EXCLUSIVE Interview with Dr. Ludwig’s Marcia DeRousse!

August 4, 2014

Marcia DeRousse Pops Into TrueBloodNet to Answer Some Questions:

Dr Ludwig (Marcia DeRousse) and Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) star in HBO's True Blood Season 7 Episode 7 (entitled 'May Be the Last Time')For fans of HBO’s True Blood, Season 7 has been the season for cameo appearances. It seems the HBO writers are eager to bring back as many fan favorites as is feasibly possible. In just the last episode alone we welcomed back Hoyt Fortenberry (Jim Parrack) and the pocket rocket that is Dr. Ludwig!

And for fans of Dr. L, the actress who plays the miracle worker to the supernatural, Marcia DeRousse, her latest guest appearance was just as unexpected as it was to the fans:

I was shocked, more than anything else. I thought Dr. Ludwig had been put away for good. So, after the shock, I was also excited. I was just happy every time Dr. L was brought in. This time was the most fun, but I loved all three stories she was in.

she said when she stopped in for a quick chat with TrueBloodNet.

In Episode 7 (entitled May Be the Last Time) we find Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) desperate to find a cure for Bill Compton’s (Stephen Moyer) accelerated dose of Hep-V. Considering Sookie suspects her fae blood may be the reason Bill’s strain is so virulent, she calls in resident doctor to the supernatural, Dr. Ludwig, to try and sort it all out. While Dr. L leaves in a hurry once she realizes Sookie is related to dwarf killer, Niall Brigant (Rutger Hauer), is it possible Dr. Ludwig could have helped cure Bill, if she were given enough time? According to Marcia:

I think she THINKS she could cure Hep-V, but as to whether she actually could – well, who knows? She is a pretty kick-ass character, but maybe not the actual best doctor! (Please don’t tell her I said that! HA!)

Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us Marcia 😉

While she may be the best doctor out there (after all, even Sookie thinks her bedside manner sucks), for many Truebies, there was absolute excitement over her return to Season 7. And, after reading all the recaps and reviews on Episode 7, there was barely a bad word to be said about the return of Dr. Ludwig – other than her lack of airtime.  What does Marcia think is the widespread appeal of Dr. Ludwig?

You know I don’t now, except she is so crotchety and blunt perhaps people wish they could be more like her – and get away with it! LOL Whatever the reason is, I am so grateful and love everyone back one hundred fold.

I think Marcia may be onto something there. Personally, I always loved her honesty and genuine comic relief in situations (this season especially) that would normally be quite dire. Speaking of drastic situations, Dr. Ludwig has had to deal with a maenad, Pam’s (Kristin Bauer van Straten) rotting face and, now, Bill’s grotesque Hep-V veins over her time on True Blood. While many supernatural creatures have also appeared over the seven seasons, which creature would Marcia have liked to see explored in True Blood, if we were given another season?

Hmmmm… might have been fun for a poltergeist to show up – a true trouble maker – that would need to have Dr. Ludwig intervene to calm those pesky tendencies down! And since my dear friend, Zelda Rubinstein starred in the Poltergeist movies, I feel it might have been fitting.

That sure would have been awesome. I could just imagine a poltergeist showing up and disturbing all the patrons at Merlotte’s, for example. Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) could have even helped Dr. Ludwig with that dilemma!

Now that True Blood is meeting it’s true death, what does Marcia have in store for her fans down the track?

Several things in the works – all of them cool – and need lots of energy and good thoughts and prayers from all of you so they come to be! Of course, I always stay busy with Spiritual work.

So we need to keep our fingers crossed and let the energies flow so we can see Marcia DeRousse back on our screens as soon as possible.

Finally, I had one last question to ask Marcia. One that has been asked of every cast member recently: Did she take (or receive) any True Blood memento’s? Also, if she could have taken anything from the set, what would it have been?

LOL! I did not take anything from the set- except the hair bands and pins left in my hair. What I got from True Blood was a group of the most wonderful people in the world – on the set, and as fans and friends. Thank you so much. I love all of you!

And we love you too Marcia DeRousse! Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down and chat with us here at TrueBloodNet. Also, thanks for bringing such a wonderful and much loved character to life on True Blood.

(Photo Credit: HBO Inc.)




TrueBloodNet Exclusive! Club Fangtasia Interview With Tara Buck and Marshall Allman

November 4, 2012

True Blood Stars at Autograph Signing for Aussie Fans:

Marshall Allman (Tommy Mickens) and Tara Buck (Ginger) with TrueBloodNet writer Rachel Tsoumbakos at Club FangtasiaRecently, I was given the opportunity to interview two stars of HBO’s True Blood: Tara Buck (Ginger) and Marshall Allman (Tommy Mickens). It was certainly an amazing experience and so much fun to catch up with the friendly and down to earth stars before they did their signing event at Club Fangtasia. If you didn’t get a chance to meet them at this event and you live in Melbourne, Australia, you also had the opportunity to meet up with them on Sunday 4th November during the First Contact Full Blood convention. Or, alternatively, see them at the Club Fangtasia Halloween party on Sunday night.

Even with their hectic schedule, the stars were happy to sit down and have a chat about True Blood with TrueBloodNet. Tara was straight into talking about her favourite True Blood moment: riding Pam’s coffin in Season 5. A moment that she didn’t know was to occur until she actually jumped on the coffin and it started to move. Which led to the first fan question, sent in by Lenore Mills, who asked if coffin riding was similar to horse riding? Tara was quick to declare that it wasn’t, but it was fairly close to mechanical bull riding!

Marshall then described his craziest True Blood moment, one which involved having to (while naked) jump and transform from a human into a bird. Besides the fact that he was jumping about naked, he kept making ad hoc transforming sound effects. As a result, they had to retake until he could jump without making any noises at all!

This was the opportune time to ask the question sent in by KL Joy: Since there are so much naked moments for shifters in True Blood, were there any awkward moments? Allman pointed out that being naked on set gets very old very quickly and it’s just a matter of getting on with the job.

It was also interesting to discover how the pair of them researched their roles. While Marshall plays a shifter and a character who is not in the Southern Vampire Mystery books by Charlaine Harris, he still found it easy enough to research:

Tommy had been basically raised as a dog fighter, so I watched ‘The Dog Whisperer’ and he did a whole episode on pitt bulls. He talked a lot about the nature of the pitt bull and how the breed has been trained. When pitt bulls experience pain, they don’t have a threshold for it and go crazier. They will attack until they die. So learning that, it was kind of like, wow, Tommy’s a lot like that, you know, he just doesn’t know when to stop.

Tara Buck rides Pam's coffin as Ginger in HBO's True BloodGinger, on the other hand, is a character in the books, so it is possible for her to draw on that. Although, Buck prefers to go with her own special version of her character. But, because Ginger dies in the books, there was a concern that the Ginger in the HBO series would suffer the same fate:

We shot a scene, that never made it to air, the very last scene of the last episode of Season 3, where Ginger runs into Fangtasia and her head is backwards and so you don’t know what has happened but clearly a spell has been cast and so, when I read that, I actually said to Alan Ball; “Oh my gosh, Alan, you killed me!” To which Alan replied; “No, no, no, Tara, don’t worry, your head’s just been turned around, but you’re still alive.”

Which is such a relief to hear, since so many people love Ginger. This bought me to the source of the most popular questions for Ginger: her scream. While it was never a part of the audition process for Tara Buck, when her character witnessed the death of Long Shadow in Season 1, it became an organic, ad lib process in the scene. Once she started wailing, everyone thought it was hilarious so they asked for more of it. Then, of course, she started throwing up, so they asked her to scream and throw up and then scream some more.

Truebie fan Eve Lynch, wanted to know how the the both of them got into acting? Tara announced that she fell in love with Michael J. Fox while watching him in the movie ‘Back To The Future’. Even though she was only 8, she decided that the only way to meet the celebrity, was to take up acting! Marshall, on the other hand, had originally planned to be a professional soccer player, but was, unfortunately, injured before he could live out that dream. On a whim, a friend suggested he try out on a talent search The rest, as they say, is history!

True Blood fan, Kate Rodaughan, wanted to ask Tara Buck if it was fun to play Ginger. To which the actress responded with a definite yes:

I don’t even know where to start. I love the costumes. They’re tiny – it’s like Halloween every day! Her hair is big and crazy and it’s just fun. I love it.

Marshall Allman who stars as Tommy Mickens in HBO's True BloodAnother fan, Cindy Burrows, wanted to ask Marshall Allman about his role in Sons Of Anarchy. In particular, what it was like to play such a gullible character in a scene (where Allman’s character, Devon, is propositioned by a transvestite hooker) that fans have declared as hilarious, in a show that is not often known for its humor:

Oh man, it wasn’t hard at all! I absolutely loved playing the role of Devon. That scene was so much fun to shoot.

And fans of both Sons of Anarchy and Marshall Allman will be pleased to know that the role should be reprised in Season 6.

I can’t wait. You can go in so many different directions because he’s so wide-eyed and he has no idea what the culture is like.

I was also curious to know, besides True Blood, what is the strangest role either of them have ever had to play? Tara Buck is actually known for playing unique characters. So, for her, the weirdest ones, so far, are the roles of crazy Rhea Reynolds in Nip/Tuck and a character in her upcoming film ‘K-11′; who is a transgender inmate. She actually plays the role of a man playing a woman!

Allman has also had his share of interesting roles. Besides his stint as Devon in Sons of Anarchy, he has starred in the movie, ‘The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle’. In this movie he plays a janitor who gives birth to blue fish after becoming addicted to experimental cookies.

Now, if you want to see more of Tara Buck and Marshall Allman, they have plenty of stuff hitting the screens. Tara has a new movie coming out called ‘Tomorrow You’re Gone’ (also known as ‘Boot Tracks’), which stars Willem DaFoe, Stephen Dorff and Michelle Monaghan. It’s directed by David Jacobson and should hit the big screen early in 2013. The film, K-11 (which stars Goran Visnjic) is being released shortly.

Marshall Allman has just completed a movie called ‘Jane Mansfield’s Car’. It stars Billy Bob Thornton and Robert Duvall. You can also see Allman in the upcoming independent film, The Bounceback.

Thank you to Tara Buck, Marshall Allman, HBO, the crew at First Contact Conventions and Garth O’Hehir for making this interview possible.

(Photo Credits: ClubFangtasia.com.au/HBO Inc.)


Tanya Wright Talks About True Blood’s Kenya and Butterly Rising

October 15, 2010

Tanya Wright on Red Pillows

If you ever want to have a great, intelligent and fun conversation with an actor we highly recommend talking to Tanya Wright who plays True Blood‘s Sherriff’s Department Officer Kenya. Tanya has had a fascinating life and knows the entertainment business inside out from acting, to producing to writing-she’s done it all and best of all, she’s not afraid to color outside the box. So get out your Crayola’s guys… and enjoy our conversation with Ms. Wright!

Tanya’s Early Years

TBN: Reading your bio it states that you grew up in the Bronx, New York and then earned scholarships to George School in Pennsylvania, a Quaker boarding school. Then you completed an independent/writing major at Vassar College.
Can you tell us a little bit about those early years?  How did a girl from the Bronx end up at a Quaker Boarding school?

TW: First let me say that a lot of people get Quaker and Amish confused and they are not the same thing. In fact, I was on the subway the other day and some Amish people came on the subway. It could be like a scene out of a movie with New York and its gritty streets and then these people come in with bonnets and these mid 18th century garb and it was so funny. I was watching peoples’ reactions to the Amish people but for me it was like “OK, these people are Amish and I’m familiar with that world”. Quaker is very different. Quakers are very much a part of contemporary society and they are conscientious objectors. They are plain people and they are called plain people in that they are very simple living and they believe the light of God exists equally in everyone. It was a great way to grow up. It’s very different, obviously, from the Bronx, from the mean streets of the Bronx, to this Quaker boarding school existence with rolling lawns. We called our teachers by their first name. We wore Birkenstocks and it was all very crunchy granola. It is still the basis from which I live my life. I do sometimes have difficulty in Hollywood because there is no hierarchy in the Quaker religion and there is aggressive hierarchy in Hollywood and I just didn’t grow up that way.

TBN: How did you end up going there?

