Mireille Enos has experience acting for two. In the TV series “Big Love,” she played twins; as the star of the new series “The Killing” on AMC, she shot the pilot while she was four months pregnant.
“The Killing,” an American version of the Danish TV series “Forbrydelsen,” is the 35-year-old actor’s breakout performance; the show, set in Seattle, has won raves from critics and many have praised her performance as homicide detective Sarah Linden, a woman pulled between her investigation of a gruesome murder and her move with her fiancé to another city.
Enos, who was born Kansas City, Missouri, and raised from around the age of five in Houston, Texas (her mother is French-Italian, her father American), talked to The Wall Street Journal about her role on “The Killing.”
Speakeasy: How did you first hear about this role?
Mireille Enos: It came to me a little over a year ago. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever read in any medium, film, stage or TV, in years. I was instantly in love with it and hoped that I would get to be a part of it.
How important was it for you to get this role at this stage of your career?
Well, roles like this, you’re lucky if you get one in your career. Women’s roles, like this, they aren’t written very often, so I knew it would be a very special thing to get, so I stayed very focused on doing the work.
The same people who cast you in “Big Love” cast you in this role. I’ve read that you were four months pregnant when you shot the pilot. Did you consider naming the baby after the casting agents?
We didn’t name the baby after them, but we sure kissed their cheeks and gave them big hugs.
Why didn’t you watch the original?
Because I heard the actress [Sofie Gråbøl] who played Sarah in the original was fantastic and I didn’t want her performance in my mind. I needed to create this version of Sarah all on my own rather than trying to recreate what she did.
How close are you to this character?
I’m different from Sarah in a lot of ways. Definitely happiness is a lot easier for me than for Sarah. I like to put on a pair of heels now and again. But also I’m stubborn and determined, usually spend most of my down time without makeup and with my own hair in a ponytail. So there’s definitely some crossover. If I was exactly her it would be hard to have perspective on who she is.
What did Brigham Young University contribute to your growth as an actor?
I was an acting major. I pretty quickly learned that the university wasn’t the right match for me. It’s a really big school, the classes are huge, and I was kind of overwhelmed. So I turned it into a conservatory program. I didn’t take most of my general requirements. I took acting, dance and voice and once I had completed those I left. So officially I did not graduate, although I did all of my requirements for my major.
Were you rooting for the basketball team to do well this season?
I haven’t actually followed any BYU sports!
What was it like being in “Big Love”? I’ve read that you’re a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Did any of the show’s polygamous plots conflict with your personal beliefs?
I was raised in the church, and I had a wonderful experience in it, and my family is still really active. But we were a very artistic family and I didn’t feel any kind of weirdness in signing up for the show. That kind of polygamous storyline is just so far afield from what my experience growing up was in mainstream LDS culture, that it didn’t seem to have any crossover.
You were nominated for a Tony award for your role in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” in 2005. Do you plan to return to Broadway anytime soon?
I don’t have any immediate plans. I’m having such a great time working right now, and being a mom. I don’t know when I’d have time. It’s always in the back of my mind.
You have siblings who are actors, and you’re married to actor Alan Ruck ["Ferris Bueller's Day Off"]. Is there any actorly competition around the house?
Completely left at the door. It’s one of the main reasons I knew that I should marry him. We’re only supportive of each other, there’s no competitiveness. Because he and I are not up for the same parts.
Will “The Killing” diverge from the Danish version?
There are definitely story lines that will be different. Since I haven’t seen the Danish version, I don’t know specifically what is or isn’t.
After the show deals with the question of who killed Rosie Larsen, will it move on to other crimes?
If we are lucky enough to go several seasons, there will presumably be other cases that Sarah has to deal with.
What makes Sarah interesting to play?
I think she’s a really interesting mix of push and pull. She has rough edges, but she also looks at the world like a sponge. She’s a thinker, she’s an observer. She has this tough exterior but there’s a sense that underneath that she has a huge heart. Everyone loves mystery. In the broad sense there’s the mystery of who killed Rosie Lawson. But the subplot line is who is Sarah Linden? I think that will keep audiences coming back, trying to solve the mystery of her. [ and the only way they could stretch this show into further seasons - it's great but please don't ruin it]
“The Killing” airs on AMC at 9 p.m. ET on Sundays.