I've been holding this for a week waiting for the first episode to air, so now I can post it. That means this is heavy on spoilers if you haven't watched "The Stand" episode 11 and I recommend not reading this. Thanks to Elizabeth-Mitchell.org
Q) What is about genre shows that appeals?Elizabeth: I have to say I’m a huge fan of adventures. I love to read them, I love to watch them. They go on in my head. So I think anything kind of epic and adventure wise is always a huge draw for me. It’s what I like to watch and to get to actually do it, to be in something that’s Lord of the Rings or Star Wars or any of those things it’s just what my passion is, kind of where I go to escape. So that’s what draws me to it.
Eric: Yes and coming at it as a writer it’s really fun to write genre not just because you can have some – not just because you can explore some mind-bending concepts and have lots of fun action but because you really get to discuss issues and really subversive ideas that you never would be able to get away with if you were writing a straight drama and you get to talk about just – you really get to explore some really edgy stuff about murder and death and redemption and as long as it’s hidden underneath people swinging swords at each other, you get away with it. So that’s been really fun for me because we’ve been able to – I’ve been able to say things and talk about things that I would never be able to otherwise.
Elizabeth: A lot of freedom.
Q) Elizabeth you were talking about how you love being in like action adventure oriented type shows, are you going to get to do any action of your own this second half of the season?Elizabeth: Yes, yes we are and my father will be thrilled because that’s really the stuff he likes to watch the most. I think that Linda Hamilton’s his favorite actress. I do get to do some more actiony type stuff and I have a wonderful time. I love that stuff.
Eric: Yes she totally kicks ass.
Q) I’m wondering do you have any concerns that viewers might throw up their hands in exasperation that after all the effort to get the brother back the writers go and kill him right away?Eric: Well before I begin I just want to say because I don’t know who is on this call and there’s no bigger spoiler and so I don’t know whether because I know we distributed some episodes to writers but I want to make sure that everyone who’s on this call kind of takes this vow of silence to never please report on this before the episode airs on March 25 because it’s a pretty thermonuclear secret you just mentioned. So I want to be very, very clear about that. Please don’t anyone go online and mention that fact. And then second no we don’t think so. I mean, I think it will be – it’s exactly the right type of shocking development that really ramps up everybody up emotionally towards – ramps everybody up for their mission in the second half of the season and it just – it really emotionally escalates everything.
Q) Can you talk about the challenges of having been away for awhile, how you’re going to reintroduce things to viewers and your concerns about being away, being off the air?Eric: Sure. Yes I mean look any time you’re off the air for four months you hold your breath and you hope fans come back but we take solace and encouragement from a few things which is I think there’s a long history of genre television really working with these large breaks in between like Walking Dead or Game of Thrones and also because the second half of the season is such a different mission and quest and energy than the first half that it really does feel like a natural break. It feels like it’s its own particular season of television in that the first half was the drive to find Danny was prologue to it opening up into a much larger and more epic and exciting story. So I think because there’s such a natural break in the storytelling, I think people will be able to jump right in and watch one recap and remind themselves where all the characters were and then dive in the way that – I won’t see Game of Thrones for literally a year and then I’ll watch one 90-second recap and be right in the middle of it. And then finally, you know, the break gave the writers and the producers and the actors like a minute to really explore what was working about the show and what wasn’t working and how to make it better so whether we were on the air, whether we were off the air, the risk that it the inevitable risk that goes along with it, I mean that’s all true but it allowed us to make a higher quality better series. And at the end of the day that’s the thing I have to put at my first priority. The show’s better because we took the break so therefore I’m glad we took the break.
Q) You’re returning to an NBC that’s kind of different too. Things have sort of changed for the network in the past couple months. Any thoughts about that?Eric: No like any good player we just keep our head down and focus on our game and I mean, look we’re coming back with The Voice and the fact is there is no bigger show on television and there’s no better lead in. And we’re very, very happy and grateful to have such a monster hit as our lead in. And so we’re hopeful that we’ll come back strong. Again one, because the episodes are really strong and in my mind I love the first half but I think the second half is better no question. And we have a hell of a lead in so those things are all reasons for hope.