TW: I received a scholarship. My sister and I got a scholarship for academic achievement and we went there for 4 years. It was a wonderful, great experience.

TBN: So you got to go with your sister so it made it nicer.

TW: (laughing) The sibling rivalry was pretty hard core so we didn’t speak to each other in high school but we are really good friends now.

TBN: Growing up did you always dream of pursuing an acting career or was it secondary to writing? What was the driving force to make the transition from writing to acting?

TW: It was secondary to acting yes. Writing is what I always wanted to do. I think that I was, if I am honest with myself, scared to admit that I wanted to be an actor too, because that would require other things of me. It would require me speaking in public which is something that I really didn’t do much as a child. I was very shy and acting is just putting myself out there in a way that writing didn’t require of you. Acting was the thing that scared me a little bit more than writing and writing was the thing that sort of carried me on. There was no transition–, it was more like inclusion. from one to the other—from acting to writing I do both I included acting, writing in my acting. It was sort of both.
TBN: What was your very first performance and how did it go?

TW: Oh my God! My very first performance was as the little birch tree. I played the little birch tree. I had no lines. Not one line. I just stood on the stage and I remember it vividly! Looking down at people and I was just the birch tree standing on the stage from beginning to end. And I guess I was hooked.

TBN: That was a perfect beginning, especially if you are afraid to speak, a non speaking role.

TW: A non speaking role. That was a great question, no one has ever asked me that.

TBN: Did you start off on stage in New York or go directly to LA to start your acting career?

TW: Yes I did. I spent some time at the williamstown theatre festival in Massachusetts before I went to Los Angeles.

TBN: What were some of the plays that you did?

TW: We did a play called “Orestes” and “Twelfth Night”. We did some play with “Hanging Woman” and we work shopped “Othello”.

TBN: That doesn’t sound like a very upbeat play.

TW: What, “Othello”?

TBN: No, no, “Hanging Woman” .

TW: No it wasn’t. This man literally had women hanging off him. Not like hanging by a rope!

Tanya is a Multi-talented Force of Nature!

TBN: Your screenplays have been critically acclaimed! “A Turn to Grace,” was a semi-finalist in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ annual Nicholl’s Screenwriting Competition and “Prelude to a Revolution” accepted and performed by the Mark Taper Forum’s Blacksmyth’s Playwriting Program. Can you tell us what these plays were about?

TW: “A Turn to Grace” is a screenplay and it was one of my early screenplays. A friend of mine in Hollywood read it and she suggested I enter it into the Nicholl’s Screenwriting Competition. I had no idea what it was or who was doing it or how competitive it was. I was a semifinalist in that. “Prelude to a Revolution” is a play I wrote along the lines of a play called for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enough. It doesn’t have a conventional structure. It is music and dance and poetry, but it’s all a story.

TBN: Not only do you act, and are a successful screenwriter, but now you are also developing a children’s cartoon?  Can you tell us about it?

TW: Yes it’s one of the things that I have been working on, a children’s cartoon.

TBN: So has it been sold yet, or is it still in development?

TW: No it still is in development.

TBN: And do you want to tell us what it’s about? Or do you prefer not to?

TW: It’s called “Mikey and the Fabulous Fear Fighters”. That’s all I’ll say right now.

TBN: What was your favorite role played in television or film, besides “True Blood”?

TW: There was a Mini Series I did years ago called “Mama Flora’s Family which was Alex Haley’s last book. It was shot on location in Atlanta with Cicely Tyson and Blair Underwood and Queen Latifah. I would say that would be my favorite role because I had to age from 15 to age 37.

TBN: What actor would you want to work with?

TW: Sean Penn. He’s divine. There is a scene in “Mystic River” that’s just like geez…. He is present as an actor. I would love to work with him.

Tanya Talks True Blood

Tanya Wright as True Blood KenyaTBN: What do you think about your character in the book vs. the show?

TW: I like that the TV show is sort of doing its own thing with Kenya. It’s different but the genesis of her is the same. What’s great about the show is that the writers and producers are good at scratching the surface of the actors that play the roles and letting them go a little bit.

TBN: I just have to tell you that Kenya is one of my favorite characters. I’m ex-military and so to see another woman being the strong arm character is great.

TW: She is way tougher than me.

TBN: She’s the toughest one in the whole Bon Temps Department, except for Jason who isn’t really….

TW: He’s a hot mess, the hottest….

TBN: So far, what’s been the most rewarding and the most challenging aspect of working on “True Blood?”

TW: Well what’s rewarding is that the people there are so enormously talented. I would say that constantly in interviews, the cast I think overwhelmingly is an extraordinary group of people. I think when a show is successful it has a lot to do with the people who work on it. The people: meaning the crew, and the producers, and writers, and actors. It’s like the stars have to align in some way. Everyone contributes to this show in an extraordinary way and they are the most talented group of individuals I’ve worked with and I have worked with some pretty big shows before. I think that they are talented, they are funny, and they’re kind. You can’t ask for a better work situation than that. And then you get to play in this heightened reality where people are biting and they are turning into werewolves. You get to say these firecracker lines and you are like, “they are actually gonna say this on television? Wonderful!” So it’s a lot of fun for an actor. A lot of fun.

TBN: What would you like to see develop for your character?

TW: I would love to see little Miss Kenya put in situations where she is forced to believe. You know where something is happening right before her eyes and she can’t be dismissive as she has been about some things. Where she’s really forced to deal with something that she has experienced in this world of vampires and we see her change because she has to.

TBN: When you said that I thought, “Yeah she has been in denial and is the salt of the earth.” That would be interesting. I’m sure in the 22 years that the show is going to run that they’ll have time to do that.

TW: (laughing) 22 years? From your lips……

TBN: See, I envision Kenya actually as forcing reality to meet her vision instead of….

TW: I love that! I love that.

TBN: Like Tara would still see the pig and the naked woman and Kenya will see the pig.

TW: That would be hysterical!

Butterfly Rising cover artwork

Doing Things the Wright Way

TBN: What inspired you to write “Butterfly Rising”?

TW: Well, I was listening to an Aretha Franklin song one day at the beach with a friend, and I was listening to the words of the song. Together they made the composite of a woman. Boy, it would be really interesting to tell the whole story of this woman with the lyrics of this song. So that was the jumping off point for me. Then I went in my brain and made the woman into two women. I was really inspired by her music. Music is definitely what inspired the movie and definitely the book. The book is written in a sort of lyrical fashion I think.

TBN: It’s interesting that by splitting her into two people you allowed her to have conversations with herself. Who or what did you base the characters Lilah Belle and Rose on?

TW: I think that they are composites of everyone and no one. They are composites of similarities of me and sort of opposites of me. I would say that Rose and Lilah, and I could have played either role, but I chose to play Rose because I was more interested in playing that role just as an actor. But they are opposites in many ways. Rose is a woman who is fiercely independent. She has a torrid reputation with other women’s’ husbands in this small town. She is fierce and sort of actually quite masculine characteristics and aggressively sexual. Lilah Belle is just the opposite. Her brother just dies which is something that I can definitely relate to. She is a singer that doesn’t actually sing anymore when we meet her in the movie because her grief is so overwhelming. She’s odd, she dances in the streets, and she dresses strange. She is just on a different rhythm in this small town. These two women are thrown together by circumstances. They have to make a hasty retreat out of town. And they set out on the open road to find a better life for themselves.

TBN: If they are like you and not like you, are you the one dancing in the street?

TW: Sure, there’s a part of me that would like to dance in the street. I don’t literally dance in the street. I would say that there’s a lot that goes on in my mind that I don’t necessarily live out in my life. My life is simple actually. But I have a very vivid imagination.

TBN: Did you have any challenges in writing the book or directing the film? What were they?

TW: No more challenges than are normal. I do well with challenges. I certainly don’t invite them but I don’t get all crazy about them. So I just, if it’s a challenge I just take it in bite size pieces and I don’t try and solve the whole problem in a second. I just have to take a step, deal with that step, and when that step is taken care of then I move on to the next step. Then ultimately I find myself on the other side of the problem. That’s a good thing.

TBN: What do you hope readers take away from the novel after reading the final page?

TW: I hope that this novel inspires people to live their dream. After my brother died about six years ago, his death inspired me to get on with the business of living my life in the way that I wanted to do it. That’s why I write the book, and made the movie. These were all things that were percolating in my mind and quite frankly I hadn’t cultivated the courage to do it. Then he died and you sit with yourself for a while and you try to figure out well if your time is over tomorrow what do you want to be doing? And then I got to writing.

TBN: How long did it take you to write the book?

TW: I write in a slightly obsessive fury. So the first draft of the book took me 30 days. I keep a very aggressive schedule, where I don’t talk to anyone, I do not eat, I do not see anyone, I do not talk on the phone, nothing. All I do is eat, sleep, breathe, think. I put myself on a schedule and I got through it. For me, it’s important as a writer to get through the first draft because you can make a lot of excuses not to. Now as far as the rewriting is concerned, it took several months, but I got my thoughts on the page in 30 days after I had an outline in my mind.

TBN: So you mentally outlined everything and then went back and wrote it? I know some people write everything down on cards or… everyone has their own method. Was it hard to get a publisher or since you are well known for certain things was it easier?

TW: I didn’t shop for a publisher. I self-published this book. I did not approach a publisher at any time. It wasn’t something that – I just didn’t see the point – I just wanted to get the book out. I had a vision for it, the film was shot, I knew what I wanted to say, I knew how I wanted to do it, and if I involved other people and publishers, it was going to take a lot of time and be more involved and be a lot more complicated than this process needed to be. So I am so glad I did self publish. Next time around I do have an idea for a book , I probably would like to do it in a more conventional way. But I did this one in the down and dirty way, exactly how I wanted to do it. And it is incredible how well it has been received. I just found out that the book has been listed as one of the top 5 debut novels of 2010 by the Brooklyn Book Festival.

TBN: Wow! Congratulations!

TW: I’m really excited about that. There’s a stigma about self-publishing. I was vaguely aware of it, I’m not in the publishing industry per say. It’s just something that people are going to have to get used to, that publishing doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘oh because you didn’t get a publisher’, because I didn’t approach one ever. I got the very best people, as far as my editor is concerned and the people on my book team, who are the best at what they do. Highly experienced people who took me to task on the book and I liked it. It kept me sharp and I feel like I did it right. I thought about it for a while before I did it. But I had no interest in shopping the book. It just felt like that was going to zap my energy. I was less interested in approval and more interested in getting the book out to the people and let them decide. And I am over the moon about it.

TBN: Considering that if you had gone to a publisher your vision in the book could have been changed around, correct?

TW: I’m sure it would have been. I’m used to dealing with that in Hollywood which is why I didn’t even approach a publisher because I know what that means. It is as if I was in Hollywood and was an actor that didn’t have an agent. My agent legitimizes me. I’m no different an actor than I would be if I had an agent or didn’t have an agent. The world views me more legitimately if I have an agent. Certainly the world views me more legitimate if I am on a show that is successful. I know I just wasn’t interested in that, on this project. I just didn’t feel like it.

TBN: Publishers often give good feedback, but I have often felt like with people I know that are in the book industry. Years ago I ran the science fiction fantasy Guild website and it seemed to me a lot of times it was watered down so it was acceptable to so many people that it didn’t say as much anymore as an individual story so I’m glad to hear that you can self -publish and that you are really breaking some boundaries. That’s wonderful!

TW: And I wanted to do that. I wanted to break the boundaries. I wanted to do things in a way that was sort of unorthodox and say this is what an artist can do because the conventional modes of distribution are changing – books and music and movies – the way all these things are being distributed. So many new and exciting ways for an artist to reach its audience without a whole lot of – you know cultivate a relationship with your audience and let it be that instead of spending a lot of your time, energy, and attention in getting people to approve of you. It is so draining. It just didn’t interest me.

TBN: But I could definitely see Kenya self publishing.

TW: Yeah, yeah if need be…. (laughing)

TBN: So you wrote this as a book and then you decided to film it and you had already filmed other things. So was this a fairly easy step for you to make?

TW: I actually shot the movie before I wrote and published the book. I had shot a couple of other things, some book trailers and commercials, but I had never directed a feature film before. It was very familiar territory because I have been in this world since I was 17 so it’s really all I know. I was heartened that I had more knowledge of it, that I had more of it inside of me than I thought I did.

