NOC Interview: Lily Cowles Discusses All Things ‘Roswell, New Mexico’

Lily Cowles plays Isobel Evans in The CW’s hit series Roswell, New Mexico. The show first premiered back in 2019 and is now in its third season. New episodes of season three air Mondays at 8PM. Roswell, New Mexico was already renewed for a fourth season as well!

With Max Evans (Nathan Dean) coming face to face in the final moments of Season 2 with an alien that looks like him… Season 3 will find him, and his alien siblings, tasked to uncover who exactly this mysteries figure is. meanwhile, we’ll find our intrepid Liz Ortecho (Jeanine Mason) living out her dream job, high paid and changing the world in at a lab in California with an ocean view. But a series of events will prove that our one-time lover’s connection might not be severed for good. Which is good timing, as in addition to a mysterious alien that looks just like Max offers context to why our heroes are on Earth in the first place, a mysterious radio signal begins broadcasting across Roswell, Alex Manes (Tyler Blackburn) finds himself in the crosshairs of a new clandestine organization and Michael (Michael Vlamis), Isobel (Lily Cowles) and Rosa (Amber Midthunder) all begin exhibiting new powers. Confusing things even further is an eerie glimpse Maria (Heather Hemmens) gets of the future… Someone they love is going to die.

I had the pleasure of getting to chat with the actress about episode ten, Isobel’s evolution, her relationship with fans, the rest of season three, her favorite dynamics on the show, and more. Keep reading to find out all the details!

Brian Bowen Smith/The CW

What can you tease about the rest of season three? It has been insanely good so far.
Lily Cowles: I think so too, right? It’s been such a thrill and it’s crazy for me like watching it back, being like, “We did this the middle of a pandemic.” I’m so proud, like we were able to produce some excellent content in the middle of COVID, so I feel very proud of all of us. I would say for Isobel, we’ve had a couple of things building and we’re gonna see all of the little threads that have been starting to weave together, we’re gonna start to see the tapestry unfold. I would say definitely there’s some really fun action stuff for Isobel, which was so much fun for me. I know in the last episode, I got to work with Ben Bray, who is an incredible stunt man/director, and it was so much fun having that action sequence where Isobel was fighting Jones, getting to be directed by a real professional stunt person. He’s just like the most badass cool dude. Actually, I’m working with him on this episode that we’re doing right now, so it’s great to work with him again, but a little more action for Isobel. We were laughing during the season because there were so many times, she’s like, “I’m training” or “Well, I’ve trained for this.” And I’m like, “Alright Isobel, put your money where your mouth is. Let’s see it.” So, we’re finally gonna get to see some of that paying off, all of the training is going to be put to use. Then, she’s going on a date. She’s finally getting a little bit of love in her life, which I’m so happy for her because she had a rough go of it, love has been rough for Isobel. Season one, she sustained some pretty intense traumas romantically. So I think, there was the really necessary, good time of her being single, figuring out her life on her own, and rediscovering who she was. She had such a big shift in her own identity, going from this kind of like Stepford wife, buttoned up, a lot of it was this facade that she built up to really discovering who she was as an authentic individual. Now, I think that it’s starting to settle for her, being able to fold in maybe another person into her life, and someone as beautiful as Anatsa played by the incredible Sibongile Mlambo, who’s just phenomenal actress and so much fun to work with. On top of that, her family seems to be kind of growing, she maybe has another person thrown into the mix, so a lot of exciting stuff for Isobel.

The show was renewed for a season four ahead of season three even premiering so huge congrats on that. What was your reaction when you heard the news? While filming this new season, have you looked back at the journey that you’ve taken with this character and where you are now as an actress?
Oh my god, it’s insane. It’s huge. I mean, this was my first big job. I had a couple of little guest stars before, but Isobel has been the first character that I’ve been able to really spend this much time with and television is such an incredible medium because you get to really explore someone over a long period. I mean, we’ve been together now going on four years, that’s the longest relationship I’ve been in, and a lot of pleasure it’s been. Isobel, the character, has gone through an enormous arc. I love playing her because she’s such a wide range, especially where she began and where she is now, but even just day to day. Isobel can be kind of bitchy, she can be really funny, she can be extremely warm and loyal, she can be like chill and having a good time. It’s always something new, you never know what you’re going to get and I love that as an actor because it keeps it exciting. It’s like 50 shades of Isobel, so that’s fun. As an actor, it’s been such an honor to be able to play a woman who’s gone on this incredible journey of empowerment, she began and was not in a great situation. She was very limited, she kind of had all these walls up, was very guarded, and then the damage that she sustained in season one, it was rough to go through that but then also really opened the door for this enormous growth. To be able to represent that journey for women has been such an honor and a pleasure for me, as an actor and a human being. I mean, it’s definitely like art imitates life, Isobel and I have gone through similar things together as we’ve grown. There are things where I’m like, “Wow, I’m really relating to my character.” So, I’m growing and just finding myself, my own path, my own strength as an actor, my own confidence as an actor. Season one, I walked into it and I was like, “Oh my god, how did I end up here? Did they realized what they’re doing when they hired me?” And now, I walk into set and I just have this really deep sense of this character that I’m working on. When we heard about season four, I was on set, I was tearing around set, screaming at the top of my lungs. We have a family here, we’ve built this incredible community with the cast and the crew, and we love each other so much, which is rare and such a beautiful treasure. So, knowing that we were going to be able to come back was just such a thrill.