Q) Filming in North Carolina, I wanted to see if you could talk about the advantages and the challenges of that.Elizabeth: I will say the advantages are Wilmington is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen so that has been beautiful. And then what I think that Billy and I were talking about the other day is just how lush and gorgeous the world around you is how that plays a little bit of a part — not a little bit, quite a bit. It’s almost another character in the show and we’ve all loved it. The cast has all loved it here. It’s been, I don’t know, beautiful, interesting to be outside, every time you are you’re kind of amazed by what you’re able to find especially in the second half. I think some of the architecture, some of the abandoned buildings it’s truly beautiful. So for us it’s been a gift.
Eric: I second all of that. I second that emotion. The locations are stunning and haunting and we have been able to find just, you know, our production team there has been able to find just a remarkable variety of looks that we’ve had to do actually very little CG work or visual effects work or dressing them up. I mean a lot of these locations, these massive abandoned factories and power plants and we’ve been able to just move right into them and shoot them. It’s always a little challenging being 2000 miles away from my production. You know, it would be nice to be able to, you know, be on set and have that sort of guiding hand but we have an incredible team in Wilmington. And ironically enough on this show we are absolutely reliant crucially upon technology and we’re emailing and Skypeing and sending photos and dailies are coming – dailies don’t come as film or tape or DVDs anymore, they come on our desktops and so then we’re responding quickly in real time. And you can actually get quite a lot of producing done just by sitting at your computer which is funny and ironic.
Elizabeth: Yes it is. But it was great too. I mean it’s really great. There’s a lot of talent here which is awesome.
Eric: Yes, yes we have amazing producers there too that are really steering the ship quite, quite well.
Q) Do you get to go out there much at all or are you mostly in L.A. the whole time?Eric: I would, except they keep me handcuffed. Part of this call was to secretly ask you all for help and to tell my story. No I haven’t been actually which is a shame but we’re so jammed getting scripts out and in postproduction, all of which happens in Las Angeles that unfortunately I haven’t been able to make the trip yet but I will.
Q) When we spoke to you at Comic-Con you told us that we would learn why the power went out to begin with fairly early on the season and you delivered on that but with this midseason premier it seems like we’ve created almost twice as many questions as we had to begin with about what’s going on. What can you tell us about what we’re going to learn about the overall mythology for the second half of the season?Eric: Yes I mean what you just described is pretty much my MO which is start answering questions and then ask more and then answer those. And I think that’s what viewers can expect in the second half of the season which is I really favor in a really aggressive red-blooded pace of storytelling. Endless mystery is not really my thing and anyone who’s watched any of my shows will know that. So for me it’s about in episode 13 Rachel reveals pretty much every single thing there is to know about why the blackout happened and every time I watch that scene, that scene that is like — and she’s brilliant in it — but that scene’s a hard swallow every time because you’re like wow we’re just saying it. And it goes against many of your baked-in sure weather instincts are not to have the scene that reveals every single thing in three minutes. But the reality is Jon Favreau was hanging out with us in the writer’s room and we were discussing the problem that as a character Rachel knew why the blackout happened and she was back in and among heroes, she wasn’t captive anymore, and we were really wrestling with the question well why wouldn’t she just tell them. And then Jon who came in and was able to provide much needed perspective, just looked at me he was like she would tell them so have her tell them. And I said yes you’re right, you’re right she would say it so she has to say. And so she does. And so we reveal really why the blackout happened but the card I think we have up our sleeve is I think the explanation really opens the door to much greater story possibility. I don’t think we box ourselves in a corner. I think we open a door to a whole new world. And then we ask more questions. Because for me look for me the story was never about what caused the blackout. I think it’s for me it’s like the show isn’t just based on one particular mystery, it’s based on these characters and this world and this kind of transformed landscape that they have these adventures in. It’s risky and it’s surprising that but I think it turns out okay because there’s so many other storylines about the characters, who they were, we ask a few more questions, we pose a few new mysteries. But I will say having just I’m literally turning in the season finale later today and having now in detail seen what happens through the end of the season, I think we answer most if not all the questions that are being posed. And then we start asking new ones but that is as is my way.
