Eye on Emmy: The Killing's Mireille Enos Makes a Lot Of Noise (Quietly)

Once AMC debuted The Killing, the very first question in viewers’ minds may have been “Who killed Rosie Larsen?” But the second and third undoubtedly were, “Who is this Mireille Enos who plays Sarah Linden, and where has she been all our lives?” Turns out Mireille, 35 (it’s pronounced Mee-ray, the name of a childhood friend of her French mother), has been tripping the lights fantastic on the New York stage (even earning a Tony nod for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? alongside Kathleen Turner). She’s also been toiling away doing episodic guest work (most notably on HBO’s Big Love, where she recurred as tormented twin sisters Kathy and JoDean). Now, the next questions are, will she get an Emmy nomination for The Killing (which wraps its first season this Sunday) and what is she going to do with her newfound star power?

TVLINE | When all the great reviews came in for The Killing, did you have a sense of, “Wow, okay, my life has changed”?
We’re all just so grateful, because we felt that we were part of something really special. And then to have the response come back and confirm that that is true is really gratifying.

TVLINE | When you got the pilot, what was your reaction?
I thought it was one of the most beautiful pieces of writing that I’ve read in years in any medium — film or TV or literature. Veena [Sud, the series creator and executive producer] has a really incredible voice. It was so cinematic and clean and thoughtful. I really wanted it immediately. I wanted to be a part of it.

TVLINE | Since these days a role like Sarah would ordinarily be reserved for a big “name,” when you actually got the part, did you go, “Wait… they wanted me?”
I definitely did. AMC has a track record for finding actors who have been working actors but not names yet, and casting them. So kudos to AMC; I think they’re very brave. But I was surprised. I knew how much I responded to it. And I knew the energy in the room during my first couple of auditions and meeting with Veena. I knew there was something powerful [going on]….

TVLINE | It’s such a subtle performance. You don’t have a lot of big, showy moments. Is that more challenging for you than playing someone more explosive?
It’s challenging in different ways. The thing that I find challenging about Sarah, more than the fact that it’s a subtle performance, [is that] her joy is so contained. And I’m lucky to say I’m a happy person. I can be a real banana. I like laughter around me. And to rein all of that in for Sarah has been challenging sometimes.

TVLINE | A lot of what we know or feel about Sarah seems to come just through your body language and facial expressions.
I noticed right from the start that Veena was not putting very many words in Sarah’s mouth, and I thought that had to be for a reason. If you’re dealing with good writing, then all the clues you need are in the [script]. You just have to keep going back to it. So I thought, “If she’s not saying a lot, that must mean her mind is very active.” So [the trick was] just making sure I understood what she was thinking and feeling about every moment and then trusting that the camera would capture that.

TVLINE | We got little pieces of Sarah’s back story in each episode. How much did you know going in?
Veena sat down and talked with me before the pilot and gave me a lot of information about her back story. But some of it wasn’t totally nailed down yet. Some of the specifics of her storyline got mapped out in the writers room after we got picked up to series. So Veena would just sit down with me as things got clearer and let me know what I needed to know.

TVLINE | Did you know going in who killed Rosie?
No. No. Not at all.

TVLINE | Were you tearing through each script looking for clues?
Yes. Every time [one] would come out, people were scrambling to get their copy. Between shots, everyone had their scripts out, reading. Even the grips. The crew guys were running around, going, “Hey, did you get the new script?!” Which is really rare. And we’d all wink at each other and go, “We’re doing something right if the gaffers want to read the scripts!”

TVLINE | You’re done shooting. Can you say what your reaction was to learning who the killer was?
I can’t talk about it at all. [Laughs]

TVLINE | What have you heard so far about Season 2? Will there be a new case?
I haven’t heard anything one way or the other. I know Veena has several seasons mapped out in her mind, but she hasn’t let us know anything yet.

TVLINE | If you do wind up getting an Emmy nomination, which episode will you submit?
I think I’d probably submit the pilot. It’s really special [and] stands on its own. Once you get into the rest of the series, there’s a lot of moving the plot forward, which is obviously really important. But the pilot lets you look into these characters in an interesting way. There’s an episode later in the season which I would’ve been happy to submit, too, but it’s going to air past the deadline. The pilot is how I began this journey, so it seems nice for that to be the episode we submit.

TVLINE | Do you feel that because it’s such a non-showy performance, you’re going in as an underdog?
No, because all of the positive response that I’ve gotten has been about it being a quiet performance. So I just have to trust that that’s enough.

TVLINE | You were just cast as Brad Pitt’s wife in World War Z [a movie to be based on Max Brooks’ apocalyptic zombie tales]. Do you think that’s a direct result of The Killing?
Absolutely. Once I had become involved in auditioning for the movie, they requested seeing the pilot and the first episode and thought really highly of it. They weren’t familiar with it before I went in to audition, but just the fact that I was part of the show definitely opened some doors.

