Australian actress Penelope Mitchell is relishing the opportunity being on a series like Netflix’s Hemlock Grove is providing. The actress had only a few short films, TV appearance and indie films on her resume before being cast as Letha Godfrey. In this exclusive interview, Mitchell tells CableTV how the world of Hemlock Grove changed her life.
Q: How were you cast in Hemlock Grove?
Mitchell: It was a pretty normal trajectory in the sense of casting. I had moved to the U.S. from Australia in January, and I was fresh out of school. I auditioned for a few television shows and films, but this was the first thing that I read that really, really took me. I thought it was such a wonderful piece of writing. I was so captivated by it. Luckily, I went in the next day and I read and I got a call the next morning, which was a Saturday morning, from the casting director saying they wanted to test me. That’s pretty unusual. Then I went in on a Monday and I did my test audition with Eli Roth and Brian McGreevy. It was so awesome. It was one of the most fun auditions I have ever had in my life. It felt like I was just walking into a party with my brothers. We just nerded out on films. The audition only went on for like five minutes. We ended up talking for about an hour about famous books and things. It was a wonderful collaborative experience and the rest is history.
Q: Tell me about your character Letha Godfrey?
Mitchell: Letha is a remarkable girl. She is in a really precarious position, being a member of the Godfrey Family—it comes with a lot of responsibility. She is a social figure, a role model, and she has a very strong moral conscious. She’s also unfortunately in a very tenuous phase in her development. She is a teenager and she is determining where she wants to go and how she wants to be perceived. There is a lot of stuff going on. What I loved so much about playing Letha is she inhabits such a beautiful place. She’s such a generous person in her energy, the way she perceives people, and she is so willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Among the chaos that is Hemlock Grove and the darkness and that polarity, she represents a very essential lightness. She was a very beautiful character to inhabit.
Q: Do you think it was odd that she absorbed the supernatural aspects? As she found things out, she took them so well.
Mitchell: As viewers, we are seeing what’s going on with Peter (Landon Liboiron) and we are seeing what’s going on with Roman (Bill Skarsgard), but Letha doesn’t actually see any of that. I knew what was going on in the script, but I had to take it back to a more simple place and be in the moment, which isn’t easy. Her pregnancy is definitely her major crisis. That is the first time in her life she is confronted with religion and the possibility of there being another kind of being. That is the major thing I think she dealt with throughout the series. It might not have been articulated enough, but as an actor I had to go down some unusual avenues. It was a full-on experience.
Q: How did you feel knowing that Netflix was going to put out all 13 episodes at once, where viewers can sit down and binge watch? Did you approach it differently?
Mitchell: This was my first experience. it was hard for me to compare it to other television shows and films in that respect. We had freedom and awareness. With traditional television, you need people to come back every week and that really alters the way a show is edited, in the sense that you always want to end on a high or a cliffhanger so people always want to come back for more. But I think the duty with what we had on Hemlock is that people had more time. They could go straight on all the episodes. It gave us time to explore these characters and their relationships. I think that in the long term this is going to alter the way we watch television. I’m really excited to see the future with Netflix.