Revolution: Elizabeth Mitchell Discusses the Show’s Return, Rachel’s Strengths and More
The Lost alum on her Revolution character and her “fractured psyche.”
by Eric Goldman on IGN – March 25, 2013
After several months off the air, Revolution returns Monday night for the second half of its first season and I spoke to one of the show’s stars, Elizabeth Mitchell, about what to expect as the show continues. When last we saw her character, Rachel, she and her son, Danny, had at last been rescued. So what will it be like now for Rachel to adjust to being out in the world and among the main group, including her daughter, Charlie? Mitchell discusses this and more, including working with some former Lost co-stars and becoming “a science fiction queen.”
IGN TV: Now that Rachel is free, it’s a brand new group that you’re dealing with now, except for Danny, so what’s that like, both for your character and for you as an actress?
Elizabeth Mitchell: You know I love being a part of an ensemble. Both as a mother and as a human being, I just like it. I like interacting with people. I don’t want to be the front and center of anything. [Laughs] I never have. It’s not my thing. I love the people that I’m working with. They’re kind, they’re interesting, and they’re excited about what they’re doing. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I’m a big fan of the ensemble, and I’m a big fan of interesting characters within an ensemble, so I’m great. It’s nice to have one or two days off, although that’s not happening much lately.
IGN: This is Rachel’s family. She’s reunited, and that’s a great thing. But also, there’s a lot of drama there. Charlie has some abandonment issues. So how is that dynamic between the two of them?
Mitchell: I think it’s prickly — and filled with love. It’s awkward and weird, and you want it to be better than it is. You keep wishing these two women would make great choices that would enable them to be together and strong and take care of each other. I mean, Rachel’s just been tortured for four years. Charlie’s had no mother. Before then, they were obviously great. I think the whole thing is just tragic, I really do.
IGN: The show uses its flashbacks in a very specific way, giving you these details on the backstory. Are there more to come for your character?
Mitchell: Yeah, I combine with another character — that I can’t say — and we have some flashbacks together. I think those are great. That’s the first time someone’s asked that question, and I’m happy to answer it because that’s a great tease. You can guess who it is, but the wonderful thing is, there’s not that many people it could be. So I do have flashbacks with another character, and we do learn more. And they were super fun to do. It’s a good tease. I don’t think I can get in trouble for that one!
IGN: She is clearly a tough character. Obviously, a crucial moment for her was what she did to her friend, in a moment of truth.
Mitchell: Could you do that?
IGN: I don’t know. That’s…
Mitchell: Yeah, I don’t know either. Here’s the thing: my son is the world to me. I’d do anything for him. I would absolutely, completely destroy my own moral code, which is huge, my own idea of the world, which is huge. I would do anything to make sure he was okay. Whether or not I’d be able to stab one of my best friends in cold blood in the abstract, knowing he was about — I don’t know. I really don’t know. But what it is, is it shows me a fractured psyche. It shows me someone who’s been tortured for four years, who has lost their sense of right and wrong, but who has a sense of loyalty and honor. It’s just feral, let’s say.
IGN: Now that she is out in the world, having been tortured for four years and in a very confined situation, is she pretty crafty or dangerous physically?
Mitchell: I don’t know that she’s dangerous physically. I actually think she’s quite wasted. One of the first things I did was I stopped being as strong as I was and just started running and trying to be generally healthy, because I wanted her to look softer. That was my plan. So I don’t know that she’s dangerous physically. She’s dangerous when cornered in that she has no regard for her own life. She’ll simply just try to destroy whoever’s trying to hurt the people she loves, but I don’t think she’s actively dangerous, no. I think she’s a pacifist. I think she waits until she’s backed into a corner, and then she’s that wild animal. She’s pretty good at it. She’s still me, so she’s big and strong. [Laughs]
IGN: I was talking to Eric Kripke earlier.
Mitchell: I love him! He’s so genuine and wonderful.
IGN: He was saying how your character knows a lot; she has all this information, and they decided she wouldn’t keep holding back on that. I would assume this is very useful information….
Mitchell: I think at some point she gets so angry and so destroyed that she’s absolutely going to use — it’s almost like she intellectually gets backed into a corner and fights back. She’s a brain. That’s the joy of it. You’re not dealing with some mousy woman, which is what she appears to be. She’s a brainiac, and she’s lethal with her brain. She can accomplish all kinds of things. She didn’t mean to, but she did. But now that she’s on the side of the resistance, I think it’s exciting. As long as she’s there, they actually have a chance.
IGN: Is it nice for you to have the flashbacks? Your husband is dead on the show, but…
Mitchell: …I get to work with Tim! Nicest guy in the world. He’s such a renaissance man. He can do anything. It’s such a joy to work with him, and we have the best time. He’s the same as I am. We’ve both been working our whole lives, and he’s just a joy. I love him.
