Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Roswell, New Mexico's Nathan Dean Dishes On Highly Anticipated Season 3 - Exclusive Interview

CW viewers first met Nathan Dean as Jackson on the hit "Vampire Diaries" spinoff "The Originals." However, his werewolf stint on the series wasn't his first foray on TV. The actor starred in over 300 episodes of "General Hospital," later scoring roles on shows like "Bunheads," "True Blood," and "Once Upon a Time." Between his notable TV appearances, Dean appeared in movies such as "Teeth," "The Roommate," and "Pet."

Luckily for CW followers, the network frequently features actors from past projects in new endeavors, providing fans with plentiful reunions. After a successful run on the vampire show, Dean scored a leading role as Max in "Roswell, New Mexico." Sticking true to his supernatural roots, Dean plays an alien deputy (the outer space kind, of course). Early in Season 3, the CW greenlit a Season 4, with filming on the horizon. 

Looper spoke to Nathan Dean in an exclusive interview, during which he dished on Season 3 of "Roswell, New Mexico," what he really thinks about UFOs, and what it was like working on "The Originals," "Once Upon a Time," and "True Blood." 

Getting back to the extraterrestrial grind

Do you have a favorite moment with the cast on or off set?

I mean, I think this past year was probably just our first day back, being everyone was so locked down in the pandemic and just the fact that we were able to come back in October. I remember the first [day] we were trying out all these new COVID protocols. We had to wear masks. We had to do the thing, but just to see our crew again here. 

I mean, the crew we have here in New Mexico is such a family to us. And being able to be on set, we had a day zero, and a day double zero, and test days. And the first day back was just the crew and me. And it was just so wonderful to see everyone again and realize it wasn't necessarily the apocalypse, the end of the world like we all thought, and we're back. We're back, and everyone was good, and everyone was very conscious of being healthy and staying in the bubble that we had, and just to see their faces again was fantastic.

The OG Roswell family

The series recently changed showrunners. How do you feel about the new direction? And can you tease anything that fans might expect from Max's character arc this season?

Yeah. We did. I mean, Chris Hollier is our showrunner now, and he was a producer for us the last couple of years. And when he took over, we tried to move not only Max, but I think every character, into a more adult, mature way of operating. We spent a lot of time in Season 1 in particular, but Season 2 as well, flashing back to high school. And we all had a high school outlook on each other. And moving forward, we've been able to mature the characters, I think. And this year is a great year, I think, for Max in particular, because he has to literally look himself in the eye and become the person that he was meant to be instead of someone he used to be.

Were you a fan of the original "Roswell" before snagging your role on the series?

I had never actually seen it. I mean, I don't watch a whole lot of TV, and I was familiar with the show, and I knew the book series. So yeah, when we decided to reboot this thing, it was really, really cool to see the support that we got from the original show. And we've had some of the people back. Shiri [Appleby] directed episodes for us. Last year we had ... Jason [Behr] was back for a little bit. And it's just great to know that we're in this family. It's not like no one saw us as trying to take it over or rewrite history. We're just embracing the history that's already there and just building on it and spinning it into a modern world. So yeah, their support was wonderful, and we're excited to have more of that going forward.

Coming back from arson

What direction do you hope Max goes in the future?

Well, Max spends a whole lot of time this season having to look himself in the face — literally questions a lot of things. We've done a lot in the past, the high school flashbacks and this and that, but I think this year, not only for Max but for all the characters, we see this maturation happen where you're no longer looking backward into who they used to be. Now this season, we're finally looking forward to who we want to be. And I think Max and Joan embody that dynamic, but yeah, you see it with Michael, Isabel, Maria, Liz. You see every character really take a step forward this year, and that's a credit to our showrunner and to our writers for trusting us to take that leap and move the show, looking forward instead of looking back.

Are there any particular adult storylines that you're excited to maybe see him tackle or that you'd like to see him tackle?

Well, I think it's his relationship with Liz, really. We ended Season 2 in a pretty bad place. I mean, Liz runs off, Max goes all arsonist on her, it's a little bit of an immature response to something. You just have a temper tantrum and light everything on fire. But I think this year, yeah, we really see Max and Liz move forward in a way that is much more mature and adult and respectful. And they, I mean, obviously the elephant in the room is, "Well hey, you blew up all my stuff." "Yeah, sorry." But how do you come back from that? And I think we see them take a step forward in a big way this year, and I'm excited for people to see that this year because we haven't historically had a very adult relationship, and now we're moving towards that.