Q) Elizabeth, at the very end of the season opener or the midseason premier and kind of spoilery if you haven’t watched it, at the very end you pull something out of Danny which there was a flashback regarding a surgery when he was younger, will we get an explanation as to what’s going on with that before the season ends?Elizabeth: I believe that we will, given that that’s a huge spoiler, the huge no one can know. But yes I believe that we absolutely will and it’s really intriguing. I was intrigued by it as a nerd so I think that you’ll be satisfied, as gratified.
Q) Can you talk a bit about working with the Lost guys again and why don’t they throw you a bone for like Star Trek or Star Wars to give you a part on that too?Elizabeth: I’m campaigning hard to be a Jedi. My friends like to tell me that I feel like I’m one in life so yes that would be really awesome. And I love it. I love complicated, good characters. I love complicated, good characters set in extraordinary situations so to be with the same people who kind of made that happen for me before is an absolute joy and I’m always honored. It’s always nice to come back. It’s better than people being like let’s just not work with her again. So I’m honored and it’s fun and selfishly it’s just I love the complication of the characters I get to play. I just love the work so to be able to be with the people who make good work — is that proper English — it’s fun and I’ve had a great time getting to know Eric. It’s been great. He’s along those lines of thinking and different and wonderful and it’s neat. So yes and yes I’d love to be in Star Wars, just putting it out there.
Eric: And really for the record, me too. And by the way the feeling’s totally mutual Elizabeth. It’s been great.
Q) Elizabeth I’ve been watching you since Gia and I want to know when’s the last time you talked to Angelina Jolie and did you know she was going to be so hugely famous back then?Elizabeth: Well I did know she was going to famous because she kind of already was. I mean, the minute she walked on the set I remember that even her stand in was like I can’t stop looking at her. I was like you know what, she’s very cute.So when did I talk to her last? I don’t know it’s probably years ago. I mean I think we get word through friends every once in awhile. She’s deeply lovely, deeply wonderful so I know that she’s there and I think she knows that I’m here. So we haven’t spoken but I definitely have, I don’t know, she’s a pretty great lady.
Q) Do you have maybe a favorite scene or moment coming up that you can talk about without spoiling too much and if not then a favorite moment from earlier?Elizabeth: I have a scene in the moonlight next to water with Miles that is probably one of my favorite scenes as much for the silence as for the words. I enjoyed playing it, I enjoyed reading it and I just kind of got a chance to do ADR for it and I normally can’t watch myself but I liked it. So I think that’s probably one of my favorites. It was simple and lovely and exactly the kind of thing that I like to play and to watch. So just a simple little scene. I don’t know if anyone will feel the same way but that was one that I truly enjoyed and I thought that Billy was terrific and great fun to watch.
Eric: Yes no she’s right, that scene’s awesome. And it hints at and we can spoil that part and say that it hints at a deeper more fraught and complicated history between Miles and Rachel and it’s all mostly done in looks and so much is conveyed with very little dialogue and it’s a thrill to watch them work. I would add to that that there are actually two – the ones that I’m thinking of are two Elizabeth scenes so well done Elizabeth. I don’t want it spoiled — but the final moments of episode 11 when we come back are just such an insane neck-snapper of a twist and it’s so awful and wonderful and you kind of can’t believe you’re watching it and there’s tears and there’s knives and it’s just awesome. And then I would say in the first run when Rachel ganks Dr. Jaffe with the screwdriver. That’s like a personal favorite in the writer’s room like we love that. She just jabs him in the chest and then says to Monroe, “Now you need me.”
Elizabeth: People come up to me and say that to me. People come up to me and they go, “Oh now you need me.” And I’m like okay.
