Lily Cowles is truly a delight to interview.
It's always amazing to speak with an actress with great insight into their character's story. It makes for such a fun and captivating conversation, and this was nothing short of a fantastic chat. I only wished we could have talked for even longer!
Isobel Evans's story has truly evolved from Roswell, New Mexico Season 1. Lily spoke about that evolution, her burgeoning relationship with Kyle, and how she hopes this series about aliens making their way in the world will be remembered in the long run.
Isobel's character arc from the pilot to where we find her in Roswell, New Mexico Season 4 has been one for the ages. Isobel has grown exponentially as she's put her life back together after Noah and has seemed to find herself the longer the series has gone on.
And this growth has been a highlight for me throughout the series run, and when I asked Lily to speak on it, her answer was so insightful.
"I loved being able to portray Isobel's journey because I feel like it's a journey that so many people can relate to," Lily replied. "When we first meet Isobel, she's really trapped in societal expectations, and that's what it is.
"She's trying to fit in and be a human. And she's trying to play this part and be like this perfect woman who has it all together and has a good family and marriage. And she's got a great job, and she looks good. And she's doing everything right by the outside standards. And yet she's totally at odds with her inner authentic self.
"And in her case, that's being an alien. But I think so many people can relate in many ways to the ways that we hide parts of ourselves or twist parts of ourselves to try to conform and feel safe. And that's really what she was doing is trying to fit in.
"I think it took this terrible traumatic event in her life, this revelation that her husband was this evil villain who had used her body. And all of this functions on a very metaphorical level, I think, for things that people also really do experience in their own lives. But so often, tragedy and trauma can actually lead to liberation and healing.
"And I think that was really the case for Isobel's character.
"Her life as she knew it was burned to the ground, and everything that she believed to hold herself up to was like ash on the ground. And from that, she got to recreate herself. It was like the phoenix rising, and she got to start again and really say like, "Who am I? Who do I want to be?"
"And that exploration of trying to find yourself is a long process. I think it's a confusing process. And we've seen Isobel going through that, where it's a little bit like throwing spaghetti at a wall sometimes. She's like, "Is this it?" It's not like, "Oh, now I'm healed, and I'm all better. And it's all great."
"What I love about the character arc of Isobel was also seeing the messiness of the healing process. And in her relationships, she's been a little bit of a mess. She has a hard time being open, still, being honest and truthful. And it's easy to say find who you really are. But how do you even know who you really are?
"And that process of discovering, like well, what does it mean to be ... Who am I? What does that really mean, finding your authentic self and then honoring that? It's a really long, complicated process. And I'm so glad that Isobel's been able to go on this journey.
"I feel like it's been a really realistic depiction of what the healing process can look like. Because it was not, yeah, just like, "Oh, I once was lost, and now I'm found."
"It's been a long struggle through the brambles. So, getting to understand herself as being powerful, as having powers, but also learning how to use them gracefully and not hurting people, trying to be true to herself, but figuring out really what that means.
"And there are still echoes of that trauma that she's dealing with on a regular basis. So I think it's this ongoing healing process.
"But I think as we get into the fourth season, we're really seeing her finding her stride with herself and being really comfortable. In this last season, I think we feel Isobel just really having stepped into her role as like, wow, she feels like a powerful character, and she's at ease with herself. And I'm so happy for her in that."
Lily's response only highlights how in-tune she is with the character she portrayed through four seasons.
"We spent a lot of time together," Lily said in response to my praise for her lovely answer. "And it's one of these things. Art imitates life, and you get the feedback. So there's a lot that I can relate to in Isobel. And I'm always so grateful for our writers.
"It's always a little uncanny. They pick up on things, and you're like, "Wow, thank you. I'm really going through that too." It's so cool to be able to channel that creatively."
In addition to Isobel's growth, her romantic life has perked up with the addition of Anatsa and her flourishing relationship with Kyle. And while her connection to Anatsa fizzled out, Kyle has been dutifully waiting on the sidelines.
Their connection has always felt very natural, and the foundation of the friendship is genuinely rooted in a deep respect for one another. When I implored Lily to discuss that connection and what draws Isobel to that relationship, her response was profound and forthright.
"You know what I think is interesting, both Kyle and Isobel were kind of like high school mean girls, and I think at the very beginning of it, we see them back in what they were like in high school," Lily began. "I think both of them were trapped again in this idea of trying to fit in.
"And when you're in high school and trying to be like, yeah, I'm like, cool. Kyle was kind of a bully. He was not very nice to Alex. Isobel was definitely a little ice queen, and I think they both had this persona that they wound up breaking out of and getting free from and finding a kind of deeper heart and a softness.
"I think the fact that Kyle has known her for so long and has seen her through all of the iterations of herself gives her this enormous ease around him because he's known every version of her, and I think there's a part of Isobel that struggles with the performative piece.
"Like I'm going to be this now, and I'm going to play this role really well. And she's good at being a chameleon in that way. Like I'm going to perform now and be the best girlfriend, or I'm going to be the best wife or the best sister, but sometimes that can be inauthentic to her. It can be a little performative.
"And I think Kyle has actually, from the sidelines, I don't think she was ever performing for him.
"I think he saw her. In season one, there was a beautiful moment between them in the hospital where Isobel thought she was dying and Kyle was there. He was witnessing her in this moment where she was so paired down and raw. And there was no mask. There was no attempt at trying to control her own image.
"He saw her and was so kind and generous to her in that moment. I think she had gratitude from that moment on of this person saw me when I was at my lowest, and he was kind to me, and that will spark loyalty that will go a long way.
"Kyle's always been there for her, really non-judgmental, and there's just something energetically between the two of them. I think she likes, beyond the sweetness and the security and trust there, I think Isobel also really has a good time with them.
"I think she kind of messes around with him and plays with him and gets a real kick out of being around him. So there's just that natural chemistry that can exist between two people. And I think it's been there for them for forever. It's been a fun, little dynamic to explore."
The simmering tension between the two came to a head during Roswell, New Mexico Season 4 Episode 5, when the two shared a steamy kiss that felt like a long time coming. And it's a sentiment Lily agreed with.
"Listen, I think it's been a long time coming," Lily said when I asked her if she could give the Kybel shippers a little preview of what's to come for the pair after the kiss. "And I think that the train of that size going that speed there, it's going to keep their speed. The law of inertia would state that something's got to keep going.
"It can't just stop there.
"I will say I watched that cut, and I laughed so hard because I was like, you better believe they gave me an opportunity to kiss Michael Trevino. I was like, give me about seven. I'm going to need seven minutes in heaven. I laughed so hard. I was like, "Oh, that's it?" Our lips like touched, and they cut. I'm like, somewhere, there is some B roll.
"Somebody's got to mine that B roll and find that because I went to town on that man! But definitely. I mean, they have a long history. They've got a big story, and this is the beginning of something for sure."
With the series wrapping up at the end of the season, fans will undoubtedly miss Roswell when it's finally over. But with its end so near, it makes you wonder what kind of legacy will it leave in its wake?
"Oh gosh," Lily began when I asked her that question. "Our show took on so many incredible issues. I think our show had this way of using sci-fi and aliens and cowboys to address very real, very deep, and meaningful social issues. And I think it was really fun to watch.
"I hope people remember that it was funny and sweet and there was a lot of heart, but I think it was really smart.
"I think there was a lot of metaphor in there that worked on a number of levels, and we got to dig into some issues at a time in the world where I think it meant a lot to people to be having some of these things addressed on the CW. How cool."
Roswell, New Mexico airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.
***This interview has been edited for length and clarity.***
Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.