Your leading Brendan Fehr source

Written By Rob Salem

Sci-fi Roswell set to become more hard-edged

When we last left Roswell, our alien teens had received a mysterious message from home, bringing them another step closer to discovering their destinies here on Earth. And Brendan Fehr’s brooding bad boy, Michael, was still reeling from having been forced to kill an evil FBI agent. But that was an entire summer ago, on an entirely different channel. Roswell returns for its second season tonight, moving to CITYtv Mondays at 8 (except tonight’s premiere at 10), also seen nationally on the Space cable channel Friday nights at 9, repeating Saturdays at 5.

And with the change in venue comes a whole new attitude, as the show takes on a harder-edged, much more science-fictional approach.

“The ratings weren’t great,” Fehr admits of last season. “(The show) started out leaning more towards Dawson’s Creek than X-Files. And I think the numbers reflected that. “So what do you do? . . . You keep the relationship stuff going, but you focus more on the sci-fi. And that seems to have done it. By the end of the season, the ratings were way up.”

And where does that leave poor, broody Michael? Fehr can only go so far in spilling second-season secrets. He does reveal that tonight’s episode picks up right where we left off, with the aftermath of the alien revelations – and the inadvertent murder. “It’s us dealing with that, and all the rest of it.”

Over the course of the season, he says, “Michael will be required to get a little bit meaner, in a certain sense. He may be required to (kill) again…” (“Careful!,” a handler warns from the back of the room. Fehr carries on regardless.) “You’d think that would make him a bit edgier. And that does need to happen to him. But at the same time, as an actor, I want to soften him up. “I don’t want to make him a pussy. You still want that overall impression of Michael as the tough, brooding guy. I dig that about him. To find a way to soften him up within that, that’s the challenge.”

The challenge at the moment is staying awake. Fehr had hit town the night before to attend the MuchMusic Video Awards, and by all accounts did not get to bed until well after 4 in the morning.

By way of a breather, we hit Queen Street West for some impulse comics-shopping at the nearby Silver Snail.

Fehr, it turns out, is a huge Spider-Man fan – which came in handy when he was up for the role in the soon-to-start big-budget Spider-Man movie. A dream come true? “Well, it would have been if I’d got it,” the young actor shrugs good-naturedly (the coveted Spider-role went to Tobey Maguire).

The B.C.-born Fehr has come a long way in a short time. Particularly for someone who never wanted to act. After just a couple of years of modelling and TV guest shots, the former jock got a small role in a feature – the Vancouver-shot horror flick Disturbing Behavior, alongside soon-to-be Roswell colleague William Sadler and such young up-and-comers as Dawson’s Creek’s Katie Holmes, Popular’s Carly Pope and X-Man James Marsden. “I’m kinda riding that youth wave,” the 21-year-old Fehr grudgingly acknowledges. “But my goal is to ride that wave as little as possible, and move right into the adult stuff.”

For example, the film he did on his summer hiatus, The Forsaken, a vampire “buddy flick” scheduled to open Jan. 19. “It’s me and Kerr Smith from Dawson,” he explains. “It’s a buddy movie, but not a slapstick buddy movie. It’s a hard `R,’ if you know what I mean.”

After about a half-hour cruising for comics, Fehr leaves the store empty-handed. “I’m gonna have to come back here later with loads of cash,” he allows. On the way out we pass by a wall of action-figures – one can’t help but note, amid the all the Buffy paraphernalia, the distinct lack of anything remotely Roswell-ian.

“We’ve got (trading) cards,” Fehr protests. “But they kinda suck….” Perhaps after this season, he suggests, they too will be immortalized in plastic. Perhaps. But the Buffy stuff doesn’t appear to be moving – the tiny Seth Green figurine (a la Austin Powers) has already been marked down from $16 to $6.

“That’s showbiz,” Fehr grins as we head back outside.