IGN: Is it great to be able to sort of build that, even though in the present he’s gone, since he’s an important character to so many people on the show?
Mitchell: Oh, their relationship, we always talk about it. It’s one of the centers of the show. You go back to it. You see these two people who did this thing — these two good people who did this thing. Why? You see why, and you see what their intentions were. It’s so lovely and so beautiful, but they still killed millions of people. I mean they killed them! It’s like they’re mass murderers, and they’re the nicest people you’ll ever meet. They’re the sweet couple from Seattle. They’re not, but that’s the feeling. They’re like these crunchy do-gooders, which is like me! So it’s awesome.
IGN: What’s the dynamic like between Rachel and Miles now that she’s in the group? There’s a lot of history there.
Mitchell: Definitely some chemistry, but that I just try to create. I think that gets explored in the first two episodes back. I think it’s pretty gratifying, yeah. That’s all I can really say. By seeing someone and then slapping them when they come to rescue you, that gives you a little hint that there’s something going on there. Like, I wouldn’t just come up and slap you, do you know what I mean? [Laughs] Like, “Oh, I haven’t seen you in three years!” Boom! So yeah, I feel like there’s something there.
IGN: He’s been pretty much the leader of the group, but I feel like Rachel and the knowledge she brings would naturally give her a nice place to also help lead these people.
Mitchell: And I think intellectually, Rachel is capable of anything. She’s so fractured, let’s see if she can. I think the fact that she also doesn’t want to hurt people is a huge liability for her. Yet at the same time, it’s one of the reasons why I chose the role. It gives her a tremendous amount of humanity. If you think about it, she really only kills people when she has to. She’s not actively seeking violence. She’s been with these men for four years, she could have killed them at any time. It’s like the means to an end. What’s the most important thing at the moment? At the moment, when she killed both of those men, it was saving her son. The guy who tortured her, that was revenge, but that’s okay too — not okay, but interesting. I’m a big fan of not killing, by the way! [Laughs] God, please, let’s not kill anybody.
IGN: Besides J.J. [Abrams] executive producing, some of your fellow Lost alum have popped up on the show, like Mark Pellegrino, Jeff Fahey…
Mitchell: Fahey! He comes from doing all his good works, comes to hang out with us, and it’s just beautiful. I love seeing Fahey. I had such a great relationship with him on Lost because he’d literally come from his orphanage that he was working with, and I just found him to be really wonderful, just to sit and talk to him. Plus, I’m 42, so he’s still my heartthrob. I was perfectly happy to watch him and talk to him and listen to him and see who he was. It was fun. There are times you pinch yourself and you’re like, “Who am I? What am I doing?” It’s cool. Lawnmower Man, c’mon, right? Has there ever been a more beautiful guy? Then as a man, he’s so fascinating. I just like him! He’s spiritually kind. He comes in, and he has great things to say.
IGN: What do you think of the midseason split? I was saying to Kripke, I see both sides of it as a TV fan. On one hand, if you were into a show you’d just think, “I want to see the next episode!” On the other hand, when it comes back, you won’t have any repeats to deal with.
Mitchell: I think that’s what he wants too. The idea to split it and not run a bunch of reruns and then every once in awhile have an episode was his idea of keeping the purity, and I get it. I like that. I think that when you like something, then you’ll wait. I think that when you love something and it comes back and it’s strong, true and good, you’re happy that it came back. That’s what I think. You know, same time, same channel, same lead-in — it’s not like they’re switching it all over the boards. Also, I think the holiday season — that’s a whole month anyway — nobody expects anything. So then we just have to wait a little bit longer. I would imagine that January is a miss, and then aFebruary is the month when everybody’s like, “Really!?” So yeah, I think it’s okay. I think that we then work up more questions. We’re curious. I as a viewer don’t mind it, but then again, I DVR everything. I watch everything two years later. [Laughs] I don’t at all affect the ratings.
IGN: Obviously, you don’t know when you’re going into your acting career what the roles you’ll end up getting will be, but what’s that been like for you to do a lot of genre work this past decade?
Mitchell: Well, somebody said, “Why are you a science fiction queen?” I thought it was great. But the thing is, the show’s that I’m most known for — I love science fiction, and I would love to do science fiction all the time — but I’m kind of a classic science fiction fan, which is not Lost or Revolution. To me, they’re epic action adventure, and yes, I am drawn to epic action adventure. I’m also drawn to sci-fi. The only sci-fi I’ve ever really done, I feel, is V. And I’m happy to do more! I don’t mind being labeled anything like that. But to me, this is about incredibly human people in extraordinary situations. I can’t think of anything more fun to play.