Kitsap County-based actor Elizabeth Mitchell has covered just about all the genre bases in her career.
She’s done character-driven mythology (“Lost,” “Revolution”), science fiction (“The Expanse,” “V”), procedural drama (“FBI: International”), teen soap (“Outer Banks”), fantasy (“Once Upon a Time”), horror (“The Purge: Election Year”), legal drama (“The Lyon’s Den”), medical drama (“ER”) and Christmas comedy (“The Santa Clause” series).
But for Netflix’s new vampire drama “First Kill,” streaming starting June 10, Mitchell gets to sink her teeth into something new.
“I’ve always wanted to play a vampire to be very, very clear,” she said by phone from Malibu, California, where she’s filming for the upcoming Disney+ “The Santa Clause” series.
“People ask me what I hadn’t done and I say, ‘I haven’t done as much comedy as I would like and I haven’t played a vampire,’ so there comes Margot and now I can say that I’ve created a vampire, which is very exciting for me,” Mitchell said of her “First Kill” turn as Margot Fairmont.
Based on a short story by V.E. Schwab and adapted for Netflix by scriptwriter Felicia D. Henderson (“The Punisher,” “Fringe”), “First Kill” is like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” if Buffy was a lesbian, or “Romeo and Juliet” with vampires.
The story begins with teen vampire Juliette (Sarah Catherine Hook) about to make her first kill. But when she chooses vampire hunter Calliope (Imani Lewis), sparks fly. Mitchell plays Margot, Juliette’s vampiric, stylish mother in the eight-episode first season.
While she liked that “First Kill” depicts a matriarchy with Margot at the top of the family, Mitchell so far hasn’t gotten an opportunity to go full vampire.
“Here’s hoping that Margot eventually shows her fangs,” Mitchell said. “At this time, I’ve just had to settle for quiet menace. And I’m a big fan of quiet menace. But it’s always your hope that you’re gonna get to back up that quiet menace with genuine menace at some point.”
“First Kill” is Mitchell’s second series with Netflix, having previously appeared in the second season of “Outer Banks” — she’s also filmed scenes for the in-production third season — where she plays Carla Limbrey, a terminally ill manipulator.
“She’s still a piece of work,” Mitchell said before comparing her two Netflix series characters. “They’re both really fun. They’re both entitled white women but in different ways.
“Limbrey is dying and she does that thing in life where we say, ‘I will be a good person IF …,’ ‘I will never take people for granted again IF …,’ ‘IF I can just live and be healthy and strong, I won’t have to be this evil person,’” Mitchell continued. “This is just a means to an end because her actions are terrible. Limbrey is desperate and grasping and sick and no longer fully in her power and hates it, is angry about it.
“Then you have Margot, who is in a matriarchal society and 500 years old with everlasting fertility. That restructures your view of how a woman sees herself and the world. In her world, power is everything and she’s in a family that has the most of it. So she’s got far more confidence than Limbrey, but she also doesn’t have to prove herself so arduously because she knows that she is the biggest predator in the room. She is appearing to be softer, kinder, a little bit of a sense of humor about things because she’s not grasping, whereas Limbrey is just holding onto the wall with her nails.”
Later this year, when the “Santa Clause” series debuts on Disney+, Mitchell will once again star opposite Tim Allen, her third go-around with the character of Carol Calvin, aka Mrs. Claus, since debuting in 2002’s “The Santa Clause 2.” For the series, the big difference from the film is in the amount she’s featured.
“The selfish answer is I have so much more to do, right?” she said with a chuckle. “Because when you have a TV show about a family, you have to feature all the family, so selfishly that’s what’s really fun.”
Mitchell said direct flights to filming locations from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are often her “biggest deciding factor” on whether to take a role.
“And there are a lot of them out of Seattle. Thank goodness for Alaska Airlines,” she said, adding that she’s flown about 30 times this year and only had one flight canceled, which was rescheduled for the next day. (June is off to a positive start for the airline, but tens of thousands of Alaska customers were not so lucky this spring.)
Filming “The Santa Clause” series in Los Angeles allows Mitchell to get back home most weekends to spend time with her 16-year-old son and her partner of eight years, who works in the video game industry in Seattle.
“It’s really lovely to work with Tim again,” Mitchell says of revisiting “The Santa Clause” franchise. “We did have one director who let us go improv-wise on one scene and we just tore it up for a good 30 minutes, so I do feel like we play really well together and we have a genuine affection for each other.”
It’s certainly a different family dynamic than her eternal vampire family on “First Kill,” but Mitchell said her history with Allen makes the franchise special.
“We’ve known each other now for so long. I’m nuts about his wife, Jane, and it all just feels really good to be there in a way that I don’t think you would have if you hadn’t been [working] together for 20 years,” Mitchell said. “There’s a little bit of a shorthand and he’s still the funniest person I know. I laugh so hard around him.”