Behring It All
By Dennis Hensley
On "Roswell" he plays the quiet, mysterious Max Evans, but in person Jason Behr is far from reserved. Here he opens up about his new celebrity status, describes his fantasy woman and clues us in on what he’ll be doing down the Hollywood pike.
JASON AT THE MOVIES
Behr finishes our sentences about films
The first move I ever saw in a theater was…
Star Wars. I went back and saw it over and over again. I liked both Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. I had the hots for Princess Leia and I wanted a buddy like R2-D2. Between me and my brothers, we had all the action figures. It was like “I’ll do the dishes, I’ll mow the lawn, I’ll do whatever, but can I just have Chewbacca?”
The movie that inspired my first crush was..
Breakfast at Tiffany’s Audrey Hepburn is so incredible. Growing up, my parents loved old movies so I’d watch with them and I remember being smitten with Audrey. I always liked older women.
The movie that scared the $#@ out of me was…
Jaws For the longest time I thought that there could be sharks in the lake and every time I touched something in the water, I’d cringe and bring my feet up. I had nightmares for years when I’d wake up in a cold sweat screaming, “Jaws is gonna get me!”
The movie my mom didn’t want me to watch but I watched anyway was…
An Amercian Werewolf in London She thought I’d be scared and she was so right. After that, I was no longer afraid of sharks, I was afraid of werewolfs!
The movie that got me interested in aliens was…
E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial I remember fantasing about what it would be like meet somebody, something like E.T.
My favorite movie of all time is..
The Godfather It’s just a classic.
Jason Behr knows he’s in a sick and unhealthy relationship, but he doesn’t care. He’s in love. "The first time I got some, I had this epiphany, like, ‘Where have you been all my life?’ It’s like I can’t get enough," says the 26-year-old star of the WB’s teen alien drama "Roswell." No, he’s not talking about Michelle Williams, whom he romanced on "Dawson’s Creek," or Sarah Michelle Gellar, with whom he sparred on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," or even Shiri Appleby, his lip-locking partner on "Roswell." No, Jason’s talking about donuts. "Every Sunday for months, my buddies and I would drive for over an hour to the nearest Krispy Kreme," he says. "Once there we would watch the donuts from conception to birth on this huge apparatus, the donut-birthing machine. Then, as soon as we bit into them, the trumpets would blare, the angels would sing and the sun would shine."
Though there weren’t any trumpets, Behr received a pretty friendly welcome when he arrived in Hollywood from Minneapolis eight years ago, fresh out of high school. Within days of stepping off the plane, he has an agent and a manager and began hitting the audition trail. After a series of guest spots on TV shows, he landed "Roswell", which has gained him loads of respect from casting agents who see great potential for a big-screen career. Will he soon find himself starring in films, like his networkmates from "Dawson’s Creek"? It’s too soon to say. But one thing’s for sure—this Behr bears watching.
Dennis Hensley: I can’t get over your donut obsession. How many do you put away in one sitting?
Jason Behr: A box of 12 easily, in the blink of an eye. I’ve gotta watch it. I can go overboard.
Q: Have you been a donut addict since childhood?
A: No. I discovered them when I was shooting "Dawson’s Creek" in North Carolina. Every weekend I’d go pig out on donuts and when I’d come back to L.A., I’d have withdrawals.
Q: Where did you grow up:
A: All over, from Minneapolis to Arizona to California. My parents liked to move around a lot. After they split up, we settled down in Richfield, near Minneapolis, where I went to high school.
Q: Did you always feel like the new kid?
A: Yeah. You want to make friends yet you know you’re probably going to have to leave anyway. We never got a chance to grow our roots down so we grew them sideways. That’s why my family is pretty close. I have three brothers: one older and two younger, and an 11-year-old sister from my dad’s second marriage, who just came out here to visit.
Q: Your sister must think it’s so cool that you’re on this hot teen show?
A: [Laughs] Well, she’s like 11 going on 35. She’s always been honest with me about my work. When I was starting out, I was playing all these jerks. After I was on "Dawson’s" she called me up and asked, "When you are ever NOT going to play a creep?" I thought that was hilarious.
Q: What’s your favorite memory of being on "Dawson’s Creek?"
A: Hanging out off set with the cast. We had a blast. Here I was this new kid and they had already been on the show for a year and instead of being standoffish, they were incredibly nice.
Q: Did your being on "Dawson’s Creek" contribute to your getting the "Roswell" job because they’re both on the WB?
A: It had nothing to do with it. "Roswell" was originally going to be on Fox.
Q: What made you want to be on "Roswell," besides the fact that it was a major gig?
A: When I first read the script I immediately understood what they were going for-the mystery, the suspense, the relationships, the unrequited love story. I related to Max’s search for the truth about himself, about life, about his place in this world, which I think everybody goes through.
Q: This season you had some heavy make-out scenes with your costar, Shiri Appleby. What are those like to shoot?
A: It’s always an odd thing, but Shiri and I have gotten to know each other so well over the last nine months that there’s nothing uncomfortable about it.
Q: Are we going to get more romance in upcoming episodes?