TVLINE | Have you met Brad yet?
I have. I got the chance to read with him. He’s a really lovely man.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Cyn says:

    I hope this truly terrible show full of exruciating pacing and obvious performances doesn’t get ANY attention. I’ll be disappointed though I’m sure.

    • jrs says:

      Wow, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed! I disagree. I think it’s a subtle, entertaining show that is offering something different than all the L&O, CSI crap out there. Is it perfect? No, I especially detest the politician and that whole story. But Enos is a real talent. I very much enjoy watching her on screen.

      • Esta says:

        Lets not feed the troll. Obviously “Cyn” is the user name of Rosie Larsen’s killer ;)

      • Dwigt says:

        Please stop with the “If you don’t enjoy The Killing, it’s because you’re not smart enough and you prefer CSI/L&O”.
        It’s ridiculous, there are dozens of examples here of people saying the same thing (which is not smart) and not addressing valid criticism on the show (which is even less smart).
        The show runner for “The Killing” is a previous main writer for “Cold Case”, a show that shares many more similarities with “The Killing” than a first look would suggest.
        The early episodes promised something moody and eery. But after that start, the show kept the pace but didn’t show any depth. The plot is both loose and unrealistic, there are logical gaps in the story (Rosie died drowned in the car but she was previously covered in chemicals? Darren Richmond is shown as an e-mail expert in the early episodes and leaves a dubious account open for weeks last Sunday???)
        The focus on one single investigation, the concern for the aftermath of a crime on a family were interesting ideas taken from the Danish original. But the US treatment borders on the implausible, forgets the starting point during entire episodes (the middle ones, where there wasn’t even a mention of Rosie, were the least interesting) makes a confusion between complexity and reveal (Holder is a creep? No, wait, he’s a super-nice recovering addict. Bennet Ahmed is an evil Muslim fundamentalist who variously kills and impregnates good Christian teenagers? No, wait, he’s a saint who tried to help a girl from her family).
        I don’t care if there’s no likable character in the show. It’s just that, apart from Holder and, from time to time, Linden, there’s simply no interesting character in the show. Who really cares for Darren Richmond and his assistants, Bennet Ahmed (is he still in a coma?), cokehead Phil Knight, Linden’s fiance or the aunt? What do we really share with Terry, besides she’s in grief, frowns and wrinkles her forehead in every scene?
        The worst crime in The Killing is that it pretends to be an “everything is connected” drama like The Wire, with a slow paced spirit such as in Mad Men. In my eyes, it fails miserably at both. There’s no depth beyond the style and the perpetual rains. Which makes the “If you don’t like it, go and watch CSI or L&O instead, it’s better suited to you” comments even more irritating. Enjoying The Killing doesn’t make you smart compared to watching a basic procedural show. The Killing is a basic procedural show with a few news tricks.
        These commenters give a bad name to people who enjoy “The Killing”. They sound like people who are actually bored with shows as Mad Men or Treme, disgusted by the violence in Justified or Breaking Bad but are desperate to look smart by catching the AMC bandwagon, even if they overlook that the show is basically Cold Case in new clothes.

        PS: Mireille Enos is a fine actress but claiming that the pilot is “one of the most beautiful pieces of writing that I’ve read in years in any medium — film or TV or literature” shows that she should read a little more…

        • liz says:

          Gee Dwight–if only we were all as knowledgeable as you are–and had oh-so-much time on our hands to deliver that much criticism. What happened to simply enjoying an engaging drama? And, really, who are you to be so sarcastic about the script opinions of a fine actress like Mireille Enos?

          • Dwigt says:

            If you’re ready to go on the Internet and say that The Killing is the best thing since sliced bread, you must also be ready to read dissenting opinions.

            As I’ve said, and I’ve put quite an effort not to offend anybody in particular, I don’t think that the show is really good, but my problem is with people who attack skeptics and doubters such as me to imply that they only enjoy shows where they get spoon-fed everything, procedurals such as CSI or L&O. There’s a ton of comments with that spirit. And when they get shown that reasonable people can also find this show flawed, suddenly we are intellectuals, know-it-alls and people who can’t take entertainment at its true value.

            Please stick with your implied bias and call us either idiots or intellectuals. But not both. You want to have your cake and eat it too.
            And it would have been fine if Enos has just said that it was one of the best scripts that she had read in years. That wouldn’t be any faint praise. Calling the pilot one of the best pieces of writing she had read in years, including literature, is on the other hand some overkill. Any script for “Mad Men”, “Community”, “Parks and Recreation”, “Justified” or “Breaking Bad” is as good as the pilot for “The Killing”. There are dozens of movies, domestic or foreign, that are way better every year and tons of books more interesting.

