After 2800 Years, King Russell Has a Passion for Life

June 26, 2010 by  

As a history buff, Denis O’Hare, who plays Russell Edgington on the HBO series, True Blood, has been creative enough to make up his own history for his character.

The vampire King of Mississippi is nearly 3,000 years old, according to series creator Alan Ball.  So, in a wonderful interview with the New York Post’s PopWrap, Denis shared that he was probably an ancient druid who migrated west.

“…one thing I do know from reading a lot of history, the ancient druids came from the area East of the Danube, and they migrated west searching for better land, better food and the bed of the sun.  They were sun worshippers, so I love the idea that inside of him, this vampire has memories of being a sun worshipper.”

In discussing backstories and motivation for his character, Denis said that each character in the show wants to obtain the same things – respect, affection and even food.  The vampires are often motivated by the human emotions and desires they were born with.  “I think even at 2800 years old, Russell has a drive for life.  A passion for life.”

PopWrap added that the king also has a thirst for power.  Calling back to history, Denis referred to “the old royalty of Europe” where marriage was based on politics.  Russell wants to form an alliance and being the crafty modern man, he will later start using the media to his advantage.

Evidently, this Sunday Russell will display a multi-layered personality that will show him as “deeply vicious, deeply sentimental, deeply vulnerable and deeply hostile all at the same time”.  Denis said he loved that scene.

“It is so beautiful that he has a moment of vulnerability during that speech where he’s attempting to manipulate Bill but ends up speaking about the emotional toll involved with being a vampire in love with a human.  He speaks the truth in the middle of this daunting chess game.”

Touching on the relationship between Russell and Talbot, Denis stated that vampires have different morals from humans.  Their relationship is extremely intimate and they are life partners.  But it is not considered a betrayal to be with a different partner.  It’s simply satisfying their lust which is another aspect of their love.  However, he admitted that theirs is “a tragic storyline”.

Fans want to know where Bill (Stephen Moyer) fits into Russell‘s plans.  Initially, Russell just wants to use Bill in a small way to obtain his goal.  But Denis said that, as in life, plans change for the characters as they move forward with them.  In Bill‘s case, the information he provides causes Russell‘s plans to expand.

“So Russell himself doesn’t always know what he’s doing.  There are times when you’ll see him with Eric [Alexander Skarsgard] or Bill where he’ll be dealing lies on at least two different levels – every character is lying about everything.  These people are playing a massive game that keeps shifting every episode.”

Denis described Season 3 as a non-stop rollercoaster ride.  Referring to episodes 9 and 10, he said we can expect scenes that “are the height of triumph and the abyss of despair”.  The emotional ride and darkness and images of lying in a pool of blood gives him nightmares.

Sunday nights are going to be white knucklers as we watch what unfolds this season.


(Photo credit: HBO, Inc.)