An Interview with Dead of Summers’ Elizabeth Mitchell at San Diego Comic-Con 2016

Photo Credit: Freeform/Katie Yu
Photo Credit: Freeform/Katie Yu

Emmy-nominee Elizabeth Mitchell was born in Los Angeles and raised in Dallas. Mitchell attended a performing arts high school and received a BFA degree in Acting. She then participated in the Dallas Theatre Company to hone her craft. She made her TV debut as a guest star on the popular TV show ER, after which she landed various roles on the big and small screen. She’s best known for portraying Juliet Burke on ABC’s Lost and worked with its creator J.J. Abrams again on NBC’s Revolution. Additional credits include The Purge: Election Year, Once Upon a Time, Crossing Lines, The Santa Clause, Frequency, Answers to Nothing, Nurse Betty, Running Scared, Lyon’s Den, Man And Boy, 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story, and V.

Currently, she can be seen on Freeform’s popular new series Dead of Summer as Deborah “Deb” Carpenter. While at San Diego Comic-Con, TNWU chatted with Mitchell about Deb and Joel’s relationship, reliving the 80’s and the Lost finale. Read our interview below.

Episode 6 is called “The Dharma Bums”. Do you think that was on purpose?

It is on purpose.

Can you explain that?

Yeah, I probably should of right? But it is from the book. It is kinda of fun. That was a fun episode to do because there was so much back story so I got to play Deb through a lot of different time shifts and a lot of different times of her life. I loved it. It was great.

How did it feel going back to the 80’s? 

I was a zitty, frizzy haired, skinny just unhappy little creature in the 80’s. So it was great fun to go back to the 80’s now when the fashion and makeup was actually fun. The whole thing was great. I wasn’t like “eh, don’t look at me, don’t look at me!” (laughs). It was good. I had a good time.

Will we find more about the book that Deb showed Joel?

We talk about the book a lot. The book has so much to do with her life philosophy. I don’t know the things she wanted to be, who she thought she was, who she isn’t, and I think that anytime that happens in life it is always kind of interesting to think about it. You know, what makes us, us.

Did the showrunners give you a list of movies and books to reference? To go back and revisit them?

I think that maybe they felt like since I had been there I would be okay. (laughs). They did talk about “Sixteen Candles” and “Pretty in Pink.” I had my reference points that I thought were great.

What about St. Elmo’s Fire?

Oh, that’s right. Yeah, that was amazing. With the curtains and Demi Moore, right and Rob Lowe? I completely forgot about that scene. I remember as a kid being like they are so attractive and beautiful. They are amazing. I thought that was going to be me when I was a teenager. Yeah, it wasn’t like that. (laughs).

So were you a fan of horror movies when you were growing up? 

My dad is. Now, I love my dad. I became a long distance runner because my dad is a long distance runner. My dad is also that guy who says A-word like every hour or so. So the only way to get him to talk is by being on a really long run. Then you have these great discussions. So it was the same thing with the horror movies. I just sat there and was like “hey what are we watching next? Vampires in outer space? This is great!” I did watch them a lot as a kid and mainly just to hang out with my cool dad.

It’s hard to tell whether Deb is manipulating Joel so is that… do her feelings run deeper than that?

Possibly, I mean that is definitely the appearance. From everything that we’ve seen, that’s exactly what it seems like is the case. But I feel like it’s that big… You have to kind of watch carefully for where she really is. Things are trickier than they seem…which is fun. It’s not a very good answer but it will be soon, you’ll be like…Oh yeahhhh. (laughs).

What did you think about the Lost finale?

Oh, I like it. But what’s funny is that I know people didn’t, and I get it, that makes perfect sense to me. But I did like it because what they were kind of saying is that magic is real and that’s okay with me. I like the idea that these amazing brilliant showrunners thought that magic was something that could happen. That you know, made me happy.

Did you understand [it] when you read it?

 I was reading the scripts back to back so there were no drops. It’s like knitting when you drop a stitch and you’re like ah now the whole thing is ruined. I didn’t have to drop any stitches because I had everything in front of me. Every script that I would get I read three to five times as I was developing my character, developing the arc for the story. So it would be the equivalent of watching every episode for maybe five to ten times. So I didn’t feel like it was confusing but I did think it was wonderful. But I understand the people who didn’t get it.

What do you like to watch ?

I just finished binge watching Rita, it’s a Danish show. Oh my gosh, this woman is so good. She’s so good and so complex and so complete and I loved her with a passion. So much so that when the show came to an end I was just like “No!” And I went on and tried to find anything. So that one I love. Oh and Game of Thrones, because I read all the books, all of them. I didn’t watch the show though and then my boyfriend was like I really want to talk to you about this. And I’m like but I read all the books, he goes no they’ve gone off the books. You actually have to watch it. So I’m now at the end. I just finished season five. And I’m starting six and now I can carry on an intelligent conversation.

We know the showrunners are masters of conspiracy. As an actor, is it good for you not knowing some things about your character that maybe will be revealed later?

Yeah, I think what has always intrigued me about this particular way of making a show is that in life you don’t know what’s going to happen next. And I like not knowing, I like that you’re playing a character who doesn’t know. It keeps it all really interesting. And then also it covers up bad acting really well. (laughs). Because if you do something that’s just plain old bad, they’ll make an excuse for it in the next script so I’m all for it. You’re like yeah that’s right I knew that all along. That wasn’t because I was really bad that day. It’s helpful. (laughs).





*Interview was done by TNWU’s on-site SDCC reporter Anna Ruth Ramos

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