For us, Elizabeth Mitchell will always be the girl who made out with a young Angelina Jolie in Gia, but as Juliet on ABC’s Lost, Ms. Mitchell tends to run around the island looking fierce. So we were shocked to find her to be laid-back and giggly — way more bubbly than bad-ass.
Did you feel any pressure coming on board a pop-culture phenomenon like Lost?
I think I probably just refused to feel it too much. I just had a baby like six months before, and I was too sleep-deprived to care.
That kinda works for the character.
Yeah, fairly insane. But I think I was just like, “Well, I’ll do this, then. That sounds great,” not realizing how huge [the show] was.
Tell us about Juliet.
Well, I think she’s very smart, very loyal. She’s trying to figure something out: how to get home, for the most part. But she can’t find any way to click her heels together.
We think she’s one of the more fascinating characters on the show.
A lot of it, of course, is the writing, but I think that I get so excited because there’s actually something real to play.
You don’t often find such complicated characters on network television.
You really don’t, and I didn’t think she was going to be that. I mean, Juliet didn’t start out that way, so I got more and more interested as I was getting scripts. I was like, “Really? They want me to do this?” It was really unexpected and very cool.
Juliet has this scary-slash-intense thing going on.
She does have a kind of intense way of watching people, which is one of the more interesting things about her to play. I think that kind of stillness isn’t something people easily do. We constantly try to fill spaces and kind of make everything okay.
How much of her backstory did you know when you started playing her?
They kind of fed it to me bit by bit, but I remember that I had a lot of it figured out. You just had to learn to get that instinctive feel for her, and slowly you saw who this person was. And of course, [the show’s writers] sit you down at first and they talk to you, and they ask you all sorts of things about yourself. They take a lot of what they’re doing — because they have this whole huge blueprint — and they put you in there. They talk about things that affect you, like, “You have a sister,” and so on. And I think that’s one of the brilliant things that they do, is they watch the people who work for them carefully, and they play to their strengths.
Do you ever get any crazed overreactions from fans?
You know, at first maybe a little bit more so because Juliet was such an antagonist. At least now she seems to be more accessible. I was on the playground with my son, and I was wearing an old-lady dress and huge hat, and this woman looks at me and gasps,“You’re Juliet!” And I’m like, “Yeah.” And she says, “Oh, my God, I thought you’d be in head-to-toe leather and riding a motorcycle.” And I was all, “No, I’m sorry. This must be horribly disappointing. I apologize.”
Yeah, but so much of the time onscreen, you guys all look sweaty and filthy.
Oh, yeah — we spend a great deal of time looking awful.
Well, that must cut down on being recognized. We’re assuming you don’t run around looking filthy all the time.
I do! Well, not filthy, but I usually look tired, and I have no makeup on. It’s when I’m really dressed up that no one recognizes me. I was walking through the airport one time when I had a press thing, and I had on what I love to wear: huge high heels and a great dress. I didn’t get stopped once.
Who’s a better kisser: Matthew Fox or Angelina Jolie?
Well, that’s not really a fair question. I mean, I barely got to kiss Matthew. There was a lot of psychological stuff behind it, but as far as just letting loose and getting to kiss, it never happened. I don’t know that I can answer that fairly, but I will say that Angelina was lovely to kiss.
So the answer is Angelina?
But Matthew was lovely, too. I mean how can you not [think so], with Matthew? You can sort of drown in all that softness with him, but then he still has that masculine, firm thing going on.