Outer Banks star Elizabeth Mitchell reveals why her season 2 villain 'terrified' her
"Playing an entitled, white, rich woman, and so blatantly so, was really of interest to me. I wanted to explore what that looked like," the actor tells EW of joining season 2 as Carla Limbrey.
The Pogues are about to meet their match.
When Outer Banks returns for season 2 (premiering Friday), John B (Chase Stokes), Sarah (Madelyn Cline), Kiara (Madison Bailey), JJ (Rudy Pankow), and Pope (Jonathan Daviss) still have a ton of problems to deal with from season 1. There's the fact that all the Royal Merchant gold was stolen by Sarah's dad Ward (Charles Esten). Plus, John B was framed for a murder that Sarah's brother Rafe (Drew Starkey) actually committed. And let's not forget that the Pogues think John B and Sarah died in a storm when they're actually alive and on their way to the Bahamas. That's a lot to deal with already — but the Pogues haven't seen anything yet.
Season 2 of Netflix's sun-soaked teen drama introduces a new villain who is about to wreak havoc on the Pogues — meet Carla Limbrey, played by Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost, Revolution, V). She's rich, she's powerful, she's elitist, but she's also dying... and that means she's got nothing to lose when it comes to achieving her goals. "I really found her to be great," Mitchell tells EW of her new season 2 character. "I was terrified to do it, so that's why I said yes."
Putting herself in someone else's perspective, someone like Limbrey — a woman privileged in money and access, but suffering from a terminal illness — was a thrilling process for Mitchell. "It's kind of fun to put yourself in that position to see exactly what you would do," she says. "What would you do if you had all that money and power in the world and you were, you know... not well. She thinks she's something that she's not. And I've always enjoyed characters like that."
Below, Mitchell talks with EW about what else fans can expect from her new villain in Outer Banks season 2.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell me more about your new season 2 character, Carla Limbrey.
ELIZABETH MITCHELL: She thinks she's powerful and enticing and all of those things, and that's really not what she is. I enjoyed her lack of self-awareness. That was really fun for me. But I found her challenging for sure. She was hard for me to love. But I found my way.
Actors always say that they can't judge the characters they play, even the evil ones, but it's kind of hard not to judge Carla for what she's going to do to the Pogues. Do you consider her a villain?
I decided that she didn't care if she was seen as a villain. I decided that she was going to do what she was going to do as she was going to do it to save her life because she felt that her life was more important than other people's lives. She felt that she was someone who could do more in the world by being there than most people could. So therefore her life was indeed more important. So I don't think that she would care so much to be viewed as an antagonist. I think she'd probably be surprised, but I don't think she'd care. [Laughs]
Although I definitely viewed her as an antagonist and a cautionary tale as to where we can go with hubris in our own lives. I know that she would never see herself that way. But I do! And I had no problem having her be a bad guy... With her money and with her power, she'd always simply been accepted as who she is, especially in the South. I'm from Texas, and we like our eccentric people. So that's just Carla; she's just like that. It's an interesting way of thinking about it.
Did you watch the first season before you joined the cast for season 2?
I don't know why I didn't watch it, because it's totally right up my alley. I mean, I love all those teenage, happy, sunshine, wonderful things. They're such a joy to watch; they're such a nice escape. So before the audition, I didn't know anything about it, and I always do my research before, so I sat down with the first episode. And then probably halfway through the second I was beyond hooked. I sat with my boyfriend and then he had to go back to work or something and then I ended up watching all of it. I watched everything back-to-back, I did not stop. I did not leave that couch. And I was captivated. And then, of course, I was nervous! So maybe it was a bad idea. [Laughs] We did the audition a few days later, and I remember saying, "Oh God, that's never going to work."
What kinds of conversations did you have with the showrunners about how to play this new antagonist?
I had strong ideas based on how they came up with her. I mean, she was a feeling before she was a person. She was that feeling of deteriorating wealth, that feeling of deteriorating grace. I loved that idea of a frayed human, of a person who has been brought up in a way where she has learned all of these things and then none of those things really apply to where she is. And I thought that was really interesting. And then the other thing that I liked was the mortality of it all, that feeling of what would you do to save your own life? What value do you place on yourself? [The showrunners'] history of her kind of came from a feeling that they had in an old house where they were once, and I liked the dirty desperation that felt like an old frayed piece of lace. That was my odd little thing that I took with me in playing her.
It sounds like she is maybe the most dangerous force the Pogues have ever gone up against, because as you said, she'll do anything to save herself.
She'll do anything to save herself and she doesn't have anything to lose. She's not healthy; she's not able to physically be a problem. But mentally, what she's willing to do is pretty, pretty vicious. And I find that to be really scary. [Laughs] I wouldn't go up against her for sure.
How did you go about bringing her to life physically, since her terminal illness plays such a big part of her overall motivations and actions?
I found it to be kind of a wonderful thing. Her way of moving is dictated by what she can and can't move; her frustration with that is palpable. After a day of using those really beautiful crutches — man, our props department is extraordinary — your body is all bent. You are not feeling well. And feeling unwell, feeling hurt, feeling less, that makes you angry, right? It makes you frustrated. It gives you a little bit of that desperation, just naturally. So the physical part actually really helped me find her. And then I also found her through what she was willing to do, and what she thought of other people, which is not much. I found it very predator-like. It's almost like she saw herself as the top and then everyone else was not nearly as interesting. And that in itself was a fascinating thing for me because I certainly don't walk that way through my own life.
That's very good to hear.
[Laughs] I know, it'd be terrible if I was like, "Yeah, I really identify with her!"
When we meet her, she's clearly suffering from a terminal illness that impacts her physically. Are you able to say what that illness is?
I'm going to try not to talk about it, but we did figure out what it was and what each one of her ailments were so that I could have that in my mind and body when we did the work. And they were pretty specific about it. It's fairly brutal. She's not long for this world, for sure.
What do you think is going to surprise people about where Carla's arc goes this season?
I think it will surprise viewers who she ends up being connected to, what she's willing to do, who she's willing to hurt to get what she wants. I mean, they were to me in the reading of it, because I just went episode by episode.
You're no stranger to filming in gorgeous tropical locations after Lost—
And with beautiful people!
So how did shooting Outer Banks compare to your time on Lost?
It was amazing, I loved being [back in that environment]. Every time I get to go back to the beach I'm always so thrilled. [Laughs] And I'm such a pale little creature, so I'd wake up early in the morning and walk on the beach and go out late at night and walk on the beach. I find that being surrounded by beauty does some pretty great things to your state of mind. There was some tremendous emotional satisfaction from filming and watching this season.
Read more from I Want My Teen TV, EW's summerlong celebration of teen shows past and present.