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Q&A with Elizabeth Mitchell on Bainbridge Island

Transcription of the audio made by Olivia Thompson. Audio by Briana!

Beginning 

Q: Where did you grow up?
Liz: Dallas, Texas.

Q: You do not have an accent.
Liz: No, I don’t!

Q: Have you played a character who is Texan or Southern?
Liz: Uh, not well!

Q: Have you played any characters with accents?
Liz: Yes, on stage.

Q: Theatre.
Liz: Yes, so there is no record of them!

Q: Not even on IMDB.
Liz: No (laughs).

Q: With this new technology, everything you do is documented! Your son is going to have eye recognition to be able to get into school and then he’ll digitally do all of his homework.
Liz: Yes, all this technology and then were going to stop here aging wise (laughs) and I’ll be like really, really this could’ve have hit when I was like eighteen!

On books and reading

Q: We found out through this dinner that she does not read a kindle, she reads real books!
Liz: Those kindles hurt my eyes for some reason! Does anyone else feel that way?

Q: Yeah
Liz: I wish they didn’t, but I like holding books in my hand! You fall asleep holding a kindle and it smacks you in the head!

Q: The smell of a library and the texture of the pages is great.
Liz: Absolutely! It’s great! I have them everywhere I go. We always live in different places because I work in different places so the first thing I do is have 8 million books and Chris is like we have to leave these, and I’m like we don’t have to leave all of them! He’s like your not even going to read them again, and I’m like I will too!

Q: When you lived in Hawaii, you shipped back your books.
Liz: I did. I had four boxes of books!

Q: Did you ever loan them out like a library system like you’re going to return this.
Liz: No. I believe with books as with money, you don’t loan you get.

Q: Have you read the Hunger Games?
Liz: Of course.

Q: What is your favourite genre to read?
Liz: Right now, this week it has been thrillers.

Q: How many books a week do you read?
Liz: (laughs) I have a lot of time.

Q: Speaking of time, It has been a while since we have seen you on the screen.
Liz: It has! This is really a great way to do this! You don’t have me stammering going does anyone have anything to ask?!

Q: And I will let you people talk, by the way.
Liz: Jo has interviewed me for the last seven years. Every place I’ve ever been!

Q: I’m not a stalker! I actually write about television.
Liz: She is a friendly face.

TV Shows

Q: So how did it feel to film Lost on Hawaii?
Liz: I had one guy there say to me, You know you used to be a movie star, but now you just do TV. I said but I did movies! He said oh but now you are on TV, so you just do TV (laughs).

Q: So obviously you did ER several years.
Liz: I did, yeah.

Q: And you did LostV, so everyone here is going to ask you what is next.
Liz: Oh, well I don’t know.

Q: Is this one of those vague times when you can’t say what you are auditioning for?
Liz: Sometimes, and sometimes you’re in the midst of other people making decisions and your people are making decisions and you don’t want to make things more difficult. I am going to shoot a tiny movie with Rob Lowe. He is so cute! I did Lyon’s Den with Rob too.

Q: Yeah, on ABC.
Liz: Yeah I played an attorney who was an alcoholic. It was fun!

Q: And you recently a guest part on Law and Order where you played another very disturbed person. How was that?
Liz: Really interesting! He’s asked me to be on the show many times, and he always writes such lovely work. I wanted to work with Jeremy Irons, and I did! It was awesome!

Q: Do you find with the darker roles, that you leave it behind like you can be into the role and the go home and have dinner and go to sleep?
Liz: No, I feel like I have a massive debt to every person I play. Unless they are really evil which in that case I leave them so far behind. I don’t in any way try to be remote with things, I just love it! So much!

Q: Can you say who your favourite character has been to play whether it was a guest role or series regular?
Liz: I actually really loved Juliet on Lost but I also loved that crazy role I played for like a week on Nurse Betty! Where I got to kiss boys and she was hilarious! And going to set in that character was one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done.

