Though she’s been acting since 1994, actor Mireille Enos gained recognition with her breakout role in the AMC crime drama series, The Killing. Since then, she’s gone on to star in the horror film World War Z and the acclaimed Amazon/BBC series, Good Omens. For the recent release of THE LIE, Enos plays a mom who learns just how far she’s willing to go to protect her daughter after she confesses to murdering her friend. For the release of the film, I had the chance to speak with Enos who discussed everything from how she relates to her character to the dangers of racial profiling.
In THE LIE, when their teenaged daughter (Joey King) confesses to impulsively killing her best friend, two desperate parents (Peter Sarsgaard & Mireille Enos) attempt to cover up the horrific crime, leading them into a complicated web of lies and deception.
Hi Mireille, thank you so much for speaking with me today! To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about your character and what it was about this role that attracted you to it?
Mireille Enos: It was less the role itself and more the whole film and this theme of, to what lengths one would go to protect [their] child and the terrifying truth that most people would make similar choices to the early choices in the film. I know that I probably would, in the early choices of the film, delay calling the police and thinking of ways of getting out of there. That slippery slope, that one little breadcrumb at a time leads [these parents] to where they are at the end, which is, you know, horrific.
How was it reuniting with actor Peter Sarsgaard and writer/director Veena Sud, who you worked with on the series, The Killing?
Mireille Enos: It was a total labor of love this project. You take jobs for different reasons and this job was just, it was like a gift to myself to get to work with these two again.
Your character, Rebecca, goes through an interesting transformation from this cold and distant mother to a woman who will do anything to protect her child. Can you talk about your approach to that?
Mireille Enos: I think it made a lot of sense to me that in the dynamic of this divorce, the resentment for Peter’s character being this kind of like flaky artists would have pushed Rebecca in the direction of needing to order their lives, needing to be an earner and an organizer and a motivator. But [by doing that], she missed the part about being nice to be around. And a teenage girl who’s dealing with identity and purpose and ugly duckling syndrome and all of these things, she didn’t have anywhere to take her feelings. Even in the first conversation in the car, when Kayla (Joey King) is trying to express some reticence about going to this ballet camp and my response is, “But you love ballet” not like, “Why are you feeling this way?”, I just put on top of her what my expectations are of her. And then obviously over the course of the movie, you see Rebecca just completely unravel and all of the things that she has built her life on washed away. She probably moves back towards the person that she was earlier in their marriage when she was less groomed and less particular and more impulsive, but the events surrounding that just mean that her life is devastated.
Were there aspects to Rebecca that you were able to relate to, especially as a mother?
Mireille Enos: Yeah, absolutely. I think my daughter would say that I am better at talking than Rebecca is (laughs). That I am better at saying I was wrong. But when I’m navigating our complicated lives of like school and work and everything, there are definitely days when I’m a real pain to be around because I’m like, this is the list that we’re checking off of what we have to have accomplished, you know? And [my daughter] is like, you’re a stone drag (laughs).
Speaking of daughters, how was it working with Joey King and building that mother/daughter relationship?
Mireille Enos: She’s a fantastic young actor. I mean, she is so freakishly brave and willing and gregarious and just a delight to be around. When we were shooting this one scene, in particular, we shot outside the struggle out on the street to get Kayla back into the garage, and then on a completely separate day on a soundstage, they build the garage for us. So we shot the second, the inside part separately. And [Joey King] was like, “okay, we got to get ourselves really pumped up cause remember we were really tired?” and she like put on some insane rap song and was leading us in this like dance workout to get winded (laughs). So it’s not hard to love that person.
Other than this being a suspenseful thriller, what do you hope people take away from it?
Mireille Enos: Well, there are two bigs things that I think are very important. The first is communication. Talk to each other, like stop lying to each other. We have to say the things that are true, the things that we feel. The other thing that I think is very, very important in the climate right now is about racial profiling. Veena does it very subtly but the fact that the character of Sam (Cas Anvar), the father to Kayla’s friend, is Pakistani is absolutely used against him. I think that happens in every neighborhood, in every city of this country; people who look slightly different, whose accents are different, get treated with less respect and the lies are injured by it. I think it’s very important to keep that in the dialogue.