NOC Interview: Heather Hemmens on Directing an Episode of ‘Roswell, New Mexico’

Heather Hemmens stars as Maria DeLuca on the hit series Roswell, New Mexico. For this week’s new episode, “Goodnight Elizabeth,” the actress will also serve as director. The show first premiered back in 2019 and is now in its third season. New episodes of season three air Mondays at 8:00PM on The CW. Roswell, New Mexico was already renewed for a fourth season as well.

HEATHER HEMMENS DIRECTS — Liz’s (Jeanine Mason) plan does not go as expected, putting herself, Isobel (Lily Cowles) and Michael (Michael Vlamis) in danger. Meanwhile, Eduardo (guest star David DeSantos) confides in Alex (Tyler Blackburn). Also starring Nathan Dean, Michael Trevino, Heather Hemmens and Amber Midthunder. The episode was directed by Heather Hemmens and written by Kristen Haynes & Christopher Hollier (#307).

Hemmens and I discussed her passion for directing, her favorite behind the scenes moment of the episode, how she felt watching the first edit, her dream Roswell, New Mexico storyline, what fans can expect from the rest of the season, what show she’d want Roswell to do a crossover with, and much more! Keep reading to find out all the details.

John Golden Britt/The CW

First of all, huge congrats on the new season and even bigger congrats on directing this week’s new episode. I’m so excited for everyone to see it.
Heather Hemmens: Oh, thank you. Me too. I’m really excited for it to finally be out there for everyone to see because I’ve been talking about it for a while and I’m very proud. It’s going to be really nice just to share this journey with everybody.

Can you tell us how directing this episode came about? Was it something you always wanted to do?
This was something I always wanted to do and I’ve been working very diligently at for the past 11 years. I directed a few short films, starting 11 years ago, and I did the DGA Episodic Director’s Program. I shadowed for over 200 hours behind the scenes just on this show, I shadowed other shows as well, but just on our Roswell set, I’ve been behind the camera from day one, watching the other directors work and learning. So, there was a lot that went into this to finally get my shot at it, but the one thing I’ll say is if you just never ever ever give up, good things can happen. So, here we are.

John Golden Britt/The CW

How did it feel when you finally got the opportunity, and especially on your show?
Well, I really couldn’t have asked for a better set to learn, grow, and live this dream on because our crew, our cast, not only are they the most wonderful, amazing people to work with and just as friends, but they’ve also seen my work ethic from the beginning. They’ve known that this is something I’ve really wanted to achieve and the support system that came out of that, just the camaraderie, the collaboration, that foundation of support really helped me be the best at my job when I went into the director’s chair.

Is there a specific moment of support or a favorite moment from filming that when you look back on the experience, it sticks out and you know you’ll never forget it?
There were so many moments like this on this episode, where I would just pinch myself that I was directing. I mean, I remember one night it was about maybe 15 or 20 degrees out, it was really cold and windy, we were shooting a big showdown scene, there was all kinds of special effects, explosions, and whatnot, and I was just so in the moment and work mode. Then, we just had to stop production and wait on another setup, and I was just kind of holding tightly onto my tea, I looked up in the sky and there was this beautiful full moon shining down. I remember just taking a deep breath and reminding myself to enjoy the moment and enjoy the journey, even though things were a little bit stressful. I think it’s always important to just stop and be grateful that we’re able to have the opportunity to do what we do for a living. So yeah, that was a special moment for me is one of the biggest most stressful scenes really actually was like a pinch me moment of joy.

John Golden Britt/The CW

I’m sure there were also moments where you felt challenged; what was the biggest challenge you dealt with and what did you learn from it?
I really worked on my time management skills when I was in the scenes that I was directing because I had to cushion a little extra time in my day to watch the scenes on playback and make sure that all the special effects, dialogue, and everything was what I was wanting it to be, except when I was in the scene I couldn’t see it. So I had to put a little extra time into my day there and it’s still stick to a schedule that a normal director would be expected to meet. So, for me, that type of multitasking and work ethic was something that was very fulfilling to me to be able to learn, achieve, and just feel really good about the day when I would finish on time and had done the work that I set out to do. So yeah, those were some of the most challenging moments, but there’s something about when you set a goal and you achieve it, that it kind of makes it all worth it.

