NEW YORK (AP) — For any viewer in thrall to "The Killing," the appeal of this addictive whodunit could only be enhanced by meeting its star.
Mireille (pronounced "mee-ray") Enos plays Seattle Homicide Detective Sarah Linden, who, in this AMC drama's 13-episode season, is investigating a grisly case: the drowning murder of a local teen named Rosie Larsen.
With each episode tracking a successive day in Sarah's probe, the mystery grinds on fascinatingly, with false leads and dead ends and aftershocks that rock not just the girl's family, but also distant bystanders, even the Seattle mayoral race. The show constantly reminds its audience that a lone death inflicts repeated blows on many lives left behind, often in unforeseeable ways.
This week's episode (airing Sunday at 10 p.m. EDT) finds the case in its 11th day. And it's likely to find Detective Linden as driven, brooding and haunted as she was on Day 1. She, too, is a victim of this crime.
But what about the actress who portrays her? Well, take everything you know about Sarah Linden and turn it on its head. In person, out of character, Mireille Enos is full of light. She's animated and charmingly loquacious. Her face crinkles into frequent grins. Other than her powerful presence at a petite 5 feet and 2 inches, she would seem to share little with the character she plays.
"I think that creates an interesting juxtaposition to Sarah's hard exterior," says Enos during a recent interview.
"She's wildly private. She just doesn't like people to know what's going on inside of her. Because so much of what she does is done is silence, what you hear of Sarah is her smarts and her toughness. But what's going on underneath is more complicated, and I can bring that, because that's closer to who I naturally am. So I think this makes Sarah layered."
Enos looks pleased. "Making choices for what Sarah might be feeling, pushing the boundaries of what might be going on with her, and then putting a mask over that — it's an exciting process," she says.
In person, Enos sparkles with her casual attire and little or no makeup.
By contrast, Sarah Linden sheathes herself in coats and heavy sweaters, her auburn hair pulled tight into a ponytail, as she trudges through the investigation and incessant Seattle rain. ("The Killing" keeps things moodily water-logged.) In refreshing contrast to the runway-ready female cops on most crime shows, Sarah dresses to impress no one. She's got a crime to solve, with pressures on her mounting.
The glam-free, weather-beater style of the show had an unintended benefit for Enos when she shot the pilot in spring 2010: She was then five months pregnant.
"My Windbreaker just keeps getting bigger and bigger," she recalls with a laugh. "The last day, I was in a men's extra-large."
She gave birth to Vesper Vivianne Ruck last Sept. 23. Then, in early November, she returned to Vancouver, British Columbia, where the series is shot, joined by her husband, actor Alan Ruck ("Spin City," ''Ferris Bueller's Day Off"), and the baby daughter she describes as "so awesome."
A Houston native, the 35-year-old Enos found early success as an actress in New York, including her Tony-nominated performance as Honey in the 2005 revival of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and in the Broadway production of "Absurd Person Singular." The Alan Ayckbourn comedy was where Enos met her future husband, who was one of her co-stars.
But after more than a year of steady stage work, Enos was ready for a change and set off for Los Angeles to seek film roles. By the beginning of 2007, she was cast in the HBO polygamy drama "Big Love," on which she played the twin religious-compound wives Jodean and Kathy Marquart.
This summer, she co-stars with Brad Pitt in the film "World War Z," a sci-fi epic about a zombie war and its aftermath.
Then, almost certainly, by late fall she'll be back as Sarah Linden shooting season two of "The Killing."
Production wrapped for this season in late April. And, says Enos, until the script for the final hour was unveiled to cast members, none of them had known whodunit — not even the actor, whoever he or she is, whose character committed the heinous deed.
The show's website displays no fewer than 24 possible perps, including Rosie's father (played by Brent Sexton), Seattle City Council President and mayoral candidate Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), and even Sarah's new partner, a lovably skeezy former narc, Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman).
Enos isn't pointing any fingers now, of course. But, without even confirming that the case will be completely resolved by season's end, she promises that the finale (airing June 19) is "incredibly gripping and satisfying in a lot of ways."
For viewers, anyway. Don't bet on Detective Linden feeling satisfied. Or, if she is, letting it show.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier