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Elizabeth Mitchell Talks The FBI: International Season Finale, A Lost Revival, And More — Exclusive Interview

Elizabeth Mitchell may be best known as Dr. Juliet Burke on the cult-hit series "Lost," but her career goes so much deeper than that.

In addition to playing the career-defining Other who is trapped on the mysterious island with the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815, Mitchell has also starred in "Gia," the "Santa Clause" franchise, the "V" reboot, and "Once Upon a Time." Her most recent endeavor is as a guest star on "FBI: International," where she appears as Angela Cassidy, the estranged mother of Scott Forrester, FBI special agent and head of the Fly Team, played by Luke Kleintank ("Bones," Pretty Little Liars"). As the second spin-off from Dick Wolf's "FBI" drama, the international arm of the series airs Tuesdays on CBS.

With the first season of "FBI: International" set to wrap up on May 24, Mitchell exclusively spoke to Looper about her small but pivotal role on the hit show and reflected on her time on "Lost."

Mitchell hopes to return for Season 2 of FBI: International

You're a very busy lady, but let's talk "FBI: International" first.

Oh my gosh, I'm so happy that happened, I really am. I was so surprised when they called because it came out of the blue, and then their pitch for the character was so fun, and I was very excited about the idea of working with Luke. It was a no brainer on my part.

You're returning for the Season 1 finale. What can we expect from your return?

That's a great question. Our whole question for her is, where do her loyalties lie? A few more questions are answered, and maybe we pose some more, but there's a little heartbreak in this one. I'm excited about it. It's impossible to say details [before the episode airs], but I can say that I definitely got to work with some amazing people — Luke, again — and I had a really lovely time with the team. It's a really nice group of people over there, and they're so good at what they do and they draw these complex characters so nicely. That was great.

Might we see more of you in Season 2?

I hope so. I'm so excited it got picked up [for a second season]. That's really exciting. I'd love to come play with them when they'll have me. They are a really fun group of people to get to work with, so I'm all for it, should it come to that.

Were you a fan of the "FBI" franchise before taking this role, and, if so, who's your favorite actor or character from the franchise?

I hadn't watched it, for no other reason than it's been a crazy couple of years for me, and I haven't had a chance to catch up with anything. I have to say, Luke — because he is so good — I went back and watched, and I felt like Angela was looking out for him. I did [get into the show], and I enjoyed the show tremendously. I had a great time watching it. It's funny, it's smart, it moves, it's all those good things.

Even though you didn't watch the franchise before, how do you feel about Dylan McDermott taking over "FBI: Most Wanted"?

I think he's a lovely actor. I think he's been great. What could go wrong?

She believes Angela is protecting her son

As a mother yourself, did you find it difficult to play a woman who abandoned her son?

I did. I really struggled with that a lot, and the only thing I could think was ... as an actor, I always say, instead of saying "I would never," I say "What would make me? What would make me abandon my son?" There's really only one thing: If I thought his life would be in danger if I were near him. That's the tact that I took for her, because we have to choose things that feel true to us so that we can play in these imaginary circumstances as complete reality, complete truth. I did find it to be a struggle, and as soon as I made that realization, it flowed for me. It's certainly very easy to mother him. He's a terrific guy. It was like, "Look at you. It's a good thing I wasn't there, cause you're awesome." All those things.

A mother leaving their child is something that is really hard to wrap your head around. It's something we can't [understand] as a society, and even as a mom, you're like, "How?" That's the only thing I can think of ... that by removing yourself from the equation, you save your child's life. Then it makes sense to me.

Not to be super into your personal business, but your son is around the same age as when Angela left Scott on the show. Imagine leaving your son now, and not seeing him for 15 years.

Yeah, my son is 16. I definitely feel as if there's that horrible sadness because, [at] 16, we think, "We're so big, we're so strong," but we really need our parents. We need guidance, we need to know we're loved. That's what creates our way of walking through the world. It's heartbreaking, and that's probably what led to such a deep emotion [as Angela] on all of the different things that we did. She's also been doing this for a very long time, and she's very good at having people see what she wants them to see. That part of it was the most intriguing to me, because I don't cultivate myself in the same way. I am here, and I say whatever comes into my head. For her, it's more methodical than that.

Mariska Hargitay 'creates a warm environment' on Law & Order: SVU

Things are pretty serious on the show, but did anything funny happen on the set when you were shooting your scenes?

The first ones we did, it was absolutely freezing cold, so much so that it was hard to move my mouth. I found myself having this idea for walking across the bridge, where it's going to be all kinds of strident, and I ended up with a massive scarf and a hood, and it was hard to act.

We didn't have a tremendous amount of levity, only because the material is so very deep and sad, and a bit dark, but we, on occasion, had gentle laughs here and there, and the cold was definitely part of it. You look over at the other person and there's all this acting going on, but really, your cheeks are frozen, so there's that. I have a feeling that, should I have a chance to play with all of these people more, they'll probably be a lot. They seem like a really nice group.

You're no stranger to police procedurals. In fact, you played two different roles on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," eight years apart, polar opposite characters. Andrea Brown was a murderer, while June Frye was much more victimized. What was it like playing those two characters, and were there any major differences on the set of the show after such a long gap?