More True Blood Tidbits from Tanya

TBN: What might True Blood fans be surprised to know about Tanya Wright outside of the show?

TW: First that Tanya is nice. Kenya is pretty hard core, you know, and Tanya is much softer and more accepting and she doesn’t drink herself into furies when she loses promotions. I’m a pretty balanced girl and I live a pretty simple life. I think people are surprised that I write and have been writing since the beginning, even before I was acting. I am similar to Kenya in that I like to get things done and I‘m a pretty straight shooter. But I am not nearly as rigid as she is.

TBN: If Kenya died what would you want on her headstone?

TW: This is so funny because I was really thinking about the answer to this question and so I wrote a little ditty:

Miss Kenya was not a believer.
Andy’s promotion was one that had grieved her.
So she took to the bar,
Getting drunk wasn’t far,
Oh Kenya, that you were a believer.

You know, Kenya needs to believe.

TBN: That’s so great! Thank you no one has ever written us a poem before!

TBN: Do you have a favorite charity?

TW: I am actually sifting through charities now to see which one I would like to work with. I am most interested in 2 things: mentoring projects that have to do with young women, self-esteem and artists and independents. I’m very concerned with fellow artists, musicians, and actors, writers, poets, and cultivating art. You don’t have to be – How you can get your message out to the world in useful ways that can help you.

TBN: So are there organizations already set up like that and are you picking one or thinking of starting your own?

TW: Well, I teach this class called BUA-its “business of the unique artist”. Ultimately, I really admire what Robert Redford has done with his institute so I kind of have the idea to do something similar for artists with the focus on finances. I think that is – you know we don’t learn in high school, financial literacy is not something that is taught in school, unfortunately. Artists in particular sort of go around and there are so many talented people I know that are struggling. A lot of them really divorce art and commerce and that is that thing over there and it has nothing to do with art. It’s great that you are talented but you still need to pay the rent. You still have to eat. So you have to figure out how to do the thing that you love and make money doing it.

TBN: So are you interested in teaching them those sorts of things or actually setting up grants to help them?

TW: Well I do I teach BUA.

TBN: Right but are you interested in setting up an organization that would reach out to more artists?

TW: Yes, eventually I will.

TBN: Well, when you do that keep us in mind because we love to do charity stuff.

TW: Ok, I definitely will.

TBN: Do you twitter and would you like your fans to know what your twitter name is?

TW: Yes I twitter! Whoo Hoo! And I would love for them to know what my twitter name is. Its @tanyaTTwright

TBN: You know the fans love to talk to people on True Blood and they love it when people respond back. One thing we’ve found with the True Blood fans is that they have your back, put it that way. We say that your character can’t even die and get out of the True Blood Realm.

TW: That’s wonderful! That is great to hear!

TBN: They are very devoted and encouraging. Once they know your twitter they will be twittering to you. They want to know what are you doing, what is your next project, they really have your back basically. And associated with that, anything else you do, we are interested in promoting it. Your book, your movie, we are happy to promote anything you are doing. We put an article up last night on appearances, but any other appearances you are doing, any projects you are doing, anything else you are coming out with. Have your agent let us know or drop us a line or a tweet and we are happy to retweet it for you.

TW: I really appreciate that. We all really appreciate that. It’s the people who watch the show and are enthusiastic that have made it successful.

TBN: It’s kind of our thank you too because, for us, each of us were facing a lot of challenges at the time that True Blood came out. And we still are. It sort of helps us through the worst periods. It is very odd, it’s like all 3 of us were really, and I found that a lot of the other people that come to post on our website, some of them found that True Blood, how the acting, or it’s just something about the storyline, it really helped them through a lot of difficult times for some reason.

TW: That is so cool! In a way I’m not surprised about it because the person who helms this show, Alan Ball, has a very interesting quality about him that I don’t even know if he is aware of, that is really encompassing. And it shows in the cast and the crew and the actors that he has chosen to be part of this show. He really has a great, wonderful, generous spirit. I’m sure that it has to come through in the show.

TBN: It has really touched the fans hearts and really helped them through difficult times somehow.

TW: That is so cool. That I can be a part of that. That whole idea. That’s great!

Tanya Wright Looking Right At You

TBN: Has True Blood changed how you think about good and evil?

TW: No I would say it validates it in a way. I think that the show says that life is really grey. Life is lived in the grey. There is no good or bad, there is no dark or light, but that life is a lot more complicated than that. That dichotomy between positive and negative is really blurry. The judgment about things people, I don’t know like on what this country was founded, a lot of judgment happens. I think True Blood is a place that allows questions about judgment or differences about people. It helps get a dialogue going about it. I think the show has been useful in that way.

TBN: Are there any questions you would like to ask the fans?

TW: I would love to see what the fans would like to see of Kenya. I said I would love to see Kenya in a situation where she is forced to believe. I would also love to work with Nelsan Ellis. I think that would be an interesting dynamic between Kenya and Lafayette.

TBN: You are like the mother he needed to have.

TW: I know how he’d respond to that.

TBN: Not that his mother isn’t great. She is, but…

TW: But I would like to see what the fans would like to see for Kenya. What sort of situations they would like to see Kenya in and deal with.

TBN: Do you know when your film is being released yet?

TW: It is going to be released next year sometime. We are focusing on the book right now.

TBN: And do you think you are going to do the film festival route or wide release?

TW: I’m not sure yet.

Tanya’s “Butterfly Rising” Available for Auction!

TBN: Well thank you for the interview, it was very interesting listening to you talk and answering our questions. We really loved it.

TW: You guys had great questions.

TBN: I do have one more question, so I’m sorry, but would it be possible to do a giveaway of one of your books?

TW: Absolutely!

TBN: That would be great because right now we are working for the Amanda Foundation. They are an animal rescue in LA.

TW: Marcarena, my dog, is a rescue!

TBN: What kind of dog is Marcarena?

TW: She’s a black Labrador.

TBN: That would be perfect then. The money goes directly to the Amanda Foundation.

TW: Are you kidding? I would love to!!! Just send me the information where to send it to.

TBN: Well you have a great rest of the summer!

TW: Thank you I will. Thank you so much!

Talking to Tanya Wright was just a joy! We truly enjoyed the opportunity to speak with her. Before the interview even began, Tanya had many questions for us so that by the time we began the interview it felt more like a conversation than any other interview we’ve done. She’s a unique, inspiring and self-assured woman who walks the walk. We want to thank Tanya for taking the time to talk to us and for being so very, very patient while we prepared to auction her book. Please click HERE to bid on the autographed copy of Butterfly Rising. All proceeds go to benefit The Amanda Foundation!

Transcription credit: Jennifer Murillo

Photo Credits: Tanya Wright and HBO, Inc.

Screen Cap: James


Joe Manganiello – True Blood’s Alcide – Makes Me Want to Howl!

August 24, 2010

Joe Manganiello as True Blood Alcide Herveaux and Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse

There’s just something about Joe Manganiello that sells that alpha wolf image. It’s not just that he’s one tall, sexy, muscular hunk of man that leaves True Blood viewers panting for more Alcide Herveaux week after week.  It’s the way he moves, the tilt of his head, the surety of his gaze that just screams out, “You’re safe with me, but not too safe!” He’s also got a bit of that tail thumping, fun loving, puppy charm which made this one great interview to do.

The Interview

TBN: Hi Joe, thanks so much for joining us today!

Joe: Hi, good to be able to talk to you.

TBN: We don’t want to keep you too long so we’ll just jump right into the interview. You grew up in the Rust Belt?

Joe: Well I grew up in Pittsburgh.

TBN:Can you tell us a little of what it was like to grow up there?

Joe: It was beautiful and green. I think most people have an idea of Pittsburgh that’s very antiquated and smoke stacks spewing.  You need to take an extra dress shirt to lunch because you’ll be covered in soot kind of city but it really wasn’t like that.  I was born there when the Steelers and the Pirates were both winning repeated championships and so I grew up in this really fun town that was beautiful.  It’s green, full of mountains, beautiful rivers; I went to a great school.  It had a TV studio built into it in high school.  When I went to high school it was unheard of, it was before the days of computer editing so I had a lot of my. I was exposed to a lot of things eclectically that shaped my future and I wound up staying there for college, Carnegie Melon and it’s a great city for the arts.  Andy Warhol went to Carnegie Melon, he was born in Pittsburgh.  The great amazing museums and art theatre, so, I grew up exposed to all of that and I think it really shaped me.

TBN: Did you always know that you wanted to be an actor?

Joe: No, I didn’t.  Not at all.  Very much the opposite.  I was a jock and so I grew up playing 3 sports a year, I was the Captain of all of them, I trained all summer long and I looked at those theatre kids as those black turtle-neck wearing weirdo’s at the other lunch table.  It wasn’t until really I started borrowing cameras and editing and making my own films on the weekends that I really fell in love with film making at first, but I realized I enjoyed acting too and started taking classes and I thought if I could bet better at this my movies will get better.  Then I just caught the bug and rather go on to college and pursue sports, and I was going to pursue a career in the FBI.  I wound up getting a scholarship to Carnegie Melon.

TBN: That touches on some of the other questions we have.  In looking in your history it seems like a bit of a dichotomy where you’re a sports guy and a drama guy in high school, did you get razzed about that a lot?

Joe: I remember I got cast as Judd Fry in Oklahoma in my Senior year in High School and I was the Captain of the volley ball team that year and there were colleges that were interested in me and I didn’t show up to practice.  So I decided to do the high school musical instead of show up and be the captain of the teams where colleges were looking at me.  The coaches went crazy.  Also because I had a knee injury that made me realize that I didn’t want to pursue college football. My old line backer coach would stop me in the hall and would give me shit about it. I wound up going off and doing this high school musical which to them seemed insane and looking back me just saying it out loud it seems insane too.  But I remember looking out on the audience and there was this sea of Letterman jackets in the crowd. All my football buddies had come to see me in the musical with their girl friends. It was really fun to look out into the crowd and see this bunch of guys that never would have been there if they didn’t know me.  But after I did it, everybody came up to me and had nothing but glowing things to say to me.  That same line backer coach caught me in the hall and grabbed me by the arm and said, “I was wrong about you, you were great!”

TBN: Very cool and have you ever heard from them since you’ve become successful?

Joe: No, I haven’t but the biggest witness tested was my dad because my father always wanted me to be an athlete, very much.  You have a 6 ft. 5 220 pound kid in high school, that can run throw, dunk, catch, you think this is gold! So he wanted me to do that, pursue athletics.  When I went down the drama path I think it really raised his eyebrows a bit.  But the cool thing about it now, especially with this part as Alcide as opposed to the other parts I’ve gotten to play, is that I’ve gotten to the point where I can blend all of those tools into one job.  I love history so I know all my characters; they’re like little history projects.  I get to do research.  I get to build these little research packets.  I loved animals growing up and on this job I get to work with animals.  I love athletics and on this job I get to do some of my own stunts and work out with a trainer twice a day.  It’s been a really cool chance to blend all this stiff together. I am working with a dialect on the show so I get to train with a coach and exercise that muscle as well.  It’s a really fulfilling job and my dad’s OK with it now.

Joe Manganeillo Sings and Writes Too!

TBN: Doing research on your background, we went on IMDB, it shows your first show was “Out of Courage Two” which you wrote, produced, acted and did stunts for and it had something to do with your chemistry class?  Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Joe: The chemistry class film was in high school and that was a different project.  That was the first movie that my friends and I made in high school.  It’s hour and a half long but we were supposed to do this little 5 minute chemistry film. But we wound up turning it into this hour and a half long feature length mafia, martial arts Kung Fu action movie with gun shot effects.  We built our own squibs with metal cookie tins lids off of cookie containers.  We taped the tins on the peoples chests or their knees and we would fill condoms up with red Karo syrup with food coloring. We’d attach little fire crackers to their knees and their chest and you’d have to light the wick and get your hand out of the scene fast before it would blow up.  And we had sound effects and sound tracks and opening credits and end credits.  I mean it was this huge, big production that we did, instead of the five minute chemistry film.   Out of Courage was done in college. They taught us classical theatre but they didn’t teach us anything else.  They really didn’t want to teach us much contemporary work or film work at all and so I decided to take my education into my own hands and I wound up writing this little half hour script, we wound up getting a $72,000 grant to film it. There was a lot of turmoil going on in Chechnya at the time and I was a big Russian history buff in school so I decided to write a movie where Chechen terrorists take over Carnegie Melon, hold all these students hostage and blow up the school.

