The South Magazine

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South says howday to our Austin, Texas neighbor, actress Elizabeth Mitchell to chat about her latest role, her southern life and how she stays so dang fit.

It’s no wonder that Elizabeth Mitchell feels right at home in Revolution’s post-apocalyptic world: The ABC drama series is filmed in Texas, her native stomping grounds. We sat down with the Emmy-nominated actress to chat about her string of strong female roles (the understated Dr. Juliet Burke from Lost, anyone?), her Lone Star State roots and her real life secret weapons—yoga and green juice.

SM: Welcome back to Texas, Elizabeth!
EM: Thank you! I love being here. My parents are in Dallas so it’s great to be close to them.

SM: To get started, tell me a little bit about your character Rachel Matheson, a mother and scientist on Revolution. The show is set in a post-apocalyptic world. How do you identify with the character?
EM: Rachel is a little difficult for me because she herself has such a hard time being the person she wants to be on an emotional level. That’s very sad for her. It’s not dissimilar to people who are highly intelligent but who act like 15- or 17-year-olds socially. I think her intellect is fun—it’s fun to walk around with a brain like that. Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m not a fan of the fact that she kills everyone.

SM: Rachel also saves people.
EM: I think her whole original goal was to save people. That was her identity and it was taken away, and if you’re not the hero then you’re the anti-hero. Everything she does fails. She lost her son. What she’s gone through is almost unimaginable.

SM: Who do you enjoy watching work on set?
EM: Billy Burke (Miles Matheson) and David Lyons (“Bass” Monroe) are very good at stunts. Recently, they went an entire hour sword fighting without stunt doubles or anything. I was on the sidelines cheering, “That was great!” I felt like a soccer mom.

SM: Revolution is filmed in Austin. Do you feel like you’ve become acquainted with the city while working here?
EM: My work schedule is very busy, but I try. I ride my bike places. I have one of those old-fashioned bikes with a basket in the front. I’m the resident dork. When Billy (Burke) sees it, he always goes, “Come on!” It’s funny.

SM: Austin has a lot of hills, so that must be a good workout.
EM: I’m a big believer in working out. The harder a workout is, the more I feel like I chose the right thing to do. I think you have the body that you make. Sometimes it’s fun to make it strong and sometimes it’s fun to make it feminine by eating a lot of cupcakes. I’m in a strong phase right now; six months ago, I was in a cupcake phase.

SM: What else do you do to stay fit?
EM: I’ve been very into yoga lately. Black Swan Yoga ( here in Austin in my absolute favourite place. It’s donation only! I go every day and when I can’t go, I do their routine at home.

SM: What are a few of your top restaurants in Austin?
EM: I spend most of the time with my son CJ when I’m not working. We’ve gone to Uchi, which he loves because he gets to cook meat on a rock. He thinks that’s the coolest thing that ever happened, and I’m happy because I get to eat sushi. I also get a farm delivery box from Johnson’s Backyard Garden. They deliver fresh produce and eggs to me every weekend. I just can’t believe all of the great foods that come out of Texas!

SM: What are some of your favourite items from JBG?
EM: Kate is one of my favourite vegetables, though it’s hard to eat a lot of it. I massage the leaves with olive oil and put them in the fridge to crisp up. Then I make a sea salt and balsamic reduction and add cherry tomatoes.

SM: So a number of the characters you’ve played over the last several years-Dr. Juliet Burke on Lost, FBI agent Erica Evans on V and now Rachel Matheson on Revolution-are strong, smart women. When you address these roles, who do you draw inspiration from?
EM: I’m a huge lover of Emma Thompson. She’s funny and kind and smart. She was absolutely brilliant in her adaptation of Sense and Sensibility (1995). I think it’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen, in a lyrical, soft way. The women I find beautiful are invariably over 50. I don’t know why. I think I’m drawn to their experience. About 20 years ago, Jessica Lange said, “Just when you figure out what you’re doing, they don’t want to hire you anymore.” That’s no longer the case for women today, and I think that’s very exciting.

SM: What do you admire about Texas women in particular?
EM: They’re feminine but there’s also this strength there. I remember when I fell in love with my first boyfriend. I didn’t fall in love so much with him as much as I did his mom. She was so cool. I just wanted to hang out with her all the time. He’d say, “Hey, come over here,” and I’d say, “Hold on, your mom and I are talking” [laughs]

SM: You went to Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas. Are there any acting lessons from that time that you still draw from?
EM: Discipline. I was really undisciplined in high school. The school rewarded students that worked hard, not just those that were the most talented. That taught me a great work ethic.

SM: Do you think your Southern roots give you a competitive edge in Hollywood?
EM: One producer calls me the velvet hammer. I’m a big fan of politeness, but I also think as women we have to be very careful to set our boundaries. I think you can do that in a good way: People treat you the way you set yourself up to be treated. A sense of manners goes a long way. That was drilled into me as a kid.

SM: Who was the manners guru in your family?
EM: My dad. We looked people in the eyes and shook their hands, said our pleases and thank yous. I think it’s very southern to make someone feel as if they are the only person in the room when you talk to them.

SM: What’s next for you?
EM: That’s a good question. I’ve been reading a book and I’m trying to get the rights for it. So that might be what’s next for me. I can’t say much more right now.

SM: What other books are on your nightstand?
EM: I read a few books every week. I’m currently reading This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz; Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne; Laurie B. Arnold’s Hello There, We’ve Been Waiting for You!; and The Expats by Chris Pavone, among others.

SM: What advice do you have for women who are pursing acting today?
EM: No matter the field, I would say support other women. The women you support in your youth are going to be the ones who will be directing or producing your work in the future. So be kind, always –  and be kind to yourself.

Source: South Magazine