for dear life myself. But she has a lot of strength."
Roswell, New Mexico premieres on the CW Tuesday, January 15th at 9pm.