On Juliet

Q: So Juliet, we were introduced to your character in Season 3. We don’t know which side your on, you seem to work with Ben but are sympathetic to the crash survivors. Did they give you any direction or did they give sort of this script that was vague on which side you were on.
Liz: They gave me a very vague script. And when I was auditioning, I was in a room with three extraordinary people and I had just broken my foot and my hand and I had just had CJ so I was kinda like ok let’s just do this. So I just did it really motherly and they liked that.

Q: In the first 6 episodes, they are in the cages and Jack in this sort of aquarium. Where you filming that where Matthew Fox was actually behind that glass.
Liz: Yeah! We never spoke! Well I said to him when we started how happy I was to be working with him and that we probably wouldn’t talk again and he said, “Oh good” (laughs). And we didn’t talk for like a year. Chris talked to him.

Q: And did you do your own stunts.
Liz: I did do my own stunts! That was super fun! Really great!

Q: And what was it like working with Evangeline Lilly?
Liz: Oh she is one of my favourite people. So kind. Just amazing.

Q: And you got to be handcuffed to her for an episode.
Liz: That was great! I still have the scars!

Q: Oh wow!
Liz: Yeah! We were both so committed that we were like don’t take them off! We’re going to do the work!

Q: And when they started to give your back story like in “Not in Portland,” your sister has cancer and she wants to have a baby and you’re stuck on the island. Did you like that they gave you more depth?
Liz: Yeah! I loved it! I mean I loved who she was. I thought it was interesting when she was supposed to be pure and she was kinda evil as much as we grew to know she was a good person, she still kidnapped women off of the beach and did some not great things, things we would object to if someone did it to a family member of ours. So I thought it was really interesting.

Q: Some of us who love your character forget about the evil things.
Liz: Well I think when James fell for her and we love him so much. I think he made all that happen.

Q: Yeah that was interesting. What was your first response when you saw they were putting Sawyer and Juliet together?
Liz: Oh, I told them that would never work! (laughs) I said Josh did you know this and he is like no, no they’re not going to do that! We are like brother and sister, but it was lovely. He is so fun to kiss! He has pillows for lips (laughs). And Chris is like, are you insane?! And Chris’s mom was like really?!

Q: That episode “LaFleur” everyone was surprised when he walked in and it was you who was sally homemaker who was cooking dinner and it was hard for dedicated fans to wrap their head around the idea of Sawyer and Juliet, but with one season they made everyone fall in love with you guys. Where before there was the love triangle and you made it a square.
Liz: I did.

Q: Then came “the death” down in the hatch. So did they call you in advance to tell you your character was going to die?
Liz: No, not really. They called me, but it was the morning the script came.

Q: What was your reaction when you read that scene?
Liz: I thought it was beautifully written. And Damon said that only their favorite people we let die these terrific deaths. It’s true and I thought that was great. That was a lovely comfort.

Q: Some of us wished the chain was wrapped around Kate’s ankle instead of you but it’s whatever. The Lost actors are so beloved, and people often mistake them in person for their characters.
Liz: Juliet wouldn’t be mad. She’s strong. I would want to have her as a friend.

Q: So what was it like filming the scene, obviously a lot of it was cgi but how did they film you down in the hatch?
Liz: Oh they just through me down the hatch. They put me on a wire and through me down the hatch.

Q: I bet it was hard to laugh covered in all that blood.
Liz: (laughs) Yeah, but Jorge brought champagne, so we all drank champagne. The only time I have ever had alcohol at work. You know I feel like you shouldn’t.

Q: So angelic.
Liz: No! We all have a dark side! Mine just plays out on camera! (laughs)

On V

Q: So that led you to be able to audition for other roles. So V came along. Did they come to you like immediately?
Liz: They did!

Q: And you thought, I get to kick ass!
Liz: I did! It was great! I went right into training!

Q: What kind of training did it entail?
Liz: Well it involved a lot! I got a really advanced belt!

Q: Did you have any say in how the character was developed?
Liz: No! I think sometimes, If only I was writing! But then I thought, that would be bad!

Q: And you filmed in Vancouver, so small commute for you.
Liz: Yes, beautiful.

Q: You did live in Hawaii while you were filming there.
Liz: Yes.

Q: It was your son who loved it.
Liz: Yeah, what did we call him? Naked Tarzan? White Tarzan? It was something awesome, but he would run around naked all the time (laughs).

