Carrie Preston is Red-Hot as Arlene: Serving Up Her Own True Blood Flavor with Some Sassy Southern Spice!

May 19, 2009 by  

Carrie Preston says she never gets recognized as Arlene, the bold and brassy barmaid at  Merlotte“s, on HBO“s wildly popular True Blood. After seeing her at the PaleyFest, I can certainly understand why…she seems to be the polar opposite of Arlene in every conceivable way. I guess that is the magic of a truly gifted actor…when they can convince us completely that they actually ARE that person…so much so that we cannot even imagine anyone else in that role.

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In the Charlaine Harris books, there are a few differences in Arlene as opposed to the character that we have seen on True Blood thus far, although her character still retains the flavor and emotional palette that Charlaine so vividly describes. I really have to hand it to Carrie, she seems to effortlessly slip into Arlene“s skin in a way that brings Charlaine”s original character to life, and then some.

It is interesting to think about who Arlene is in terms of the way her actions and reactions influence the behavior of the other characters. We discover right away that Arlene is not a happy camper when it comes to vampires. When Sookie walks toward Bill, seemingly mesmerized, she can hear Arlene“s thoughts, urging her to “run away, as fast as your legs can carry you!” Arlene is not at all pleased with Sookie“s ability to hear those thoughts and tells her in no uncertain terms that, “her private thoughts are none of your business”. She seems to want to mother Sookie and is horrified at Sookie“s attraction to Vampire Bill. We see her claws come out after Dawn is killed, telling Sookie “if [Dawn] didn”t casino online spend all of her nights off at that vamp bar in Shreveport” she might still be alive. Sookie tells Arlene she should be ashamed of herself, to which Arlene replies, “Isn”t there even one part of you that thinks she deserved it?”

It seems obvious that Arlene reacts out of deep-seated fear of the unknown: with the kind of knee-jerk reaction that so often accompanies it. A mindset that seems to want to mistrust and even destroy those things that are out of the realm of what they perceive as “normal” or “natural”. While Sookie seems to initially be very open to “things that are out of the ordinary”, she becomes temporarily disenchanted when faced with the darker side of life with a vampire. Arlene, of course, could not be happier when Sookie seems to have given Bill the heave-ho…and remarks to Sookie, “vamp Club not all it was made out to be? Alot of freaks, I hear” and, at that moment, Sookie tells Arlene, “I won”t be going out with him again”. It seems that Arlene often plays havoc with Sookie“s emotions and is the catalyst for many such moments when Sookie is struggling to find her way as regards her romance with Bill. Arlene is rooting for Sam and seizes any opportunity to steer Sookie away from Bill and toward Sam.

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It seems to me that Arlene is a constant contradiction…veering wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other…on the one hand, she wants to protect her kids from the dangerous vampires, on the other, she and Rene bring the kids to hear Vampire Bill give a speech as though this is a completely normal family outing. She seems to have a fear of anything “out of the norm” and yet, she and Rene gather with the crowd to watch the goings-on at the scene of Dawn”s murder…launching into a particularly hilarious interchange regarding the “paper doilies” when she sends Rene to fetch some drinks…When Rene asks her, “What is up with you and those doilies?”…it just cracks me up. There is never a dull moment when Arlene is around and I find her alternately hilarious and exasperating, always wishing that she could somehow begin to see how often she is her own worst enemy.

Carrie (as Arlene) brings her own special Red-Hot ingredient to the already strange and delicious brew that makes True Blood a fascinating crazy-quilt of American life (albeit an America up to it”s eyeballs in supernatural shenanigans). Carrie told us at PaleyFest that she feels that she literally “serves up the flavor of the show” at Merlotte”s, a gathering place which is the beating heart at the very center of the True Blood world. I find myself looking forward to what outrageous thing she will say next, and I am sure that Season Two will find her gleefully driving everyone out of their minds, as usual. Arlene is just not happy unless she is shaking things up with her penchant for riding an emotional rollercoaster “til the wheels fall off!

To read more about the wonderful Carrie Preston please read our exclusive interview with Carrie and discover what a dynamic and charismatic person she is and learn about her experiences working as an actress and on True Blood. Click here to read the inteview.

(Photo credit: IMDb.com and Kasandra Rose)

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