Exclusive Interview with Marcia deRousse

June 26, 2009 by  

Marcia deRousse True Blood Dr. Ludwig and Matthew McConaugheyDr. Ludwig: Doctor to the Dark Side

Recently we had the great pleasure of talking to Marcia deRousse who will be playing Dr. Ludwig on this Sunday’s True Blood episode, “Scratches”. She’s been in such films as “Tiptoes”, “And The Award Goes To…” , “The Grannies” and “Under The Rainbow” and in familiar TV shows including “The Fall Guy”, “St. Elsewhere” and “Highway to Heaven.” She also does stand up comedy and plays including “The Sugar Bean Sisters” for which she was nominated for Best Actress by the Ticketholder’s Awards. She took most of the nineties off to take care of her sick mother but returned to acting in 2000 after her mother passed. Oh, and she just happens to be a little person. The Ozarks are beautiful, what is your favorite thing about growing up there?

Marcia: The nature and the beauty of it. The beautiful clear rivers, our farm is right between two beautiful, clean pristine rivers. The natural quality of everything there plus it’s an easier slower way of life. I got to have more of a ‘normal’ upbringing than if I had spent a lot of time in the city because it’s slower and quieter and gentler in many ways. We know you attended the University of Missouri, Columbia attaining a degree in education. How long did you teach?

Marcia: In Missouri I taught for two years and then when I came out here I substitute taught for about seven years. I would get permanent, long-term, substitute jobs. I was offered jobs to teach but it’s hard to take a teaching position full time because when they call you for an audition you have to go! You can’t say, can you wait till schools out?

It was funny because when I was at the university of Missouri, Columbia and wanted to declare an education major, I went to the office and the secretary handed me the form for elementary education, I asked for the K through 12 form because I really wanted to teach Junior High and High School. She looked at me and said, “You can’t.” I asked why and she said, “You’re too small.” I looked at her and I blinked and asked, “What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?” She replied that, “You’d never have any respect from kids that were bigger than you.” So I walked down the hall to my advisor’s office, and he went back and told her, “Give her the forms, she can teach anybody she wants to teach.” And he made the woman apologize to me.

The funny thing was I always ended up being the most beloved and respected teacher in the school because we’d have the first day, and I’d say, “You can ask me questions, don’t be rude but ask questions and we’ll discuss it and then we won’t talk about it any more. It becomes a non issue, my size is a non issue. I’m still your teacher, I’m still older than you. I’m here for you to learn from me and I’ll learn from you.” And it always worked. People would think it was funny because during break time I’d be walking through campus and there would be these big kids following me calling, “Miss deRousse, Miss deRousse, Miss deRousse.” People from farms said it reminded them of banty hens which sit on big eggs and before long after they hatch the babies are much bigger than the mother but they’re still following her around! They thought the kids following me reminded them of that. When and how did you know that you wanted to be an actor?

Marcia: Because I was different anyway, I learned early on that I could either use that, or I was going to get slaughtered by it. So I became the class clown, plus I was the smart kid; I had that strike against me as well. I realized I could either learn to have people laugh with me or at me. I could entertain them and have them on my side or I could have them picking on me. I would actually go to bed at night and pray, “Please, God, please give me a good sense of humor, let me be funny.” And one day it just happened!

That was in Junior High School and I thought, “This is great! This is really fun. I enjoy this.” So I was in the speech and the drama classes and did all the school plays. When I went to college I believed that I was going to teach special ed, I’d really intended to do that but I walked past the theater department one day and walked in and that was it! I thought, “Oh no, this is home. This is where I’m supposed to be.” So fairly early on I knew. When the family would get together and I had a captive audience I would put on a little show. I’d think, “You can’t go anywhere. We’re going to make sure I get to do something.” What was your very first performance and how did it go?

Marcia: I did stand up comedy after I graduated high school. They were doing a fundraiser in my hometown and they needed somebody funny to keep the show going. I happened to know the guy that was the MC from school and he said, “Why don’t you just come and do some of this?” because I’d developed little characters like Lillie Tomlin. He thought I should come and do it to keep the show going. That night, when I was finished, I walked out and got a standing ovation. I thought, “OK! This is what I want to do!” I think that’s why, even going onto college and doing theater (it’s still my favorite). That energy of having a live audience right there. If you throw love out to them they’re going to give it back to you. That’s when I realized, “OK this is what I’m really supposed to do.” So that’s what sticks in my head as the, “aHA!” moment that this is what I really want to do. Clearly, then, you prefer theater?

