Elizabeth Mitchell knows that her new NBC series “Revolution” is going to be compared to “Lost.”
How can it not? It’s a big epic adventure drama with a strong central mystery, executive produced by J.J. Abrams. And Mitchell remains best known for playing “Lost’s” badass fertility doctor Juliet Burke. But she’s not worried about the show’s ability to handle those comparisons.
“I simply just don’t think about it too much,” Mitchell says. “I feel for the showrunners, I really do, I feel like all of that is pretty much on them. But for me, I’m just happy that networks are still making these big budget extraordinary shows so that I can be in them!” And with that she erupts into one of her hearty laughs, one clear sign she’s having a blast playing the pivotal role of Rachel Matheson on “Revolution.”
The series takes place 15 years after a worldwide blackout, as Rachel’s spunky teenage daughter Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos) sets out on a quest to find her uncle Miles (Billy Burke), a former US Marine Corps sergeant, and fight back against the corrupt militia-run government known as the Monroe Republic.
Viewers don’t learn much about Rachel in the pilot episode — Mitchell is seen entirely in flashbacks to the day the blackout happened, and her character is presumed dead when Charlie sets out on her journey — but the actress swears she had good reason to take on the role. “The character was a mystery, there was very little there,” she says of her reaction to reading the pilot. But then she met with creator and showrunner Eric Kripke (“Supernatural”), who helped fill in the blanks. “[Eric shared] his ideas and his hopes, what his plans were, even what he didn’t know, he was really honest about all of it. [What he told me] made me excited to jump off a cliff and see what happened, as long as I was doing it with him.“
Although Mitchell isn’t at liberty to reveal if we’ll ever see Rachel in non-flashback capacity, she does allow that the show won’t “live” in the flashbacks. The driving force of the story is Charlie’s quest. So draw your own conclusions on whether or not Mitchell would sign on for such a limited role…
What she can say is that playing Rachel has been a major departure from her work on “Lost” and as FBI agent Erica Evans on the sci-fi drama “V.” “She’s not someone who has a skill set that puts her in a safe place when this all goes down,” Mitchell says about the “Revolution” character. “She is someone who has no skill set as far as that goes. She’s not tough, she’s not a warrior, she’s not the person you’d turn to in a crisis. She’s an incredibly intelligent woman who gets stuck in all of this. I thought it was really intriguing to be an Everyman. To be someone who starts this out and is like — ‘What the heck am I gonna do here? How do I protect my kids? How am I gonna live in this world?’“
Of course, one thing that made Juliet so popular with “Lost” fans was her ability to handle herself. “That was my all time favorite thing about the character,” Mitchell agrees. “[Juliet] didn’t really care if she lived or died, but you weren’t gonna mess with her. The only one allowed to was Ben and that’s because he basically taught her to be who she was.“
And Mitchell teases that even though Rachel couldn’t be more different than Juliet when the power goes out, she may not always be in over her head. “[Rachel] is strong of spirit and strong in the mind, but she’s not a warrior… yet. Hopefully that will kind of develop. On this show, we get to see a character grow into who they’re going to be. We don’t know if that’s good, we don’t know if that’s bad, we don’t really know what that’s gonna be. But I feel like everyone else out there watching [her] is going, ‘Oh God, that could’ve been me!’ And that’s what I liked about it.“
Mitchell signed on to “Revolution” over the summer, after the initial pilot had been shot by “Iron Man” director Jon Favreau. She didn’t get a chance to work with Favreau on the pilot reshoots, which was disappointing to her for a very unexpected reason. “My husband [actor Chris Soldevilla] was so happy about that,” she laughs. “I have such a huge crush on [Favreau]! You know how you’re allowed to have your ten people, not necessarily that you’d do anything with, but that you have huge crushes on? He’s one of them. When Chris found out [Favreau] wasn’t doing the reshoots, he was like ‘Ah, thank God!’ I’m just nuts about [Favreau], I’m not nuts about that many people, he’s just terrific.“
With “Revolution” set to premiere tonight on NBC, Mitchell promises audiences who check it out will be in for a wild ride. And it’s not going to be one of those adventure drama that teases out mysteries for too long, or without having answers ready. “What I love about Eric is that he gives everything away!” Mitchell laughs. “In the second episode, we know so much more. A lot of stuff that you think, ‘Well, that will be a cliffhanger for the end of the season…’ No, it’s [answered] in episode two or episode three! That’s one of the things I love about him.“