Back to the '40s

Is there anyone you'd love to see appear on the show?

I mean, I would love to have Jason [Behr] back, I would say. I mean, he wasn't with us for long last year, and it was just great to see him and learn from him and watch him work. So I would love to see some more of the 1940s flashback-y kind of stuff, learn some more of that. We have a little bit of that in season three. We have some of that, which is a lot of fun, and yeah, I mean, I'm always in for that.

I love flashbacks, other time periods, different things that shows do. Is there a time period that you'd love to see the show tackle in flashbacks?

Yeah. I mean, we get into it this year, more of the ... Because the crash was what? 1947, I believe. We get into that a little bit more, and that's always fun. I love that time period. I love being able to play in that arena, and hopefully, we get some more of that in Season 3, and hopefully, going forward in Season 4, we'll have some more of that as well.

Have you been able to direct yet?

I have not. I haven't tried. I haven't asked to. Actually Maria, Heather [Hemmens], who plays Maria on our show, she directed this past year. And I know Michael Trevino, who plays Kyle, he wants to get into directing. So hopefully, we'll have him this coming year. And I haven't looked to direct on this show. I would love to direct a short film or something like that, but on this show, I'll leave our show to the professionals. I'll find directing somewhere else.

The beauty of New Mexico

"Roswell, New Mexico" actually films in New Mexico. How do you think that choice has positively affected the feel of the show?

Oh, it changes everything. I mean, New Mexico, I don't know if you've had a chance to come out here, but New Mexico is such an amazing place. I mean, they call it the Land of Enchantment for a reason. Growing up in Texas, I've driven through New Mexico a million times, but I never stopped. And when I finally got here and just took it in, I mean, the sky is huge out here. The air is different out here. It's everywhere you look: the sunsets are incredible. It informs so much of the show.

And also, having crew from New Mexico, having a local crew out here, you see it on our show, the turquoise, just the style, the whole thing. But we see that every day. That's just the people that we work with, and to be able to film here, I think, informs so much of what it is to crash land in this crazy place. And yeah, I don't think we could pull this off anywhere else. This is such a wonderful place, and yeah, we're very lucky to be here.

What's really going on in Roswell?

Speaking of crash landing, New Mexico has been a hotbed for reported UFO sightings for years. Have you ever seen anything weird yourself, or have you heard stories from other cast members or locals?

I haven't heard any abduction stories, but it's definitely ... we get on set every time there's an airplane or an airline will report that they've seen something weird. We're the first ones to know about it. I mean, the skies here are crazy — there are times when you look up in the clouds, you're like, "Is that something? I don't know." But yeah, I mean, we have all that here. We're very much in it, but yeah, I have not personally been abducted yet, but I'm hoping for it.

Fingers crossed? [Laughs] So in June, the government released a report confirming that they can't explain 143 UFO sightings, which is a wild revelation. Do you think that there's any credence to the idea that these might be actual extraterrestrial events, or do you think there's a simpler explanation to all of that?

I mean, I think it definitely it could be. I'm not writing it off. When you hear, you see videos, you can see video of Air Force pilots, and there's something on their radar that you just can't explain. I don't know if it's aliens. I don't know if it's probes or some sort of drone that someone sent out, I don't know. But it wouldn't surprise me if it was true. I mean, I think the universe is too big of a place for us to be all alone here. And if aliens are going to come somewhere, you should come to New Mexico because it's awesome and we're waiting for you.

What are aliens really after?

So would you be team "Leave the aliens alone and let them do their thing," or "Let's initiate contact and see what happens"?

Oh, I would love to initiate contact. I would love to. I would love to go on a spaceship. I would love to go explore that. I think if ... There are all these movies, "War of the Worlds." There's all this stuff that imagines aliens are going to come here and destroy us. If you're going to travel all that distance, you're not looking to destroy anybody. So I think it would be a really interesting conversation. I think we would have a lot to learn from an advanced civilization that traveled all this way. I think we would have a lot to learn.

Tackling the subjects that matter

The series tackles a ton of critical social issues like immigration, ICE, and domestic violence. Have there been any of those subjects that particularly resonate with you and that you're proud of the show for homing in on? And is there something that you'd like to see them do in the future?

Well, for me personally, I mean, I'm a cop on the show. That's been a huge debate over the last couple of years, and this season, we get into the good and the bad of that. We see the good sides of it and what it can be, and then we also can see the bad side. 