Marcia: Theater is my favorite BUT you can’t really make money in LA in theater. It’s really difficult to do. If you want to make a living in theater you need to be in New York or London or somewhere besides here. There’s a lot of what’s called, “equity waiver theater’, I’m a member of actors equity also. There’s a lot of that which is 99 seats or less. And I do it because I have to do theater every so often or I just go out of my mind.

So theater is my favorite because you get an immediate response. You know that people enjoy you.. or don’t! Whatever the case may be you know immediately. When they don’t at least you have a few seconds to change your gear a little bit. It’s the most challenging and it’s the one I love the most and I think it’s interesting because Alan Ball worked and theater, and Stephen, of course, loves theater. And I heard he and Alex exchanging information about theater, so even though I didn’t talk to Alex about theater, I’m sure he’s done it quite a bit too.

So it seems like the people at True Blood like theater actors. I think partly because if you can do theater, you can do anything; and maybe I’m just being conceited, but it’s a very disciplined field. You have to really rehearse and develop and grow and learn. And then every night, when you walk out [on stage] you have one shot that night. There’s no retakes! I think that discipline of theater actors is appreciated at True Blood. It mentions in your biography that you were ‘discovered’ standing in a bank line, can you tell that story?

Marcia: When I first moved out here, I had my teaching degree in hand and was working at Braille Institute. I is on the corner of Vermont and Melrose which is in the Hollywood area. I was taking acting classes and developing. My acting teacher at the time was Gerald McRaney who went on to be a big star in “Simon and Simon”. I was a very ‘serious’ actor. I went up to the bank at lunch time to deposit my check on a Friday afternoon.

There was probably a little PMS going on, I was a little on the grumpy side and the bank line was long and I was irritated. This little guy came up and tapped me on the shoulder and I said, “WHAT?” and he said, “Oh! Have you heard about the movie that Billy Barty is doing called “Under the Rainbow?” And I said, “No.” I mean I was awful! I look back on it now and I just want to slap myself. He said, “Well he’s still looking for more little people to be in it and here’s his phone number, I’m going to write it down for you. Why don’t you give him a call and tell him that Ed Valentine told you to call?” I’m thinking, “OK everyone’s a producer here in Hollywood, I might as well take it or he won’t leave me alone!” So I took his card and put it in my pocket.. and I was called up next in the bank line and when I turned around after he was gone. I had started thinking, “What a jerk you were.” It’s really not how I am but it was just one of those times!

That was on a Friday and on Sunday, I was hanging my jacket up and found it and thought, “Well, I’ll call this number and see who this really is.” And it really was Billy Barte! And he really was looking for more people. When I told him the story he just thought it was the funniest story and he told me to come on over and long story short I got hired to be in the movie, “Under the Rainbow’ and that was my first working job. That was in December when I had only gotten out here in September. Again, it was all meant to be. What was it like playing ‘mom’ to Matthew McConaughey and Gary Oldman in “Tiptoes”?

Marcia: Oh my goodness! That was absolutely astounding! They are two magnificent actors! I didn’t realize what a wonderful actor Matthew is until I was on the set. I was thrilled, of course, because I thought it would be nice to work with this gorgeous man. And he IS gorgeous! Like Stephen and Alex, he is even more beautiful in person. When I met him and worked with him and realized how smart and sharp and on target he was.. and how giving! What a giving actor he is. He makes sure that everyone has their moment to shine. He and I sat and talked and got to know each other a lot.

Gary was a little more, maybe reticent and shy. But he also had prosthetics, because he played a little person. So he was in the make-up area quite a bit, he wasn’t out with us as much as Matthew was. It was almost like an out of body experience to be working with them. One day we had a scene with Kate Beckinsale who played my daughter-in-law. We were at the dinner table and there was a break and we’re all sitting there just chatting and Matthew popped up and reached over and patted my hand and said to Gary, “Mom was about five when you were born, but that’s Hollywood ain’t it mom?” It was a really wonderful experience and I really enjoyed it. I figure I’m one lucky woman. Look at the men that I’m working with! Can you describe who and/or what your character in True Blood is?