TBN: If you had not gone into the entertainment field, what do you think you would have done for a living?

Joe: Law Enforcement.  Like I said the FBI was something that really interested me.  I think high-level government security would have been interesting.  My father had a very strong sense of justice.  He was very passionate about it as I was growing up.  Maybe it was the Sicilian blood but he hated any sort of wrong that was being committed.  He was very passionate about things like that .  I remember the Pastor of our church growing up saying something derogatory about my peewee league football team and my father went right after him.  It didn’t matter who you were, you were not above morality and decency. I think a lot of that in my father rubbed off on me. So that that was really something that I wanted to pursue was bringing criminals to justice.   What’s interesting enough is that Alcide has a lot of my father’s passion and justice in him.  He’s a character that is brought on to protect and body guard Sookie and I think that he’s a good salt of the earth worker.  You know my father worked in power plants for 40 years, he worked his ass off to provide for us and always did the right thing by his family.  Much to his own sacrifice and Alcide is very similar to that,  He owns a construction company with his father, but Alcide is not someone who abuses his influence. He was someone who was born, gifted, with immense amounts of power but he would never think to abuse it.  That’s something that is really at the core of his relationship with Sookie.  I think Sookie has had such a rough time since the Vampires showed up and so you have this very strong moral man with a very strong sense of justice that has been put in her life and I think it’s kind of, it adds a lot of safety to her life that maybe necessarily wasn’t there.

TBN: Interesting way to think about it. Sookie and Safety don’t seem to mix much. We heard you were a roadie for the rock band “Gold Finger”?  How long were you a roadie for them?

Joe: One of my best friends in the entire world is the lead singer for Gold Finger, John Feldmann.  He has been one of my best friends in the world and he travels on the road with his band and he asked me if I wanted to come along with him and I really hadn’t traveled much at that point. So we went on a tour: we did the US, we did Canada, we did New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii.  He put me on payroll as security which basically meant that I had to throw drunk kids off the stage every night.  And I got to go travel the world! I’m a huge music fan and I was a DJ and I have turn tables, I still have all of my vinyl.  So for me to get to go do that was really neat. And aside from being fun, it was  really cool for me as a performer, as a live performer, to watch a band perform every night. I got to watch how the performance changed, watch how they manipulated the crowd,  watch how the set was changed. And I got to watch that night after night.  It taught me so much about theater and doing theater I can’t even tell you.  I have been a different theater performer since I went on tour with that rock band for sure.

TBN: You have also done background singing?

Joe: Yes, he’s also a music producer so whenever I’m over at his house and he’s working with a band, he’ll have me come in to the studio and do back up vocals.

Physical Acting: Stuntwork

TBN: So how did you get started doing stunts? You’re doing a lot of stunt work …

Joe: I’m not doing individual stunt work necessarily. Basically, I’m an athletic actor so they let me do a lot of my own stuff for continuity purposes and I also really enjoy it. It’s like getting ready to ride a roller coaster.

TBN: So kind of like Harrison Ford. He’s a very physical actor.

Joe: Exactly. I have a stunt man, his name’s Oliver Keller. He’s from Switzerland and he’s been my stunt double for the past nine years since we started working together on “Spider-Man.” We just stuck together and we actually became really good friends. We’re the best of friends and we work together and I just don’t think there’s anybody better at the job than he is. I think he’s awesome and he comes with me on whatever project I’m on and does all of the stuff that I could get killed doing. So basically if I could die doing it, they’ll throw Oliver in.

TBN: Do you learn a lot from him too, like how to take a punch and all that stuff?

Joe: I used to box so I learned a lot of how to fight and how to sell punches and things like that from that type of training. But that’s Oliver other duty: when I have to get in there and do a stunt Oliver will go into a lot of detail. He’ll pull me aside and we’ll have a coaching session on what I need to know about the stunt. You know what’s interesting about the stunt men? They’re a lot more curt and to the point then most people. Usually they just give you one piece of advice that if you don’t do it, something horrible will happen to you and then they’ll let you go. I always say to people, I’m Oliver’s acting double.

Bare chested Joe Manganiello as True Blood Alcide Herveaux

TBN: Are shows ever concerned though that you’re doing your own stunts or are they pretty savvy on what’s okay and what’s not?

Joe: Oh yeah, they’re very concerned because obviously, if I got hurt, that would lead to a production delay and they don’t want to do that, so its always very safe and especially with Oliver there. Oliver and I, we look like twins. There have actually been projects that we’ve worked on where they’ve shot Oliver from about 20 feet away, face on and people can’t tell the difference.

TBN: That’s hysterical! “Spider-Man 3” was a very big production. What was it like to play in that movie?

Joe: It was neat because they brought my character back from part one and part one was the movie that got my career started. It was my first job right out of college. I love Sam Raimi so much I can’t even tell you. I love that guy. So to be back and to even spend some time with him was great. They brought me back for part three and by that time it was such a monstrous budget. It was just the biggest production I could ever imagine being a part of. But most of all, I think it was great for me to just get back. My friend Michael Moore, he’s one of the ADs, so it was great to get to hang out with him and catch up with some people and see Toby and see Kirsten. But most of all, was great to see Sam again.

TBN: Aside from “True Blood,” what was your favorite acting experience?

Joe: Aside from “True Blood” my favorite acting experience would have to be getting to play the one theater role that I always wanted to play since the time I became an actor. It was one of the reasons why I got into acting and why I perused classical training. I wanted to play Stanley Kowalski in “A Street Car Named Desire.” Two years ago, I got to do it in West Virginia, which is about an hour and 15 minutes away from Pittsburgh, so all my family and friends from back home could come see the show, and that was a definite dream come true.

TBN: Was that summer theater?

Joe: Yeah, I had some time during the summer and I got to do it. It was great. It was amazing.

Talking True Blood with Joe

TBN: With Alcide, how do you prepare for the role? Have you read any of the books to help you in creating the character?

Joe: Sure, yeah I didn’t want to read the first two books because I didn’t want to ruin the TV show for me. I knew Alcide shows up in book three and that he would potentially show up in season three so I read book three in preparation. I had to use the book as a loose guide. I had to wear it like a loose jacket because you don’t want to be too married to what they have in the book in case that’s not what they’re using on the show. So I had to get an idea for his energy and kind of where he would potentially be coming from and of course I have to play what Alan writes. But they stayed pretty close to the essence of Alcide from the book but just added so much nuance and detail and back story.

TBN: Congratulations on getting the role. Can you share with us how you got the role on “True Blood?” How was your audition?

Joe: Sure. About a year and a half ago my friend Rich sent me a web link to a blog where a lot of fans were going on and speculating who would be cast as Alcide if he showed up. They were posting pictures of me amongst other people. That was brought to my attention and I got thought, “There’s a werewolf that’s coming up on “True Blood?” That’s incredible! That show is great. So I went out and ordered the books and started reading them and brushed up on it. I started bugging my agents and managers and eventually I got an audition. I actually went in for another werewolf part, just because it came up first. Alcide wasn’t being cast yet but my agent and managers got me an audition to go in and play this other werewolf. I auditioned twice for the other werewolf and they said they wanted me to screen test with Anna for the part of Alcide. Then I wound up getting an offer for another show so while we were figuring out whether or not I was going to take that job or not, HBO said we’ll bypass the chemistry read and we’ll bring you in right away. So we bypassed the chemistry read for the time and they brought me in a couple of days later to read for Alcide. I read for him and they gave me the part that day.

TBN: Since the fans will be meeting Alcide for the first time this season, how would you describe him?

Joe: He’s big and he’s strong, but he’s really lonely and he’s very shy. Very reclusive. Where we find him in the beginning he’s also heart broken. His fiancé’s just left him. It’s really hard, it’s also been hard for him being a werewolf and having this type of power. It has been a real burden for him because he’s had to live amongst human society. He really just can’t give in to it 100 percent. I related it all to my father. My father grew up and he was left-handed in a time where children were not allowed to be left handed. All kids had to be right-handed. So here comes my father and they have proved that left-handed men communicate better than right-handed men. My father was born with this advanced ability, basically being left-handed, and he was forced to be right-handed and fit in with everybody else. And when I think about Alcide, I think about him in that way. I think about this person who was born with these unbelievable abilities and powers that other people couldn’t even fathom and he’s been taught to hide them and that he can’t use them. And it’s frustrating that he’s been forced into this existence. It fuels the hatred between werewolves and vampires as well because vampires have come out to the world and they’re all rich and powerful and sexy and cool, and werewolves still have to live in hiding.

TBN: And they have all those fang bangers hanging on.

Joe: Well..the werewolves have the fur bangers.

TBN: Really? Great! So in how many episodes will we be seeing Alcide?

Joe: He shows up in episode three and he plays a prominent role in the rest of the season.

Joe Manganiello as True Blood Alcide Herveaux and Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse

TBN: Is there anything that you can tell us about what the fans can expect without getting into trouble?

Joe: You’re going to see some romance. There’s a lot of action and you’re going to watch a very interesting story arc. You’re going to watch this lonely, reclusive heartbroken character, this shy character, come out of his shell and be thrust into the middle of this pack war that could destroy his entire race of people. So you’re going to watch this unlikely hero thrust into this difficult situation rise to the occasion and have to fight for his pack survival.

TBN: It’s really interesting to me that you mentioned how lonely he is. I think we have interviewed four or five new people this season and, of course, some from the older seasons, and everybody talks about how lonely their character is.

Joe: There’s a definite theme; loneliness, self loathing. I think it occurs on the show quite a bit but I think that’s what it is. I think it’s an exploration in the way that Joseph Campbell wrote about mythology. I think you have these supernatural characters, these god-like characters that make it easier for the writers and Alan Ball to talk about what it means to be human. I think Alcide is definitely an exploration. He’s using this werewolf to show the audience what it’s like to be human or at least what he perceives to be human.

TBN: Yeah, that’s interesting. So have you had a chance to act with any other people besides Anna for this season?

Joe: Sure, yes. Steve, Rutina, Nelsan, Ryan, Chris Bauer, Denis O’Hare, Grant Bowler, Brit Morgan. A lot of the people.

TBN: So it’s a lot of interaction. Good! And we heard that the cast have a really great time together.

Joe: How could you not? Being on set it’s like being at the coolest Halloween party ever.

TBN: Have there been any pranks pulled while you were around? Or any big bloopers that were really hysterical?

Joe: Yeah, we always play. Everybody plays with each other. There was this one moment where there was supposed to be a body. A body like what was thought to be a corpse but one of the crew guys actually during a break kind of hid himself where the corpse was supposed to be. So one of the cast members went to go interact with this corpse and the crew member jumped out and scared them shitless and it was in the middle of the take. None of us involved in the take had any idea. It’s all recorded on film; it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. They’re constantly joking with each other; they’re constantly trying to get one over on each other all the time so you really do have to watch your back.

TBN: Being the new guy on the set, has that been a challenging experience or has that been a very welcoming group? How have you found that to be?

Joe: It’s intimidating because of my respect for the actors involved. This show is the most talented and scarily talented and eclectic bunch of actors I’ve ever worked with. I think this is the most talented ensemble on TV. Other people can disagree but I think it is.  I’m also very partial to it but I felt that way before I was even on the show. So for me to be a part of that and be included in that is, I don’t even know yet if it has even sunk in for me that I’m actually a part of that group or that gang. So with that said, yeah there’s pressure plus I’m a fan of the show; I’m a fan of the books. I’m a fan of the fans and I just want to get in there and do the best job that I possibly could and know that I left nothing out there on set. I have worked myself to the bone, 150 percent to do the best possible job that I could. Hopefully that translates and everybody’s really happy with what I did.

TBN: That sounds like a really great experience then.

Joe: It’s been an experience of a lifetime. It’s been a dream. I hope I get to play Alcide for the rest of my life.