Her parents

Q: You did a commercial way back that never got aired. Do you have it?
Liz: I’m sure my parents do! They have everything. They have so many magazines and newspapers around our house and I keep forgetting and putting my coffee mug down. I’ll hear them yell Elizabeth! And I’ll say I’m so sorry Mom! Because it’s my face!

Q: Do they have like an archive?
Liz: Kinda! They are so sweet! The first movie I ever did, my mom and dad stood outside and went back and forth saying what did you think, well what did you think?!

Q: It wasn’t Gia was it? That might have been a bit awkward!
Liz: No! Although they were amazingly supportive about that! Dad was like it is a character. He’s been that way about everything. Yeah I played a sociopath killer, so my dad is like it is a character, it’s not you!

Her sisters

Liz: My sisters are both doctors!

Q: They live in Texas?
Liz: Yes, but my one sister is doing her residency in Seattle. She is a wonderful doctor, Kristie Mitchell.

Q: If you need you. What drew you to Bainbridge Island, Washington?
Liz: Oh, that’s such a funny story. It’s not really funny, just long. We went to Montana to visit Chris’s dad, and we flew over and for the those of you who have never been here before, it is beautiful. So that was it.

Q: And tell them where you are going tomorrow to start filming.
Liz: To Winnipeg!

Q: It is a Lifetime movie about Casey Anthony. What character do you play?
Liz: The one prosecutor.

Q: You’re with Rob Lowe in every scene. Do they date, just wondering?
Liz: They do not date. He has a lovely wife. Yes, they are just partners. Actually he called me, and I don’t know what my reputation is, and the director is like there is nothing sexual between these two characters. And I’m like what! Why would you need to tell me that?

Social Media and Elizabeth Mitchell Fan Club

Q: So you’re not on twitter and you’re not on Facebook.
Liz: I’m not. Someone posing as me is on Facebook. And it’s ????

Q: There is a lovely(?) Elizabeth Mitchell Fan Club on there.
Liz: Which is so nice! That’s where I go to get clips and stuff!

Q: For yourself?
Liz: Yeah! If I need clips like to send to somebody or something yeah, I go to my fan site!

Q: These fans are the best!
Liz: I know! My… my… I called my manager, because he needed something funny and he went like way back in time and he was like “WOOOW”.
It’s like, it’s like an encyclopedia!

Q: It is.
Liz: It’s gorgeous!

Q: It’s an online archive of everything you’ve ever done!
Liz: Awww It’s so ????

Q: Candids photos of eating ice-cream on Bainbridge Island. I mean, you know, it’s got everything!
Liz: Yeah. Well every time I have a really hard time I go on there coz’ there’s nothing negative!

Q: Nothing.
Liz: It’s deleted real fast. Sorry.

Q: ??? instead of any negative.
Liz: No, I know, it’s great. There’ll be like “post deleted” and I’m like “ohhh nooo”.

Q: Whatever you said. Are you just not a social media person?
Liz: I don’t think I am. I love people, and I love talking to people, but I have a very private life. It’s not anti-social.

Q: It’s a real social network. It’s actually real social.
Liz: Yeah I have real friends who I love. I try to stay in contact with people which I assume that is what most people do on twitter. Like if someone wrote saying I’m feeling horrible about this I’d be like I don’t know how to do anything about that. Chris is good at it though!

Q: Oh my god, what is your twitter account? I’ll follow you!
Chris: I only have a Facebook.

People ask questions

Liz: Does anyone have any questions?

Audience member: So I understand that the scene you shot for the Lost finale was done very early on, with Josh. So how did they direct you to do that scene when you were not supposed to know what was going on?
Liz: We had already done me falling down the well so we knew what was happening. And Josh and I had a very high level of trust which you get from working with people for a long time. We would sit there and work it out together and he is so natural and lovely that when his heart was breaking it made my heart break. Honestly, one of the best parts of being an actor is just staying still and watching people work. It is lovely and captivating. So that is what it was for me, just watching his heart break and realizing that I wouldn’t get to see him again. Really, for an actor, it’s cake. It’s cake to get a scene like that.

