The TV Chick, May 11 2010

MAY 2010

Elizabeth Mitchell is one of those actresses that has a way of drawing you in. On Lost, Juliet became such a beloved character that I would venture to say was probably just as popular as the Oceanic 6. She now plays Erica Evans on V, where she doubles as an FBI Agent and a leader of the 5th Column (the resistance movement against the Vs). Whatever the role she takes on, Elizabeth Mitchell is just brilliant. I recently had the chance to speak with her and we talked about the upcoming Erica/Anna showdown, the similarities and differences between Erica and Juliet and her favorite moments from filming Lost. (We even chatted a little bit about our golden retrievers!) And while she could share next to nothing about the way Lost ends, we talked about her time there and if she was happy with the way her story ended.

What originally drew you to the role of Erica?
Well, it’s actually really interesting because since I was a little kid, I wanted to play kind of a sci-fi hero protagonist woman. And that really was it. That was the initial draw, and it was basically kind of a childhood wish fulfillment — that sort of thing. Because that’s what I watched, and that’s what I love. And then as I started getting into it and my character started getting more interesting, I was like “Cool, okay this is cool.” So that’s what initially drew me to it. Actually, honestly that was it. I thought it would be a really unique and interesting way to spend my time. And I thought it would be really fun. I had been doing such deep, dark stuff, I thought that taking a little kind of a popcorn movie would be great. Not of course realizing that once I joined it, she would become twisted and dark. (laughs) But you know, that’s just me, that’s what I tend to do.

Well, I like it!
Good, I’m glad. Thank you!

What do you think makes V different from Lost or any other shows you have been on?
Well Lost was really its own world, and so completely unique in the way they went about doing things. Because of Damon, I think, and his tricky little intricate mind. But I actually think that V for me is different because it’s an action-adventure sci-fi show. Whereas Lost was really — I guess you could call it sci-fi, but it was really just this unique hybrid of all kinds of wonderful things. But I just think V is kind of — or what I was hoping for at least — was kind of a shoot-em-up, sci-fi, us-against-them kind of thing and of course, it’s turned into all kinds of wonderful murky shades of gray which is even more interesting, really. Those were my kind of hopes. I kind of wanted to be Han Solo, you know, that kind of thing. So we have one of those now. I think I really do best as the kind of tortured critter who walks around trying to figure everything out. (laughs)

Erica is very suspicious of the Vs for good reason. Do you think the 5th Column is going to gain more followers as the show goes on?
I do think they will, and a lot of it has to do with faith. The whole show I think — it’s so funny, people went political with it, which I thought was great, because I love hearing what people think about things. But to me, it’s all about faith — blind faith for them. It’s about having faith in something. And really, the faith is here, but the Vs are bad. You know, there’s only been a few instances that she can actually pinpoint to say this is true. But her overall feeling is one of such tremendous evil coming her way that she’s taking it on faith that that’s what this is and she’s doing everything she can to stop it. So I believe more and more people will start to feel that way, and things will start to get scarier and scarier. And of course, we as the audience know that Anna is up to no good. But as far as the human race goes, she’s pretty good on paper, as they say. (laughs)

What don’t we know about the Vs that we might find out soon?
Well, I mean, the fact that Anna has all those teeth is pretty cool. I guess we’re going to find out a little bit about the baby which is super super cool. And I think that’s going to be really fun. That’s something I didn’t get to see that I just read about. So I’m very excited to see how the Val and Ryan thing goes.

Yeah, the baby with the tail.
Yeah! How cool is that?! I think we’re going to find out more about what their agenda is, and what their capabilities are. And a little bit more about what they possibility might need from us, and why can’t she just take it peacefully? Why do they have to take it with such force? Obviously, they want something from us that we’re not really willing to give up, or else they wouldn’t be so sneaky about it. I mean, I don’t think Anna’s being sneaky just to be sneaky, that’s just a waste of time. But you never know. (laughs)

And talk a little bit about Erica’s relationship with her son, Tyler. Is she ever going to talk some sense into him?
No I know! It’s really funny, because I was just reading one kind of little review which I don’t usually do because I feel like it can get in your head a little bit. But there’s a couple people that I read, and I’m like “Oh, okay,” because they usually have a pretty good understanding. And one of them was like, “And then he put on the jacket. And that’s getting old!” And I thought well, it is actually, if you think about it. So I don’t think it’s the jacket that keeps her from talking to him, I think it’s the fact that if he knew, and he’s such a kid, I don’t believe he would make good choices with his knowledge, if that makes any sense. I think that any more knowledge that he has, puts him in more danger. And she’s just, she’s completely lost. But I love their relationship. It’s such a teenager relationship. He’s just a long streak of misery. And she basically kind of puts up with it. She’s obviously not a good mother. I mean, anyone who comes home and downs three fingers of vodka is probably not a good mom. (laughs)

