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'Revolution': Elizabeth Mitchell on Sticking With Genre Fare and Her Biggest Surprise (Q&A)

The "Lost" alum previews her new NBC series with THR, calling her character "maternal" and "intelligent," and revealing why the series' violence was unexpected.

Elizabeth Mitchell Revolution Still - H 2012
Brownie Harris/NBC
"Revolution"

Elizabeth Mitchell is ready for a Revolution.

The actress, best known for her turns as Juliet on Lost and Erica on V, is sticking with the genre that's treated her well with NBC's high-profile post-apocalyptic drama about a world where there is no electricity. For Mitchell, who has played strong-willed female characters, her small-screen persona on Revolution will be a stark change.

As Rachel, described as a beautiful and warm parent who's terrified of the ordeal her children will face as they navigate the dystopian world, Mitchell is aware of the inherent challenges. "Being vulnerable and being able to be hurt, possibly repeatedly, is fascinating to me -- and very difficult," she told The Hollywood Reporter.

Mitchell spoke to THR about moving on from Lost and V, where Revolution is headed and coming into the series later than usual.

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The Hollywood Reporter: How would you describe Rachel?

Elizabeth Mitchell: Maternal and intelligent. What I liked about her is she's spectacularly non-equipped to deal with the world that's coming towards her and I love that. After six years of playing intensely, physically-capable women, it was fun to start someone from scratch, someone who is soft -- just in what she's done and what she's seen. I loved the idea of an ordinary person in an extraordinary situation. It was something I hadn't done in a long time. There's a lot of vulnerability that comes from not being able to protect yourself.

THR: You've played strong women for the past several years on television. Was there a specific challenge for you to get into a completely different mindset with Revolution?

Mitchell: You always want to be the strongest person in the room because it gives you the power of not being hurt. Being vulnerable and being able to be hurt, possibly repeatedly, is fascinating to me -- and very difficult. To have myself be at the mercy of the people I'm surrounded with, at first, is interesting. Like with any kind of clay, which is what you start with when you start with any character like this, I have no idea what she'll be molded into. I'm starting to get an idea but as it is now, what would you do if everything suddenly went crazy?

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THR: Have you been surprised by the direction Revolution is going toward?

Mitchell: The violence is fascinating to me because I don't have a violent mind. I'm kind of a peace-loving creature. [Laughs] I don't think that it's inaccurate, I think that it's true. In any utopian society, there comes this quest and/or desire for some sort of violence. In all of the ideas that people have put forth, war games end up in there somewhere. Plus we get to see sword fights.

THR: Have the writers shared information to you about where Rachel is going that others may not be privvy to?

Mitchell: Executive producer Eric [Kripke]'s been great about answering questions about why my character is doing things. He'll tell me the endgame for my character and/or why it is the way that she is. There are some things that I know but they are very character-specific. I really don't know why the power went off. [Laughs] But I do know things about her, which are intriguing.

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THR: You came into Revolution a little later than the other cast members. Can you speak to taking the place of Andrea Roth?

Mitchell: First of all, you feel horrible when anyone you like is no longer working, but the reasons behind it had nothing to do with her work. She's a lovely, strong, gifted actress; I got to work with her on Lost. In a way, I got to be an understudy in this case. I got to watch her work and I got to see what worked. She was so gracious. She sent a message to me through a mutual friend saying, "I wish you absolutely the best. Have fun." In a way, we got to do the same part together.

THR: In the past several years, you've starred in Lost, V and now Revolution. Why are you drawn to mythology-heavy genre projects?

Mitchell: The only thing I can say is, at heart I am a theater actor, it's what I did for 15 years of my life and I loved it more than anything. This is epic. This is big, huge ideas; this is Prospero. I feel like it gives me a chance to do the kind of work I'm fascinated by, which is ordinary people in extraordinary situations and I get to interact with these people in a very real way. It's not unbelievable, it's completely believable. It's what you imagine as a kid, it's what you imagine when you're in acting school. You're up against these enormous odds and you get to do it every day. That's probably why I'm drawn to it. It seems more real to me than doing the same things every day.

Revolution premieres 10 p.m. Monday on NBC.

E-mail: Philiana.Ng@thr.com