Q: The flash sideways.
Liz: Oh, the pages were printed on red! They call me and say we need you to come do this! And I’m like you guys fired me! (laughs) And they’re like right, right but we didn’t mean to and we knew you’d be back. I’m like that wasn’t so clear! I thought it was beautiful though! I didn’t know how it was going to all play out but the idea that you meet someone who is a stranger and they look somewhat familiar and then all of the sudden you realize it is the love of your life. What a beautiful way of giving that to someone. On Lost, all those moments were just because the writing was just breathtaking and Josh was really fun to watch. And when he cries, your heart just breaks. I’m like please stop crying, oh wait, you’re supposed to be!

Q: For the finale, you were in the church. What was it like being reunited with everyone?
Liz: Well Evangeline and I were in the corner most of the time giggling. I was happy to be there with everybody. And I think that night was my 40th birthday.  So there was a cake and it was really nice!

Q: So you didn’t read the last 10 minute speech by Christian Shephard on how it all ends.
Liz: No, and I didn’t want to know.

Q: So what did they tell you? You’re all sitting in the church and Christian Shephard is walking by. Did you even know the context?
Liz: Not really, no. We kinda knew what it meant, where we were, and why everyone was so peaceful. I liked it. It’s so nice to have a scientific explanation of why things happen, but it is also lovely to have a little faith in something. So I thought that was nice.

Q: Do people yell at you about the Lost finale?
Liz: All the time. They always ask me if I liked it and I did like it.

Q: Terry O’Quinn said he thought it was great!
Liz: Oh my gosh, Terry O’Quinn. He ohhh. Ohh all the women. Terry O’Quinn walks by and ohh. You’d think it’d be Josh or Matthew but it was Terry O’Quinn every time. He plays this guitar. And he doesn’t want to play it so people watch him. He wants you to sing. He wants to entertain you. It’s pretty amazing.

Audience member: Can you tell us about theatre and the plays you loved? Because I know you support your husband. That is where I’ve been seeing you watching him.
Liz: Yeah I’m at all his performances. It’s weird (laughs). I stalk my husband. He’s just so good and he changes every night! So it gives my a little bit of a charge, a little inspiration. I loved Three Sisters and As You Like It. I’m such a geek for the classics like Shakespeare. That is what I went to London to study. Comedy was also fun for me on stage. It is a wonderful indicator of where you go wrong because the audience will tell you immediately. And musicals, I did a lot of musicals. I sang, sometimes really high.

Q: So you’re trying out for Glee is what you’re getting to?
Liz: No (laughs). I’m too shy.

Q: And your son, has he been able to watch anything you’ve done. Probably Santa Clause movies?
Liz: I don’t think he wants to. How boring is that, to be around mom all day and then watch her on TV. I actually had a conversation with him once about it and said CJ people like me sometimes! They think I’m funny! And he’s like whatever mom (laughs).

Anyone else? About anything?

Audience member: If hadn’t been cancelled, do you know where it was going?
Liz: I do. We were gonna win. Yeah, we were supposed to really start winning like small battles and then major battles.

Audience member: And Juliet’s death scene made me cry. I can’t watch it!
Liz: I cried when I read it! I had to memorize that without thinking about it because as an actor you don’t want to get overly involved before you get on stage, so I just had to do it line by line, and I went in and Josh and I both didn’t rehearse, we didn’t do anything. It was a beautiful scene. Damon writes some of the most beautiful love scenes I’ve ever seen. It was amazing.

Audience member: Do you think you would ever want to do something else for a hobby instead of acting? Like writing or anything?
Liz: Well Chris says I should be director, producer, and editor apparently, but they’re pushy.

Audience member: You have a lot of creativity and energy that you could!
Liz: I do! I have written before, but for an actor to write is like uh. You know, but there is some stuff that isn’t out there that fascinates me that I would love to see.