TBN: We do too because that means we get to watch you for the rest of out lives.

Joe: Charlaine keep writing those books and hopefully, I’ll keep getting written into the story.

TBN: I don’t think you need to worry about the books. I think the shows going to take on its own life eventually. You mentioned the fans and “True Blood” as you know, is a huge success and the fans are incredibly active. Have you met any of the fans since you got this job? Have they recognized you?

Joe: I met some paparazzi, that started happening here and there. I’m very excited and anxious to see what happens once the show starts airing. Because I’m also not necessarily someone who can hideout in a hat and sun glasses. I’m a six foot five guy with a beard and long hair.

TBN: Has “True Blood” reshaped how you think about good and evil?

Joe: Yes, after the show you really can’t think in terms of black and white; it’s all gray.

We want to thank Joe for not only being so kind as to do this interview but for really bringing Alcide to life. Joe’s real life attitudes about justice have infused Alcide with that little bit extra that makes TV come alive. We also want to thank HBO for assisting us in getting this great interview and, of course, for a wonderful season of True Blood!

(Photo credit: John P. Johnson/HBO inc.)


Marcia deRousse – Hooray For Hollywood!

August 11, 2010

Marcia deRouse True Blood's Dr. L

Marcia deRousse who plays the acerbic Dr. Ludwig on True Blood (but is a total sweetheart and a very gentle soul in real life) has kindly agreed to occasionally give us a ‘behind the scenes’ peek as life as a actor in Hollywood. If you have questions about specifics of the lifestyle or just living in LA just put them in the comments and I’m sure Marcia would be happy to address them.

I know many of you feel that the life of an actor is all glitz and glamor, parties and paparazzi. That may be true to a point for the truly big stars who have “made it”. But for most of us, it is a work in progress.

In this article, I will tell you about the process of getting headshots done. Headshots are an actor’s calling card, the introduction to casting directors, directors and producers- the power people who give us work. Headshots are very specific and unique. They are not just a good snapshot of the actor. They also cannot be so “glammed up” that the actor is not recognizable to the person or people they will, hopefully, meet to interview for a role. Headshots must be a truthful representation of the person who walks into that audition. I can’t even imagine how embarrassing it would be to enter a casting director’s session, and have them look at the picture, then look at you and say, “What the heck happened, here?” So, as trite as this may sound, it is imperative that an actor goes into a headshot photography session “knowing thyself”.

One very important part of this process is choosing the right photographer. If the actor is not comfortable with the photographer, forget it! No matter how both people try, they just won’t “click”. Also, the photographer has to have a really great eye for what she or he knows the agents, casting directors, etc, are looking for. This almost has to be intuitive within the photographer, and it certainly has to reflect that connection between the actor and photographer.

Marcia deRouse True Blood's Dr. L

NOW- having said all that, I just had my new headshots done by am amazing photographer, Annie Fourguette. I cannot recommend her highly enough. Even when I went in with my set of ideas, what she came up with on the spot worked even better. The first picture is probably going to be my actual new headshot. Yes, this IS what I really look like! The second is yet another of my alter egos, the “feisty little old lady”, ala Estelle Getty. And the third shot- my shameless plug to get back on True Blood again- me with a “wolf”. Hey, a little subliminal seduction never hurt anybody! Oh, and in an effort of full disclosure, the “wolf”. who’s name is Samuel, is actually a coyote…but he agreed to play the wolf for the photo shoot. Thanks, Samuel!

In the LA area and need headshots? Get in touch with Annie- annie@gallerieafourguette.com

Marcia deRouse True Blood's Dr. L

[Editor’s Note: Wow what a change between the three pictures! I was really amazed what can be done with minimal make-up and a prop ‘wolf’. Thanks so much for sharing with our readers Marcia and don’t forget that anyone that has a question/comment etc. should post them in the comments section!]


A Crystal Clear Discussion with Lindsay Pulsipher: A TrueBloodNet.com Exclusive

July 28, 2010

Lindsey Pulsipher True Blood Crystal Norris

One of the first recurring roles that Lindsay Pulsipher played was as Heather on the show, “Touched by an Angel” and now she’s playing Crystal, a character that’s been touched by anything and everything but an Angel. We’re fascinated by the unlikely concept of someone able to tame Jason Stackhouse, but with Lindsay lending her wistful, angelic face to the role of Crystal Norris , she may just manage to capture Jason‘s heart. She sure caught and held our attention! Lindsay was great to talk to, very fun and energetic and we at TrueBloodNet.com really appreciate her taking the time for us! Oh.. and you’ll just love her new little friend, Mars. What a cutie and who can resist that face!

TBN: You mentioned in previous Interviews that you were inspired by your mother to get into acting? Can you elaborate on that? What was your very first performance?

Lindsay: Well my first experience in acting was at a small community theater in Salt Lake City, Utah, called Hale Center Theater. It was such an exciting time for me as a kid. I loved the creativity of acting, and the freedom to be whomever I wanted. I was definitely encouraged by my mom to pursue any artistic dreams I had.

TBN: Was your mother an actor as well or was she just supportive of your becoming one?

Lindsay: My mother acted in plays, but she decided to have six kids instead of pursuing a career in acting. One of my first inspirations was seeing my mom performing “You Can’t Take it with You.” I remember seeing her all dressed up in her stage makeup, and thought “Wow! I don’t even know that woman; she looks so different from my mom.” It just opened up this door, this creative door, for me. I really got inspired by her performance.

TBN: So your first performance was?

Lindsay: My first professional television performance was on “Touched by an Angel.” They actually filmed the show in Utah so local actors were very fortunate to get some television experience before deciding they wanted to pursue LA or New York or Chicago. We had that opportunity, and we were all very grateful for it.

TBN: And did you go on to study acting?

Lindsay: I did. I studied and took classes in Utah. And later I moved to Los Angeles where I’ve been doing mostly private coaching and scene study classes out here.

TBN: You also starred in “The Beast” along with Patrick Swayze. Can you give us a little more insight to your character? A little more detail about the show?

Lindsay: Rose, my character on “The Beast” was the complete opposite of Crystal. Rose was extremely refined, strong woman who knew what she wanted out of life, with her head on straight. Crystal, is completely opposite of that. It was really fun to play such different characters in the same year. And Patrick Swayze was an amazing person to work with. He will always be remembered by me as an inspiration, knowing what he was going through every day, coming to the set and working so hard was very inspiring.

Lindsey Pulsipher True Blood Crystal Norris

TBN: Oh yes, how amazing that he managed to do so well under the circumstances. And referring to Crystal, congratulations on getting the role of Crystal Norris on “True Blood.” Could you share with us how you got the role? How did your audition go? How did you know about the role?

Lindsay: I have an agent and manager here in Los Angeles that are really great on getting me in on really good projects. When this came up I have to say I was just really, really excited. I had two auditions, both of them were with Alan Ball, and the second one Ryan Kwanten read with me. A few hours later I got a call from my manager telling me I had booked it. I don’t know if I’ve been happier about booking a role.

TBN: How did you prepare for the role? Did you read any of the books in creating the character?

Lindsay: I think I wanted to see Crystal more through the eyes of the “True Blood” writers first, before i read the books. Once I got a sense of where they were going with her I thought, “Okay, I’m ready to read Charlene Harris’s character and take it from both sides”. It’s been an incredible journey and the character is, oh, she is just so fun to play. She has so many layers going on and just amazingly written.

TBN: Crystal plays a huge role in the story line of Jason Stackhouse. How would you describe her and her interactions with Jason?

Lindsay: Crystal is revealed slowly in the third season. Jason sees her during a drug bust at Hot Shot which is where she lives. He’s out there and he catches a glimpse of her running through the trees and they have this special, electric moment where they first see each other and then she takes off running. Later she and Jason run into each other again in Bon Temps and they have this really funny exchange, a very classic Jason moment. And their relationship develops from there. Ryan does such a good job of playing Jason. This season is really about their relationship and how it grows. As we all know, Jason loves the ladies, and he has had quite a few of them. I think Crystal is somebody different and special for him and they have a really magical relationship that develops, and takes shape this season.

TBN: Being the new girl on the set, what are your experiences on the show? Is it an easy crew to fit in with?

Lindsay: Actually a couple of the new actors and I were talking about that today. It’s amazing how you can tell walking onto the “True Blood” set that everybody there absolutely loves their job. Everyone is very close and friendly with each other, there are no egos on set. It’s just a warm, familial environment. It’s such a pleasant surprise because sometimes you walk on set and you’re the new girl and it’s not always that way, so to walk in and have everybody be so welcoming and truly happy to have you has been a great experience.

Lindsey Pulsipher True Blood Crystal Norris with Ryan Kwanten Jason Stackhouse

TBN: Have you acted with any of the other cast besides Jason?

Lindsay: Crystal does meet up with some of the other people in Bon Temps through out the season. She creates some chaos in the town, but for the most part, it’s been with Ryan.

TBN: So far, what’s been the most rewarding and the most challenging aspect of working on “True Blood?”

Lindsay: Crystal has been challenging to play because she’s a complex character. If you read the books, you know that she has a lot going on and that she’s a strong spirit. In the show she also has a lot that she’s dealing with. She comes from a very sheltered, back woods home, where they cook meth. She’s been home educated and hasn’t really been out in the real world too much and doesn’t have a lot of real-life experience. She’s had to grow up fast living the way that she does out in Hot Shot. So it’s been a challenge to stay true to all of the struggles that she is going through and play them all truthfully. A challenge is very good for me. I tend to thrive when I’m challenged so it’s really rewarding in that way too.

TBN: You know “True Blood” is such a phenomenal success. Are you prepared for the “True Blood” fans?

Lindsay: When people ask me this, I don’t know what to say because it just seems a little surreal. It hasn’t really affected me yet. I haven’t seen any of the fan reaction to Crystal yet, since she’s just being introduced. I think it’s always going to be exciting when you have such a huge fan base; it makes it more magical. I don’t know how to address it yet, but I’ll cross that bridge when i get to it!

TBN: Are there any questions you would like to ask the fans?

Lindsay: My friend Matt has this question he likes to ask, and I think it’s a question that would fit in well with the “True Blood” fans. “If you had to be bitten by a Vampire, a Werewolf, or a Zombie, which would you choose and why?”

My answer to the question was, “A Zombie, since they travel in groups, I would never have to be alone. ”

TBN: Has “True Blood” reshaped how you think of good and evil?

Lindsay: I think “True Blood” is constantly bending the rules of “good and evil” who can be trusted, and who can’t. Who’s the enemy, and who’s the hero? I think that’s one of the most fascinating aspects of the show.

TBN: If Crystal died, what would you like on her head stone?

Linsday: ::laughs:: That’s a great question. I guess something along the lines of “God knows she tried.”

TBN: During “True Blood’s” hiatus, do you have anything else coming up?

Lindsay: I’m in the works for a couple of different things. We have a nice shooting schedule on “True Blood.” Six months on and six months off. But I love staying busy, so work is always a good thing.

TBN: Do you have any charities or causes that are important to you?

Lindsay: Yes, absolutely. I support this wonderful organization called Stand up to Cancer. Patrick Swazye was actually really involved with them before he passed. I also lost my father to cancer, which was an extraordinarily hard thing to deal with. I fully support furthering the research, and finding a cure for cancer. They are a big one that I support. Standup2cancer.org

Another one I fully support is a dog rescue based out of Los Angeles called The Mutt Movement. I actually just rescued a little dog from them a few months ago and she’s changed my life. Themuttmovement.com

TBN: Awww. What’s her name?

Lindsay: Her name is Mars … like the planet.

TBN: And what type of dog is she?

Lindsay: She is a hairless Chihuahua mix. She’s really cute, she’s bald underneath with a little peach fuzz and she has a coat that goes from her head to her tail but it’s only on top, like she has a mohawk!

Lindsey Pulsipher True Blood Crystal Norris dog Mars

TBN: Do you Twitter and would you like your fans to know what your Twitter name is?

Lindsay: You know, I actually don’t Twitter and I don’t have a Facebook. Although we did discover that there’s a couple Facebook pages dedicated to Lindsay Pulsipher, and Crystal Norris that I didn’t create.

TBN: Do you ever read about yourself on the fan sites about “True Blood” or “The Beast?”

