EW 2009: Geek Goddess – November 2009

November 6, 2009

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Geek Goddess
Elizabeth Mitchell scores a leading role on ”V” – The ex-”Lost” star talks about her new gig on ABC’s alien-invasion drama

Telekinesis was one of the first big words that Elizabeth Mitchell learned as a little girl. Intrigued, she focused hard on a pencil and tried to move it with her mind. Alas, nothing happened — the first time, or the sixth. Next, hopped up on fantasy novels and comic books, she attempted to fly by soaring off her bed…and knocked the wind out of herself. ”There’s the child who really believes that if you move just the right way, you can go into another world,” she says. ”I’m that child.”

Three decades later, she’s making another big leap into a different world. Fresh off her stellar turn on Lost as fertility doctor Juliet — who seemingly perished while triggering a hydrogen bomb — Mitchell will anchor ABC’s eagerly anticipated drama V. In the reboot of the ’80s alien-invasion miniseries (debuting Nov. 3; see review on page 46), she stars as FBI agent/concerned mom Erica Evans, who discovers that some ET ”Visitors” haven’t really come in peace. “I get to be the action hero…. Asses have to be kicked,” she says, relaxing near her Bainbridge Island, Wash., home, where she lives with her husband and her 4-year-old son, CJ.

In addition to being TV’s newly minted geek goddess (she was mobbed at Comic-Con in July), Mitchell is a cheery, charming presence and a dynamic storyteller. For example, the 39-year-old Dallas native describes kissing Angelina Jolie in 1998’s Gia thus: “Pillowy and fabulous. Honestly, you got lost in her lips. It was almost overwhelming, like a peach.” She’s also winningly modest, with a habit of suggesting other actresses when auditioning for a role: “I tell [casting directors] all the time, ‘I saw this girl and she’s amazing, and I think she’d be so much better for this.’ And they’re like, ‘You know you’re in the casting room right now?'” Luckily she didn’t talk her way out of a job on Lost, and stretched what could’ve been a short-term role into a three-season gig by crafting a compelling portrait of the compassionate yet inscrutable Juliet. Mitchell finished last season entwined in an engaging love story with Sawyer (Josh Holloway) — and perhaps saving the day at her own expense. “The decision to kill Juliet was absolutely brutal,”‘ says exec producer Damon Lindelof, adding, “We have to really love you to give you a finale death.”

“I cried for a couple days,”‘ recalls Mitchell. “Evangeline [Lilly] and my sister came over and we drank until we fell asleep on the couch, which was not good, because none of us are big drinkers. We woke up and said, ‘Let’s do ice cream next time, okay?”’ Mitchell is, however, slated to appear in multiple Lost episodes this season, hinting only that ”Juliet gets to talk to someone she loves.”‘

But Lost‘s loss is V‘s gain. V exec producer Scott Peters believes Mitchell is the ultimate versatile heroine: “You look into her eyes and you see a vulnerability but you see a strength. Plus, she has the bluest eyes I’ve seen on film.” Mitchell insists she’s not nervous about headlining a high-profile show, even one that’s undergone tinkering: In September, V shut down production for nearly five weeks to help the writers ”maximize creative opportunities,” according to a statement from Warner Bros. TV, which produces the show. “We needed to up the intensity,” notes Mitchell. ‘‘The new stuff is amazing…. Everything I’ve received is ‘more,’ and I’m a big fan of ‘more.'” And her loyal fanboys and -girls are glad to see more of her. “I’m a dork and a nerd,” admits the actress, who once breathlessly approached the son of Duneauthor Frank Herbert in a bank. “They know I’m one of them. Completely. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, I’m a sci-fi fan — with a soccer mom on the outside.”

Liz | Sister | CJ | Evangeline Lilly | Angelina Jolie | Scott Peters | x