Audience member: One of the lost scenes near the end, you had a red shirt on and you walked all into the forest and kinda put your hand on your stomach and some people thought that was a clue that Juliet was pregnant. Were you told to do that or was that just something natural?
Liz: No. That day we were so upset I don’t think we were told to do anything because we just found out that I was leaving the show. I’ve always thought that the idea of her being pregnant was possible and that is where I thought they were headed since they were so in love. I think that at the time everything was so painful because she was like she couldn’t do this and that he didn’t really love her. But the idea of Juliet being pregnant wouldn’t surprise me! She left her sister and left her life to be with him.

Audience member: It seems to me that a lot people don’t get the nonverbal part. My wife asks me why I pick up Elizabeth Mitchell’s number but not mine?!
Liz: Chris? (laughs)

Audience member: The forced smile. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone do it better than you! I think that is why a lot of people enjoy watching you act is because of those nonverbal things. It wasn’t that you said fantastic lines, it was all the little things you added. It all is so real. No everybody gets it, and you got it! So how did that happen?
Liz: Thank you! That is a gorgeous compliment. I think as actors we get really nervous and I think I’ve been doing this for so long that I don’t think that I get so nervous and I’m really happy to watch other people. I don’t need to be the one talking. A lot of the joy of it to me is watching what everybody does. And I am so effected by it. Maybe it’s because I don’t go out much (laughs)! I find people to be extraordinary to me and beautiful. And that makes me very happy that you liked it! I love working with really great actors. The first time I worked with Angelina Jolie, who I actually thought was absolutely lovely, it was just so much fun to watch her! What’s not to love! But thank you, that is gorgeous. I want a copy of that tape so I can hear that comment!

Q: That would have been tragic to have had Juliet pregnant and then falling down the well because you’re a fertility doctor who couldn’t successfully deliver on the island, you get pregnant, and then you die. Would you like to hear my David Shephard conspiracy theory?
Liz: Yeah!

Q: So flash sideways, Juliet and Jack had been married, had a child, and got divorced. David Shephard never existed but I think Jack needed him to prove that he could be a good father and Juliet needed to not only need to deliver a child but to have one herself because she never met her nephew Julian and because…You’ve never heard this before?
Liz: No (laughs)!

Q: You’re welcome! Just so you know I spent six years analyzing Lost online so this is why I still have these things in my head.
Liz: Absolutely! It’s so good!

Q: Yeah! Jack Shephard needed to proved that he was a better father than his own.
Liz: Well, he was. Such a good character!

Q: Season 6 made him the hero he was supposed to be! And originally in the pilot, Jack Shephard was killed, and ABC freaked out and said no! You didn’t watch Lost until you were cast, right?
Liz: No, I watched the first season, then I was pregnant and it was all too much for me. I needed like bells and fairytales.

Q: Then did you know about the others when you got the script?
Liz: No! I didn’t know anything about the tailies. I watched the entire thing back to back so people would come into my dressing room and I would yell just hold on!

Q: You had one of those iconic season openings where here this blonde woman we’ve never met before whose baking muffins in a house.
Liz: Chris and I both, since we’re both fans of the show, said people are gonna be like am I on the wrong show?! Who is this person?

Q: Who is burning the muffins and having a book club?
Liz: I did so much that first season and the cast heartbroken not to have worked like Jorge didn’t get to work the first couple weeks. They couldn’t have been more generous. It was lovely.

Audience member: Has your son shown any inclination to want to perform?
Liz: Yes. He is hilarious. He is six and a half and he just got up to tell the story of this science project and how it went wrong and how it went right. He had the audience clapping and laughing. He has a gift for it. He wants to be in front of people and perform. I was never like that. I wanted to hide behind the wall and talking a little bit. I know it’s odd but as an actor you do other people’s words and that’s what has always been so nice because you have the chance to be the voice for someone else’s genius and you get paid for it! We sometimes discourage him. It’s not always the easiest life (laughs). And the idea of your child being rejected because 95% of acting is being rejected, so you don’t want your son to go through that, but the flip side is that you get to do something you love.

Audience member: How did you and Chris meet?
Liz: (laughs) We have mutual friends who were getting married, my best friend Elizabeth and his best friend Seth. They had told us for six years that we would hate each other so they never introduced us! My friend told me that Chris only dated really hot girls and she told Chris that I only dated guys from other countries! We met, and the first time we met nothing and the second time we met I called him and was like hey, how you doing! I chased him for a good month.
We played chess at the beach. He won, seven times. I’ve beat him since then.

