Things You Probably Didn’t Know About ‘Roswell’Published on July 18, 2017. Updated December 17, 2019
Roswell was a teen drama/science fiction show that aired for three seasons from October 1999 to May 2002. While the show was never as popular as other teen dramas that aired during that time, it managed to attract a very loyal fan following. It’s been almost 15 years since the show was cancelled, so come with us and reminisce with these things you didn’t know about Roswell:
The show is based on the young adult book series Roswell High, which is written by Melinda Metz and edited by Laura J. Burns (both of whom became staff writers for the show). Jason Katims – who developed the series – came across the novels and really liked Liz and Max’s storyline. “It was an idea I never would’ve come up with on my own,” he said. “It seemed like an incredibly romantic idea to me, these two characters, Liz and Max, being in love but having this very real thing that kept them from being together. I’d never worked on anything that had the kind of stakes that this show had… That was the thing that I was drawn to, and I was also drawn to the fun of the idea.”
11. Winging It
During season one, the writers had plotted things out, but for the most part, they were just winging it on a day-to-day basis. “To me, one of the exciting things about the premise of the show is that three alien characters in the show don’t know about their history, which makes [things], from a writing point of view, exciting because as they discover their backstory, the audience is discovering.”
Although the show is supposed to take place in Roswell, New Mexico, it was actually filmed in various locations around California, including Covina and Vasquez Rocks, a 905-acre park in Los Angeles County. In Covina, they used Charter Oak High School, as well as several other businesses and residences.
9. Almost Aired on Fox
The show was originally going to be called “Roswell High.” 20th Century Fox originally developed it for the Fox Network, but then passed on it. The WB then purchased the rights and gave producers a full 22-episode order for the first season and retitled the show “Roswell.” The pilot episode was filmed in just 12 days with a budget of $2 million.
8. Heath Ledger as Max?
Heath Ledger auditioned for the role of Max Evans. This was before he starred in 10 Things I Hate About You, which is largely considered to be his breakout role. He had starred in the short-lived Fox series called Roar, which was a massive failure both commercially and critically. Although he tested strongly for the role in Roswell, Fox execs associated him with Roar and they didn’t want to take any risks because of how costly Roswell was.
7. Fake Tabasco Sauce
On the show, the aliens use Tabasco sauce on everything, but in reality, the Tabasco bottles that you see on the show were filled with V8 Berry Splash. The actors tried to use real Tabasco sauce, but their eyes would water and their noses would start plugging and then they would need to run for water after each take.
6. Casting the Female Leads
Katherine Heigl auditioned for all three of the female lead roles before she landed the role of Isabel, the alien-human hybrid. Shiri Appleby read for all three roles as well but did not read for Liz until her fifth call-back. She was still reading for both Maria and Liz when she finally landed the role of Liz. Majandra Delfino originally auditioned for the role of Liz, but the character didn’t appeal to her. She then auditioned for the role of Maria and got it the next day.
5. Casting the Male Leads
Brendan Fehr – who played Michael – wasn’t initially sold on the idea of Roswell; however, once he got the script, he changed his mind. He originally read for the part of Max Evans but found that he was much more interested in the Michael role because it was edgier and different from his own personality.
4. Fan campaign
When The WB was on the fence about renewing Roswell for a second season, the show’s loyal following took matters into their own hands. They began sending WB execs bottles of Tabasco sauce as part of a campaign to save the show. This spurred the network into action. They moved the show to a new time slot following 7th Heaven, The WB’s most popular show, and renewed the show for a second season. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of Roswell’s troubles. At the end of season two, it was cancelled because of its sagging ratings, but UPN then picked it up and aired it directly after Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Ratings, however, continued to disappoint and it was cancelled again in 2002.
3. Killing Alex
Colin Hanks’ character Alex was killed off during season two because he received an offer to do a feature film and producers didn’t want to hold him back, so they decided to write his character off the show.
2. Casting Drama
Majandra Delfino was almost not cast as Maria. For the audition, she had lied about her age to producers, telling them that she was 18 when in fact she was only 17. When they found out that she was only 17, they told her that they didn’t want to see her again and to never come back to the casting office for Regency or Fox. She then wrote them letters explaining that her 18th birthday was six months away and that she would be 18 by the time they filmed the pilot. This worked. They called her back in, but by then the Liz role was taken, so all they had left was the role for Maria. She read for it and the next day she was cast.
1. Off-Screen Love Affairs
Jason Behr dated his on-screen sister Katherine Heigl from 1999 to 2001. They were even rumored to be engaged at one point. Brendan Fehr and Majandra Delfino – who played on-screen lovers for all three seasons – initially didn’t get along, but they ended up getting past it and had an on-again, off again romance off-screen for almost two years.