Marcia: I had read the book, my friend Pattie Tierce who was in a play, “the Sugar Bean Sisters” with me, the one [play] where I was runner-up for best actress, had done a True Blood episode. And one day when we were rehearsing she said, “I’ve got to get home so I can watch this episode.” So I watched it and was immediately hooked! Then when I read the books and the character of Dr. Ludwig I thought, “Oh my God! Wouldn’t this be great!” But in the book she looked pretty different to me and knowing how Hollywood can stay true to type I thought, “Well gosh.” So it was in the back of my mind and I thought it would be such a wonderful thing because I saw her as very pragmatic, as I played her. Very pragmatic and matter of fact. And she is a doctor; she is also a healer which you sort of hear about. And I honestly don’t know a whole lot more about the other stuff. She doesn’t just use medicine. I saw her as being fearless, totally fearless. She will work with them, the vampires and the other-worldly people. She probably charges through the nose. She probably makes a months salary every time she goes in and works with them. But she’s also not afraid of them. There’s probably something in her back pocket telling her they’re not going to hurt her, anyway. They do need her because she’s one of the few that will work with them. But she needs them too. She’s a character! Is it a recurring role?

Marcia: I hope so, in the book it is. She comes back twice more in the books. One of my friends who’s a real True Blood addict said, “I think those folks ought to have Dr. Ludwig on speed dial because they’re always getting hurt.” You never know, because look what they did with Lafayette! He died in the books but in the series they brought him back. It’s funny, this morning on my Facebook [Editor’s note: her Facebook name is marcia.derousse for those that would like to friend her] I took the test to find out “Which True Blood character are you?” and I turned out to be Lafayette! And I thought, “This is perfect because not only do I love his character but he comes back!” So you never know. I have no inkling at all of what they’re going to do but who knows, if they decide to, they can bring her back. I was going to ask you if you’re a fan of the show but you already told us that. You seem to be anticipating my questions!

Marcia: Well I’m psychic! What appeals to you regarding the show?

Marcia: One thing that really strikes me is that it is addressing so many of the prejudices that this world has that’s focused towards the vampires. And they address that, they show how ugly it is to be looked down upon and separated. And with the vampires they’re weaving in the shape shifters according to the books, the werewolves. Again, I don’t have any idea what they’re anticipating doing. But they are bringing in all these creatures that for me, being such an imaginative kid, I always believed they were real. In my head, they were real. So seeing them on the show, I like these characters. I like these beings. I like them so I wouldn’t be afraid of them… except maybe Eric! But Dr. Ludwig‘s not! I think they show the humanity in these characters and I think that’s beautiful.

For me, someone being different and looking different… I know, come Monday when I go out, I’ll be recognized because every time I’m on TV or in a movie, I am. But I’m recognized anyhow because I’m different enough. And it’s OK. I love it and enjoy it and it’s alright with me, but it’s showing the humanity [True Blood] and the fact that being set apart and being picked on is not right. I love that. I love the fact that they are likeable characters. Those beings, the vampires, the shape-shifters.. I’d go sit down with them. I’d go to a party with them because they’re just likeable. Is there anything about filming True Blood that’s different than other shows that you’ve worked on? Anything that’s more challenging or more enjoyable?

Marcia: I found it really enjoyable in that they are the classiest group of people I’ve ever worked with in my life. From Alan Ball all the way down. Very nice and friendly. Very accommodating and very professional. Everybody is so professional, so well prepared. Everything works like clockwork. I’ve been on a lot of sets and I have never seen such precision in the way that everything works out. Of course, the three people that I worked with, Anna, Stephen and Alex have all worked together quite a bit but they never made me feel like an outsider, not for one second.