Where did the desire and inspiration come from to start directing? Was there something specific that ignited that passion in you?
I think I’ve always been a director. I think it’s really just a type A personality, where I have a vision for the way that I want things to look and if I read a book, I’m such a visually creative person that I’m seeing the whole story in my head, which I did when I read this script. I was like, “Oh, this is amazing,” I was relieved because I’m like, “I see how the story is supposed to come to life.” So, really I think it’s just kind of how my brain works and once I realized that there was a career that I could actually get paid to do that, to do something that really just comes quite naturally to me, I’ve always been very excited to direct. Being an actor has been a great pride in my life, I just feel additionally fulfilled by the consuming work of being a director. It’s very satisfying to have a hand in all of the different creative departments.

John Golden Britt/The CW

What was it like for you when you saw those visuals, makeup, special effects, and everything else play out and create the finished product? What were you feeling?
I was proud, you know? I was proud and I was honored to be entrusted with an episode of our wonderful show. Then, when I saw the first edit, those tears of joy really did start flowing because I realized that I had done the work, I’d done my best, and I thought it was pretty good. So, it was a relief to know that all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into something was worth it. I think that at the end of the day, I could just be proud of my commitment to the craft and hope for the best that everybody else enjoys it as entertainment.

What are you most excited for fans to see from the episode?
I’m so excited for the journey that the Scooby Doo gang goes on to find Jones. They’re trying to hunt him down, figure out a way to outsmart him, and it just leads all of our characters on this really fun, exciting journey that culminates in a jaw dropping reveal in the episode. The storyline is so fun and so action packed in this episode and also, it’s just got these really sweet moments between all the characters where we see a friendship really just solidifying, a sisterhood solidifying between Isobel and Rosa, we see Liz being challenged beyond belief with her mental and emotional conflicts about Max and Jones, she’s just pushed to the max. So, we have so many fun dynamics in this episode that it’s really a roller coaster ride from beginning to end.

John Golden Britt/The CW

You star in the show as well, so what has your journey been like in terms of creating this character, seeing the fan response, and how much they love the show?
Oh, well we’re just so grateful. We’re so grateful to work on a show that we love and that’s well received. We’re grateful to be working during the pandemic. All of these things that we can just be grateful for and pour our heart into to give more content, we’re just happy for the opportunity and we’re working so very hard to make the most of it. So, we appreciate the fans, just keep watching and we’ll keep giving.

If you could either give Maria a dream storyline or have a dream storyline that you would like to direct on the show, what would it be?
Oh, that’s fun. I would say, a dream storyline that I would like to direct is when hopefully, at some point in our show, I would love for us to have some real spaceships coming down and to see more of the planet that our aliens are from. So, that would be a dream scenario is to like really get into the alien takeover aspect of our show, if that were to ever happen. That would be really, really fun.

John Golden Britt/The CW

What can you tease about the rest of the season?
Well, figuring out how to conquer Jones is one of the main struggles and right now he has a hold on the psyche of several of our characters. So, it’s just how do they get out of his grasp, but still prevent him from doing more damage? I think that we’ve learned that we just have to go along with the ride that he’s bringing and the only way to meet him is the stick with him for a little while, so we’re gonna see a lot more of this journey that propels from him getting into Maria’s mind and we’re gonna see that play out. I can’t say whether they win or lose, but it’s going to be an epic fight to the finish.

If you could do a crossover between Roswell, New Mexico and any show that you are a fan of, which would you pick?
Oh, I love The Mandalorian and that takes place in outer space. So, what if there was some type of alien crossover combination of our aliens and their other world? That’d be really fun.

If you could create a tagline or phrase to describe your episode, what would you make it?
Aliens and comas and explosions, oh my!