Denis O’Hare Talks About True Blood and His New Broadway Role

November 19, 2010 by  

Denis on Playing a Mental Patient in ‘Elling’:

Denis O'HareTrue Blood‘s Denis O’Hare, who plays the King of Mississippi, Russell Edgington, will next week play a completely different character on Broadway. In the show Elling,’ Tony Award winner O’Hare takes on the role of a mental patient who is trying to fit back into society.

O’Hare stars alongside Brendan Fraser in the production that is based upon the novels by Ingvar Ambjornsen. The two actors play newly-released mental patients that are living in Oslo, Norway. O’Hare’s character has a wicked temper yet is a  frightened, obsessive person who is afraid of answering the phone or leaving the building.

Denis shares that he was able to draw from his own phobias and bad temper for the role.

Anyone who has known me has said ‘I had a Denis O’Hare moment.’ I suppose in the kindest instance it means standing up for yourself. In the unkindest, it means ‘the crazy guy in the street.’

Denis O'Hare, True Blood's Russell Edgington on Broadway in 'Elling'

Russell’s Fangs & What Happens When You’ve Had Too Much True Blood:

When asked, Denis had lots to say about playing a vampire on HBO’s True Blood, especially about the fangs, of which he has two pairs: one soft set and one hard. The soft ones (logically) are used for scenes involving ‘biting’.

While not allowed to take the fangs home, O’Hare did have a pair made for his long-time partner who he says, would like to one day use them while ordering a martini on a plane.

As for the blood, there are two types as well: edible and non-edible. The most popular is the edible variety which is made from pomegranate juice thickened with corn starch. There’s also a minty- flavored version. But, while the bloody scenes may look great on TV, Denis confides that take-after-take of ingesting the edible version once left him feeling ill.

Russell Edgington and Gay Rights:

Probably the most infamous Russell moment involved him ripping out the spine of a newscaster in the middle of a broadcast. O’Hare admits he channeled part of the character’s rage from his own anger over the political climate on gay marriage. O’Hare says that that there could be a parallel drawn between vampire rights and gay marriage, but is hesitant to use it himself.

I’m somewhat resist the whole gay rights-vampire rights metaphor because it is fraught with problems. I don’t want to be seen as a gay man (acting) as a blood-sucking killer. I don’t think it is the way to win hearts and minds.

O’Hare’s Life: A Mix of Triumph and Tragedy

A long-time gay activist, Denis always knew that he was gay but it took awhile for him to fully accept it. As a teen, O’Hare dated women as well.

After high school, Denis went on to work as both a bartender and a waiter — not the best occupations for him given that he had drinking issues. Later, O’Hare gave up the drink when his then-boyfriend gave him an ultimatum. He has now been sober since May 22, 1989.

Besides the alcohol, O’Hare has faced other daunting challenges: Denis was aware of his partner’s HIV status and ultimately, his boyfriend died. He has this to say about it:

“I thought about it and decided you don’t get to pick who you love.”

O’Hare met his present partner, interior designer Hugo Redwood, several months after the death of his late partner. Despite noting that he is ‘never sure what he will be coming home to,’ O’Hare says of his life with Redwood,

“I am completely myself with him. It’s very comfortable. I just keep coming up with the word ‘serene.’”

It’s nice to see Mr. O’Hare share so much of himself in an interview. We here at wish him the very best in his current role in Elling, and look forward to seeing him in the future on True Blood.

Source: The New York Times – Denis O’Hare in ‘Elling’ on Broadway. A Character He can Sink his Phobias Into.

(Photo Credit:, Marcus)