THE REMAKE of 80s TV series V has now landed on Syfy (formerly the Sci-Fi Channel) in the UK.
From 1950s B-movies such as The Blob, through to Will Smith’s Independence Day and Tom Cruise doing battle in War Of The Worlds, interest in alien invasion remains as palpable as ever.
In V, we see the arrival of the Visitors or Vs, a seemingly benevolent race led by Anna (Morena Baccarin). It transpires they are evil lizards disguising themselves beneath life-like flesh and who are intent on taking over the world.
At the forefront of the American resistance is FBI counter terrorist investigator Erica Evans, played by Lost star Elizabeth Mitchell.
Elizabeth has her own theories on why alien invasion stories such as V resonate with viewers.
She said: “In America, we’re absolutely paranoid and I don’t think people necessarily want to be, so I guess having an outlet is good.”
“We’re a relatively young country struggling to find its feet and then you have this show which helps to tap into, ‘Well there’s actually a bad guy out there, let’s get him!’ It’s always nice to have a concrete target,” she says.
An avid science fiction fan herself, Elizabeth watched the original series back in the Eighties and rewatched most of the episodes before she began filming. But she didn’t let herself feel the pressure of recreating such a cult series.
“I’m not one for pressure. I don’t do too much to myself to feel pressure, I don’t read too much about myself, I don’t think about it much. I think it’s best for me not to because I’m susceptible to that. ‘Why do they hate me? Why do they love me?’ If it’s a tickle or a stab, it’s just as bad. I watched the original series and I didn’t feel pressure but I definitely felt a need to be respectful. Always,” she said.
An iconic image of the original series is that of the high commander stretching open her mouth like a snake and swallowing a guinea pig.
In an attempt, perhaps, to move on from the original series, the Vs of this series find other means of nutrition – but Elizabeth hints there will be a nod to this moment.
“Guinea pigs are safe for the time being but I think there is some rodent involvement. I can’t say what, but I liked it when I read it,” she teased.
While commentators were keen to point out the allegory between the Nazi movement and The Visitors in the original series, this new series has been interpreted by some right-wing factions as an allegory of Barack Obama’s presidency.
Elizabeth laughs at the comparison between Obama and Anna: “Oh lucky him. They’re both gorgeous but that’s about the only comparison I can make between the two – I wouldn’t mind having dinner with either one of them. I think people will draw conclusions however they like.”
“For those as far to the left as I am, the right’s interest in the show is completely fascinating. It’s fascinating to me what people do with the Bible, it’s fascinating to me what people do with any work of literature, people can make anything out of anything and I enjoy that.”
Her character Erica immediately wises up to the threat posed by the Vs and uses her FBI training to keep cool and gather intelligence to help fight them. Elizabeth, 40, says she too prides herself on her ability to keep a cool head in a crisis.
“I am fairly low key and I don’t even smoke pot. Honestly, when terrible things happen I just go, ‘Ok, how do we deal with it?’ and then afterwards I’m like ‘Oh God!” she says, pretending to hyperventilate.
If there is an emergency, Elizabeth is now even more helpful to have around after partaking in fight training and stunts for her role as Erica.
“I’ve lost weight which makes me feel terrible because I’ve always said that women should look the way they look. But you know, when you’re stick fighting and throwing knives all day, you tend to drop a few pounds. And I run a lot, I’m always on my feet and I’m always beating people up,” she says.
Though she was applauded for her role as villainous doctor Juliet Burke in tropical island drama Lost, Elizabeth says she’s now happy to be playing a force for good, and an ass-kicking one at that.
“I’m a 40-year-old female action hero,” she says with an air of disbelief.
“I just need to be like Arnie and come from a naked position for fighting and I’ll know I’ve arrived, right?”
Another aspect of the character which Elizabeth relates to is the fact that she is a mother. While there’s no fear Elizabeth’s four-year-old son CJ will be seduced by alien invaders, Erica’s teenage son Tyler puts himself in danger by falling for Anna’s daughter Lisa – and it brings out Erica’s fighting spirit.
Elizabeth says: “I feel very strongly that being a mother makes you very ferocious. Send a bunch of mothers to do something, I really do believe that, they’re smart, they’re organised, they’re incredibly motivated.”
The actress is having fun practising kung-fu with her son who, along with her husband, has moved to Vancouver while she films (“four-year-olds can hit, man, I’m covered in bruises”) and while her career is riding high at the moment, Elizabeth’s little one is not going to let fame go his mum’s head.
“CJ said to me recently,’Mummy, I’m going to be an actor,’ and I said, ‘That’s great’ and he said, ‘But I’m going to be a real actor, not like you, I’m going to do theatre’.”