Exclusive Interview with Salem’s Elise Eberle

Photo Credit: Marc Cartwright
Photo Credit: Marc Cartwright

Albuquerque native Elise Eberle began her career acting in short films like Tear Drops and Breaking In as early as 2005. In 2012, we met her as Jane in the movie Tiger Eyes based on the famous Judy Blume novel. However, none of her previous work can compare to her role on WGN America’s Salem. Eberle stars as Mercy Lewis, Salem’s once possessed witch compass turned magical Madame. We’ve seen Mercy struggle through two seasons of what could generously be called a roller coaster of adolescence. I was able to catch up with Elise this week about what’s in store for Mercy this season, riding the waves of ups and downs, and what makes her nerdy.

Now, I’ve gotten the chance to see some of Season three, and I’m so excited to see where Mercy is going! Season one she was like a savior to the other girls and season two she was hell bent on vengeance. Are we going to be seeing some kind of mixture for her this season? Her treatment of her little birds is very similar to the season one coven.

Yeah, absolutely. She’s sort of taking them as her little slaves and using them to her own advantage but, she also thinks she’s actually helping them because she’s giving them food and a place to stay and in return, they just have to give her their blood. (laughs) So in her perspective, she’s actually giving these women a chance to live or a place to stay, a home with a warm fire and some cooked food. 

I don’t think that she can see the other way around, that it’s pretty messed up. This season as well, as far as revenge against Mary (Janet Montgomery), I think there is this understanding that that is how it is but, she can’t forever want to kill Mary; she just has to keep going. Instead of wanting that, she changes her perspective and changes her path into becoming a Madame. She wants to be respected and well thought of because she was also Mercy Lewis. She was the girl who pointed out all the witches, and I believe she wants to restore her name.

We’ve seen Mercy pursue her passions before, whether it be revenge or having a family but, it all gets taken away from her the second she gets a glimpse of it. Is she in for another bumpy ride again?

(laughs) Oh, yeah! I think that Mercy’s path is a great parallel to the understanding that life doesn’t always come easy. Her path is always the one that shows people that life is never easy. She is on top of the world, and she’s getting exactly what she wanted but, she’s not going to have it for long. That really is what happens to Mercy; she just gets a taste of it. And she actually tests that; she knows that she always only gets a taste of it and [she wonders] is it worth it? Is trying to move up the ladder and always getting pushed down worth it in the end? 

She then questions all of that because she’s only what, sixteen or seventeen? First off, she’s the Madame of a brothel, but she’s been struggling so much in her life, is it really worth just a taste of these moments of success and happiness? 

I think it reminds everybody, at least it reminds me, to be humble and grateful. Everything comes in waves, nothings ever perfect. It’s the whole “a smooth sea has never made a skilled sailor” kind of thing. I have a wave tattoo on my arm as a reminder of that! In Mercy’s case, I do not want to live that life but, in that same vein, she has an uphill battle 24/7. She’s struggled with it every single season; I don’t think it’s ever done for her.

You said before that Mercy is very much working in her own perspective. She certainly thinks that what she is doing is correct when from the outside it might not be that way. She’s a character that can easily be loved or hated. Do you ever get protective of her?

I mean absolutely. If you’re playing a character, you have to see where their perspective is. You have to understand why they’re doing things and what they are after. You have to see where their mind is even if it’s warped or not. She really just wants a family, to be loved, and connection. She does it, and she successfully gets it but she does it, in a messed up, warped way. So I see that, and I do get overprotective, but I also love the fact that she’s a hated and loved character. I think it’s really, really fun. (laughs) There are many fans who believe that is me and they don’t like me when they see me, and that is strange but, I definitely do [get protective] because I’m coming from the place of really knowing why she’s doing it and why she thinks this is the right way.

Mercy has split from the Essex witches but, the Dark Lord is among us now. Are we going to see her getting into the mix and getting back into the fray or is she going to keep to herself this season?

She is definitely keeping to herself. This season she is really on her own. Her story is actually an entirely different storyline to everyone else’s, so she’s just on the outskirts.

That has probably been so fun to play! She’s been such a pawn in everyone else in the past seasons, but this time she gets to have her own story.

Absolutely! I love it. I’m so grateful that she has her own story, and it’s so fun to play with. Where the writers go and how they go, it’s always so surprising to me whenever I read the next episode. Can they go further? Oh! They can go further. (laughs). 

It’s always a joy and a fun ride because I still get to play this character that I love and really enjoy playing even if she’s not a part of the main storyline. She has her own which is really fun.

Getting away from Mercy and onto you! If you weren’t acting, what do you think you would be doing? I’ve gotten to see your Instagram, and you’re an incredibly talented photographer. Do you think you would pursue photography?

Everybody in L.A. is a photographer. (laughs) I don’t consider myself a photographer until I get paid for it. That is an interest of mine, and I was actually accepted and going to go to PRATT in New York for painting so, I would love to do that. I also have this romantic idea of owning a flower shop and being the florist. These are all in my other lives, right? Where I’m a curator for a gallery, or I get to collect art. I think where I am right now; I don’t want even to think about anything that I’ve wanted to do because acting has been so incredible and it has been so good to me. I’m so grateful but, I also can do other things while being an actor too and I do want to explore more art because I do love photography and painting.

Since we’re all about what makes you nerdy over on Talk Nerdy With Us, what do you love nerding out about? Is there anything that you really fangirl over?

Well, I was a nerd over Arthur on PBS, if we’re being honest. (laughs) I was obsessed with it growing up; I couldn’t get enough. The television we had only had two channels, and one of them was PBS so, the Magic School Bus and Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Arthur were shows I was nerding out about. 

Of course, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I was that person in line with the scar on my forehead, dressed in a robe waiting for the next book to come out. (laughs) I was pretty geeked out on that one. I mean I’m playing that genre of magic, right? Even the Magic School Bus! There’s a theme going on. I love magic, that fantastical element of where our minds can go and how imagination just takes over. You can change your entire perspective. That’s what I loved about Magic School Bus, Harry Potter, and Salem. It’s all [come] full circle.


The third season of Salem begins Halloween week, November 2nd, on WGN America at 9/8c

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