Rhona Mitra

Rhona Mitra

In the ABC summer drama "The Gates," premiering Sunday, June 20, Rhona Mitra plays a wife and mother in an exclusive gated community who has some outstanding skills.

"My character does make mean red-velvet cupcakes," she says.

But Claire Radcliff also has an issue -- she just can't keep her vampire fangs to herself.

"She's an addict," Mitra says. "It's an addiction (for her), but it isn't for everybody. For example, her husband can keep it at bay. He can do that one drink and put it down, but hers is a very, very hardcore battle. She won't settle for the methadone equivalent of heroin."

Yes, Claire is a vampire, and so is her husband (Luke Mably), but not their daughter.

"We adopted her," Mitra says. "She's not one yet … that can change. We were all mere mortals once. At some point in my character's life, I was a mere mortal. But it was my husband that turned me.

"She was bitten when she was about 30 years old and stayed at that age, but they've been together for about 60 years. So in total, she's probably about 90."

Further complicating Claire's life is her new neighbor, Police Chief Nick Monohan (Frank Grillo), a Chicagoan who gets more than he bargained for when he moves to the apparently peaceful community.

This isn't Mitra's first time playing a vampire -- most recently she played one in the 2009 movie "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" -- but the role did offer some new twists.

"I like playing the vampire parts," she says, "but I haven't played the suburban bit, the mother, housewife, cupcake maker.

"Also, she's not your stereotypical vampire. She's a woman with internal conflicts with a view to do the right thing. It's an unusual thing to see a vampire with that much of a conscience."