(laughs) And what would you like to see from your character going forward?
I’m a big fan of banter. So of course, I would love to see more bantering. I really do have a big old crush on Hobbs and Father Jack, and I would like to see that banter go further. And by banter, I don’t mean anything that would make people go “Huh? Oh God!” I’m just talking about basically playful — the thing that guys do together but when women and men do it, it makes it kind of fun. I’d love to see that. And I think that of course, under these circumstances, that would probably be played as kind of not so great. So maybe as we get further into it, the gallow of humor will kick in. And of course, I would love to see her with more crisis of conscience. I would really love for her to be, let’s say, drawn to Hobbs or drawn to Father Jack. I would really love to see her make a move on Father Jack, and have Father Jack completely rebuff her. And that to me would be really fascinating in their friendship, because it would be the kind of thing where she’s like “Oh gosh, okay, oh that was horrible. Okay God is completely against me now.” All of those things that might happen if you try to hit on a priest. I’d love to see all kinds of things. I’d love to see her be more active. I’d love to see all the things that the audience would love to see, I’d love to see that too. That’s the thing about when other people are writing, you go down the roads that they choose, and they tend to be really fascinating. And you’re like “Oh okay, I see that.”

I was just about to ask about your relationship with Father Jack, because there’s definitely some tension there.
Yeah and there gets to be more. We played the ending moment between us in the finale a couple of different ways. (laughs) And there was one where Joel was getting closer and closer and closer and he was like “You’re really not going to back away, are you?!” and I was like “No.” (laughs) And also we’ve played massive gags on each other because I’m there with a bunch of big, strong alpha guys. We laugh all day, we have the best time.

And I’ve heard that there’s going to be a big Anna/Erica showdown. Can you share a little bit about that?
Yeah, I mean Erica gets invited up to the ship. And I think that much drama and standoff tension will ensue. I really enjoyed working with Morena. She’s very smart, very sharp, and incredibly funny. So living with a comedian the way that I do, I had tremendous appreciation for her, as does he. He was like, “Okay, Morena’s on it.” So yeah, we have a sort of standoff, and I do all kinds of really sneaky, horrible things to her that if you actually think about, are truly horrifying. So let’s really hope that they’re the bad guys, or else Erica’s definitely going to hell.

(laughs) Well maybe Father Jack can help her with that.
I’m thinking unless of course she tries to kiss him, in which case, he can’t exactly be an advocate. So I think Erica’s kind of sunk in a lot of different ways, which should get really interesting. Once people break their ties with all kinds of morality, that’s when characters start getting really fun for me. But maybe that’s just because my life is filled with morality and I enjoy it that way.

Well that’s a good thing.
Oh no, it is. I love that. That’s what makes it fun for me to play such interesting characters.

Of course. And do you think Erica relates to Anna or the Vs on a motherly level or any level at all?
Yeah, I think that she has some feelings for Lisa, actually. I think she almost can’t help herself. I think it’s one of those things where she finds herself kind of drawn to her and wants to protect her. And I don’t think that’s something she wants at all. I think that she has to really fight against that. But there’s something about Lisa to Erica that is very child-like, and she really does want to take care of her. So yes, she absolutely relates to Lisa. Of course, she doesn’t know she’s a V yet, but once she finds out. And then of course, I don’t know if she relates to Anna, but I know she sees her as a worthy adversary. There’s something about the way Anna can play things and do things, that I think Erica just watches with intense fascination, as well as thinking it’s abhorrent and of course knowing that’s the downfall right there. I think that she sees a little bit of herself in her, and that’s always terrifying. The friends that never get along are the ones who are most alike. (laughs)

(laughs) No that’s a good point, I never thought of it like that. And you and Morena and Laura have come from shows with a cult following. So were you prepared for the popularity that came along with V?
Well, I mean I don’t know if anything’s all that different. But to me, I don’t really live in the real world. I live with my husband and my child, so I think that I’ve always said, and I’ve always love sci-fi fans. Sci-fi fans are really smart and I enjoy that tremendously. People ask me “Does it bug you to have to answer questions?” No, because they’re really usually intelligent questions, so I’m quite happy.

I know you can’t spoil too much, but can you give us a little teaser of what’s coming up in the rest of the season? Any big surprises maybe?
Yeah! There will definitely be a little bit of a — at least Anna and Erica will meet, which I think is wonderful. I believe that Erica is going to find out something wonderful about — well not wonderful, something really kind of terrifying — about Lisa, which is also exciting. And I think Erica gets better at playing the game that she’s playing here. And some crazy stuff happens! They packed so much in that final thing, that I was like “Okay!” My husband always says things like “Oh that was huge!” So he thought it was cool.

Well that’s good. So let’s just switch gears over to Lost. Juliet is/was one of my favorite characters. And I wanted to know, are you anything like her at all?
It’s very interesting that you should ask that. Every time I kind of get into the Juliet mindset, she gets a lot more still. So I guess in some ways, Juliet is a lot how I would like to be, besides the sociopathic tendency. She’s very still and she listens. And then of course the part of her that is maternal, that is caring, I like to think that’s very much me. But maybe I’m a cold, hard person and don’t know it. But I am somewhat of a nurturer with my friends and my family, so that has a lot to do with it. Her insanely brilliant mind? I mean the writers tell me they got that from me (laughs) but I think that’s just how they like to see me. But I love the way she uses words, so her speech patterns are very similar. There’s lots of similarities. Of course, we’re talking about a severely abused woman. She always had to resort to all kinds of things to succeed and to survive basically. I very fortunately don’t have those things.

