Television

Michael Trevino Talks Roswell, New Mexico’s ‘Upside Down’ & Directing Versus Acting

Roswell, New Mexico’s favorite doctor has had a hell of a season.

While Kyle Valenti continues to be an integral part of this final season, his portrayer, Michael Trevino, traded in his stethoscope for a director’s chair as he got behind the camera to helm Roswell, New Mexico Season 4 Episode 9.

It’s a twisty hour that takes viewers into a mindscape that looks much more like an episode of Gunsmoke than Roswell. We asked Michael about the hour and the differences between acting and directing. We also had to sneak in a Kybel question for all you shippers!

Michael is always a pleasure to speak with, and it’s always a good time talking to him about Roswell. Enjoy!

What did you think when you got the script and were like, this is going to be my episode because it’s unlike anything we’ve seen on Roswell?

The initial reaction was that I was so excited and grateful for how big the episode is and how they threw so much at me. And then I was terrified because I had no idea how I was going to shoot it.

So, a lot of prep went into it because there are just a lot of moving parts in this one. And I’m just grateful for the opportunity but was also just a bit nervous going in, until you do the prep and do the work and then you figure out like, “Oh, okay, this is how I’m going to tell your story.”

You really got a lot there. There are emotional beats, romantic beats, action, and comedy. You really got a little bit of everything.

I did. I did. And I don’t know if that was by design, but I’m very lucky that for this episode, they decided to make it a big one and that I was going to be the one to tell it. I’m happy about that.

Yeah, what was the experience of directing like, as opposed to acting?

To me, it’s much harder. There were days you spend so much time in prep that you’re already exhausted before you shoot one frame of day one. Every day it’s a marathon, so many challenges and so many things can go wrong, but you just have to have a plan in place.

But I will say, honestly, when I prepped, and then we shot it, and then I was in the editing room and finally turned it in, it’s just such a rewarding feeling, such a rewarding feeling. And I’ve never felt so fulfilled creatively ever, if I’m being honest because I love acting, but sometimes it can be a bit isolating.

And with this being behind the camera, you have to collaborate with each department head, every crew member, your cast, and it never stops.

Then you go into post-production, you’re working with the editor, so it’s much more collaborative, and it’s that much harder, but that much more fulfilling once it’s all said and done because you had your hand in every aspect to tell that story. So, I love it, and I hope I’m lucky enough to do it again.

And some of the things you were just describing, the collaboration and such, are those some of the things that appeal to you about directing?

It does, yeah. It does. I love challenges, but I do love collaborating with certain department heads because to me, everybody in this business, from the crew, everybody is a filmmaker in some way, shape, or form. They love the filmmaking process. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing for a living.

And everybody on this crew brings great ideas. They really do. So it doesn’t matter who you’re listening to, but if you just give people the opportunity to help out, to have a voice, people have great ideas, and they may have a great idea that’ll save you some time on the day to tell the story.

So yeah, you have to lean on those around you, and that is just a great feeling because it is so difficult. When you can get through just a day and have everything go right, it’s such a win, such a win.

Was there a particular scene that you liked shooting? And in that vein, is there a scene that you’re most excited for the audience to see?

Most excited for the audience to see? I think it’s our showdown. Our whole episode is leading up to this showdown with Clyde, who ends up being a bit bad in the episode and to see the stunts that we were doing and the little gags here and there, and just the insanity that happens with Liz and in this landscape and how tortured she’s being.

I think the stakes rise higher and higher, so I hope it’s earned. I hope that the pace is right and that people buy into that mindscape. As long as it’s being told and they buy into what’s happening, they are going to go along for the ride, and I hope that happens. Otherwise, I didn’t do my job.

Yeah, you did. You did for sure.

Thank you.

The showdown is such a cool moment. I had no idea what was going to happen, honestly.

Right, right, yeah.

So I have to ask about Kybel.

Yes, indeed.

I know that they’ve been separated for a bit now on screen. So how do you think Kyle feels about where they stand and where they go from here? And can you tease anything about Kybel for the rest of the season?

Well, I don’t think Kyle’s satisfied. I feel like he’s more invested in the relationship, but in some way, they’re both honestly sussing each other out a little bit. They’re both playing it a little too cool.

I will say that in our world of Roswell, there’s going to be so many outside circumstances that bring them together as much as these circumstances pull them apart, and so we’ll see that over the course of the remainder of the season.

But I will say that they very much stay together towards the end of the season, the end of our series. And I’m happy about that.

Okay, that’s great. Kyle is a huge fan favorite, and I always refer to him as the Roswell MVP because I think he really is the glue that holds everyone together and the story together.

It’s true, it’s true.

So yeah, I think so.

You’re not lying. I hear no lies.

With Roswell ending soon, is there anything you’d like to tell the fans who’ve supported the show and your character?

Yes, I want to say from the bottom of my heart, thank you for watching.

Thank you for staying with these characters over these four seasons, supporting us, buying into the world that we were a part of or that we were creating, and seeing these characters that you maybe haven’t seen on television before, or seen the families that they’re coming from, the way they talk, the way they look.

Thank you for being a part of that. And we felt like…we’re a CW show, and we were shooting out in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We feel like the little engine that could on that network, to be honest, or at least that’s how I felt. And I love that we’ve just been going strong, no hiccups, no problems.

Even during COVID lockdowns, we never had to shut down. And I will say that we have a great cast. Everybody loved showing up to work, day in and day out, and were committed. And truthfully speaking, that can be rare, but we all genuinely love and support one another, and we were happy with the job that we were doing out there.

And if it could have gone on longer, I know we’d all be a part of it. So thank you for watching.

And piggybacking off that, is there anything you hope the audience takes away from Roswell long-term?

Long term? Well, when they wrote this season and when we ended it, we all figured we were getting one more season. So it ends in a certain way that, sure, this puts an ending to this chapter, but the way it ends, this could easily have gone on a few more seasons.

I think there are more worlds to explore that could be interesting for us to see play out. But I think that this was a reimagining of an original Roswell series years past. So those that love it, who knows? Maybe down the road, there’ll be another version of this story to be told, but I’m thankful for everybody tuning into this one.

Yes, and the last question for me here. As you’re near the end, can you describe the rest of the season in a few words or maybe even a sentence?

Ooh, tease the rest of the season. Let’s see. Yeah, all the words that are coming to mind are very spoilery, but let’s see, let’s see, let’s see. Hold on. Oh, okay. Oh, no, I’m trying to be clever here. I’m trying to be good. I want to give something click-worthy-

Yes, a sound byte.

My mind’s racing, my mind’s racing. Okay, hold on. It’s coming to me a little bit in my head right now. Okay, I’m going to go with the last episodes of Roswell will give you our version of the Upside Down.

Ooh, okay.

How’s that? How’s that?

Honestly, I don’t know what to feel about that.

Do we know what the Upside Down is?

Yes!

Okay, so we’re talking Stranger Things, right? Stranger Things have things that could be bad, a bad place, but they go to a different world, a different dimension, a different place.

So what would that look like in Roswell with people maybe visiting a different place, a different version of something? I don’t know. Maybe you’ll watch, and then that’ll make zero sense, and you’ll be like, “Michael’s way off. I don’t know why the hell he said. It makes zero sense.”

Or maybe it will make sense. I don’t know. But that’s what came to my mind right now, and I’m sticking with it.

No, I love it. I’ve been calling it The Underground, and I’m like, I want to call it the Upside Down.

Yeah! There you go, yeah.

Roswell, New Mexico airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.

***This interview has been edited for length and clarity.***

Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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