And for me personally, that's been something that I think we've talked about a little bit that I'm very happy with. And also, I mean, everyone just went through this huge pandemic. We can't ignore that. So that's something, when our character of Kyle, who's a doctor — what he's had to go through — I think that's one of the things that makes our show relatable and makes our show ... we're not shying away from the cop controversy. We're not shying away from the things people had to go through with the pandemic.

We're willing to talk about it. And thankfully, we have such a great platform to do that with this backdrop of aliens and all this stuff. We can really home in on the human aspects of that world, given the fact that we're an alien show. It makes talking about the human stuff much more, I think, palpable. And yeah, that's something that we've always done. And going forward, we'll see what the world has in store for us the next year or two, and we'll talk about that, whatever comes up, we're here for it.

Finding the humanity among the supernatural

Several other actors from the "Vampire Diaries" universe have also come to "Roswell." What was it like working with Riley Voelkel and Steven Krueger again — and getting a chance to work with other "TVD" alums, like Michael Trevino and Kayla Ewell?

It's great. I mean, CW does a great job of keeping the family together. Working with Trevino is fantastic. He's a great guy, and I've known him for a long time. Same with Jason Krueger and Riley. I've known them for a long time, and just to have those familiar faces around is always nice, but it's fun too then to see these people who, we come from this vampire-werewolf world, and now we're in this alien world. It's fun to see that transition and get to see what else they can bring to the table.

Definitely. So you've been a werewolf, you've been a vampire, you've been an alien, and you've even been a fairytale character. Do you have a favorite? And do you gravitate more toward shows with supernatural undertones, or did it just sort of happen that way?

It just sort of happened. I mean, I would say for me, my favorite is always just being a human. That seems to be the hardest job to get, but no, I mean, it just sort of happened. And it's fun because, like I was saying, having a backdrop of something supernatural highlights the humanity. 

I mean, if you have this ... There are aliens, and there's this, and there's that, but then you have these human moments, and those are the ones that you hold precious because sure, you can throw people around and you can jump out of trees, and you can do all this crazy supernatural stuff. But at the end of the day, it's about the human moments. And I think that's what supernatural shows tend to bring out the most.

The original CW role

"Roswell" isn't your first time being on a CW show. You also starred in "The Originals." What was it like working on set with Phoebe Tonkin and Joseph Morgan and the rest of that cast?

Oh, they were great. I mean, we were out in Atlanta, and I mean, geez, that was like five, six, seven years ago now.

Really? That long?

Right? Crazy. But it was great. I mean, every set is going to be different, and we were in Atlanta for "The Originals." And so we had the Atlanta crew there, and we got to know that city a lot. And then moving out here to New Mexico, it's a completely different landscape. It's a completely different setup. 

Thankfully it's nice to always have the familiar faces, but yeah, we have a New Mexico crew, and this platform is totally different because we're not talking about supernatural witchcraft and this and that. We're talking about sci-fi. We're talking about aliens. We're talking about all this other stuff. So I mean, they're both different. I mean, I loved Atlanta. I will always love Atlanta, but yeah, I'm just grateful to be out here in New Mexico now.

Jackson's final ending

Is there anything you wish that Jackson did on the show before your storyline ended, and how do you feel about your character's first ending and then getting to meet Hope and Hayley again at the end?

I think that was a really sweet way to go out. Jackson was always a passenger on that ship. The story was about the vampires and about Phoebe's character, and Jackson was always just sort of a bystander. So, to have that kind of closure with Hope at the end and have that moment, it was nice. I think Jackson serves his purpose. The story wasn't about him, but yeah, it was nice that they brought me back, and I was able to have that moment.

To that end, "The Originals" birthed the backdoor pilot for the "Legacies" spinoff. Would you come back for something like a flashback episode if given the opportunity? Or are you happy with where it ended up?

I'm happy where it ended up. I think "Legacies" is on its own journey now. And I know the actress who plays Hope, and I know that they're on their own path. Jackson doesn't really have a place there.

The Vampire Diaries' heavy mythology

The great thing about the entire "Vampire Diaries" franchise is its deep roots in history, culture, and folklore. Do you have any favorite storylines, time periods, or pieces of folklore that the show tackled throughout its run?

Yeah, I mean, I think when I was doing the vampire/werewolf stuff, it was fascinating to learn so much about where those legends came from. The origin stories of, you have, what was it? Vlad the Impaler was one of the first people thought to be vampires and these horribly dark stories that gave rise to these myths and legends. 

