Elizabeth Mitchell plays FBI agent Erica Evans on ABC's new, revamped version of V. Spoiler alert: In the very first episode, she faces off in a battle between humans and Visitors. Further spoiler alert: She'll kick even more butt as the series continues.
"I just read [the next script], and there is more kick-ass action," Mitchell said in a group interview on Aug. 8 in Pasadena, Calif., as part of the Television Critics Association fall press tour. "I've said this, and I don't know if they want me to say this, but I like it even better than the pilot. I was happy to have read it before I came here, because when you just do a pilot you're talking about unknowns. You're talking about something ephemeral, and you can't quite get there. I've read it. It's active. It's not cerebral. It's so active that you find yourself caught up in it, and it made me very happy."
Mitchell was also getting ready to reshoot the fight scene from the pilot. Previously, SCI FI Wire reported that producer Scott Peters wanted to add more elements to the visitors' combat. Mitchell will get to improve her technique as well.
"I wasn't as skilled a fighter as I am now, so my punch looked a little bit like a 12-year-old girl's," she joked. "I don't think that's why [they're reshooting], but they wanted it to be more dangerous, they wanted it to be higher-tech. They wanted the guys to look sincerely terrifying when they were coming after us, and they wanted them to have more gadgets, and they do."
V still tells the story of aliens who visit Earth and at first offer to be humanity's allies. They cure our diseases and offer free tours of their spaceship. Fans of the '80s series already know the visitors turn out to be lizard creatures under their attractive exterior. Agent Evans is onto them early on and pursues a human resistance, while other characters explore the religious and media implications of the visitors.
Playing an action heroine has also improved Mitchell's performance, the actor added. "I love strong women," she said. "I love, love, love it. I find when all of that is happening, you don't think that much, and not thinking as an actor is really good. I tend to overthink things, so when I'm running around gasping for air and beating people up, whatever is happening in my face I have no control over."
Erica has bigger problems than just saving the world, though. Her own son, Tyler (Logan Huffman), defies her parenting rules. Now she's actually warning him about falling in with the alien threat, not just coming home before curfew.
"I just read the next episode, and she tries very hard to do that," Mitchell said. "She makes herself incredibly clear and believes all is well. He, I think, has been a kid who has in the past listened to her, so I think that she thinks that that's going to be the case again. She's a good mom, a single mom, and it was nice playing a mother. I did it before in Frequency, but to do it to this magnitude, where my son is in grave danger, is fascinating to me."
The new V differs from the original in many aspects. They get to the big reveal quicker and have a longer-term plan for the invasion than the 1984 miniseries. There are new characters and modern updates, but Mitchell holds the original in high regard.
"I also feel a tremendous obligation to the people who watched before to not mess it up," she said. "So, yes, the memories do come back. However, my character didn't really exist, is a compilation of other characters, therefore I'm given a little bit of a gift in not having to fill the footsteps that Morena [Baccarin] is having to do. Which, by the way, she does really beautifully and completely differently, which is so nice. But I have a little bit of a gift here. I'm able to really love the old and not feel bad about being in the new, so it's good."
V premieres Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. on ABC.