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Elizabeth Mitchell on Juliet’s ‘Lost’ fate

“Everyone came to say goodbye,” she says of shooting season 5's last scene. “I think Jorge (Garcia) brought champagne. It was a cathartic and amazing experience.”
/ Source: Entertainment Weekly

Elizabeth Mitchell will attempt to save the world from an alien invasion in ABC’s new drama “V,” a reboot of the memorable 1983 miniseries that debuts Tuesday. She’s also dealing with some deadly serious business on another freaky ABC series. In “Lost’s” season 5 finale, Mitchell’s Juliet seemingly met her end after plunging down a hole and triggering a hydrogen bomb that may or may not have reset the timeline.

Spoiler alert: While “Lost” exec producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse confirm that death becomes her (“The decision to kill Juliet was absolutely brutal,” says Lindelof), they note that she’s scheduled to appear in multiple episodes this season (“There’s still something very significant that we have not yet learned about the character,” hints Cuse). As you speculate away, enjoy these juicy quotes from Mitchell, Cuse, and Lindelof:

On shooting Juliet’s final scene in the season 5 finale:

Mitchell: At the time, I didn’t think I was ever coming back. So for me it was just a really big goodbye and easily heartbreaking. It wasn’t one of those things to think about it. Also, Josh (Holloway) is really strong, so I was on this pulley, and I had them loosen the pulley so he’d really be holding me up, and it killed both of us every time. When my hand slipped from his, it was because he couldn’t hold on any longer. So that hit us with a real punch. And then, to be trapped in that cave and to have no way of telling anybody and to be too hurt to move — who does that happen to? Is that not your deepest, deepest nightmare? So that was very easy to play because it was so big…. We were all broken-hearted and crying quite a bit. Evangeline (Lilly) couldn’t have been more supportive about all of it. Everyone came to say goodbye. I think Jorge (Garcia) brought champagne. It was a cathartic and amazing experience.

On why she enjoyed that scene:

Mitchell:  It was really primal. And it was such a lovely opportunity because there’s always been this theory that I just may be a really really horrible actor because I don’t show any emotion. I love that we got to see all of her rage, because to me, that’s what’s driven her. To have the calm exterior, I always had to have that underneath. That’s what made playing her kind of hard in my personal life because there was so much unexpressed. So I’d be on the way home, Agggghhhhh!, crying or screaming. That was the very first time that we got to see her naked — besides being in love. We actually got to see all of that pain and rage that had been built up for some time. Then there it was — Juliet unmasked. And it was fun. I remember the director saying, “Can you just push it to the limit?’ And I’m like, “Really?”

On the decision to off Juliet:

Cuse: As the story is now nearing its conclusion, some characters just aren’t going make it all the way to the end. Even beloved characters aren’t going make it all the way to the end. And sometimes we have to do things that are really painful, like killing Juliet, because that’s what makes the story feel like the stakes are genuine, and people feel invested that characters who are beloved can actually perish on our show. It was an enormously powerful story that concluded the entire season of the show. So she was sacrificed in service of the story, and I think was hugely responsible for the season being viewed as successful because that was how it ended.… But she will always loom as one of our favorite characters, and even more importantly, favorite people that we’ve ever worked with on this show.

Lindelof: What always gives us pause — especially in this instance — is we just love working with Elizabeth. And she always brings it, she always gives more than we expected, and transcends the material. She has always been so gracious and sweet and lovely…. That conversation (in which he and Cuse delivered the bad news) went the same way that the entire relationship did, which is Elizabeth was completely understanding, sweet and wonderful. And she was bummed, as were we.

Mitchell: I really only thought (the job) was going to be a year. I didn’t in any way think that that character would be liked because I didn’t think of her as a likable person. I was just in love with her, so that was what was fun. She didn’t have to be beautiful. She didn’t have to be sexy. She was someone who we really haven’t seen. It was new, it was virgin ground.… (But after season 3), I was told many, many times that they weren’t sure what to do and that they wanted to keep her a mystery. Which I thought was great, to keep her a mystery. I’m glad they didn’t go the other way, and make her completely nothing. In many ways a lot of it was just inevitable. (Season 4) wasn’t as exciting as season 3 was, but I was still pretty grateful to be there, to be honest with you. They’d done a lot for me, so I still felt pretty good about it and I still loved her. Even if I was just walking around in the background, I was still having my Juliet thoughts …. (In a phone call right before the end of season 5, Lindelof and Cuse) said they didn’t have any story left to tell, and they didn’t think there was anything left for her to do… They were very open and honest and kind about it. And they seemed to be sad about it.”

Cuse: There are so many characters in the weave of the fabric of “Lost” that at various times certain people get to shine and other people are forced into the background. Juliet’s character had that kind of an arc on the show: She burned brightly, but then we moved on in the storytelling and other things became more important. And it’s always painful. It’s like having a garage full of the most beautiful cars in the world but you only can drive one to work every day. And it was frustrating for us too because we were pursuing other stories which rose to prominence and hers ended up taking a little bit of a back seat. But Damon and I came to a place where we came up with a fantastic “ending” (for Juliet). And ending is in quotations, of course, because just because a character’s died doesn’t mean that their story’s over on “Lost.”

Lindelof: Juliet basically birthed season 6 by the actions that she takes in the final seconds of season 5. She is completely responsible for the end game of the show. So the character is going to be seen in a slightly different light this year. We gave her that action for a reason, and that’s because she’s so important to the fabric of the story.

On later being asked to return in season 6:

Mitchell: The only thing I could think of was that she gets to beat the c-r-a-p out of Ben (laughs)…. I was like, “I think I’m going to be really busy. But I’m so in love with this character, it’s not like you have to twist my arm. So, thank you.” It was just a complete rollercoaster of (emotions), though, because I had already said goodbye.

On what we should expect when we see Juliet again:

Mitchell: It’s probably exactly what you expect, but because it’s Damon and Carlton, you know they’re just going to turn it on its ear.

For more from Mitchell on “Lost” and “V,” check out this week’s issue of EW — and come back to PopWatch later for a video interview and bonus quotes.