The Trades Interview: “Lost with the Others”

Part of “Old Info And News”

February 6, 2007

Piyal Hosain Portrait Session October 22 2006 (11).jpgLost with the Others
By Scott Juba

Elizabeth Mitchell has played many diverse roles throughout the course of her career, but none have thrust her into the spotlight the way her role on Lost has. Mitchell is drawing acclaim from both fans and critics for her pitch-perfect portrayal of Juliet, one of the show’s enigmatic “Others.”

“Up to now, this is definitely a high point for me in my career and in my life,” Mitchell says. “It almost feels like all the crazy work I did led up to me being able to do this.”

According to Mitchell, part of the reason she was excited to join the cast of Lost stems from the fact that she’s been a fan of the series from the very beginning. “My husband and I both were [fans of the show before I joined the cast],” she tells me. “The first episode made our jaws drop. It was really an astonishing episode.”

Mitchell recalls that when she first arrived on-set to join the cast, Evangeline Lilly went out of her way to make her feel welcome. “Everyone was really welcoming so it’s hard to singe anyone out [as being the most welcoming], but Evangeline is truly lovely. She was welcoming and gracious and kind and all the things you would hope someone would be.”

She adds, “Evangeline said the first day, ‘Either people are laid back when they get here or they are when they leave.’ I have to say, that is how those people are…They’re very kind people, and you rarely get that. There’s always a bad egg, and I just haven’t found one here.”

While there may not be a bad egg among the cast members, on the show, the “Others” ensure that Jack, Kate, Sawyer and the other castaways will always have a few bad eggs to deal with.

During this season’s first six episodes, Juliet formed a bond with Jack while the “Others” were holding him captive. Although Juliet seems to display genuine affection for Jack, her motives remain mysterious. “I firmly believe that she has a definite objective,” Mitchell says. “Even if you’re bad, you always think you’re good. I think she’s operating towards an objective she feels to be the right thing. She’s doing everything she thinks is right. That can lead to fairly ambiguous behavior depending on who she’s trying to convince of what at what time.”

As far as Juliet’s bond with Jack, Mitchell remarks, “I actually think she likes Jack. I think that’s genuine. I think she admires him and thinks he’s an interesting person. I think she’s as honest with him as she can be. That’s what makes the dynamic interesting.”

Some of the questions surrounding Juliet will be answered in this week’s episode, which will feature a glimpse of her past. “She’s a lot different than who you think she is,” Mitchell hints.

When I ask her if it’s possible that Juliet could have a greater position of power than the audience has been led to believe to this point, Mitchell responds, “Everyone seems to look up to her in very subtle ways. They answer to her. She can get by with very little in terms of action with a lot of result. She can nod and things are accomplished. To me, that denotes that she does have some power.”

In describing her character, she adds, “She’s incredibly complex. I hate to tell you that all the roles that you get are not this complex. Every time I see the writers I say thank you.”

Lost Executive Producer Damon Lindelof is similarly thankful for what Mitchell brings to the role. “She somehow plays the girl next door… but a girl next door you wouldn’t want to piss off,” Lindelof tells me. “The fact that she is both vulnerable and threatening is something incredibly hard to portray. And yet Elizabeth pulls it off big time.”

Mitchell humbly takes such praise in stride. “I had a professor one time who said if you listen to the good stuff, you also have to listen to the bad stuff,” she modestly states.

If Mitchell continues to deliver the type of quality performances audiences have come to expect from her, it’s unlikely that she’ll be hearing any of the bad stuff any time soon.