‘Roswell, New Mexico’: Michael Trevino on Kyle & Isobel, Plus Directing the Wild West
In August 8’s “Wild Wild West,” it’s up to everyone to save Liz (Jeanine Mason) after Shivani (Rehka Sharma) exposed her to the alien-power mist. As a result, Liz ends up in a mindscape set in the wild, wild west, and it soon becomes not just about saving her, but Max (Nathan Dean) as well.
What made this episode the right one for your TV directing debut? You did a short [Two Roads] previously.
Michael Trevino: I did. I did a short film after Season 3. I’ve been shadowing all the directors on our series since the pilot, since Julie Plec directed our pilot, and I made it a point to communicate clearly, if this show goes for multiple seasons, at some point, I’d really like the opportunity to direct. I learned a lot. Being on set as an actor, I’m always trying to just see what every department is doing. And this was the season that they finally gave me a shot. I think doing the short film for myself after Season 3 had a lot to do with that, just for them to see how serious I was about it, and so I’m glad that it happened.
Can you preview the episode? We know Liz is out in a mindscape after inhaling that mist, and everyone’s trying to save her.
That’s where we’re at, yeah. I got lucky where this episode starts strong, especially given the way the last episode ended, and it’s the lead of our show, it’s our hero, Liz and she is knocked out and it’s all hands on deck. Everybody’s coming together as a team. I remember at the beginning, to me, it read like this was the Avengers assembling to come together for one common goal and it was to save her life.
We do see Kyle in the mindscape, just not as fans might expect. What can you tease?
[Laughs] I can say that Kyle is definitely in this episode, but in a way that you’ve never seen him before, but is clearly, to me, the MVP of the episode and when you watch, you’ll see why.
Talk about directing the wild west scenes. Those were so much fun.
They were. It’s all of our cast in one scene, and that is such a gift because everybody’s so talented and it brings the stakes that much higher because everybody is together. But I will say that they are more difficult to shoot. Doing the coverage on that many actors in one scene and blocking them in the proper position so I can best tell the story within our 12 hour day of getting seven to eight pages, it’s a bit of a challenge. But that’s part of the work, that’s part of the creative process and having to lean on those around me was very helpful in doing that.
It seems like there weren’t that many locations, mainly the wild west and the hospital room.
It was. And so for me, we [had] never shot at that wild west ranch that is out in Santa Fe, New Mexico. That was completely new. And so it’s always exciting to step into a new set, a new space, a new environment, and just find a way to tell the story. As much as it is daunting and I don’t mean to say fearful, but it is a bit scary, but once you do the prep and you figure it out and do one thing at a time, you have a plan in place and how to do coverage on each scene.
We do see Shiri Appleby in this episode. What can you tell us about that?
To me, this has been a long time coming. Everybody who has been following us knows that Shiri Appleby has been able to direct a few episodes for us. She is the OG of the Roswell family. We are going to see her in front of the camera. That’s public knowledge. I hope people are excited. It’s nice to see her, and you would imagine her scenes are going to be with our version of Liz. I think it was just such a special moment to have her on the set, kind of a full circle moment. We’re very familiar with her, because like I said, she’s directed multiple episodes. But she is big in this storyline.
View this post on Instagram
I was going to say you two swap places — she directed you, now you’re directing her.
Yes, which was interesting. And the thing is with this being my first time behind the camera and directing, it’s a bit nerve-wracking and I have to say that I’m just grateful that all the actors had my back, were supportive of me and in any moment that I needed help in communicating certain notes, they were very receptive towards working with me.
I will say the last scene in the episode with Jeanine and Shiri Appleby, it was right before lunch and we had to get this scene in before lunch, otherwise we were gonna lose daylight. And unfortunately we had to rush the shooting of that scene a bit. And I remember going to [Shiri] and saying, “Hey, I do apologize that this isn’t a pace that I want to work with, but right now, I’m getting rushed to finish the scene before lunch.” And I just felt so bad because I’ve been there before — obviously as an actor, you’re trying to have these moments in your performance and you’re being just rushed because we gotta get it before lunch — but that is the nature of the beast. She was just so supportive and saying,”Don’t even worry about it. You’re doing fine. Stay in it.” Because I was so in my head at times — how can you not be? I overthink to a fault. And I went to her and she just told me, “Stay calm. You’re doing fine. Everything’s going great.” And so little moments like that are super, super helpful.
Do you think you overthink also because you know from the other side, from being in front of the camera, too?
I do a bit, but if I’m being honest, I overthink everything constantly. It’s a bad habit, and I try to work on that, but with this, there’s just so many moving parts. Directing network television is being handed the keys to a giant machine and it’s gonna move with you or without you. It’s just about staying on top of it and communicating clearly to everybody that is on a set, and it’s exhilarating as much as it is just bonkers at times. It really is, but I love it.
Kyle and Isobel’s relationship is complicated, to say the least. She doesn’t want him waiting for her, but how is he feeling about her and their future? Is he more optimistic or pessimistic?
Honestly, over the years, I feel like so much has been thrown at him and him trying to put out fires in other people’s business and problems that I feel he’s wholeheartedly optimistic. I think he has to be, since the death of his father, and in living his life, he’s chosen to stay steadfast in that mindset because otherwise I feel like he loses it all. So I think he stays optimistic.
What’s next for Kyle and Isobel?
It’s one of those early-on relationships where somebody is more invested than the other, but you’re each trying to suss each other out on how serious is this relationship. But like most things in Roswell, I think there’s gonna be some outside circumstances that bring them together as much as it pulls them apart. But towards the end of the season, I think we put a nice bow on their relationship since this season is our last.
Speaking of that, what can you say about how the series ends for Kyle? I just want him to catch a break.
No, the guy never does. And I love that though, because it allows me to, as an actor, perform with everybody and be part of every storyline, so I’m super grateful for that. But Kyle can never catch a break. The guy is always on the run, taking care of something or managing some crisis and that doesn’t end, not in our world of Roswell, and it continues on to the end, but this being the final season, I think there is a nice sendoff here or an end to this chapter for us all.
Roswell, New Mexico, Mondays, 8/7c, The CW