Lindsay: You know, I generally try and stay away from that stuff. It hasn’t happened very often, but of course it’s going happen – you read something negative about yourself that might or might not be true and it starts to affect you. So I try not to read anything that’s going to conjure up comments. I do try and research and go on the websites or the magazines that I’m going to do interviews with and get an idea of what the vibe is and what it’s all about. I looked at your site before I talked to you.

TBN: Oh, to make sure we weren’t serial killers or something? ::laughs::

Lindsay: ::laughs:: Oh no, not even that, but just to see what your style was and gage it and yeah, I do that stuff but I try not to read about myself.

I have a couple of films that I recently completed. One is called “The Oregonian” Directed by Calvin Lee Reeder. It’s a sort of esoteric, art–horror film. It’s the journey of a young woman who gets into a car accident and doesn’t really know if she’s alive or dead. It’s a really, really cool, out-there film. It will be doing the festival circuit later this year.

The other one is called “Do not Disturb.” I shot it with Eric Balfour. Directed by Petro Papahadjopoulos. It’s a series of short film vignettes that they have edited together into a feature and all of the short films have a similar thread that binds them together. It will also be out later this year.

TBN: Are you in just one of the short films?

Lindsay: Yes, It’s called “Rocket Man” and it’s kind of this throwback to the 60’s sci-fi films.

TBN: Just going back to Crystal, your character. How did you develop her personality? Did Alan Ball state how he wanted her presented or did you develop her character or was it a collaboration?

Lindsay: Actually a little of both. The writers do such an amazing job of creating these characters that they make your job easy because they’re so well written and so easy to work with. There’s definitely things that I did on my own, like the physicality Crystal would have. Those things I came up with on my own. For the most part she was just written so well in such a specific way that I stay true to that and I think the final product is going to be pretty cool.

Lindsey Pulsipher True Blood Crystal Norris

TBN.com: How many episodes will we be seeing Crystal in?

Lindsay: Crystal will be seen in nine episodes this season.

TBN: So she is a major player!

Lindsay: Like I said, she is introduced slowly which is fun. She is revealed mysteriously and by mid season she starts to heat up.

TBN: Was it planned all along that she would be in a lot of episodes?

Lindsay: I think there were varying numbers. I think when I first auditioned it was for six episodes. And I ended up being in nine.

TBN: So they must have liked how the character is going …

Lindsay: Yeah, I hope so!

Having had a chance to be introduced to Crystal in “True Blood” now, we here at TrueBloodNet.com can certainly understand why HBO committed to more Crystal! She’s fun, mysterious, beautiful and has Jason going six ways from Sunday! The onscreen chemistry really works well and we’re excited to see where the relationship goes in the future. It seems to us that Jason has always loved women without liking them. With Crystal, there’s a lot to like.. although who knows what lurks behind that bright surface! Finding out is half the fun! Thanks again to Lindsay and HBO for a the opportunity to interview the woman within Crystal Norris.

(Photo Credit: First Photo: JSquared Photography, Mars: Lindsay Pulsipher, All Others: John P. Johnson/ HBO )

Edited By: April Lollar

Transcription By: Cyrenna


TrueBloodNet.com Exclusive: Kristin Bauer Part 2

July 1, 2010

Kristin Bauer van Straten True Blood Pam

Continuing our deliciously long conversation with “Pam” from True Blood, Kristin Bauer, in this half of the two part article. If you missed part 1 click here. And don’t forget to support the end of whale slaughter in our lifetime! There’s a link at the bottom of the article to CD’s that Kristin and Abri will be selling to help support the anti-whaling efforts!

TBN: Do you have any other charities that you support?

KB: There are so many great ones but I often work with the Amanda Foundation and IFAW. I have a personal relationship with these people. I would like to support many charities but there are only so many hours in the day.

TBN: Do you ever read the “True Blood” fan sites about Pam or yourself?

KB: A little bit because I’ve heard stories from other actors over the years of seeing bad stuff being written about them on the Internet. So I peek at the Internet cautiously. But now that I’m twittering and on Facebook, those are really sweet fans and your site is so great. Abri, my husband, will show me stuff and it’s also where I go to find out what’s happening. ::Laughs:: “Wow, we’ve been renewed and there’s gonna be werewolves?” I got invited by IFAW to go to D.C. for Earth Day and I come home and Abri asks me, “Have you been working on your speech?” And I said “What speech?” and he said “you’re speaking in D.C.” So, Thank God for the fan sites because I wrote my speech just in time.

TBN: The fans love that you actually tweet back.

KB: Oh, Good.

TBN: Some have said that it’s so sweet that when they tweet something to you that you actually tweet something back. They really appreciate that.

Kristin Bauer van Straten True Blood Pam with husband Aubry van Straten

TBN: Have you attended any of the fan conventions? And what kind of experience was that?

KB: I did one. I did the “Chiller” convention in April in New York and the next one I’ll be doing is Comic-Con in San Diego in July.

TBN: And did you do Comic-Con previously?

KB: No, this will be my first year.

TBN: Good luck, you’re in for a treat …

KB: The Chiller convention was probably a good introduction because it was busy but it wasn’t completely overwhelming. I slept for a couple of days after because, while it was really interesting and the fans were very sweet, you do have to be on the whole time. At the end of those eight hours, I was a Zombie and at the end of those three days I was just shot.

TBN: Actually Comic-Con in some ways is better because it’s not focused on “True Blood.” But when you’re on if it’s for the panel or for the autograph signing, it can be intense.

KB: And then I’m doing Dragon-Con and I heard that’s crazy.

TBN: It’s Insane! It’s like the biggest, oldest convention ever.

KB: They say it’s in four hotels?

TBN: Yes, it’s in all of downtown Atlanta.

KB: Oh My God.

TBN: I’ve been to a lot of Sci-Fi Conventions but Dragon-Con is huge. It’s not comics as much as Comic-Con is. Dragon-Con gets a ton of writers. And it seems like the Comic-Con in San Diego is very much about the industry as well.

KB: We’re going to be there for three days and I think it will be good to be together with everybody, and HBO will be taking care of everything. I’m not on my own.

TBN: Oh, so one of their sections is going to be “True Blood?”

TBN: I believe Sam is going to be there?

KB: Oh actually that was Comic-Con I was talking about but Dragon, yes, I believe Sam and Nelsan are doing it I heard. This is the kind of thing I find out from you guys. Let me know who’s going to be there!

TBN: Sam is my favorite male walking around the face of the earth to admire – he’s just great. And Nelsan, he keeps saying he’s boring and I keep yelling at him, “You are not!”

KB: He’s out of his mind. The last thing Nelsan is is boring.

TBN: Exactly. He’s not Lafayette, obviously, but he’s so amusing on his own level, he’s very articulate and he’s got this intensity thing going …

KB: Yes! He writes and he also aims to direct. He’s had a very interesting life and he’s got a son. He’s not boring.

TBN: And he loves dishing dirt and the audience just loves that!

What is your favorite scene that Pam has been in? And you can say it’s this season but you can’t give out details ::laughs::

Kristin Bauer van Straten True Blood Pam with husband Abri van Straten and dogs

KB: Kind of every scene when I’m filming it is my favorite. Every single time and that’s what I’m feeling right now. The stuff that we filmed this week was the most challenging, nerve wracking fun thing that I’ve ever done with Pam and I’m really hoping that it comes out great.

TBN: Oh I’m sure it will. I don’t think the fans will be disappointed at all.
I’m so glad to hear that she (Pam) is in so much more this year.

KB: Yeah, it was really intense!

TBN: So now we have a couple of silly questions that we try to ask everyone.

TBN: Has “True Blood” changed how you feel about good and evil?

KB: That’s interesting. It probably has contributed to my feelings on that because actually my feelings have changed, for a variety of reasons I suspect, also due to what I am reading, because I’ve been noticing that its very easy, from the outside, to just paint something good or evil but actually, most of life lives in a gray area. Also from the perspective of the other guy or from myself it looks different. Perception is huge. So I have been feeling less black and white and more inclined to aim for understanding and less labeling. That has been changing.

TBN: What do you think your character Pam’s tombstone says?

KB: Ah, that’s a very good question. It would probably just say Pam and nothing else … I’ll think about it, but my immediate impression is that it would say, “Just Pam.”

TBN: And a picture of a high pump.

KB: Exactly.::laughs::

TBN: Is there a question that you would like to ask the fans?

KB: Who would you like me to draw from the True Blood cast, if I did a sketch to auction for charity, what and who would you like to see?

TBN: Do you have any other projects that you plan on working on after the season is finished?

KB: I actually booked some travel and it’s Murphy’s Law that when you book a trip, you get offered something great. I really, really want go on this trip to Africa so I’m trying very hard to not focus on work at least until the fall. Then we’re back on “True Blood” by Christmas. But I also want to write, paint and travel this year if I can pull it off.

TBN: Have you found yourself being easily recognized on the streets yet?

KB: No and that has been something that has been a little bit nice for me my entire life. I’m a bit of a chameleon, I do different jobs and different parts and different shows, and people don’t often connect those parts to one actress or recognize me when I’m walking around in the world. The one thing that gives me away is my voice I’ve heard. But even ex-boyfriends have walked right by.

TBN: That’s funny. The one thing that I’ve noticed in this interview is you don’t sound like Pam at all.

Kristin Bauer van Straten True Blood Pam with husband Aubry van Straten and dogs

KB: You know, that’s true, Pam is a different register. She has, for some reason, just the way the writing is – I end up in this Southern deep drawl voice. And sometimes it does happen that I get recognized and usually I realize oh my God I have no-make up on, I haven’t showered, I’m wearing what I’ve been wearing for three days painting. One lady told me, “You look just like the girl who plays Pam.”

TBN: And did you go, “Really?”

KB: ::laughs:: No, I thought for a second and then I said, “There is a good reason for that.”

TBN: That must have been great for her.

KB: I thought about staying anonymous but she was so sweet.

TBN: I always love to hear that there are good fan interactions.

We want to thank Kristin for all the time she spent speaking to us. I think you’ll all agree that this season Pam has been doubly wonderful and it’s no wonder they’ve expanded the role. Her incredible dry wit and understated dangerousness, perfectly delivered by Kristin, is a much needed break to all the tension that True Blood wallows in weekly. We here at TrueBloodNet.com are thrilled that Kristin has become a regular member of the cast and look forward to learning much more about Pam as the season progresses! We also want to thank HBO for providing us with the opportunity to interview Kristin Bauer (as well as for airing our favorite show, True Blood!).

To help fund the whale campaign with IFAW, Abri has included a song, “Voices,” on his solo record to raise proceeds — you can hear and download the CD from our websites Kristinbauer.com and Abristraten.com

Photo credits: Grace Chon / Shine Pet Photos, Tails for Whales and HBO

Transcription Credit: Cyrenna and Jenna

Editing credit: April and Jenny


TrueBloodNet.com Exclusive: Kristin Bauer Part 1

June 24, 2010

Kristin Bauer van Straten True Blood Pam

Recently, Kristin Bauer (Otherwise known as Mrs. Van Straten-isn’t Abri adorable?) True Blood’s “Pam”, took time out of her busy schedule to talk to TrueBloodNet.com. In fact we talked and talked and talked so long that we’re going to present this as a two part interview! Talking to Kristin was great fun and she’s one very smart lady. Be sure to catch the information at the bottom of this first half of the interview regarding the imminent IWC attempt to remove the moratorium on whaling. Pam, Kristin and Ollie and myself would urge you to get involved in stopping the removal of whale protection. [Editor’s Note: See great news at the end of the article!]

TBN: You were originally planning on working in fine arts and studied in St. Louis, Boston, and New York – but can you tell us at what point did you decide to go into acting?

KB: When I got REALLY hungry. ::laughing:: I had moved to LA from Boston, where I was in my last year of school, just taking a break where it was sunny. Boston is hard. It is a tough place to live for your average working Joe.

TBN: Is it expensive?