Eric: This like badass chick with a screwdriver and that was really funny and awesome and surprising and brutal and it was just great. We talk a lot about in the writer’s room how we want to do this – maybe it will be a webisode, we’ll probably never do it but we call it like the short sad life of Dr. Jaffe and how he like Rachel felt, I mean it’s just funny, I mean I love it. I love that we have such a complicated lead character and a complicated hero who basically like provides intel, gets the guy captured, gets him in front of Monroe and then to apologize stabs him in the chest with a screwdriver.
Elizabeth: Well sorry. It’s really horrible. When you hear it it’s horrible
Eric: Yes but it’s what she has to do to survive and protect her children and I think people understand and go with it and it just makes her – I think it just makes Rachel that much more awesome.
Elizabeth: Everyone that I’ve talked to has been like yes.
Q) Eric last time I talked to you I had asked you about Grace and you had said that she was going to be a bigger part of the storyline in the second half of the season. Can you talk at all about that?Eric: Yes that’s true. I mean, we see a glimpse of her or you’ve all seen a glimpse of her already at the end of episode seven and episode eight to reveal that – where we reveal that Randall has brought her to this kind of – to this particularly mysterious location. And really starting with episode 11 we start to reveal what that place is, why Randall has brought her there, what he wants from her and then the story progresses from there. But the location – the place where they are really starts to become important to story to the point where it starts to have its own gravitational pull in the story, not literally, figuratively, and every character starts getting drawn closer and closer towards it because it’s such an important location and because what Grace is doing there is so important.
Q) Eric, in my opinion, I think that your show is a lot better than some of the other “event programs” that have debuted on network in the past couple of seasons but in your opinion why do you think Revolution has worked where those shows didn’t?Eric: Well let me preface this by saying any writer who knows why his stuff works is lying. But I have my theories but mostly I’m just grateful that people seem to be connecting with it and I’m greatly appreciative that they’re watching is mostly my reaction and response to that question. As to why, my theory or my hope is because we actually put the – yes it’s a genre show but we try very hard to put the genre on the backburner and put the characters front and center. And our focus in the writer’s room is not what’s the trippy mind-bending concept although we certainly love those, our focus is well how do those concepts bring out new dimensions of our characters and how do we make it as emotional as possible and how do we make these characters as fraught and complicated and tortured as possible. Because look here’s the truth of episodic television which is you really want every episode – you want every episode’s storyline to be great but the reality is the sheer volume of work means that some are great and some of your stories as a writer suck out loud. But if the characters take and the actors create amazing characters which I think they’re doing, then viewers get invested. I don’t think they get invested in any particular storyline, they get invested in the characters. And if the characters are working then the series works. And conversely it doesn’t matter how cool your concept is if the characters aren’t appealing or relatable to the audience then it will never work. I used to say this a lot to making a reference to Lost when I was talking to J. J. and Bryan and all the Bad Robot guys in the beginning, we talked about it a lot and what I said to them and they totally agreed and I think it’s why Lost worked so well was we said look I’m interested in, I’m fascinated by what’s on that island but that’s not why I’m watching, I’m watching for Matthew Fox and Elizabeth and John Locke and all the characters and they’re the ones that you love and that’s why that show was so successful and hopefully Revolution is trying to – hopefully Revolution is coming close to approximating that same formula.
Q) Elizabeth, you’ve been on shows like this with large casts before, what do you think is the key to keeping everyone happy and engaged and how would you say that Revolution is doing that for you?Elizabeth: Oh what a great question. I love ensembles I think mainly because I started in theater and I love that idea. What keeps people happy and engaged is good work, great words and then I think coming together there’s a lot of…Lost was the same way. We were all very supportive but everybody came ready to play and I think if you have that attitude and there’s not ego which is also the case on Revolution which I really like then it’s fun. You go in and it’s fun and you play together and you antagonize each other on camera and you love each other on camera and you hate each other on camera and then you go off and you try to figure out how to make it even better and you come back and you try to do that. And that’s the collaboration of a group is and has always been very exciting to me. I think it elevates everybody. You rise to the occasion and I love that. I hear that from all of the actors when we’re walking around. How did that go? Oh I had scene with Giancarlo and I learned so much, it was fantastic. Or I did this or I did that. So I think just that respect and passion so yes. That keeps it going and makes it really nice.
