Jessica Lucas knows that signing on to play Riley, one-half of Melrose Place's happy couple (Michael Rady's Jonah is the other half), is a risky move on a show so single-centric. For that reason, she says, "What was important to me ... [was] establishing Riley away from Jonah and as having a strong point of view." Though she sings Rady's praises, let's face it: Nobody stays together forever on this show like this. "We're kind of headed down that road," Lucas admits. But first, she'll pose on a beach for photographer Jo Reynolds (original cast member Daphne Zuniga), who returns to Melrose for two episodes this season starting Tuesday (9/8c, CW). Lucas tells us why Riley isn't cut out to be a model, what Zuniga told her and why we should all brace ourselves for the cutest breakup ever.
TVGuide.com: So how does Riley end up hanging out with Jo Reynolds?
Jessica Lucas: It's a coincidence. She's the photographer for the [Anton V.] shoot. Riley is actually a huge fan of hers because she took pictures of Darfur that Riley studied at NYU. They have a weird connection in that way.
Melrose Place: Welcome to the neighborhood!
TVGuide.com: So that's it? No more Schoolteacher Riley? She's officially a model?
Lucas: Well, no, not quite. I mean, she does go back to being a schoolteacher. She is just taking the week off so she and Jonah can get the money, but she encounters some issues with [modeling]. She gets pushed to her limits, and she's not so happy. Jo is very hard on her.
TVGuide.com: So Riley won't be seduced by this superficial lifestyle?
Lucas: No, I would say the exact opposite. In fact, her one experience with it leaves a horrible taste in her mouth. I do think, though, that it's a great thing for the character in the sense that she really stands up for herself. From then on, she becomes a bit stronger, which is good because she and Jonah are dealing with a lot of relationship issues.
Melrose Place: Jo is back!
TVGuide.com: So how long before they break up?
Lucas: Well, I mean, they are kind of headed down that path. He finds out about the whole Auggie thing. He meets someone else. It's a rocky road for them. I mean, they really do try to work through it, but I really don't know how long that's going to be able to go on. It's sad.
TVGuide.com: Did Daphne have any stories or advice from the good old days?
Lucas: Yeah, she told me that in the beginning, [Melrose Place] was a show about a bunch of people living in an apartment complex and it wasn't at all dramatic, and the ratings were terrible. And then Heather [Locklear] came on and they turned it around, and it turned into this crazy show with outlandish story lines, and that was not the show she had signed up to do. So she thought it was funny.
TVGuide.com: Did you have any scenes with Heather Locklear?
Lucas: I did. We did a big group scene in the courtyard with Heather. She was saying that she's a really shy person, so she was really nervous to have to do this scene with all of us, which is funny because she's such an icon. She's just really sweet and charismatic and down to earth. She plays a great bitch, but she's so the opposite in real life. It was fun to see her switch and turn on that character.
The bitch is back: Heather Locklear returns to Melrose Place
TVGuide.com: What's next for Riley?
Lucas: There are more story lines with her and Auggie; she still feels a very strong pull toward him. [Also coming up is] the launch of the ad campaign, and I have to deal with being the center of attention again.
TVGuide.com: So Riley might pursue a different career path after all?
Lucas: She might.
Check out these preview clips from "Windsor," Tuesday's episode of Melrose Place
In the first clip, Riley (Jessica Lucas) expresses her admiration for photographer Jo Reynolds (Daphne Zuniga). It's Riley's first modeling job, and Jo has some very specific ideas about how to shoot her.
In the second clip, Jonah confronts Auggie about his close friendship with his fianc´e;e, but ends up finding out more than he wanted.
Are you watching Melrose Place? Do you think Riley and Jonah should break up? And are you excited to see the show's alums pop up?
Watch full episodes of Melrose Place in our Online Video Guide