Mireille Enos: Death becomes her

By Russell Baillie

Mireille Enos returns to her breakthrough role in a new season of The Killing. She talks to Russell Baillie

Mireille Enos with Brad Pitt and Abigail Hargrove in World War Z. Photo / Supplied
Mireille Enos with Brad Pitt and Abigail Hargrove in World War Z. Photo / Supplied

For a woman seemingly surrounded by death and mounting body counts, Mireille Enos sounds way too happy in her work.

She's fair chirping down the line from Vancouver, where she's three-quarters through filming the third season of The Killing - the show that started out as an American remake of the hit Danish crime series Forbrydelsen, but in its new series has taken its own story.

Which means when we first meet her, Detective Sarah Linden is no longer a cop but working a minimum wage job on the ferries that go between Seattle and the islands of Puget Sound.

Enos has branched out as well. In recent years she has had a run of feature film roles, all parts she says came about because of the profile boost from her Golden Globe-nominated role on the AMC cable channel series. She recently played the dutiful wife to Josh Brolin's hardboiled cop in Gangster Squad.

This month also sees the release of zombie epic World War Z, where she's the spouse of Brad Pitt's United Nations pandemic expert, trying to keep her family together as a particularly athletic breed of undead threaten to take over the planet.

"It was fantastic," gushes Enos on her time making the apocalyptic flick.

"It was huge, huge film and really fun genre, with a wonderful director and wonderful cast. I was working with these young actors who are playing my daughters ...it was my first feature and we had a ball making it.

"It's such a big old movie - to make something on that scale is really exciting. The sets are huge and they had these amazing movement artists who were doing this awesome zombie work and it was fun."

It sounds like the movie, despite its end-of-the-world setting, provided something of a break from the episode-per-week 14-hour days she has been doing on The Killing.

"In some ways. And it's less emotionally complicated."

Another forthcoming feature Enos has acted in between seasons is The Devil's Knot - Atom Egoyan's adaptation of the West Memphis Three case, which is already stirring up controversy for its interpretation of events surround the killing of three boys in 1993, the jailing of three teenagers for their murder, and the trio's eventual release in 2011 after multiple documentaries and campaigns.

Enos has a small role in the Egoyan movie, which she says has been framed as a mystery "because it's one of the great mysteries of these past decades and probably we will never have an answer to what really happened. So he's built the plot that way."

Still, having worked on the fictitious The Killing, was it odd being part of a crime drama based on reality?

"No. I mean we are all conscious of telling someone's actual story but we can only do that to a certain extent. I looked at images of the woman I was playing and she and I are completely different human beings. So you do what you can to pay respect to people's actual stories and at some point you just have to tell it the best you can ... Like I said, because it's a mystery we took artistic licence to tell it like a mystery."

The first great mystery in the new series of The Killing might be: why is Linden so happy?

After all, the intense brittle detective rarely smiled in the previous two seasons, which had her hunting the killer and the uncovering the wider conspiracy behind the killing of Seattle teenager Rosie Larsen.

It doesn't last. Her old partner Holder (Joel Kinnaman) turns up on her doorstep needing her help with a case that may have connections to one in Linden's past. There's a rising body count of teenage runaways and the murders may have connections to psychopath Tom Seward (played by Peter Sarsgaard). Only he is sitting on death row in a Washington State prison, having been put there by Linden years ago.

Holder worries that the wrong man may have been convicted for those earlier crimes. Linden has also been tormented by doubts that she collared the right man. And now his execution is looming.

Though the pace and plotting may have changed from the Danish blueprints for the first two seasons, some things remain the same.

The weather continues to be gloomy and pluvial - "it has actually been trickier this year because we started shooting later and Vancouver has had this glorious spring ... we've had production designers banging their heads on the wall saying 'how are we meant to deal with this [sunshine]?"'

And Linden's famously comfy wardrobe hasn't improved any: "Absolutely, it's still those jeans and sweaters."

As for the show itself, Enos says the forthcoming 12-episode season gets through more story than its predecessors, which often wallowed in melancholy in season two as Linden's personal life fell apart due to her lack of work-life balance.

"It's very much feels like an extension of the first two seasons." she says.

"The pace is quicker and we are solving it in 12 episodes this year. Otherwise it's very much the same world of complicated personal dynamics. I think the people who enjoyed the first seasons will enjoy this one more. I think we've grown."

And no, she's not yet sick to death ... of death.

"I'm due for a comedy, right? I need a comedy or a children's fantasy. I am really quite a happy person, I am lucky to say, but somehow these sad pieces keep finding me."

Well her Linden sure does a compelling line in glum.

"Yeah, I guess that is probably true," she laughs.

As for getting all that morbidity out of her system at the end of the day ...

"I spend time with my 2-year-old and my sweet husband. That usually does the trick."

Who: Mireille Enos
What: The Killing season 3
Where and when: Season premiere on SoHo, Wednesday 8.30pm
Also: World War Z opens at cinemas on June 13

- TimeOut

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