KB: It is expensive, it rains a lot, we didn’t have a car, and you don’t usually have laundry in your building. We were often relying on public transportation standing in the rain watching bus after bus go by packed full of people. then we’d hike to the laundry mat and they never had quarters stocked in the damn change machine. When I was in school and my parents were helping it wasn’t as rough of course. I came to LA and honestly, I stayed with a friend who had laundry in her building and the machine had quarters and took your crumply dollars and I was in heaven. ::laughing:: It was sunny out and there was underground parking. I thought if I’m going to be a poor, starving artist, I would rather be a poor, starving artist where I can park a car and do my laundry in my own building. That is literally how I made the decision. And then I thought, all right so now what am I going to do for money? I was working every crap job you can think of. I remember selling Herbal Life.

TBN: Did you stay with your friend?

KB: I’m trying to remember. Oh, I remember. Through a friend of a friend of a friend I heard about someone that needed a roommate. I didn’t even go back to Boston; I just called my roommate there and said send my stuff and my cat. ::laughing:: I bought an old used car and then I just started talking to people. I got a couple jobs, I did some extra work, I did a little modeling, I did makeup. I did a little bit of everything just to pay the bills, which weren’t very high. It was great; I loved it here. Then I got on a set and thought it was fun. I thought it was a good day job and a great compliment to working alone so much of the time.

TBN: What was your very first performance and how did it go?

KB: At first it was little things. I remember being an extra and for some reason I am remembering Scott Baio. My first big thing was guest starring on “LA Law.” I would have said “Galaxis” was one of my first shoots – that was a real B movie – Sam Raimi was also acting in it. He used me as a human shield to not get killed. It was hysterical.

TBN: Well you could have filmed a Galaxis before LA Law because the filmography is by what release date, right?

KB: Right, right.

TBN: But it must have been fun, right?

KB: It was all fun, but then I realized I had to go to acting classes to figure out how to get good. It all happened by accident and it’s been a real adventure.

TBN: In your biographical information it seems like you are quite an outdoors man, or outdoors woman. Do you still do that? Do you still get to do any of those outdoor activities like horseback riding? It said you are interested in firearms.

KB: Not as much. I actually just bought two new guns this week because I am going to do this fun – this is really hysterical – you can play this old west target shooting game. You have to use old west guns, which is what I inherited from my dad. He loved to collect antique guns so I am a bit sentimental about that period.

TBN: So revolvers mostly?

KB: Yeah revolvers, and then there’s these – what are they called? I guess when you watch westerns they are called Winchester repeaters, so they are rifles. They are brass and wood. All these guns you wouldn’t shoot; they are collectors items at this point. But now, so you can shoot these types of old guns, they make replicas. I went and got a couple replica pistols and I had to get a gun belt; an old west holster. You have run over here and say, “Stick’em up partner.” Then you have to shoot these specific targets –tin cans – then you have to run over to this other station and shoot some steel plates. It’s a game.

TBN: like what we see on TV for police training? Where there are pop-up targets?

KB: Yes, but it’s much more low key. It’s a bunch of retired people who like to dress up in old west clothing. It should be fun for me, I grew up target shooting.

Kristin Bauer van Straten True Blood Pam with husband Aubry van Straten and dogs

TBN: Do some people adopt characters?

KB: Yeah, you can adopt a character. It just sounds like a blast. So I’m going to try to do that with a friend who I just love to hang out with. But it will likely remind me of shooting with my dad. I haven’t been doing too much outside down time stuff, so I am trying to carve out time to paint and take a hike with the dogs and take a weekend to go up to Yosemite…

TBN: I can imagine, looking at your past filmography. It looks really full.

KB: It’s really full and it’s great.

TBN: But you should be able to have downtime. I’m sure auditioning takes up a huge amount of time too.

KB: It does, and my feeling is I just don’t want to say no to anything. But this summer we are going to travel this hiatus. I am going to Africa for a month.

TBN: What area?

KB: South Africa.

TBN: I think you will have a wonderful time. How long are you going?

KB: We are going to London for the Bitten show too, so it will be two weeks in Africa. We are going to hang out with Abri’s family, because I haven’t met my mother-in-law.

TBN: ::Laughing:: Always an adventure.

KB: ::Laughing:: We e-mail but we have not met.

TBN: Well good luck on that. Has she seen True Blood?

KB: She has apparently. I was wondering if it has shown in South Africa yet but she sent me an e-mail commenting and yeah, I believe she has seen it.

TBN: So on the endorsement stuff, I was curious. Does “True Blood” ask you too not get tanned or is in all just make up and lighting effects?

KB: They haven’t asked me but Alex tans easily. I actually can’t get tan; I get burned, and then it peels. He can actually get tan so he comes in a little tan and the make-up people will scold him and then put make-up on his whole body.

TBN: Wow, what a chore! ::laughing::

KB: I know! And this season they have had to do literally his whole body.

TBN: Oh my God.

KB: So there will be three women dabbing white stuff everywhere.

TBN: Yes, I’m sure he’s suffering.

KB: Living the dream, That’s what we call living the dream.

TBN: Too funny. Have to get my mind out of the gutter and back on the interview.

KB: I have pictures that are coming up in my mind of the scene in the make-up trailer.

TBN: And you’re an artist so you could draw him for us.

KB: Yeah, exactly.

TBN: Oh gosh, okay, I’m going to be good here. So recently you shot a film called “Subject: I Love You.” What was your role and can you give us a hint of what the movie is about?

KB: It was a really interesting movie. It was a combination, American and Filipino project so they had their huge Filipino stars with a bunch of American actors. Brian Evigan is my co-star. I play an FBI agent turned love therapist. It is about an “I Love You” virus that took down even the pentagon back in the 80s. Supposedly the guy who came up with the virus was Filipino. It’s the story behind that virus.

TBN: It was one of the first big viruses if I am remembering this right.

KB: I don’t remember but it is a really sweet movie. I was there for a month and it was a great experience. That’s where I was when I heard I got the role of Pam.

TBN: Oh, Really?

KB: I had auditioned for it right before I left. I was over there, having a whole experience in the Philippines and got the call. Actually I got a text on the Blackberry. I asked, “What part?” They said the vampire one and I was like, “Oh my God! Great!” So I started on “True Blood” the day that I flew in from the Philippines. I was on their time zone,which is the exact opposite of ours and had spent 17 hours on the plane. So everything from my first episode in the first season I was a tad jet lagged for… I met Alex, they had a line in Swedish for him and just to show you how out of it I must have been, I remember asking him if he was speaking Cambodian. ::Laughing:: We didn’t know each other. He just looked and me and said, “Ah, no.” I have often thought back on that and wondered what was I talking about?

TBN: You weren’t listening to that Cambodian music before, were you?

KB: I don’t know what was going on. I had the corset on so I couldn’t sit down. We were up all night in Long Beach shooting in this alley trying to make it look like were flying.

TBN: Oh, it was the scene where Alex and Pam fly off from Fangtasia?

KB: Yeah, Anna, Alex, Stephen and I at about four in the morning. Anna, who is so fun; they are all fun. Alex, Anna and Stephen are all extremely funny people. We laughed so hard that we were delirious, or at least I was. It was a great first episode.

TBN: So maybe being tired worked for you on that episode.

KB: It might have; I was so delirious.

TBN: So is “Subject: I Love You” going to going to be in wide release?

KB: I’ve been wondering about that. I’ve got to ask somebody. It should be. It has really great people in it.

TBN: It doesn’t say on IMDB.

KB: I lose track of these things, but I would love to see it. It was a great role.

Kristin Bauer van Straten True Blood Pam and dog

TBN: We would love to see it too. Another question about your filmography – you have gotten to play a lot of recurring roles, is there any one show that stands out in your memory as being very professionally rewarding? Or what was the most fun to work on besides “True Blood?”

KB: I’m trying to think back. These things really do drop out of my mind. “Justified” was a blast. It was just such a great group of people and I love Timothy Olyphant. I’m a big “Deadwood” fan so that was extremely fun. All the shows are so different, because the cast can really make or break your experience. It’s like starting at a new school. Mainly they are pretty wonderful. I did “Three Rivers” and “Private Practice” last hiatus and was playing a very human character, crying over someone dying close to me and those really make you feel like you’re working. Of course, nothing is as fun as “True Blood.” But they are all rewarding and painful in their own unique ways.

TBN: You’ve been on “Star Trek” several times. Did you play the same character both times?

KB: I played a klingon. I am a big “Star Trek” fan so I was excited about getting the job, but after four hours in makeup, I was pretty much over it. ::laughs:: I had always heard actors say it was hard and I thought, “Why? You just sit there and that’s hard?” And I still can’t explain why sitting there for four and a half hours is painful but it really was. Maybe because they are using epoxies and glue; you’re inhaling this stuff.

TBN: Not good.

KB: It really isn’t as relaxing as I would have thought. I just loved “Star Trek” so much that it was like seeing the wizard behind the curtain, being on the set and seeing how things are filmed. It actually ruined it for me a little. I realized they are just actors. I wonder if that’s what I’m doing to the fans in interviews for “True Blood.” If I should say things such as, “When I wear the fangs, I lisp a lot”. I wonder if I should not demystify it. Being on the set is very different than watching it, but for me, it is even more fun than watching it. I wonder what it’s like for fans of the show – if they like to hear the behind the scenes information.

TBN: They do. Let me tell you, they love behind the scenes information: they eat it up. I was a big “Trek” fan too and did fan site work in the “Star Trek” world too. It did not ruin it for me to go on the set or meet the actors or see behind the scenes. I think because you are there and that’s your life, it becomes more mundane, but for us regular folks out in the sticks, this is still all Hollywood magic.

KB: Right, right. Because since it is part of my day and my reality, when I’m watching TV, I’m always thinking things like, “that’s a pretty good wig.” I can still watch a great scene and just completely fall into it, but my actress mind is still present. I am sure shoe makers see the shoes!

TBN: So have there been any movies or shows lately where they sucked you in?

KB: Yeah, there are some that have sucked me in. The HBO shows “Deadwood,” “Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under” – they completely suck me in because the stories are so deep and so good. This week Abri and I got totally riveted by Whale Wars.

TBN: You were talking about your art work and a while back you had your art work featured at a gallery. I know some of the fans are wondering if you will you be doing anymore shows at your gallery or if there are any upcoming art projects?

KB: I would love to have more showings. What I need is to schedule painting time, to get enough pieces to put a show together. I have put it on the back burner while we are shooting and I’m trying to save the whales, the elephants… but boy would I love to. Right now, what I’m doing is a couple of portraits. I should aim for a show by the end of the year.

TBN: Is there anywhere online where fans can get a look at your portfolio?

KB: yes, I put everything up at kristinbauer.com

TBN: Are you selling them?

KB: Yes, if they contact us through the website. I am doing some of them in Giclee prints too, which are numbered limited edition prints.

TBN: When are we going to see Pam bite someone? Or do you think we will see her act as a maker? If she had a choice, do you think she would turn a fashion designer?

KB: ::Laughing:: The sky is the limit with Pam. This year deals with all of that. You’re right on the money with those questions. We have been peeling the onion on who Pam is – how she was made, how she feels about her maker, her sexuality and if she would want to be a maker… All of this and just finding out more about her is what happens this year.

TBN: We are so glad to hear that. Pam is so great!

KB: Isn’t she fun? This year, with every character on the show it’s about identity. It’s about learning who all of these characters are and finding out about their backgrounds, testing their mettle. It’s really quite fun.

TBN: Good. And you became a regular this season! We all thought you already were a regular.

KB: Yeah, right. It was a recurring role.

TBN: Oh. Well congratulations!

KB: Thank you. It really was a gift. I didn’t know because in the books Pam doesn’t become a bigger character until around book four.

TBN: That’s great. Of course on our site we focus on the show, not the books, and we hope they go away from the books more and more, so that we have two universes. We like to be surprised.

KB: Right. I was reading the books but I stopped because I was getting confused and I keep asking Abri, because he’s read them, is that in the books? It seems like they are putting everything that is in the book in, plus more. Does it seem like that to you guys?

TBN: Well to me it seems like they take some of the basic concepts but the details are changing. They have grown away from the books in a lot of ways, take Jason for instance: Jason wasn’t a very big character and Tara wasn’t a very big character. I haven’t read the books but I am holding them for later so there is no confusion. We are hoping that the show keeps generating its own universe.

KB: I’m sure it will because these creators are so smart. I saw episode two this week and it was amazing. Very beautiful.

