Interview: Julie Benz and Elizabeth Mitchell (2011) Answers to Nothing

Chopping it up at the Four Seasons with Julie Benz and Elizabeth Mitchell about their film, Answers to Nothing is like study hall with the head cheerleader and the vice principal’s daughter. No matter how composed and totally fabulous these ladies’ can be, sometimes real life is just like a sitcom.

Veterans of the small screen, the actresses bonded immediately. Mitchell is Kate, a wife and lawyer caught between balancing her home and career while simultaneously pursuing in vitro fertilization. Her best friend, Julie Benz as Frankie, is a detective involved in a search for a missing person who is conflicted by her instincts and job responsibility. The characters share a bar stool chat that is indicative of the overall flow of the film.

When discussing the near instant rapport they established on set, Julie Benz is quick to note that she was happy to get the call to join the film. It was just 2 days after being informed that her character was killed on Dexter and even before having the opportunity to read the script that she accepted.

Prior to filming, Mitchell was juggling two jobs, Lost and V. When asked to work with writer/director Matthew Leutwyler, she was adamant, “Yes, I’ll accept a third job.” Both actresses agree that sleep is overrated.

Given the extreme nature of the subject matter, the city of Los Angeles is given its own personality amid the backdrop. It’s a love letter to the city. As the story unfolds with Kate’s life choices and Frankie’s search for a missing person continues, the city becomes a telltale symbol of the disconnect among people. As the pieces come together, there is a strong presence of the characters being just one inch from each other’s live. This connection becomes a call to arms that motivates people to action.

Elizabeth Mitchell has the aching ability to emote without words. Her body language and facial expressions are a key factor in her ability to communicate with her on-screen husband. She volunteers that the power of silence in a scene is listening to her co-star. Her ability to tap into Kate’s vulnerability is the humble intent of her character. As a mother, Mitchell recognizes the enormous act of optimism required to have a child.

Julie Benz in 'Answers to Nothing'.

An emotionally invested director is a plus, agree both women. When characters are as complex as Kate and Frankie, having a director with a clear vision is a gift. Benz notes that of 6 days total on-set with day one being hardest, Leutwyler allowed for a seamless transition from television to feature length film. Mitchell considers it great to have such specificity when working.

The adoration for their director is a contagion for the entire production. From the cast to the crew, every day was an opportunity to experience the machine that is the silver screen. The performances of co-stars are likened to staring at the sun for the sincerity and lack of inhibition each actor delivers. It is the endearing attachment to each member of a production that mixes the bitter with the sweet when an actor is no longer a part of a production.

With much humility, Benz clarifies that watching a hit series after her character has been killed is likened to being “invited to Christmas dinner but not being able to eat.” Mitchell realizes the sentiment as a connection to our innate humility. She confesses it as heartbreaking, though completely human, the feeling of not belonging. Although neither deny that being informed by pleased fans that a character’s demise was a marked improvement for the show keeps them from being overly sentimental.

Looking to the future, both women have their proverbial hands full. Mitchell has promised her six-year-old son that she will spend more time with him, noting that he’s old enough to notice when she is not around. Benz is currently working on Gifted Man, entertaining for the holidays and biding all other time with a wedding to plan.

Though it may not be a stretch to one day find these two paired as crime fighting lady cops, both are quite sure of what behind the scenes on-set positions they would be happy to fill. Without a doubt, Benz has her sight set on operating the boom. Mitchell would be content to hold steady cam.