By LYNN BARKER
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Filmgoers know 27-year-old British actor Alex Roe as a sci-fi and horror leading man. His work as hunky outdoorsman turned freedom fighter Evan Walker in the film adaptation of popular Sci-Fi, YA novel “The Fifth Wave” and as a young man trapped by a video curse in “Rings” perked the interest of many young filmgoers.
Roe was happy to get more down to earth by taking on a Nicholas Sparks-style, romantic family-friendly film and developing his musical talent as Liam Page, a Country music star who left his high school sweetheart at the altar in “Forever My Girl,” based upon the popular novel by Heidi McLaughlin. The actor, who calls himself strictly a “sing in the shower when everyone is out” guy, credits his ability to be convincing as a Country musician on “watching hours and hours of country singers being interviewed,” and then working non-stop under the tutelage of music producer Brett Boyett until his singing and playing was up to par.
The second chance romance is rated PG but Roe manages to sizzle on screen and in various appropriately shirtless moments throughout the film. He and co-star Jessica Rothe, also a horror film veteran after her leading role in “Happy Death Day,” a 2017 surprise mega-hit, clicked right away and had long, pre-production chats about just who this unlucky-in-love young couple was. Roe spoke with us by phone from Los Angeles.
Q: The film is based on a novel. Did Bethany Ashton Wolf, your director, have you read it or just go with the script?
Roe: We went from the script. There were a lot of changes. It was difficult to fit it all into an hour and a half, obviously, and there were other changes too that Bethany thought were important. Some people who’ve read the book have come to the movie and are initially upset beforehand but afterwards they’ve come out and really enjoyed the movie.
Q: How was working with your co-star Jessica Rothe? Did you two get to have dinner or get to know each other at all before filming?
Roe: We didn’t have a chemistry read but I’d heard of her and she’d heard of me. We’d heard good things through mutual friends so off the bat we knew it could be okay. We spent quite a lot of time rehearsing.
Q: Did you give each other your take on the characters?
Roe: Yeah. We talked about why they’re this couple who are supposed to be together and why their family is made better in some way when they are and also talked about how Josie (Rothe’s character) is kind of okay (on her own). She’s figured things out. She’s got a beautiful, happy daughter and is successful in her own right. She owns her own flower shop and Liam’s the one who has seemingly got it all but is really unhappy. She brings strength to the character and Liam’s the man-child and his arc is figuring that out. They each bring something into each other’s lives.
Q: You have a wonderful British accent but you do a convincing American Southern accent in the film. Did you have to work on that?
Roe: I listened to a lot of Country singers being interviewed because I wanted to suss out what the vibe was alongside the actor; like how cool or excitable they were so I watched hours and hours of interviews and I was kind of lucky because Liam had been away from Louisiana for eight years so I didn’t necessarily have to make (the accent) as strong as if he had been there his whole life. It’s rooted in the Louisiana town he’s from but he’s lost some of it. I had a little bit of creative license there.
Q: Did you meet with any Country/Western stars for research? Did you model your character after anyone?
Roe: I was lucky enough to go to a couple of festivals and performances. I saw Rat Brown perform live and Little Big Town perform in front of 50,000 people and was able to talk to Little Big Town afterwards about fame and how it feels to have fifty thousand people singing the music that you’ve written and try and understand this Liam character.
Q: Liam lets fame go to his head. He’s rather helpless in the real world because everything has been done for him. Can you relate to that at all or do you have things more together?
Roe: I’m definitely a little more together, but you kind of understand him. Since the age of 18 (he’s been famous). People say that when you become famous, your growth is kind of stunted. That kind of makes sense because you are around people who are just agreeing with you and leading you into different places and you don’t really make many choices for yourself. You get arrogant in thinking you are some kind of supreme human being so there is no learning. It’s interesting to see that character portrayed as a word of warning. Like it might seem on the outside that fame and fortune and all those things are what you want but sometimes it’s not going to be the thing that makes you happy.
Q: Did you have a high school sweetheart that you were reluctant to leave when school was over like Liam does?
Roe: There wasn’t somebody that I left school and went off to college and had to leave behind but I feel like the relationships I’ve been in, each of them I’ve learned so much from. And each of my partners in those parts of my life have definitely left a lasting impression and I love them for different reasons.
Q: You sing and play guitar very well in this movie and I couldn’t find anything online about your music. Have you been musical all along?
Roe: Thanks very much for that compliment but I kind of sang in the shower when people were out of the house. I’d never really sung in public to be honest. I was lucky that I got this opportunity to work hard on it and try and create this sound for Liam. A lot of that is down to our music producer Brett Boyett who was a real helping hand in that part of the process.
Q: What music artist are you into right now if you just want to kick back and listen?
Roe: I really like Kendrick Lamar. I think he’s a really interesting artist but, for this, I drew a lot of inspiration from some of Dierks Bentley’s stuff. I’d sing that just before I’d perform to kind of get that sound; his stuff like “Riser,” and his ballady stuff. I’ve definitely grown a new respect for Country music and have more of an understanding of what this music means to fans and what the relationship between the fans and the artist is. I listen to it more than I did before.
Q: Your fans can look forward to seeing you on the new Freeform TV series “Siren.” Whom do you play in that?
Roe: I’m the lead, but it’s an ensemble piece for sure. I’m a marine biologist who discovers these crazy (mermaid) creatures. (Note: “Siren” premieres on the Freeform cable channel on March 29).