IGN – November 2009

November 2, 2009

Elizabeth Mitchell and Morena Baccarin Welcome You to V

Walking along the Vancouver backlot where the new V is being shot, Elizabeth Mitchell (best known as Lost‘s Juliet) is noting that when it comes to taking time to promote her new series, “It’s worth it. Most of the time, you want to build the hype so something less than adequate can be put out there and people will swallow it. But in this particular case, we’re like, ‘Just watch it!’ That’s all we really want you to do is actually just turn on your television and watch it, because then you’ll want to watch the next one. You’re going to think it’s good. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be out here saying, ‘It’s really good!'”

A remake of the 1980s miniseries of the same name, V begins when the alien “Visitors”, led by Anna (Firefly‘s Morena Baccarin) arrive on Earth, touting a message of peace. While none of the characters in the new V are direct versions of the originals, viewers will certainly recall the beautiful, commanding Diana (played by Jane Badler) when they see the beautiful, commanding Anna. However, when comparing the two, Baccarin remarks, “I think Diana’s a lot more evil. It’s a very different character. It’s a different show. Anna I think strides that line between good and evil a little bit more.”

That being said, Baccarin adds, “I think Anna definitely wants to call the shots. Anna is the leader of the Visitors, so she’s the one and calling the shots and figuring out what needs to happen in order for them to get what they want.” However, Baccarin notes, “It would be wrong to play her as this misogynistic leader that just demands what she does of people. I think one of the wonderful things that the writers have given me with Anna is a nurturing personality. Somebody that has the well being of other people in mind. She doesn’t take s**t, but at the same time, she’s a nurturing leader.”

The arrival of the Visitors, or “Vs” as they’re quickly referred to, causes many different reactions in the populace. Mitchell’s FBI agent Erica Evans is wary, especially as her own teenage son Tyler (Logan Huffman) becomes very entranced by the Vs – especially the beautiful Lisa (Smallville‘s Laura Vandervoort). Mitchell was filming the fourth episode of V when I visited the set, and she noted that Erica, “Has somewhat of a quick-trigger temper. I’ve learned that she’s good at juggling working and motherhood, but not very good. She is a wonderful mother, but she’s also incredibly split. She’s so good at what she does. She’s so good at her job. She’s so good at getting in there and figuring it all out, and I think as in all people who do heroic things, she feels as though if she’s not there doing it, then the world will fall to pieces… and in this case, it will fall! So I think that’s really fun. I’ve enjoyed that.”

The character with perhaps the biggest dilemma in the face of the Vs’ arrival, at least on a spiritual level, is Jack Landry, played by The 4400‘s Joel Gretsch. Sitting with me on the sets for the FBI offices belonging to Erica and her partner Dale Maddox (Alan Tudyk), Gretsch notes, “Jack’s a priest. So he says, ‘Aliens showing up is not in the scriptures. How do you relate that to God?’ He’s in a complete quandary.”

Gretsch added that Jack also can’t help note that people died when the Vs suddenly arrived in giant spaceships floating over major cities, “And he also has a gut instinct that something’s not right. And I love that aspect of Father Jack. He’s a man of faith and faith is such a difficult thing for everybody. Faith that your loved ones are going to be okay, that life is going to work out, that you’re going to get enough money that you’re going to be able to support your family. So faith is a difficult thing, and even though he’s a man of faith, this aspect of it… He’s seeing that people are looking towards [the Vs] and discussion of devotion is frightening to him, because we want to have them steer more towards God than them. But they’re promoting all their technology to help people, and it’s hard to not get wrapped up in that, because people are looking for somebody to take care of them and help them. It’s a very unsettling thing.”

Scott Wolf describes his character, reporter Chad Decker, as, “A guy who’s successful, but not nearly as successful as he believes that he should be. Ambitious, but kind of being looked over. I think he wants to be more important than that, but by the time his moment comes where the devil is offering him a deal for his soul, he’s not so separated from his own integrity yet that that’s an easy decision.”