Q: Did you find that after LostV, and ER that you are called for a role without even meeting about it or do you still have to audition like everybody else?
Liz: Oh it’s both! I mean sometimes I’m called for things and sometimes I’m not. It just depends. And there really is no rhyme or reason about it. I love to audition. I prefer to know that we’re on the same page. Because you get an offer, and who knows, they could hate you and can’t do anything about it! You’re stuck!

Q: What was the process for Answers to Nothing which is the latest independent film you were in?
Liz: They called and asked.

Audience member: You talk very fondly of the people that you work with. Have you ever worked with someone you didn’t like or are you someone who just finds the good in everybody. You don’t need to mention any names.
Liz: I heard that someone the other day said they didn’t like me very much and that I couldn’t possibly be real, I must be fake and that I wasn’t very nice. I was so hurt by that! I was like I’m not gonna change! I’m 42! I’m going to be just the way I am thank you very much! But I think that we are all working so hard when were acting. As long as people are working hard, I don’t really care. A little bit of kindness can go a long way. There was an actor that I worked with who had a very hard time reading the lines and the guy sat off stage drinking a beer, so he wasn’t working. But I have been really intrigued by everyone. It’s what we’re doing, we’re doing it together. And I’ll be there advocate as long as I can and as long as they don’t hurt any of my crew. When people are mean to the crew I get pretty…I can be pretty mean actually if someone is bothering my crew (laughs). It’s like puppy kicking (laughs). I would say I’ve liked 98% of all the actors I have worked with.

Audience member: Is there a dream role, or dream director, or dream script?
Liz: There is so much that I love. I’ve always wanted a very literary action hero. I would be that action hero, and it would be really fun. Something really smart, clever, lovely, and yeah smart. That would be super fun for me. There are a lot of roles in theater that I would love to do.

[…]

Audience member: Speaking of smart roles, have you ever been approached or asked about Fringe?
Liz: Fringe is good! I don’t think I have.  Anna and I did our thing, we were together for a talk and I thought she was really exceptionally intelligent and fun and kind.

Audience member: When I watch Fringe for the first time, you were actually the first that I hoped would be in the role of Olivia Dunham.
Liz: Oh thank you, that’s a lovely compliment.

Audience member: Well and you look good in black.
Liz: Ohhh thank you very much. I love those kinds of roles. I mean she’s obviously truly lovely as an actress, but all of those roles intrigues me. I think I like the idea of moving and strong women. Physical activity is fun for me.In fights, they really are trying to hit you, you’re just trying to make sure they don’t hit you too hard. So it’s really fun!

Audience member: Well, Game of Thrones…
Liz: Did you read all the books?

Audience member:  I’m in the 5 one now.
Liz: It’s so good, right?

Audience member:  I think you’re charming and adorable…Have you been approached?
Liz: No, I think I was shooting V, not to say that they approched me. […] But of course I would. I read it and I thought it was amazing, what a great role. We’ve just finished that on Netflix so we were really sad.

[…]

Audience member: What do you think about the new ABC show Once Upon A Time?
Liz: There are some of the same people that were in Lost! I think that show is terrific!

Audience member: As long as you take down the evil queen. Maybe a white queen against a dark queen.
Liz: I enjoy watching it, and Chris coaches Jared. Yeah, he’s coached him from the very beginning, so I get all the scripts ahead of time, not that he let me read them (laughs)!

Audience member: Do you have any bands or musicians that have motivated you in acting?
Liz: I am definitely a 60’s and 70’s rock girl. For Juliet, I listened to some really ruff stuff for her I probably shouldn’t say. She’s so chaotic that I need that crazy music. I listened to a lot of Nine Inch Nails with her. With Sawyer I listened to country music! I told him and he was like good little bird! He’d come into my trailer with his jeans and no shirt and I’d say honey this is wasted on me (laughs). And Josh would say alright little bird let’s sing!

Q: He called you little bird?
Liz: Yeah because my voice is so high.

Q: We are going to break to get some water and then do autographs and pictures!


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