Mania Interview: Elizabeth Mitchell (Mania.com)

By:Kurt Anthony Krug
Date: Tuesday, January 04, 2011

After Elizabeth Mitchell left the TV series Lost, a week later she received the script for V, which is returning January 4 for its second season.

 

“I was really excited (V has) a female protagonist and a female antagonist,” explained Mitchell, who reprises her role as FBI Agent Erica Evans, opposite Morena Baccarin (Serenity), who reprises her role as the villainous Anna.

 

Mitchell continued, “Even though it was an ensemble, the fact that it was being sold that way or even listed that way was fun for me. I never really had the chance to play a mother before. I did in Frequency (opposite Dennis Quaid) play a young mother (to Jim Caveziel’s character, but this is prior the birth of Mitchell’s soon in 2005), but there are so many complications with having a child and so many ways it changes you as a person, as a woman. It’s just changed my life and the way I view things. To play a warrior who is also a mother was fascinating to me. I’d like to see what would happen. It’s not clean anymore; you don’t have someone who can go in and just kind of do things, yet you have a ferocity you wouldn’t have before. That was fun for me.”

 

V is a re-imagining of the 1980s sci-fi property of the same name that starred Marc Singer (The Beastmaster), Faye Grant (Internal Affairs), and Michael Ironside (Total Recall). Created, written, produced, and directed by Kenneth Johnson (who adapted The Incredible Hulk for the small screen from 1977-82), V debuted in 1983 as a mini-series, then there was the 1984 sequel mini-series V: The Final Battle, followed by the weekly TV series from 1984-85.

 

The plot of V centered around a race of allegedly peaceful aliens dubbed the Visitors who led by Diana (Jane Badler, who is slated to appear this season in the re-imagined series). The Visitors’ ulterior motive was to eradicate the human race. The series was allegorical to the Nazis, where the Visitors started a fascist movement in the United States, essentially turning it into a police state.

However, they were thwarted by the human freedom fighters in the Resistance and a group of Visitor insurrectionists called the Fifth Column, both under the leadership of Singer’s Mike Donovan.

 

In the re-imagined V, which debuted on ABC in late 2009 (then was yanked for a 4-month hiatus before it was confirmed on May 13, 2010 that it would be picked up for a second season), the intentions of the aliens are the same as they were in the original V, but instead of the Nazi allegory, there is post-9/11 allegory. Sleeper cells of Visitors have been living in secret amongst humanity for years before Anna and the rest of her race made their official and ostentatious introduction as 29 space ships simultaneously appear above Earth’s major cities.

This season, which has only 10 episodes, producers have promised more action. Charles Mesure, who had a recurring role as Kyle Hobbes last season, is now a regular. There are two new faces: Oded Fehr (The Mummy) plays an ex-Mossad agent, and Jay Karnes (TV’s The Shield) plays Erica’s new partner.

 

For fans of the original, Singer and Badler will be appearing in recurring roles. Singer plays Lars Tremont, a member of a top secret organization of high-ranking military and government leaders who are preparing for a Visitor attack.

 

Badler plays Diana (a different incarnation of her character from the original version), the mother of Anna, who is being held prisoner on the mothership and placed in a section that is made to resemble the Visitors’ homeworld. She gets out and is none too happy with her daughter. At the same time, Anna matches wits and crosses swords with Erica, the leader of the Resistance.

 

I’m excited that we’re getting another chance,” said Mitchell. “I think the show is worth getting another shot. I think towards the end we all figured out what we were trying to do and it got better and better and better. I would love to see it get even better – that would be fantastic for me. That would be the way to do it if it can go from where it is and keeping going from there – I would be really happy with that.”

She continued, “What I’ve enjoyed about Erica and what I finally now see is that she’s in the process of becoming a hero or maybe not – maybe an anti-hero. It’s one of those things where you don’t meet (the character) and she’s all the sudden put together perfectly; she’s in the process of becoming that. The (first season) finale really sets that in motion. She finds her feet in a way. She finds a tremendous amount of strength and makes really incredibly hard choices and carries them out. I’m really happy about that… to see her take this turn. I feel she’s going in a direction that’s very interesting for me to play as an actor.”

 

Mitchell, who played Dr. Juliet Burke on the innovative, ground-breaking TV series Lost – which ended last year after six seasons – shared her perspective on what made it such a blockbuster. 

 

“I’d like to think that the writers had a vision and they stayed true to that vision,” explained Mitchell. “We got to see it and I think that made it really fun. I think it was a wonderful mix of actors – and that’s not including myself. The characters they created were so strong and so interesting. It was a situation where we all in our lives thought, ‘How would we ever do this? How would that ever happen?’ All of that wish fulfillment seemed to happen on camera. I believed them. I believed all these people. You couldn’t help but identify with someone. I think that’s what made it work... That’s what made it work for me, but everyone else is different.”

 

Creators J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, and Jeffrey Lieber created Juliet with Mitchell in mind, according to the actress.

 

“I didn’t read the script. What it was was a chance to work with Damon and J.J. They said they had a strong, interesting motherly sociopath. I thought: I’m perfect” – Mitchell laughed – “There you go. That was my choice. It was definitely having a situation of having a tremendous amount of faith in the people who were part of it rather than the role itself because there really wasn’t anything; we created what was there.”

Mitchell debuted as Juliet in the third season of Lost, where it was eventually revealed her character was traumatized by her parents’ divorce as a little girl and later abused by her ex-husband. After dying in Season 5, Juliet returned in the series finale in the “sideways” world  – revealed to be allegedly some sort of purgatory, which many fans find open to debate – and reunited with her lover Sawyer. At the end, the main characters entered a bright light, presumably entering Heaven. 

 

“She really was an abused person… doing the best she could under horrific and extraordinary circumstances,” said Mitchell. “By the time, Jack (Matthew Fox) and Sawyer (Josh Holloway) came along… she was so far down a dark path that it took her quite a bit longer than it might normally would for her to swim towards the light, towards who she actually was, which I believe was a pretty decent person. It was just an interesting study in what could happen to someone’s humanity once it starts to get stripped away.”



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