The Roles of Eric and Bill Were Too Sexy and Naked for Denis O’Hare

September 12, 2010 by  

Denis O'Hare True Blood Russell EdgingtonDenis O’Hare as Russell Edgington:

As an actor, sometimes you watch a show and wish you had played one of the characters.  For Denis O’Hare, that’s what he was thinking as a fan watching HBO‘s True Blood.  He thought he could play the part of the magister, the one being played by his friend, Zeljko Ivanek.  So of course Denis was ecstatic when his agent called and asked if he’d be interested in playing the vampire king of Mississippi, Russell Edgington.

Talking in an interview with Vulture, Denis explained his attraction to the hit TV show.

“It was about normal people in a part of the world that we don’t often see dramatized.  They’re working-class people.”  “So much of our TV viewing is upper-class or upper-middle-class.  How can you relate to them?  These people have basic problems, like how do I pay for my car insurance.  I also liked the fact that there was this education about how the world works.  How does it work when a vampire meets a human?  What time do they actually have to go to bed?”

Getting accents right had Denis hiring a dialect coach to learn a correct, upper class Mississippi accent for the role.  “I listened to Haley Barbour, a lot, the Mississippi governor.”  Denis said he also learned a few Gaulish words – an ancient Celtic language – placing Russell‘s history “from about 5000 A.D to 1200 A.D. [I think Denis meant to say B.C.] in Charlemagne’s kingdon and the Frankish kingdom”.

Russell A Hero or Villain

Denis was surprised at having to take his character over the deep end. Although creator Alan Ball warned him, he didn’t see it coming.  But when you have to pull a spine from a living human, well, you just can’t think your character is still sane!  But in his mind, Russell is the hero, not the villain of the show.

“If you look at it from his point of view — if Eric, Sookie, and Bill are the villains — they do terrible things to him.  They double-cross him, they lie to him, they use him.  They kill his lover of 700 years.  They take from him, then spurn his offerings.  We always play the scenes straight-up.  He’s desperate to believe he can have a friend in Bill.  He truly decided that Eric was someone who thought like him and felt like him.  He thought he’d found an ally.  It’s incredibly hurtful.”

Well, okay.

Denis O’Hare’s Look at the Other Characters

When asked about any favorite scenes on the show, Denis mentioned Season 1 when Sookie‘s Gran (Lois Smith) had Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) speak about his experiences in the Civil War.  It was a real historical person talking about events the audience only read about, that occurred 140 years ago.

When musing about the various True Blood characters he could have portrayed, did Denis ever picture himself as either Eric or Bill?

“No. They were all too sexy and too naked for me.”

Denis is such a fascinating person and absolutely perfect as Russell Edgington.  He had more to say, so you must read the entire interview here.  And as to how King Russell fares on the season finale, “anything is possible”.

Source: – Entertainment, The Vampire King

(photo credit – Walter McBride /