          • Em says:

            The comment your responded to did not say it was the greatest thing ever – they even stated it wasn’t perfect. So go watch the shows you love and not concern yourself with other people enjoying a show. And before you get all huffy again – how about people who like to annoy fans of shows by giving shot by shot criticisms on the internet. Those people are the worst…

          • Dwigt says:

            I assumed that the worst were people who were fans of a show and couldn”t stand criticism about it.

            I truly wanted to like The Killing. The first two episodes were great or at least showed some real promise. Then it turned very generic with the suspect of the week (except in the bottle episode, which broke the mould) and bland characters (most of the cast is good but they’re asked to deliver one note performances).

            Fine if you like it. I know that I can’t. Just don’t patronize us and give yourselves a pat on the back because you’re not watching CSI.

  2. Thom says:

    She is one of Tge best actresses I’ve ever scene. She is so powerful in The Killing. I hope she gets the Emmy nomination and goes on to win it. She’s absolutely the bomb.

    • Chmarin says:

      …you’ve ever SCENE? Sceriously?

      Anyway, The Killing is a fantastic show. My only problem with it is how they do these impossible and CSI-esque plot twists with the investigation… The weirdest and most annoying one for me was when Mireille Enos’ character went for a run and just accidentally stumbled upon a sign that had the name of a ferry which matched the one on the piece of paper Rosie had.

      That being said, the writing and the acting is phenomenal. Michelle Forbes AND Mireille both deserve nominations.

  3. Chatty says:

    It’s wonderful to see an actress who commands the screen without being showy and loud. The subtle nuances of her performance have been impressive to me and I am rooting for her to win an Emmy.

  4. Corinne says:

    No way. Sorry, but no way.

  5. Joanie 22 says:

    I live for Sunday nights. The Killing and Game of Thrones are my favorites. I think the pilot selection was a good call. I was hooked when Linden asked “Mrs. Larsen, do you have a daughter.” Can’t wait to see how it ends up this Sunday.

  6. Stehpo says:

    Troll or dumbo is troll or dumbo

  7. MockingbirdGirl says:

    Mireille: Please consider submitting “Missing” for Emmy consideration. That was a powerful episode.

    • trylon says:

      I’m pretty sure this is the episode she mentioned that she couldn’t submit because it aired after the submission deadline.

    • genifer says:

      i must say i agree with “Missing”… you´re scene where you thought that it was your son Jack was the boy dead, it was, really good.

  8. Teresa says:

    I love her in The Killing but it will be hard to get some nomination. She doesn´t have a “name” yet. (you know what I mean)

    • Jeremy W. says:

      It might happen. Piper Perabo got an Emmy nod for Covert Affairs last year, and she didn’t exactly have a “name”. I doubt Coyote Ugly got her any favors from the Emmy voters. Mireille Enos has done better work and The Killing is a better show, so I won’t be suprised if she does get a nomination.

      • David says:

        Piper didn’t get an Emmy nod, she got a Golden Globe nod last year. But you’re right, it might happen without having “a name”. Archie Panjabi was pretty much unknown even though she had roles in familiar movies… but she got nominated, and won last year, beating veterans like Christine Baranski and Sharon Gless.

    • MockingbirdGirl says:

      Not having a “name” didn’t stop Jon Hamm from getting nominated the first season MAD MEN aired. Good work is good work.

  9. Lorie says:

    I thought the same thing about Joel Kinnaman. Who is he and where has he been all my life?! So glad “The Killing” was renewed.

  10. tahina says:

    I support Mireille for Emmy nod..she is my first choice along with Michelle. Hope they both get nominated. Good luck to both! :)

  11. nin9sev7n says:

    Come July 14!! Good luck to Mireille, she is soo deserving of the nomination. And she is already getting notice from movie moguls and A movie stars. Well one chica!

  12. Goat Girl says:

    Thanks Michael for this interview! I loved her on Big Love and The Killing is wonderful. She’s deserves a nomination because she ACTUALLY acts by conveying everything without spoken word.

  13. ruby says:

    Matt and his people read this before you delete it it is “about” the subject matter
    well i fell in love with the killing from the pilot the sory was not new but the way it was represented i thought was very new and different.Mireille Enos’s performance was subtle which is why it is so great, sometimes we take those performances for granted as an audience and we encourage melodramatic performances. I think she deserves an Emmy recognition but too soon for a win

  14. E says:

    Just love the show. Can’t wait for the finale. She is so good in it but so is Michelle Forbes (I think that is the name of the mother)
    The whole cast is just so good.

    I just hope they solve the murder this season. I have a suspician we might be left hanging.

  15. Mari says:

    Best new show this season!!! Can’t wait for the season finale!!