And it was really, really fun to just learn about all of that and to learn the history of where these myths come from and why they're so compelling today. I mean, why do we still talk about this stuff? What is it that draws our attention to it? So it was just fun to learn, I mean, from an intellectual standpoint, just get into the mindsets of people that may have thought these bloodthirsty sorts of things. It was kind of wild, and yeah, it was a lot of fun to learn about.

Unce upon a time in Bon Temps

You had a stint as James in the last season of "True Blood." Was it difficult coming on so late into such a beloved show? Were you nervous, or did you feel welcomed right away? And what was your biggest takeaway from that series?

I definitely felt welcomed. I actually knew Deborah Ann Woll, who played my love interest off the top. I knew her from way long ago. We actually go way back. So I was familiar enough with the cast and crew. They welcomed me in. It was weird coming in at the end of a show because they had been together for seven years at that point, that cast. 

And stepping in, I got to see a lot of the heartbreak and the sadness of it coming to an end, but I was grateful to be a part of it. And I learned a lot from Stephen [Moyer] and from Anna [Paquin], and it was a great environment. I wish it had gone on longer, but I was grateful for the year that I got there.

You played another classic fairytale character in "Once Upon a Time" as Hansel. What was that experience like? And how do you feel that the show handled its own spin on the Hansel and Gretel fairytale? And do you have any fond memories of that set and that cast?

Well, I love that set. I mean, actually, our current showrunner, Chris Hollier, was one of the writers on that show. And I was in a situation this year similar to the one I was in when I was on "Once Upon a Time" — getting to have this dual life, this secret life. And I like the direction that they went on "Once Upon a Time," it was a lot of fun, but it was a great crew. It was a great cast. And it was fun to play a little darkly twisted version of a fairytale character. You think fairytales, you think happily ever after, but yeah, I didn't have one of those kinds of characters on that show, and it was really fun. It was very fun to play the dark side of all that.

Nathan Dean: Future Sith?

Is there any other franchise that you'd like to break into? "Star Wars"? Marvel? Anything like that?

Oh, any of it, all of it. Yeah, sure. I mean, I would love to, Disney+, they're doing a lot of great stuff with Marvel and with the "Star Wars" franchise. And I mean, I would love to be any part of that because Marvel's just awesome. So, that would just be fun, but "Star Wars" is cool because it's a time period in and of itself. They really have created this out-of-time universe that there are spaceships, but they also have lightsabers, and they're sword fighting, but they're flying through the galaxy. So it's this weird mashup. That would definitely be fun. I mean, I would love to get into any of that.

Would you want to play an alien? A Jedi? Or a Sith?


That's the real question.

Maybe a Sith. I don't know. Yeah. I think that would be fun. Yeah, yeah. You just don't have rules at that point.

I feel like the Jedi don't follow any of their rules either. [Laughs]

That is true. They have a lot of rules, they just don't listen. Yeah.

Already looking to Season 4

Is there anything else that's upcoming for you that you want to talk about?

I don't know. I mean, right now, I'm just focused on Season 4. We get started in a couple weeks. I'm curious to see how we springboard off of Season 3, because Season 3 is wild, and I hope people enjoy it as much as we did filming it. So I'm excited to tackle Season 5, and then beyond that, we'll see if we get to Season 5. 

We'll be lucky to do that, but yeah, I mean, there are always projects. There's so much happening in the world of TV right now and in film, and there are so many different avenues that you can take. We had actors on our show that were directing their own short films this past year that were doing all this. So there are tons of avenues for it. And I'm just focused on Season 4 right now. I'll be doing that for the next six months, and then beyond that, we'll see. We'll see what comes down the pipe.

Is there anything else about the show or anything else you want to add?

No. I mean, not really. I mean, I think I'm excited to hear feedback and to hear what people think about the different, the Jones, Max difference, this sort of dichotomy that we have in Season 3. I'm excited to see what people think about that and what that reveals going forward. And then, yeah, again, I'm excited to see these characters take a step forward in terms of their maturity with each other and respecting each other and Liz and Max finally figuring it out and finally getting on the same page for the first time. So that'll all be fun. That'll be fun looking forward.

Definitely. Well, congratulations on getting a new season before the current one has even popped off. I love seeing that.

New episodes of "Roswell, New Mexico" air Mondays on the CW. If you miss it live (or just want to rewatch), new episodes are available to stream on the CW the following day.