At the table read, my take on Dr. L, there were things that were funny. Now Dr. Ludwig would fall over dead if she thought she was funny. But I knew she was supposed to be funny. And people were cracking up and thought she was funny. And as I was leaving I heard Anna Paquin say, “Oh you’re funny!” She was coming towards me and put out her hand and said, “I’m Anna and I wanted to meet you because we’re going to work together. I’m thinking to myself, “Yes I know who you are.” But I introduced myself and went on and I thought to myself, “How sweet!” Then I was in the make up chair and Stephen came and sat in the make up chair next to me (eat your heart out! [Editor’s note: We are, We ARE!]) but he did the same thing. He said, “Hello, I’m Stephen” and I wanted to say, “I have not been living under a rock, I know who you are!” but being professional I said, “How do you do, it’s nice to meet you.”

His [Stephen’s] dog came in with him and his dog straight up to me, because dogs always know when you can talk to them, the dog came straight up to me and said, “Hi! I want you to tell him that I’m not a dog!” I sat there for a second then looked at him and said, “Your friend here says to tell you that he’s not a D-O-G.” He looked at me and he blinked and said, “Well that’s exactly what he thinks!” Well that’s what he told me. So he thought that was pretty funny. They all treated me as if I’d been there forever as well and that was just lovely. And that doesn’t always happen either. Are there types of roles that you’re hoping to do, that you haven’t had the chance to do yet?

Marcia: I’ve always been good at feisty little old ladies, Estelle Getty type characters. I do those on stage a lot. I would just love to do that type of character on a sit com or a show. Number one you can get by with absolutely everything. Those old ladies get to say what they want to and nobody gets mad. They just say, “Oh, that’s cute!”

Also, something that doesn’t necessarily say, “Little Woman” on the call. Because I am first of all a human being. But that’s a fight that all people that are different, whether it’s little people or people with disabilities… we have to work just a little bit harder than everybody else. We have to be just a little better; we have to shine just a little brighter. I’m working on it! I did audition for that kind of role on a sit-com the day that my kittycat Snowflake died. I knew she was dying and she told me to go, I didn’t want to leave her but that is actually still pending to do a sit-com with that role so keep your fingers crossed. Because again, she’s a feisty one! I don’t know how I get these feisty roles! What further projects do you have in the works?

Marcia: I have two indie films that I’m going to be working on this summer. One is called “Pie Head” where I play a grandma in that one, it’s really cute. The second one is going to be a real joy. It’s still untitled but it’s with Joey Travolta’s group and I’m co-staring with Jerry Jewell who’s one of my dearest friends.

… And then, after Sunday night, my mouth to God’s ears, people will realize, “Oh yes, she is still around.” It goes in cycles. Merideth Eaton got everything for a long time, and God bless her I’m glad she got the work that she got. She’s very talented and very beautiful. But this one was my turn! The girl that auditioned with me, also a dear friend of mine, and there were only two of us at the audition-two little blondes, she made Dr. Ludwig compassionate. When she told me that I thought, “I’m sorry Desire, I hate to tell you this, but I don’t think you’re getting this one.” It was just meant for me to have that particular role and this is a hugely popular show.

Out here, my doctor is in Beverly Hills and I went over for a check-up the other day and there were billboards everywhere! True Blood, True Blood, True Blood! And now, “True Blood Perfume: attract a human!” [Ecko Unltd] [Editor’s note: Where do I get a bottle of ‘Attract a Vampire’ perfume?] It hit home to me; this is a big deal! I’m glad I didn’t know exactly how big a deal it was when I went for the audition because I probably would have stood around tongue tied. Here I was with the two big sex symbols. Punching them in the arm and treating them like buddies.

I have to tell you this because everyone loves him [Stephen], and they should! At the end of the day which was a really long day, because my stuff could be done in one day, I was holding my eyes open with toothpicks. Someone came up and put an arm around me, I turned and it was Stephen. He kissed me on the cheek and said, “I just wanted to tell you how lovely it was to meet you, Marcia, and I look forward to working with you again. Is that sweet?! And, of course, I didn’t wash my cheek for about weeks! We were just all milling around, waiting to see if we had to shoot again, and just to have him do that! He didn’t have to! It was so sweet. So he is really as nice as everyone believes him to be. Very nice and very sweet and even more handsome in person.

