Star Telegram

October 31, 2009

‘V’ star Elizabeth Mitchell getting kick out of action role

Elizabeth Mitchell, star of the new ABC series V, loves science fiction because it’s a genre in which “anything is possible.”

“It can be enjoyable, escapist entertainment,” says Mitchell, who spent the past three TV seasons on the island of Lost, “but then you can look beneath the surface and find all kinds of interesting, high-minded things going on.”
And speaking of anything being possible, Mitchell says, how about the fact that she has morphed into a TV action hero?
“At the age of 39,” the Dallas native says, “it’s fun to be the one who carries a gun and kicks butt. I love it.”

Mitchell plays Erica Evans, an FBI counterterrorism agent who is among the first to recognize that highly advanced “Visitors” from another world have devious intentions hidden behind their message of peace.
V, which premieres at 7 p.m. Tuesday, is a “re-imagining” of the popular 1980 miniseries. The original was chilling in its time, but today it comes across as cheap and cheesily acted, especially when compared to this update.
Mitchell took a break from shooting last week to talk about the show:

Does V mean no more Lost? Was that the last we’ll see of Juliet after she blew up the island last season?
After I chose to do V, they [Lost] asked me to come back. V is a full-time job, but I will pop up on Lost here and there. By the way, it was absolutely not my choice to leave Lost. It was their choice. But I loved, loved, loved my time on Lost. It was a great character, and the romance for Juliet and Sawyer [Josh Holloway] was wonderful to play.

Did your ties to Lost help you snag V in any way?
Maybe a little. They were having a hard timing finding their female protagonist. They had already found Morena Baccarin [who plays the lead Visitor], and they were thrilled about her, but they wanted someone very different to play this Erica role. I read the script and I was pretty excited about it. Then I made [Lost co-star] Evangeline Lily come over and read it, and she liked it, too. So I figure it got her Lost seal of approval.

Why does the network seem to be afraid to use the word “remake”?
I don’t know. But that’s one of the talking points I got, that we are doing an “homage” and a “re-imagining” of the original V. It’s not a shot-for-shot remake — far from it — although actually that would be fascinating to do, especially because it would still be completely new to the generation of viewers that never saw it. But this, it’s kind of like what Battlestar Galactica did. I liked the original, but it was also fun to see how they took a fantastic idea and went off on their own flight of fancy. That’s kind of what we do, too.

Erica proves to be a woman who can keep her cool in crisis situations. Is that a quality you possess?
When things go wrong, I .?.?. get very, very calm and extremely rational. The last time I was in an earthquake, I was shaving my legs. And I remember that I lifted the razor away from my legs and I was like, “Should I continue to shave or should I check on the boys first?” I put the razor down, checked on the boys, then went back and finished shaving. I just get into this really bizarre, super-rational, super-calm state of mind, even in the worst of circumstances. I have no idea why. My husband thinks it’s hilarious.

Maybe that makes you ideally suited to play Erica.
Maybe. Although I’ve had directors take me to task for it. We’ll be doing a scene, and they’ll say, “You’re supposed to be scared. I need to see more fear.” And I’m like, “I’m more than happy to give you fear, but really my character is just trying to figure out what to do next.”

Star Telegram

Liz | CJ | Lost | V | Evangeline Lilly | xm