When it comes to casting sisters on TV, there’s good, there’s uncanny and then there’s whatever crazy magic is happening over at Roswell, New Mexico between Jeanine Mason and Amber Midthunder (aka Liz and Rosa Ortecho).
“We actually both had these funny kismet moments of people confusing us for each other long before we met,” Midthunder tells TVLine. “When the pilot was coming out, my parents watched the trailer and took a bunch of screenshots — but when they sent them, they were like, ‘Is this you? Is this you?’ And about three of them were actually Jeanine.”
Mason has her own tales of mistaken identity, including the time she was approached by a stranger in a film festival bathroom who wanted to know if she was “the girl from Legion.” (Spoiler alert: She was not.) “I think it was a whole year after that before I found out Amber would be playing my sister in the pilot,” Mason says. “I was like, ‘Why does that name sound so familiar?’ And then it clicked. This was fated! I’d been hearing her name for years!”
And if you thought the confusion would clear up once Mason and Midthunder began working together, well…
“I think the crew is totally freaked out by how similar our mannerisms are becoming,” Mason says. “Even the way we laugh, or the way we use our hands. I’ll say this: It’s more rare than actors choose to admit that you actually get along with someone in a way where you want to be friends beyond the show. I adore that woman, and I plan to adore her for the rest of my existence.”
Adds executive producer Carina Adly Mackenzie, “They naturally look alike, but they also worked on developing certain sisterly mannerisms. When they’re sharing a bed in the motel [in the Season 2 premiere], they sleep the same way. And later on this season, you’ll see them using the same hand gestures. It’s partially magical and partially them being very good at their jobs.” (Perhaps too good?) “We’ve had notes from the studio and the network being like, ‘Can you just say Rosa’s name a few times in this scene, so people don’t think it’s Liz?'”
Unfortunately, Rosa has a lot more to think about than how much she looks like her sister and what her favorite ’00s celebrities are up to in 2020. (“Did you know that Jimmy from Degrassi is a rapper now?!”) She’s also a bipolar teenager struggling with addiction — and that’s on top of all things extraterrestrial.
“She’s always felt like an outsider, and she’s now totally isolated in her town and in her life,” Midthunder says. “Her sickness almost feels like her friend. It’s consistent, it’s comfortable. There’s a reason any addict falls into addiction — in some way, it’s appealing. The problem is that it’s also extremely destructive. She’s seeing that, but she feels helpless. She tries to be the hero, and when she fails, she doesn’t handle it well.”
Hit PLAY on the video above for an exclusive sneak peek of tonight’s episode (The CW, 9/8c), then drop a comment with your thoughts on the Ortecho sisters below.