Denis O’Hare talks True Blood and Playing Russell

August 28, 2010 by  

Windy City Times talks with Denis O’Hare on his role in True Blood. Viewers of True Blood have watched Denis play with perfectionism the grand Russell Edgington, vampire King of Mississippi.  Denis had just returned from his first time at the Comic Con with many cast members from True Blood. He said that he was very comfortable with the crowd and everyone there considering he also a sci-fi buff and seemed to have no problem at all amongst the crowds.

Coming Out

Denis speaks about his struggles of coming out in the late 70’s and how it has affected him and helped him play his current role and having a 700 year old relationship with Talbot.

“I had a lot of trouble. I had a very, very good support in that my best friend growing up became my first lover when we were about 12 and we both struggled with our sexual identity throughout high school. He had a good friend named David and the three of us formed a kind of clique even though we went to rival high schools in Michigan and we would all hang out at The Rocky Horror Picture Show on weekends. The permission of Rocky Horror was the permission to be different so we were allowed to express ourselves and we could also watch a beautiful, half naked man on the screen and have it be okay.”

Denis has been with his partner Hugo for the past 10 years and can relate to the relationship between Russell and Talbot. Even though they are vastly different people, he explains that the “confidence” of being with someone for that long has really taught him a lot. Just like with any couple, when one has been with the other, you don’t stress over every fight and realize that you can build past the argument and build a true relationship.  One thing that Denis says about Russell and Talbot is that they care very deeply for one another and are fully committed to each other. In the last few episodes, viewers have seen that Russell and Talbot may have argument between each other, but they would never choose anyone else. Russell dealing with Talbot’s death brings most of us to tears to see how deeply the character is saddened by this loss.

Hunky Cast Members

When asked if Denis is pretty much the luckiest gay guy in the world to work with such “hunky” guys, he only says,

“I have a problem that whenever I meet someone and they become friends I’m no longer able to objectify them so I always feel slightly guilty about letting a thought flit across my mind when it comes to people I’m working with. They’re lovely guys and the more you get to know them the more you realize how wonderful they are, but it’s certainly nice to show up on the set and be confronted with some out-and-out beauties.”

If only we all had that problem!

Playing Russell

Denis attacks the question on how he deals with playing a gay actor and whether or not it is easier for him to play that than to play a straight actor. Denis responds and says that as a culture we are more open to more front and center gay characters and that it shouldn’t matter the actors orientation, but to focus on what makes that character. Even though Russell is obviously gay, that is only a portion of the character. There is so much more to him than his sexuality.

“It’s interesting because some of the actors who are playing gay characters like Theo [Alexander], who plays my boyfriend, Talbot. He was very concerned with how to play gay and I thought, “I don’t have that problem.” I’m not going to think about the character being gay. He just is. Gay is not actions. Gay is simply part of core identity and in fact, if anything, Russell’s a warrior. He’s an ancient Celtic warrior who is bent on power domination. Being gay is simply one part of the mosaic that he is. So a gay actor is always in a better position to play a gay character—we come at it with a more well-rounded understanding, I think.”

Many viewers of this show cannot get enough of what an excellent job Denis has done playing this character, and we are on the edge of our couches to see what else is in store for Russell.

SOURCE: – Interview with Denis O’Hare

Photo Credit: HBO Inc.