Q) I just want to know could you compare kind of like the whole I guess filming process like it’s how the same and different to Revolution?Elizabeth: It’s really interesting and I don’t know if this will make sense to anyone but it is slightly different. Lost we started with wide, we’d come in the middle, we get right into tight and we’d go for the eye like we’d get in really close. And on Revolution right now we’re shooting a lot of long lenses which means that I don’t necessarily know when the camera is right on my face so it’s been something of a surprise. And what is done is that it felt more like in some ways like a play. You’re doing all of this, our operators are catching all of this but they’re not right exactly there. So it’s been really interesting, really fun.
Eric: That is really interesting.
Elizabeth: Yes isn’t that kind of – it’s been really interesting how that is because I was so used to having the camera just right there. But the thing that I have found very similar is that we as the actors are all very exciting to know what’s happening next and I love that. I love the fact that we want to sneak in and who has a script and has anyone seen script and does anyone have a script and should we call Eric, should we ask Eric. Oh let’s not ask him. Oh maybe we will. Everybody kind of (unintelligible) and everyone’s like okay I asked it. And I was like did you, what happened? Well you know it’s about my character. Come on!
Q) And to both of you what’s been the most challenging for Revolution?Elizabeth: Well I like challenges, I’m weird that way. I’m the one who ran stadium stairs as a kid. Challenging…I always find shooting outdoors to be challenging. It’s loud, it’s dynamic and you can either raise your game accordingly or you can get incredibly frustrated so I suppose that I enjoy that particular challenge of making all of that work and shooting a show with no electricity in a very powerful world. So there’s the cars, there’s the planes, there’s the cell phones so that’s definitely a challenge but it’s pretty funny.
Eric: Yes. I would say for me it’s the story breaks are remarkably challenging. It’s definitely very, very rewarding but it’s also the most difficult show I’ve ever written for. There’s so many characters, there’s so many storylines. They all have to hit the targets of being emotional and true and honest and action packed and exciting and genre and it’s a son of a bitch to break this show. And I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten an entire story up and then I went back and read it over — we put them on these giant dry erase boards — and we’d show back up in the morning and read it over and literally just erase the whole thing and the writer’s come in and they see the empty board and their faces fall and it’s so tragic and it happens so often. And we say okay let’s go back, let’s talk about what we want this episode to be. Let’s go back to theme and then do it all over again. But they’re all in and we’re all excited to do it because we want it to be great and everybody really cares and hopefully the viewers will see that in the payoff because we really take very meticulous care with these stories.
Elizabeth: It’s in the scripts. I mean, it’s really truly is. And I feel like we need to have a reality show of you guys in the writer’s room now.
Eric: Yes and then you should see me – because it’s just my show-running style where I’ll act out every part as we’re working through the scenes. I’ve always threatened to have like a DVD special features which is like a video of me acting out the part with how the actor ended up doing it professionally.
Elizabeth: I’m going to hold you to that.
Eric: But I will say this that in my version of the performance I would say every other word is fuck or shit and so my version of Revolution is much more R rated and blue and it’s much more like as if David Mamet had written Revolution than what ends up on the screen, like a lot of the fuck and shit in the writer’s room becomes hell and damn by the time it gets to the screen.
Q) Eric, I have a question about Tracy and JD’s characters. I seem to be rooting for a romance at the beginning of last season and will we see anything develop?Eric: Yes we definitely will. JD’s character is named Jason, it was Nate, but his real name is Jason. Jason goes through some seismic shifts with his father, who’s Giancarlo, with his relationship with the militia and that Charlie has a front seat to a lot of those really dramatic turns in that there is this sort of static friction between the both of them that draws them closer. And then we blow it all up because these types of relationships in these types of shows are about the push/pull and about the friction of will they get together or won’t they and what obstacles do they have to overcome.
Elizabeth: And they’re freaking gorgeous together.