That devil is Anna, who offers Chad the interview of a lifetime, but with some very specific caveats that are not journalistically responsible. Wolf noted that Chad’s ambition makes him vulnerable, “to being co-opted by the Visitors. They see that in him and choose him because of that. Clearly he has a lot to gain from this, which is one of the fun things about Chad’s place in the story. If aliens arrived tomorrow, like they do in our story, we’d all have our own reaction based on who we are and what that even would mean for us. So for Chad, there’s a huge opportunity in this arrival and he wants to capitalize on it. The thing that makes it really kind of fun and a cat and mouse game between him and them is that he wants it bad enough that he just might sell the world out to get it.”

Baccarin is very familiar with science fiction, thanks to her work on Firefly and Stargate SG-1 and said of V, “What I love about this show is there are these sci-fi shows that are all about the sci-fi – All about the spaceship and the aliens and the people with three eyes. We’re not that. There are sci-fi elements to it and it is an alien show, but it’s about the humans and the Visitors and our relationships to each other. We look like humans and we interact like humans. There’s really a lot of fine tuning and interesting relationship drama that will draw people to it.”

Said Gretsch, “I think great storytelling is mirroring what’s going on in society. Post 9/11 has changed all of us forever, regardless of whether you live in the United States. And there are people out there with not very good intentions. That’s just a reality. And I think this story mirrors that. I think back in the time when the original V came out, there was a certain mirroring of things that were occurring that rattle us. The version we’re doing now, the aspect of trust is huge. Who do you trust? In our lives, who do you trust? Who can you really trust?”

Gretsch has plenty of experience with sci-fi as well, thanks to Taken and The 4400, and remarked, “Sci-fi projects I think are just great storytelling. There’s a great duality to have sci-fi and then to have character-driven stuff. The stuff that I’ve gotten to do has been both of that. It’s not just the sci-fi aspect and it’s not just character driven. It’s both. Sci-fi I always think makes you think a little bit bigger. You look up into space and it’s so vast and extraordinary and it’s nice to have a show that will go to the what if. It’s such a playful, wonderful area and it makes your imagination just take off.”

V debuts in November with four episodes airing through the month – before the show then takes a long break, returning in the spring with more episodes. ABC is referring to this first batch of episodes as a “pod”, and many are questioning if it will work or not – those in favor argue that if the show airs four strong episodes, it will simply help anticipation for what’s to come, but others fear that any momentum being built (both in terms of audience and storyline) could be jeopardized by the show being off the air so quickly after it debuts. Mitchell shrugged over the debate over the scheduling, simply stating, “The pod will either work or it will not.” However, she added that when it came to the first four episodes and the writers’ knowledge that they would air by themselves, “The pod is exciting, because we got to do a lot of fun stuff. The pod got pumped up. The pod got some steroids.”

The night before my visit to the set, Mitchell had invited the entire cast over to her home, to watch the pilot episode together. Praise was high on set for the extremely friendly and likable Mitchell, with Gretsch noting, “I even said to my wife, ‘God, she’s great!’ What you see is what you get with Elizabeth. Even before you say action or cut, she’s fully alive, she’s fully present with you, she’s expressive and encompassing. She’s generous… I said to her the other day, ‘You’re a little weird, Elizabeth.’ Because she’s so great! She’s so unusually great. She’s been a joy to work with and I feel that way about the whole cast.”

Mitchell shared that enthusiasm for her castmates, praising them all. She noted that she and Baccarin have not shot any scenes together yet – though it’s hard to believe that when Erica and Anna meet, it will be on very friendly terms. Mitchell felt nothing but love for Baccarin though, noting, “She’s just a sweet, smart, fantastically talented New York actress.” Mitchell then paused a moment, and with a grin, got back into Erica’s mindset, adding, “I’m willing to fight her though.”


V | Morena Baccarin