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The Star Online, 4 June 2010

JUNE 2010

Elizabeth Mitchell delivers spot-on.

ELIZABETH Mitchell is fast becoming the actress to turn to when a TV production is in need of a stoic, intelligent and feisty woman. One reason may be because there is this range of emotions she conveys through her characters which make it very hard for the viewers to look away from her blue eyes, blonde hair and defined cheekbones and chin.

With such arresting features and that much talent, no wonder, in Lost, she managed to make a character she herself thought was not particularly likeable into a fan favourite.

Even in smaller roles, she makes them memorable, just like her guest appearance in House MD as an ill nun in which she portrayed the character’s faith through minute facial expressions and gestures. So, when the producers of V were looking for a smart action heroine – who must hide and show strong emotions at different moments – to be the protagonist of the show, they thought of Mitchell.

In the series, she plays Erica Evans, an FBI agent who learns the true intent behind the arrival of an alien race led by Anna (Morena Baccarin).

Erica is also a single mother to a teenage boy, Tyler (Logan Huffman), who becomes a little too close for comfort with the Visitors.

The casting is perfect, Mitchell does a great job balancing between being a tough FBI agent and trying to be a good mother but failing at it. But the bottom line is, Mitchell is perfect because she’s the antithesis of Anna. If Baccarin’s Anna is ever calm and Zen-like, Erica’s every emotional shift is written on her face. After all, when you peel off the skin of V, the series is actually about two mothers taking care of their children.

It was the very fact that the lead protagonist and antagonist are women that attracted Mitchell to the project in the first place. Another is a chance to play a mother, a role she took on in real life when she gave birth to Christopher Soldevilla in 2004. However, Mitchell concedes Erica is a terrible mother.

“I got a great direction the other day which is, ‘Remember, you are good at your job and you are crap at this.’ Excuse my language. And I was like, ‘O-o-kay?’ It was in the middle of the scene. And I thought, ‘How great, like all working women, mothers – which I am one – give 100% and still fail at everything.’”

“You know, I think that is a thing we feel as women; you work at your workplace and you work when you come home and still balls are dropping all over the place. That’s hard. So it appealed to me tremendously,” says the 40-year-old actress in a room at a five-star hotel in Los Angeles, with her V co-stars Joel Gretsch and Morris Chestnut.

The 1.75m-tall actress seems very amiable, easily keeping the mood in the room light with the threesome either laughing at each other’s comments and jokes or complimenting and encouraging one another with their answers to the international journalists.

In a separate interview, newcomer Huffman describes his TV mum as someone who is really lovely and giving. “I was really worried because I didn’t know what to do. (After shooting a scene) Elizabeth asked me, ‘Is that okay? Is that all right?’ Immediately I felt like everybody on this cast treats each other like equals.”

Born in Los Angeles, Mitchell grew up in Dallas, Texas. Her involvement in Dallas’ theatre scene took her to Europe.

As for her participation in Hollywood, she was first noticed in HBO’s Gia, alongside Angelina Jolie. But it was ultimately Lost that made her shine.

Even just after 20 minutes of talking to her, it is easy to conclude that in real life, Mitchell is in touch with her emotions – displaying it freely without fear.

Right now, she’s obviously very happy.

On the set, she describes herself as a goofy neighbour. “I even get notes that say, ‘Elizabeth, you can’t be so happy on set’,” she recounts with a laugh. “I’m surrounded by men (arm-hugs Gretsch) – tall, lovely men all the time – and I am quite happy, actually. I work really hard to make sure that I am honest with the things I do and the things I say.”

However, there were moments when she was overwhelmed with what goes on with her character, especially when it involves her character and her son.

“Sometimes it is hard reading Erica on some of the scripts. I have to only read the scene once because it is so freakin’ sad. So I have to memorise it really carefully and stay away from it. Otherwise I am sitting there and my husband is saying, ‘Why are you crying?’ Look at what she is doing? Why can’t I fix it?”

At the same time, Mitchell is no wallflower – she boxes, practises karate and does other exercise. So, erm, in a fight between Anna and Erica, can she take on Anna? “No,” she answers before smiling and continuing, “I mean, she’s obviously has got super strength. I got her on height and that’s pretty much it.”

Source: The Star Online


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