Yeah, absolutely. (laughs)
(laughs) There’s no Ben in my life, let’s say.

And Erica and Juliet are both powerful women in very different ways. What has it been like playing that type of character?
I’ve really enjoyed it. I enjoyed that Juliet really had kind of, for a long time, lost her moral compass. And I actually really enjoyed that Erica has one. That really interests me as far as the two people go. I enjoy the fact that Juliet has become who she was because of the island, and Erica is on her way to becoming who she is, if that makes any sense. It’s more about the journey of who she’s going to be and what she’s going to turn out. She’s just not a fully formed person one way or another, which is fascinating to me because it’s almost like life.

Right. Totally. (laughs)
(laughs) But I love playing strong women. They appeal to me, I have two sisters, I try to put out that idea like “Oh I was raised that way,” so for me to play strong women is fun. It makes a lot of sense to me. And then of course, I’m always drawn to the victims as well. (laughs)

I think both Erica and Juliet are victims and powerful women.
They’re vulnerable and they’re powerful, and I enjoy their power. I think it’s fun.

Yeah, absolutely. The show is beloved to so many who are sad to see it go. Why do you think Lost is such a success?
I personally think, and this has nothing to do with me because I didn’t start it, I think it was a combination of the actors who were all so different and so powerful, and then the writing. I think that Damon is really brilliant and every time I would get scripts that he was involved with or hear his words or hear his voice. He has a very clear idea about making all the voices different for each person. And I think that he made some great drama, some great romance, and he has a wonderful mind for that, so lucky him! (laughs) And lucky us for getting to work with him. But I definitely think it’s that. I think it was a combination of that and then of course, you can’t discount Hawaii. I think the fact that it was another character, kind of like New York is another character for “Sex and the City,” not to compare the two. But you’re talking about places being so much there, and the jungle and beaches and the sky and the way that it looks and the land, that I think brought so much heart and soul to it and kind of made all the performances seem very visceral and real. And of course there’s the mystery. Everyone loves a mystery, [but they] like the relationships the most.

And can you tell me if you can pinpoint one of your favorite moments from filming the show?
My favorite moments, it’s going to make you laugh, but I was sitting up in the mountains with Terry O’Quinn and with Josh [Holloway], and Terry and Josh were playing the guitar and we were singing and it was probably one of the most peaceful, amazing moments. Because you wake up, you know you get there at five in the morning and the sun comes up, and you’re in the most breathtaking place you can imagine with some of the coolest people. So those would be my favorite moments, and sitting and playing cards with the whole group and listening to everybody laugh and sing and talk. That was the best. And that first couple weeks I had with Matthew behind the glass. That was really something, because it was interesting to create this character that was still kind of weird and nobody knew if they liked her or not. Even my director whose known me for a long time, was like “I don’t know, this is weird.” “I know it’s weird, but let’s just go with it.” I think I really enjoyed that because there was a tremendous amount of freedom there. I’d just had a baby and I honestly just didn’t care what people thought about anything which is a lovely place to be for an actress because it gives you a lot of freedom.

And now that you’ve shot it, and I know you can tell me absolutely nothing, but how do you feel about the way Juliet’s story was wrapped up?
I loved so much of it. Let’s say that I love half of it tremendously. And then of course, I think as with any time, the end story is served. And then there were things that I was like “Oh, why didn’t we? Why didn’t we? Why didn’t we?” and the reason we didn’t was because it’s not the Juliet show, it’s Lost. (laughs) I think there were things I would have loved just selfishly to kind of know what was in their heads as far as that goes. But the way they did and what they did, I’m very happy.

Good. And do you have any plans to watch the finale?
Oh yeah, I’ll probably watch with my husband, because he can deal with my cringing or laughing or going “Oh!!” or anything like that.

And V is still on the bubble in terms of being renewed. I really hope it is, obviously. Do you have any other projects coming up during the hiatus?
I don’t. You know, I’ve been thinking about that. Instead, I’m taking my family to Italy. And I think I’m doing that for a lot of reasons. One is because I’ve been working 16 hour days on V and then going over and shooting in Hawaii on the weekends. So I think that they’re definitely needing some of the big time family time. Yeah! We’re going to go away and then do some foreign press over in Monte Carlo which will be great. I do have a little movie coming out, but I have no idea when. And I’ve been reading some gorgeous stuff, but all of it depends on what happens with the show and I don’t think we’re going to know that for a while.

And do you have anything you’d like to say to your fans — of Lost or V or both?
I say the same things to Lost fans that I’ve always said, and that’s thank you. I love this character. I love, love how intelligent and complicated and just kind of amazing she was. And the fact that she was embraced by anyone was always kind of shocking and uplifting to me (laughs). Because I loved her and when other people did, you’re just like “Oh God, that’s fantastic!” A massive thank you. Some of the smartest, most wonderful people I’ve met, so that was lucky.

V airs Tuesday nights at 10 pm on ABC and the Lost series finale airs on Sunday, May 23rd.

Source: The TV Chick