I think the show will go as long as they want it to. With Charlaine Harris working on book ten, it could go ten years. And they can add their own things in so you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen! And Alan is brilliant. Just being in the room with his energy is almost overpowering because he’s just brilliant. I am a little tongue tied around him. We have heard that you’re also a medium, psychic, animal communicator, energy and prayer healer, and can sense people’s past lives. Can you talk about that work a bit?

Marcia: It’s something that I’ve always had. I was raised in the Pentecostal church and was told that that was wrong so I tamped it down but it would pop back up. My parents were very spiritual too. They never tried to stop me but then I’d go to church and I was told I’d go to hell. But then when my dad died when I was fifteen, he started coming to me immediately. I thought, “Oh no, no, push it back, I can’t talk to him it’s a sin.” But when my mom died in 2000, I thought, “that’s it, I’m going to start this again” and little by little I started getting back in the groove and working with people. I see, I hear, I sense, I feel spirits from the other side. They’ll come to me and talk to me.

On the set, Alex walked in and seemed to want to talk to me so I turned and looked at him and he said, “I understand you’re clairvoyant.” I said, “Yes.” and he said, “Well I don’t really believe in that but I know this woman who can do blah blah blah..” And I said, “That’s ok, you don’t have to believe in it and I’m not here to convince you.” In a big group like that it’s best if I shut it off anyway. But I saw an energy coming in behind him offering to prove it to him but I thought, “No, no, no. We’ll wait till another time.” Someone coming in to say hi and I thought, no, I have work to do. The spirits know who can see them and hear them and sense them and talk to them and they’ll hone in on me. They think, “we’ve got a live one here!”

I also get psychic information from my spirit guide. And also, whoever I’m sitting with, their spirit guide can also give information. My lead spirit guide, who talks to me the loudest and gives me the most information., for the longest time I called him Mr. Smartass because he WAS. He’d give really Smart assed answers when people would ask questions. When I looked at him he looked like a cowboy because spirits have lived, they incarnated. And he looked like a cowboy. He finally said, “If you’ve got to call me something, call me by my name, it’s Jeb.” He’s very quiet and very profound and can be very loving. If people need loving information he can be. People will ask questions and he goes and gets the answer. Sometimes he says, “Maybe you ought not tell them this.” And if he says that I’ll just say, “well we’re not getting a real clear answer” because obviously the person is not going to accept it and I don’t want to upset them. Although, sometimes the truth just has to come out. But if it’s not something that’s really helpful or a benefit then I don’t say it.

But my favorite are the animals. Talking to them. They are straight, pure love. I work with animals that are here and I can work with animals on the other side too. But they are just so perfect. They are here to teach us, and to love and be loved, that’s it! I love them much more than dealing with people.

The last couple of years I’ve been meeting men that are past life men. When I meet them, I realize I know them. And sure enough, we’ll meet each other and it’s as if we’re the only ones in the room even with all these glamorous women around. And I think, “Oh no, here we go again. It didn’t work last time or the time before that so why are we trying it again?” Do you visit fan sites to read about yourself or True Blood?

Marcia: No. But I will now! If Dr. Ludwig died what would you want on her headstone?

Marcia: Took No Prisoners Do you have a favorite charity?

Marcia: The ASPCA, I do fundraising for them. Do you twitter and would you like your fans to know what your twitter name is?

Marcia: I have a Twitter account but I’m not good at using it. People say ‘I’m following you”, and the only thing I know how to do is write back and say, “You’ll be very bored because I don’t know how to do this”. But my twitter name is smartlilblonde if anyone wants to follow me and then maybe I’ll learn how! Are there any questions you would like to ask the fans?

Marcia: If you went to the hospital emergency room, and Dr. Ludwig came in to treat you, what would your reaction be?

Marcia: I expect people are going to be tickled by Dr. Ludwig. The response even in table read was very good. Then there were things added afterwards so I expect people are going to enjoy her and live vicariously through her. She’s not going to be going to USC school of medicine to teach bedside manner to the med students but she comes in and takes care of business.

We here at were certainly tickled pink by Marcia! She was very fun to talk to and we are eagerly awaiting her appearance on True Blood this Sunday. We can only imagine how much fun it would be to ‘play doctor’ with Eric, Bill, Sam and Pam.


(Photo credit: Marcia deRousse)