John Golden Britt/The CW

How would you preview everything that happens in episode 10?
Yes, well, definitely in episode 10, we’re exploring this new character who’s come along in Dallas. We’re sort of like, “Who is this person? How does he fit in,” and the pod squad, shall we say in Isobel, Max, and Michael, have been so tight for so long. The idea of introducing another person, it’s like “Wait, who is this man? How is he going to fit in? What role does he play?” Also, a man of faith, this man who is deeply religious and has made spirituality his vocation, to try to have to tell him that maybe he’s an alien, it’s like, “Is this gonna like ruin his life? Do we want to bring him into this conflict? This has been not an easy journey for any of us and it’s really gonna rock his world,” but at the same time, I think the idea of knowing that there are more people like them out there, more aliens, how exciting is that? And so I think Isobel is pretty enthusiastic about wanting to like have a new member and Kyle’s a little bit like, “Well, you may want to go gently with introducing him, because this maybe is going to be a little bit of a rough landing.” Then, of course, we have Isobel going on a date with Anatsa finally, which is so exciting for her. I can’t remember the last time that we saw Isobel on a date. So, I think she’s ready to bring someone into her life and seeing how that’s gonna go. I mean in her typical Izzy fashion, I think she’s gonna have the different complications that come up. She definitely had some wounds there and some walls that are built up, but I think she’s trying to push past them. So, I think in episode 10, we get to see her taking on a new and exciting challenge in a romantic sense, which I’m thrilled for.

The fan response to Roswell, New Mexico is amazing, so I want to ask you what has been like to hear from the fans about your performance, the character of Isobel, and just the show in general? What has your experience been like with that?
I’m really close to a lot of our fans actually because there’s an intimacy there. They’re so enthusiastic, so supportive, so wildly creative and funny. I mean, I’ll go on Instagram and I’ll be tagged in these memes and commentaries, and I’m just like, “These people are brilliant, so funny and cool.” I’ve actually become friends with a good number of our diehard fans because I’m just like, “Thank you for seeing us, getting us, and appreciating us.” There’s this really incredible feedback, where I feel like I’ve seen the effect that our show has had on people and that in turn, has given me more to work with or a sense of this like, “Wow, I want to honor what this means for other people. I want to really bring something to life that will,” and when I step on the set, I have these people in mind. I’ll find little things to sneak in and be like, “Oh, Jenna’s gonna love this, I’ll throw this in here.” Yeah, it’s incredible feedback of the performer and the audience, where the performer is giving the audience this energy and then the audience is like feeding it back. Usually for film and television, you don’t get that kind of response as much, there’s a gap because you’re filming it and then you throw it out into the ether, but because of social media these days we’re actually getting the response back. Now, it’s like a delayed response because I filmed this stuff last year and now I’m seeing people’s reactions to it, but at the same time it’s so invaluable for a performer to see whether it’s landing, how it landing, what’s landing, what’s not landing, and being like, “Oh okay, all right, all right. So you like that, okay. Now, I’m gonna do this and see if you like that.” So that’s been really fun to be able to have that with fans. I think it has a really deep impact on our work, the sense of pride that we bring to it, and the sense of obligation that we have.

John Golden Britt/The CW

Isobel has some of my favorite dynamics on the show. Which are some of your personal favorites to bring to life on screen?
Oh my gosh, there isn’t a character that I feel like I don’t have a blast with for Isobel because each one is so different and they can be so dynamic. Isobel and Maria, they have this like up and down and now like sisterly love where it can be so tender and beautiful, then sometimes so contentious, and I’m just like, “Oh yeah, sisters, it do be like that,” you know? I love Isobel’s relationship with Rosa, there’s this amazing– I mean, from where they started, Isobel was murdering her like this is a terrible way to begin our friendship, but the dynamic that they have now where I feel like they’re constantly learning from each other and lifting each other up. There was a scene that was deleted from episode seven, Heather’s episode, there just wasn’t enough time, but it was a moment where Isobel really breaks down and Rosa is there to say like, “No, you’ve got to keep going and push through. You’re strong and we see that,” you know, that sometimes it’s like this student has become the master thing. Isobel was helping Rosa learn how to navigate her powers and now Rosa is the one saying like “Hey, you can do this.” I love that dynamic for two women where they’re both learning from each other and growing. Of course, I love the relationship with my brothers, it’s so much fun to give both of them such a hard time. Isobel’s just like no nonsense and just gets to be so sassy, I love that. I’ve always loved working with Michael Vlamis, we do so much weird improv and ad libs. I’m sure the directors are always like, “Oh my god, please stop these people.” I truly love working with Michael Trevino, who comes to set so prepared. He’s so professional and he has such an incredible work ethic, he’s so thoughtful and deep with his work. Then I come in like a bull in a china shop and I just ruin his day. I’m constantly throwing these weird new ideas out and he’s like, “Wait, what? Lily, stop,” but it’s such a fun dynamic between Isobel and Kyle. I think we have these two energies that when we are in a scene together something fun and alchemical happens between Isobel and Kyle. I think he’s like so grounding, steady, and rational and she is just like such a live wire with him. I get this feeling that she loves being around him because she knows how to push his buttons and it’s so much fun for her. So I always have a great time work with everybody, there isn’t a member of the cast that I don’t go, “Oh, yes! This is gonna be great.”