A: More everything. The stakes are raised. Everything’s bigger, faster, stronger, and more intense, emotionally and physically. Everything that they knew to be true in their lives comes crumbling down around them piece by piece.
Q: Has the success of the show lead to any movie offers?
A: I’ve been reading a lot of scripts, trying to figure out the right one. I’ll only choose a movie if I like the story and the actors and directors involved. If the only reason you’re picking a movie is because you think it’s going to make you a movie star and make a lot of money, then you’re missing something. You have to be willing to take a risk and stand naked in front of everybody. And if I make a mistake, then, big deal. I’ll learn from it and move on. It’s not about how fast you can attain something, it’s about the trip to get there.
Q: Do you feel pressure to capitalize on the heat that you have now?
A: No. I don’t want to work just for the sake of working.
Q: What actors do you look up to?
A: Paul Newman. He’s the definition of class. His career has spanned generations, he’s always challenged himself and delivered great performances. He’s been married to the same woman for years, and makes a hell of a Caesar salad dressing.
Q: Speaking of women, are you dating anyone now?
A: No. I’m so focused on "Roswell," it’s kind of unfair to anybody to get involved. I say that now, but I could go off tomorrow and meet the right person you just know when you know.
Q: What kind of qualities do you look for in a girlfriend?
A: Someone who has convictions, yet is open-minded enough to appreciate others for theirs.
Q: If you could be a girl for a day, what you want to experience?
A: [Laughs] I can’t answer that, my mother would kill me.
Q: What would happen in your fantasy episode in your fantasy episode of "Roswell"?
A: We would go to the Bahamas where we have our own private beach, then Max gets lost in the jungle…only to be rescued by Catherine Zeta-Jones. [Laughs]
Q: I don’t think Michael Douglas would be too happy about that. Tell me a behind-the-scenes secret from the set.
A: Well, the Tabasco sauce that we eat all the time is V8 juice, but the first time we tried to tough it out and use the real stuff. Then during the scene, our eyes started watering and our noses started plugging up, but we just kept going. As soon as they yelled, "Cut," we all ran for water.
Q: Your character’s a virgin, right?
A: Oh yeah. The first time he’d ever kissed somebody was when he kissed Liz [Shiri Appleby] and they had such an intense connection. I can’t imagine what would happen if they ever had sex.
Q: Do you hang out much with your costars?
A: We hung out a lot in the beginning, playing pool, bowling, having dinner, watching movies, but because of our schedules, its been harder lately.
Q: Do you ever bring your Akita, Ronin, to the set?
A: Paramount Studios, where most of "Roswell" is filmed, doesn’t allow dogs, but I sneak him in every now and then. He loves it when we’re on location in the desert.
Q: You started performing when you were five. What was the first thing you did?
A: A "Seasons Greetings" spot for one of the local channels in Minneapolis. I was on a sleigh and for some reason, I thought that our sleigh driver was Abe Lincoln. He looked exactly like him.
Q: It must have been great having the extra cash as a kid.
A: It was great because my mom was a single mother raising four boys and it was nice to have another income.
Q: Were you popular with girls?
A: At first, not at all. I remember being very short. I felt like a little boy walking among men. It was like I was in the wrong school. Finally, when I was a junior, I shot up.
Q: How’d you learn about the facts of life?
A: I overheard my big brother and his friends talking about it.
Q: What’s a day from your childhood that you’d like to go back and relive?
A: The day my brother Aaron was born. I was three and I remember being so happy. I already had an older brother and maybe I thought now I had someone to pick on. [Laughs] He became my best friend from that moment on.
Q: You used to be a ski instructor, right?
A: No. Where’d you get that from?
Q: One of your fan sites. Don’t you ever visit your sites?
A: I’ve wanted to, but I have to go over to someone’s house to do that. I’m pretty computer illiterate.
Q: A few of the fans online commented about how much they loved your ears. Do you get that a lot?
A: No. I don’t really think they stick out that much, but if they like them, then that’s a good thing.
Q: You did an episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Did Sarah Michelle Gellar kick your ass?
A: No, I beat her up. [Laughs] I hit her with a crowbar and then she threw me into a pole.
Q: Do you remember the first time you got recognized?
A: No. I’m not really into the whole celebrity aspect of all this, though it has its good parts.
Q: When "Roswell" premiered there were billboards up all over the place. What’s it like to see your face on the side of a bus?
A: Very surreal. It almost feels all made up, like my mother went around paying people to put my face on billboards.
Q: When you’re not working what do you like to do?
A: I like to sleep, play basketball, ride go-carts, spend time with my family, go out with my buddies on the weekends and have a good time.
Q: Have you ever taken trips with your friends?
A: The farthest I’ve gone is Cancun, Mexico. It was my senior trip. I don’t think I slept more than 12 hours the entire week. None of us had much money, and I remember bringing a suitcase of food but that went pretty quick so we’d go to happy hour for the free food.
Q: What’s your idea of the perfect day?
A: At this point, the perfect day would be to get up in the afternoon, grab a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles and watch Thundercats and Robotech on the Cartoon Network for four or five hours.