On a uncharacteristically-chilly day in beautiful Vancouver British Columbia, I stood, waiting patiently alongside a group of of reporters for some much needed sustenance after a very long morning spent on one of the very cold sets of ABC’s V. Tired, cold — and did I mention hungry? — we stood.
And then, she appeared.
A beautiful woman with blonde hair and gorgeous blue eyes, taking the time to introduce herself to each of us, welcoming us to the set and making note of each of our names. Just like that, we forgot about the cold or the fact that it had been a long morning. Gone were the hunger pangs. (Okay, fine, I’ll admit, if someone had asked me to choose between basking in her glow or slipping over to a craft services cart for a bagel, I’d have at least hesitated before going the martyr route.)
She introduced herself to us as if any introduction were needed. Because, let’s face it: Show me a television writer unfamiliar with Elizabeth Mitchell, and I’ll show you a poser. But while Mitchell may be one of the most popular actresses currently working on the small screen, she swears that this is a relatively new phenomenon.
“I was such a dork and nerd in high school and was so massively unpopular,” she says, explaining during our exclusive chat why she goes out of her way to be some welcoming. “I try and treat people the way I wish I was treated at 16.”
In other words, Mitchell is as warm as Katherine Heigl is chilly while offering up details on V’s high-anticipated return (Erica vs. Anna? Yeah, we’re so there!), her alter ego’s love life and, of course, whether or not she’ll be putting in another appearance on a certain time-hoppin’ island.
I have to start off by asking that from what I’ve seen, you would make a fantastic fictional mother. Which begs the question, why exactly does your TV son Tyler not seem to appreciate you?
Elizabeth Mitchell: It has a lot to do with a father-y kind of thing that’s in the second episode back. We’ll find out what the problem really is, which was one of my favorite episodes to shoot. Tyler really is an optimistic, yet tortured soul, but he’s also a teenager. I get it. Teenagers are my favorite people now but at the same time they’re all kinds of impossible raw nerves. I remember what kind of energy I was putting out at that age and it wasn’t very nice. I was a tall streak of misery as a teenager. I had a mattress on the floor and really liked The Eagles because my dad liked them so I would just sit there and yell, “GO AWAY!”
What can you tell us about this mercenary character that Erica will be recruiting to help combat the V’s?
Erica must make a deal with the devil, who is played by Charles Mesure and is absolutely terrific. In fact I’m lucky, because I’m six feet tall and actually physically imposing, it’s very hard to get the drop on me. Charles is just huge in both personality and build so he comes in and kind of dwarfs Erica, yet she’s the one who has to keep him in line. It’s a nice dynamic, especially because she hates him. For his part he doesn’t care for us either, but they tolerate each other and they’re good together which is kind of freaky.
Will Erica’s mounting resistance continue to take her away from her parental responsibilities?
She’s going to come to a lot of understanding about her role as Tyler’s mother, but she may not be able to do anything about it because there is a clear and uncertain threat. Right now, the resistance is so small and up against something so huge. But I think by trying to save the world, she’s trying to save her son as well.
Would it be safe to assume that as Tyler gets closer to Anna, Lisa might start to gravitate towards Erica?
That would be fantastic and would certainly make sense. Laura [Vandervoort] is lovely and I would enjoy that very much.
The new promotional poster touting the new chapter really seems to pit Erica against Anna?
Have you seen the one where they made it look like we’re kissing?
No, but I’d imagine a certain segment of the fandom might very much enjoy that.
Why wouldn’t they, it’s kinda fun!
With your face (alongside Morena Baccarin) quite literally being used to sell the show, do you find there is more pressure on you as an actress, versus an ensemble series like LOST.
On LOST I got to jump right in. There were no repercussions, no exposition and I had no story to tell. V is great, it’s different, but I really like it. There’s a certain amount of ability to kind of set the tone on the set and I’ve always wanted to have that and it’s nice. It’s one of fear.
Oh yeah, I definitely get the impression that you rule by fear. That’s actually what everybody says about you behind your back!
I just want everybody to panic, all the time!
I suppose Extras are instructed to never look you in the eye?
God no, nobody can! Not even my fellow actors. Not until they say action, then they better be careful! It’s nice, it’s nice to set the tone and has been really fun for me.
Earlier in the day, executive producer Steve Pearlmen hinted that somebody is going to die. I image it’s not going to be Erica?
It could be anybody.
I say that because you’ve had quite the unfortunate track record as of late when it comes to surviving hit TV shows.
I have. Falling down a whole twice!
Were you surprised that you returned to LOST, only to die again. Just in case fans weren’t still reeling from Juliet’s initial death, here it is in super-painful slo-mo!
I kind of thought they shot me then looked down at me as I was dying and kicked me. But I love working for them [Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse], no matter what they do they’re pretty brilliant guys. So if they want me to come back and die again, awesome.
I have to be honest, when we were told there was a possibility that you wouldn’t be available for interviews today, my first thought was that you were back in Hawaii shooting LOST!
I do return, but I don’t know when. I’m contracted for two. Soon. V has been really good about co-operating with LOST because you know I was let go from LOST and that was it. I booked V and right in the middle they were like, wait a minute, come back and do LOST. Both shows have been really good to each other which is nice.
As a working actor, do you have ever take a moment to reflect on the fact that you played a major part in a show that will surely go down in history as one of television’s greatest?
Absolutely. I loved it. I loved the people, the experience and truly truly loved the role. Even when everybody hated Juliet, I just thought she was gangbusters. I just think she’s amazing and really fun to play. To play a tortured abused woman who comes back and is basically kind of a sociopath but then works for the good guys and then on top of all that there’s romance… I mean come’on, how often does that happen? I feel like I couldn’t even come up with that, I’m glad they did.
Since you brought up the subject of romance, in between saving the world and her family, will Erica find anytime for love?
Oh I hope so. Right now she’s kind of like Queen Elizabeth, you know the Virgin Queen. But there should be some romance, there certainly is plenty of opportunity and I feel like there are definitely things being lined up in that direction. But her choices are a Priest, a mercenary and a married guy which she’d never do I think. She’s pretty moral that Erica.
Although one one imagine she’s going to have to make some pretty tough decisions in these next batch of episodes?
Yes, especially if she’s going to get lucky.
And finally, how long will we have to wait until Erica and Anna meet face to face?
Oh that’s coming. We do have to wait for it but I don’t think it’s a wait that is going to make us uncomfortable or feel like it’s stretching it out. It’s something that’s good to wait for. There have been teases here and there, but what we have building here and what’s building there is pretty extraordinary. Trust me, when they come face to face it will be pretty explosive.
V returns tonight on ABC at 10PM (CTV in Canada)