The Seattle Time Interview: “Lost star found in our backyard”

Part of “Old Info And News”

April 11, 2007

season 3 photoshoot blue tshirt elizabeth mitchell (4).jpgLost” star found in our backyard
by Florangela Davila

Show of hands from those who’ve stopped whining about “Lost” in its hour-later time slot. Now, who isn’t thoroughly enjoying this brainteaser of a ride? The clever serial drama, firmly in its third season, is too good to TiVo. (The better to talk about it Thursday a.m.)

Now, a revelation that’ll connect you to the show even more: A Lostie lives among us.

She is Elizabeth Mitchell, evil — or is she? — Juliet. That “Other”/fertility doc who kept Jack captive, torturing him with her knowledge of his past, and feeding him grilled sandwiches. She ends up helping Kate and Sawyer escape, gets thisclose to being executed (she’s branded instead) and appears to be Jack’s newest best friend. Then last week we saw her expelled from Other-land, unconscious and then, out-of-sorts in the jungle, cuffed to none other than Kate. A muddy messy fight ensued. Meow.

Thirtysomething Mitchell and husband bought a house near Seattle last year, right before she landed her signature “Lost” role. The Texas-bred actress had worked a lot in Vancouver, B.C., falling in love with the Pacific Northwest climate. A road trip brought the couple to Seattle. And the people, the bookstores and the city’s mind-set convinced them this could be home.

“You know how you find a place that feels just right?” was how she put it in an interview not too long ago.

Before “Lost,” Mitchell’s most recognizable roles were as Carol Newman (aka Mrs. Santa) in two of the “Santa Clause” films. She also played Dr. Kim Legaspi in 14 episodes of the 2000-01 season of “E.R.” Those of you who caught Angelina Jolie portraying a supermodel in the 1998 TV film “Gia” might also remember her: She played Gia’s compassionate, and generous, girlfriend.

Lost” is shot in Hawaii, which is where Mitchell recently telephoned from during a day off. At her house on Oahu, her 1 ½-year-old-son C.J. had just been put down for a nap and she was looking forward to watching an episode of the show at the house of cast member Jorge Garcia (who plays Hurley) later that evening.

On TV “Lost,” 10 p.m. Wednesdays on KOMO.

Q: Your acting roots are in soaps?
Actually, my roots are in theater. I did a soap for maybe three months. And then I got fired from a TV job (“L.A. Firefighters“). I don’t think they liked me. I didn’t realize what a blessing it was. At the time it’s horrific and you think, “I shouldn’t be doing this.” Rejection just builds you up. And then you build up your own ego. And you build up your own way of getting back in and you just do it. When I got fired I booked “Gia.” The right door opened.

Q: How did playing Angelina Jolie’s lover, or Mrs. Kris Kringle, or Teresa Earnhardt (in “The Dale Earnhardt Story“) help you with the role of Juliet?
Everybody really pretty much helped me. Having a baby helped me. It’s about getting to a place where I am unafraid as an actress. I don’t think I would have been able to play her (Juliet) if I were in my twenties. They wrote me a humdinger of a role and she continues to be that way.

Q: I read that Damon Lindelof (“Lost” co-creator) marveled at your audition, in a scene in which you interrogated Jack — up on a table as he was pulling on a chain — because you came across like a kind of mommy talking to a small child.
There’s something very maternal in the way she deals with him (Jack). She’s calm. He’s afraid. So what better way than to come from underneath? It was really where they (the writers) were going with the role.
I don’t think I ever talk to C.J. the way I talk to Jack. But I do think in that particular case it was effective.

Q: Michael Emerson, who plays Henry Gale/Ben, has one of the best TV death stares. But yours isn’t wimpy, either.
No, mine is not. I remember once [Emerson] watched [me] and said, “Hey, that’s good. That’s very good.”

Q: I’ve read that he has gotten some strange reaction from the public when he’s recognized. What’s yours been like?
Believe it or not, women seem to love the character. Men, however … I’ve gotten a few stares. “Oh no.” That sort of thing. I always have C.J. on my hip and I’m walking around. I’m not ever quite as still as Juliet. I’m fairly goofy and nerdy. But I have had more men look at me a little terrified. I think men are intrigued and they want to engage in some sort of smackdown.

Q: We know Juliet has been around some pretty awful men (ex-husband followed by Henry/Ben).
Yes, she’s allowed herself to be taken advantage of. [But] she has a lot going for her. Her intellect is awfully huge. I think that is also something that other people have used. You have to figure she has some parental issues there as well.

Q: We like her one second and then we hate her.
Well, sure. Here she is and she seems fine and then she’ll do other things and you think, “What a lousy thing to do.” And you don’t want to trust her. My mom says, “I’ve just decided that she’s basically good.” And I said, “Well, good!”

Q: But do you really know?
I do and I don’t. I have a pretty clear idea of some things, but this is way down the line.

Q: We know she burns muffins and grills sandwiches.
I think she just puts the toothpicks in the sandwiches. And she’s made soup. I don’t think she’s a particularly good cook.

Q: Did you come up with your own Juliet backstory?
It turns out that what I came up with seems very similar to what [the writers have] come up with. We just did another flashback. She just makes sense to me. I hope that doesn’t mean I’m particularly creepy.

Q: What are your theories about the show?
I have tons of theories. As to what’s true and what isn’t, I don’t know.
(Husband mutters something in the background.)
He says we still don’t freaking know anything (laughs).

Q: Have you always been a “Lost” watcher?
Yes, in the first year and a half. I loved that it was cinematic. That it was a character drama. I thought it was fun to watch and that it looked fun to do. And that it was a really sexy show.
But then I was pregnant. And I was not a particularly great pregnant woman. I really didn’t have patience for anything.

Q: Did you fall in love with any particular character?
Hurley. Because how can you not?

Q: But the big question: Sawyer or Jack?
I was always a Jack girl. I’m in my thirties and I sort of feel like Sawyer is for when you’re in your twenties. He’s hot, sexy, a bad boy. I kind of married a Jack. I like the good guys.
(Husband again says something in the background. Mitchell is heard telling husband: You’re a bad boy.)
He wants you to know that he also has Sawyer characteristics.

Seattle Times