This is another truly amazing interview with Liz about “Witch Hunt” but I love that she talks about life through the movie.
It contains huge spoilers if you haven’t watched the movie yet. I love the question about the last scene and the story behind it.
Martha trying to create a normal life in her house despite the circumstances is one of the things that I noticed while I watched this for the first time. It makes this character an amazing mom as well. I think our kids have the right to live their childhood and parents need to work as much as they can to make sure that happens. In a world like “Witch Hunt” it’s even braver. Martha has the job to explain what is wrong in their world to two young male kids, but at the same time let them play and be light-hearted children.
I love what Liz said about Martha being motherly to all the girls that come to her house, how she wants to protect them, that she wants them close but she can’t and she keeps her distance. There is that scene when she puts them behind that door where she is so stressed and sorry and you feel she doesn’t want to, but she has to. What an amazing thought Liz has about Martha worrying about them even when they are gone. Beautiful. The way Liz goes so deep into the mind of a character, even for details that are not shown in the movie/show is something that has always fascinated me. I love doing the same with what I watch.
This part is so beautiful:
“That was such a joy to film! I think loving a child is definitely — you know when you try that thing when you first fall in love in life, right, where you’re like, “Well, I’m not going to let myself fall in love!” [laughs] And we all know how well that goes! It doesn’t! So I feel like Martha is trying to create distance, trying to make sure she’ll be okay, and then I think at some point in her life, Martha was just like, “You know what? I’m gonna love her with every fiber of my being, and if this all has to come to an end, then that’s what has to happen, and that’s okay.””
And I am simply in love with the hope she has in this:
“So, if anything, I’m just always drawn to that genre and the books because I love the women in them. You know, I think that just because they could make someone an alien, they could make her the boss, and it kind of got around our societal norms for a bit, until society started to catch up.”
Witch Hunt: Elizabeth Mitchell Finds Martha’s Quiet Strength
Witch Hunt star Elizabeth Mitchell explains why she considers it ‘an honor’ to play the role of Martha in Elle Callahan’s fantasy thriller film.
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Witch Hunt, now available in theaters and on digital.
Martha just wants to make her world a better place. In Witch Hunt, the loving mother of three recognizes just how draconian America’s witchcraft laws can be, so she puts herself — and her family — on the line to smuggle young witches across the Mexican border to safety. After two young witches named Fiona and Shae come through her home, though, Martha’s family may never be the same.
Speaking to CBR, Witch Hunt star Elizabeth Mitchell explained why she connected with Martha’s character right away. She praised Martha’s quiet strength and described it as “an honor” to play her. She broke down why Martha needs to keep some distance between herself and the witches she rescues, as well as how that factored into Martha’s last conversation with her daughter Claire. She also shared the surprising circumstances behind that emotional final scene, discussed the film’s challenging conclusion, offered some of her thoughts on sci-fi and fantasy in general and more.
CBR: It is so rare to see a project about women by women. How did that impact your experience on Witch Hunt?
Elizabeth Mitchell: Oh, I was so excited! I was so excited to work with a female director that I respect and admire, and I was so excited to work with Gideon [Adlon] and with Abby [Cowen]. I mean, just the whole thing felt so good to me, from before we started, from pre-production to when we were in the thick of it. I love working with women! [laughs] I grew up in a family surrounded by them, so it feels really comfortable to me.
As I was watching the film, I found myself drawing parallels between Witch Hunt‘s story and some current events we’ve lived through recently. What were some of your inspirations as you set out to develop this character with director Elle Callahan?
Well, I think that Martha was very clear to me from the beginning. I really loved her strength. I admired her from the second I read her, because there are a lot of people who do good and they say, “Look at me! Look what I’m doing! I’m so good!”, you know?
And then there’s Martha. She simply does the right thing and tries to make sure that no one ever knows about it! [laughs] I love the quiet grace of that. I love that idea of having to appear to be one thing, but being something else completely different on the inside. It just felt an honor, really, to play someone like her. I loved it.
Maybe it’s because I work for a site that focuses on comics, but the way you described her reminds me of Superman.
I thought so too! That’s how she was on the page as well. I just found her so interesting in her quiet way. She’s not overly demonstrative with anybody. You know, she quietly does what needs to be done, and I admire that.
Those are my favorite heroes, actually. So I just thought she was terrific, and I was so happy to think about getting to play her, and playing her felt remarkably fun to me. I knew what she wanted, and I knew what she had at stake and Elle and I found a path to her that made me so happy.
Which aspect of Martha’s character do you relate to the most, and why?
I’m a pretty gentle person. I had one producer call me “The Velvet Hammer” one time. I don’t believe in raising my voice; I don’t feel like I have to. I think there can be a real strength in doing the right thing and having your strength of conditions. I’ve also been granted the ability to do that, based on how I was born and who I am and all of those things, but I loved the chameleon that is her.
I found myself loving the underground, or the fear that is always running through her. That was something that really clued me into her. I think that when we are brave, and we’re just, “I’m fearless! I can do anything!”, I don’t think Martha feels that. I think that she has a tremendous amount of fear. I think she’s scared all the time, and she still does it.
That’s really what I came to, is that her need to do it is so overriding in her desire to make a better world for her daughter, for her sons, for everybody, that she will do anything she can and whatever in small way she can to make it work, even if it costs her everything to make things better. The people like that in our world, they’re my favorite kind of people. They’re my heroes.
Motherhood is such an important, core theme in this film. How has — or hasn’t — your work on this movie changed the way that you see motherhood?
Well, you know, that whole quote about your heart walking around outside your body is true, as a mother. The minute they’re born, your whole world and the way that you see things changes, because from now on, there is this creature, this little amazing creature, that suddenly means more to you than anything. It is your job to protect them! [laughs] You become far more fierce, and you worry more, and their every footstep and breath and keeping them alive. It is totally dependent on you.
I found that to be really profound in my own life. I see Martha with that fear all the time, but she’s also trying to create a life. The kids play, they have family time; they have a situation where they’re leading as normal life as possible. That is something that she has absolutely, completely created a situation where they can be in this incredible stress — or she can be, but her kids can still have a life and the strength of that boggles my mind.