Oh, interesting. The show felt the same. I was amazed, it is a well-run machine, and Mariska's the best lead I can think of. She is kind, she is smart, she is absolutely 100% ready to go. Watching her and the way that she runs her set is a real joy for me. She is gracious. She creates a very warm environment when you're backstage or in your dressing room. I remember, I was there with my younger son, and she was playing with him on the floor, and took us bowling. [It was] such a lovely, warm environment, even with all the hard stuff that happens on screen.

As far as the characters go, a woman who kills her child because she doesn't want him to be in misery was really hard to even think about. I have to think she had a bit of a psychological break because she couldn't handle the enormity of this creature being in pain  And then the victim — nobody wants to be a victim. In my mind, they were two very broken women who second guess themselves, again and again, leading to such a fractured person. They almost didn't know the difference between right and wrong, and I found them to be both be really interesting and so sad, both of them.

Lost's Juliet is her 'all-time favorite' character

Now, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't ask about "Lost." What does the show mean to you?

"Lost" was a game changer for me. It's also where my son grew up. He was a little baby when I started in Hawaii. It's where I met Evangeline [Lilly], one of my favorite people. Juliet is still one of my all-time favorite characters. They wrote her with such depth and poetry, and to be an Other was an amazing thing. To be outside of the folds gives you such deep things to play, and we can all identify with being an Other, in one way or another. We're an Other in our group of friends, in our family, in high school. I really loved the archetypes, and the way they set things up with the characters. I had a great time. It was one of the most extraordinary, interesting experiences of my life, traipsing through the jungle with all of these amazing people, and also having a newborn at home. It was great. I loved it.

You mentioned Evangeline, but who else from the "Lost" cast would you be most excited to see again or perform opposite of?

I love all of them, I really do. I would genuinely be happy to play with all of them. I really loved the dynamics, which were all different with each and every person. Yunjin [Kim] is one of my favorites to watch. She's extraordinary. I would absolutely love to play opposite of her again. All the men were so strong, and good, and so passionate about their work in different ways. You don't really have a bad apple in there, do you? It would be a joy to see any of them again, and to get to work together.

She believes the Lost storyline was all 'real'

Any funny or memorable moments from the set that stand out all these years later?

We had so many, and they were very location dependent. It was us mucking through the jungle, Evangeline and I handcuffed together, but with real handcuffs, and the ridiculousness that ensued — slipping around in the mud together, and laughing so hard. We laughed every time the camera was not rolling. The absurdity of it always took us to the next level, and we giggled more than you would ever think that Juliet and Kate would do so. We have such a deep love for each other. [The whole cast] laughed all the time, some characters more than others.

Josh [Holloway] and I laughed a lot because we are friends, and we really did find that whole thing to be so fun and funny, trying to make it work. Then, there were some characters that we were very serious. Michael [Emerson] and I didn't laugh a whole lot together. We were very serious. We were quiet and serious, and got in there and did our work. But there were always moments, but they usually had to do with nature coming in and showing us that we're not the boss of things.

Do people ever ask you to explain the ending? And, if so, what do you tell them?

Oh, all the time. I always say the same thing. My take on it is that it was all real. [The people] are like, "But everyone was always dead," and I'm like, "Nope, they weren't." It was all real. The island is magic. Yes, the end of things centered on Jack's world and his afterlife, but it was all real 'til the end. People died when they died, and all of that is true. That's what I say, and people usually say the same thing: "Well, I don't know." That's okay. You don't have to, [and] neither do I.

It's open for interpretation

And that's the fun of it. The fact that people are still talking about it is really a wonderful thing.

She doesn't think there needs to be a Lost revival

Since there have been some rumors about it, what do you think of a potential "Lost" revival, and what do you think would be a fitting way to bring back the show and your character?

It's so hard to imagine any of these people getting back together again, but, then again, I said that about "The Santa Clause," and here we are 16 years later [returning for a miniseries].  ["Lost" creator] Damon [Lindelof] had once said — and he's on to something here — that if someone re-imagined it and brought back all the same characters as different people, it would be really interesting to see what would happen. That would be intriguing to me. I'm always up for working with any of those people again. I think they're fantastic, but I love that they told the story that they wanted to tell.

You end your thing in the time that you want, and you create what you want, and they did that. It's hard to imagine them coming back and saying, "Well, we could do this." I don't know. It's always intriguing to think of what creative minds will come up with, but for me, it ended in a beautiful way.

You mentioned the upcoming "Santa Clause" miniseries, and you also have a news series called "First Kill" coming out, two disparate things, but they both have a supernatural element to them, if you want to look at Santa Claus that way. Tell me why each role is fun to play.

Margot, my "First Kill" vampire, was fun mainly because I was surrounded by such lovely, talented actors. We got all of our Broadway amazingness. We have Aubin Wise and Will Swenson. It was really great fun to play this matriarchal vampire who loves her family. I thought it was great. It's very grounding.

And then, as far as Carol goes [in "The Santa Clause"], to play a role that I played 16 years ago, and 20 years ago, respectively, is so much fun. I can't begin to tell you. It's terrific. It's so amazing to be surrounded by such talented people, and then also to have such funny things to say and have it have so much heart. Every day we're on set, we're beaming, we're playing. It's a family environment. It really is so much fun. The writers, and our showrunner Jack [Burditt] are so talented and so good. The spiritual aspect of it is really quite lovely — you are something that provides hope and joy to children everywhere. That's really exciting. I love it.

The Season 1 finale of "FBI: International" airs Tuesday on CBS at 9 p.m. ET.