TBN: Well, we won’t ask for details. We don’t do spoilers and we don’t want to get you into any trouble. Us either.

KB: ::Laughs:: Most interviewers try to get me in trouble.

TBN: No, no, no. Not us!

KB: Good!

TBN: Pam is such a fashion diva. Do you share this interest?

KB: I am starting to feel like I should to not disappoint. In my everyday life I vary between being in my painting mode and wanting to be a cute girl. In the winter, I have a uniform: shirt, jeans and Frye boots. But now that summer is coming, I often shop at this store in Portland, Folly, they have the most incredible one-of-a-kind girly skirts that I will live in for the summer. So no, the bottom line is I am not as creative as Pam. I have three looks; painting, winter and summer but Pam dresses for every occasion to the nines.

TBN: But she has those True Blood professionals to dress her though, right?

KB: She has Audrey Fisher. She has a big advantage over Kristin Bauer.

TBN: Pam has such a delicious dry wit, what characters would you like to see her more involved with besides Bill and Eric?

KB: This season was so perfect in who she got to deal with and talk to. I had so much fun finding out more about her relationship with Eric. I also love finding out about these triangles between Bill, Sookie and Eric. in the season two Blu-ray DVD, she did a lot of commenting on and making fun of Bill and other vampires with a conscience too. ::Laughing:: I just enjoy finding out what Pam’s view point is.

Kristin Bauer van Straten True Blood Pam and dog

TBN: Okay, now we are leaving Pam behind for a second.

KB: Okay.

TBN: You are involved in Tails for Whales.

KB: Yeah.

TBN: Are you planning on any participation in the near future?

TBN: I did some PSAs [Public Service Announcements] for them recently and went to DC for a rally. All of that video footage is online. There is a crucial vote happening in June with International Whaling Commission (IWC) because Obama’s administration is trying to lift the ban on whaling.

TBN: Oh my God.

KB: It is very, very weird that he is basically trying to let Iceland, Japan and Norway kill legally. It’s not great, especially with what’s happening to our oceans with BP. All marine life was already having a harder time than I’d like. I got involved with IFAW to help whales before this proposal and it seems very strange timing to lobby for open season on whales. These countries could also then hunt in the whale sanctuaries where the whales feed and breed.

TBN: Oh Man, that’s awful!

KB: I am irritated and baffled. My husband keeps asking me, “Why are you surprised? It’s politics.” And he’s right. I guess the way the system is set up, you can’t get elected without owing a lot of people and making compromises. So he’s got to be trading the whales for something as in his campaign he announced he’d be the president to end commercial whaling. In DC on Earth Day all of the people there who were upset by this are the people who voted for him. We are working really hard to get the word out.

TBN: And people can find out more by going to the IFAW website?

KB: yes, the International Fund For Animal Welfare – IFAW.org.

[Editor’s Notes: The main IFAW website is here: http://www.ifaw.org/ifaw_united_states There was great news today! The world rejected ending the whaling moratorium! http://www.ifaw.org/ifaw_united_states/media_center/press_releases/6_23_2010_61989.php.  But we mustn’t get complacent! It’s still a great opportunity to read up and get involved! And don’t forget Tails for Whales! Another great pro-whale organization that Kristin supports!]

Kristin even took the time to send us a little update on the whales!:

Kristin Bauer van Straten True Blood Pam making Tails for Whales sign

“Thanks to the EU and the Latin countries we did not go backwards by lifting the ban on commercial whaling! This is great! Now we can get back to the project of getting them to stop whaling illegally (as we see on Whale Wars).

To help fund the whale campaign with IFAW Abri has included a song, “Voices,” on his solo record to raise proceeds — you can hear and download the CD from our websites Kristinbauer.com and Abristraten.com

All proceeds from the song, and a larger percentage from the record, goes to the Whale effort.

We will be working to get the word out on that as soon as the CD is pressed, in one month. Thank you!”

For Part 2 of the interview with Kristin Bauer van Straten read HERE.

Photo credits: Grace Chon / Shine Pet Photos , Tails for Whales and HBO

Transcription Credit: Cyrenna and Jenna

Editing credit: April and Jenny


Talkin’ True Blood with Rusty Lipscomb: Time Bomb

August 20, 2009

True Blood Time Bomb Stephen Moyer as Vampire Bill Compton and Anna Paquin as Sookie StackhouseWhat’s up with Luke?  Suicide bomber?  I must admit I did not see that coming!  I thought he was too self involved…. but he turned out to be a true believer, unfortunately being manipulated by the egocentric, charismatic, vampire hating, Rev. Steve. What a shame to destroy Godric’s beautiful home!  An explosion like this necessitates the set to be built on stage and what a great look the art department and construction achieved.  As for the set decoration, every piece of furniture, accessory, art, lighting, and rugs, needed to be purchased!  I really hurts! to know that an interior so well put together will end up a mess of char, soot, and debris.

Each piece of furniture, purchased new for Godric’s home, each contemporary painting custom made, all the cool accessories selected, were destroyed or ended up in a debris pile.  Did you notice the dining room chandelier, the great sparking, twisting, glass, sea urchin design that glowed and sparkled was dripping vampire remains? Yuk! ….and what a shame to see it go!

To make it even more painful, the set dressing department and the construction crew usually work along side the special effects crew to achieve the after-the-bomb mess.  Ouch! debris on the couches, gunk on the rugs, but it is actually more cost effective to destroy what is purchased than to manufacture it for that purpose in this case.  Godric’s living room was in multiple episodes and that is the reason why.

One question remains in my mind….how did Isabel manage to stay completely perfect after the explosion????? Where was she? [Editor’s Note: I think, like my mother, she had so much hair spray on that ‘do that it was impervious and perhaps protective!] And evil Eric getting his way with Sookie sucking his blood….but for us it was a good thing.  If she had not, we would not have seem him naked in bed with her and I know that we have been waiting much too long for that!….the Eric part!

Maryann is still vibrating, Lorena is on a mission, Hoyt and Jessica are still cute, Maxine is a bad mom, Lettie Mae is a good mom, Sookie and Jason renewed their familial bond, Eric is sad, we said good-bye to Godric and I remain a fan!”

We loved her insider view so much that we had to ask her a few follow up questions!

TBN.com: Do you usually know if a place is to be destroyed when you create the setting?

Rusty: Yes. That is a very important factor in both the building of the set and the decorating even more so.  We do a lot of rentals for TV, it helps with the usually tight budgets.  You really can’t destroy rentals and it would be near impossible to match the rentals when it is time to destroy the set.

TBN.com: If you know, do you tend to buy cheaper?

Rusty: Of course you would do that… if it was possible.  The camera does not see subtle differences between the $$$$$ fabric and the $$ affordable one.  It is all about style, about putting things together, about good design and color.  I had the pleasure to spend many years working series TV, whether multi camera sitcoms or single camera series.  There is never enough money to be able to buy everything that is your first choice.  Set decorators, as was my craft, have to learn where to shop for things that look really good because of their style potential.  We make a career of shopping on a budget, learning where cool accessories can be found…..the pillows, drapery, lighting, plants, make a hugh difference. It is important to put your money where it will show.

TBN.com: Things that are a bit shabbier?

Rusty: It is possible to buy mark-downs because of a scratch or ding but you need time to do this.  Suzuki Ingerslev, production designer and my long time collaborator, designed a brilliant set for SHARK, a series we did together in 2006.  She asked for an upscale stainless refrigerator to be built into the kitchen.  All I could see were $$$$$! She sent me to an appliance store in Northridge that sold new appliances that had dings or dents. I found one that was damaged, but not on the front which is all that we saw and was 1/2 price. Film is the perfect venue for things that are not perfect.  We can repair or cover almost anything.

TBN.com: Less likely to buy something you absolutely love?

Rusty: I think that this is where you decide to spend your money.  Something that you love and will make a difference is worth the bucks.

TBN.com: If you’ve had to destroy a long time set have you ever ‘rescued’ something fundamental to the show or sentimental to an actor or crew member?

Rusty: I would hope so and it is possible that it was done in Godric‘s.  You could either replace the object or make sure that the placement of the object is such that debris could be so heavy it would not be missed.  It is a shame to destroy some special no matter who is attached to it!

TBN.com: Has it ever worked the other way around where you decided it was time to redo a set and the writers decided why not blow it up?

Rusty: It has not happened to me, but I know other decorators who have had to redo a main set.  It is not just explosions, it is cheaper to just put a line in the script about redecorating.

Thanks for the great insights Rusty into the behind the scenes workings of True Blood and other TV shows.  No wonder we can so strongly feel the loss of Godric‘s home.. the set dressers and construction crew imbue the scene with their own feelings as they destroy their own creations.  Designing a set to be blown to smithereens would be like building large, complicated sand castles only to watch them be washed away by the tide.

(Photo credit: HBO)


TrueBloodNet.com Exclusive: Suzuki Ingerslev Interview Part 2!

August 14, 2009

True Blood Sookie Stackhouse Front Porch Suzuki Ingersol

Suzuki Ingerslev is the production designer for HBO‘s True Blood. We interviewed her a while back [Editor’s Note: Part 1 can be read HERE] and she gave us so much material we had to break it into two articles! Since the original interview Suzuki and her team have been nominated for an Emmy for their work on True Blood.  We contacted Suzuki to congratulate her on their nomination and in an exclusive statement to TrueBloodNet.com Suzuki replied:

“Thank you, we are all very excited about the  nomination.  It is the last opportunity I will have to win an Emmy with my decorator, Rusty Lipsomb, with whom I have done the last 3 out of 4 shows.  She has retired and we all really miss her.  It would be a fabulous ending to her already amazing career.”

In a very telling aside to us Suzuki says:

I would love to add a THANK YOU to my entire crew, who work so hard and are so talented and dedicated.  They all have an amazing work ethic, and I could  never take on such a large scale show without their support and help.  I am really fortunate to have them all in my life as well as on the  show.

We now bring you part 2:

TBN.com:  What is a typical day for a production designer?

Suzuki:  It depends. Usually, I am an episode ahead of the shooting crew. When they are shooting the current episode, I have to be out scouting and prepping with the new director, for the  following episode. Which means that I am constantly in a scouting van looking for prospective locations, working with the directors to bring them up to speed, and introducing our stage sets to them. It gets a little tricky because I am also still involved in the current episode that we are shooting, although my crew really helps me out with that. I also have to figure in time to design new sets that need to be built for the upcoming episode, and allow time for the working drawing to be completed, and then built. What is great about working with Alan Ball and his writers, is that they get the scripts out ahead of time, so that we can always stay ahead, and really focus on the design. I really appreciate that.

It is so difficult when one has to design something in less than a day, it doesn’t give them the time to work out the design and research it correctly. I have had to do that many times on other shows, and unfortunately, I think that is more the norm for our Industry. We are incredibly spoiled.

TBN.com:  With you getting the sets built, does it play a part in the shooting schedule or is it the other way around, or is it give and take?

True Blood Merlott's Bar Suzuki IngersolSuzuki:  It is give and take. I usually work with the assistant directors, and ask them if they can arrange to have the new sets shoot towards the end of the schedule. Sometimes that works and sometimes we get an answers like: “ We can’t because this actor is out of town” or “this location is only available on this day.” Usually, I find that everyone tries to be accommodating, but there are many things that can’t be controlled. It is like a jigsaw puzzle putting together a shooting schedule. There are so many variables, and I am thankful that it is not part of my job description.

TBN.com:  When there are changes made in the scheduling does that affect you?

Suzuki:  Yes, tremendously. They just changed our schedule the other day on short notice. There was a set  that we were not counting on shooting quite as soon in the schedule, that got moved up to play the next day. We had to scramble, pull our crew off of another location and make sure that the new set was ready to be shot. That entailed bringing many crew members back from a location that was an hour away. Yes, the situation is frustrating when that happens, but it is unavoidable. It doesn’t happen on True Blood too often, but in this business, you have to be flexible and think fast on your feet. Half of our job is problem solving.

TBN.com:  If you are given notice at the last minute how are you able to prep the set or stage?

Suzuki:  We just have to do our best. We own a lot of the furniture in our basic sets, so when one of those gets moved up,  it is not as big a problem for us. It is just a matter of cleaning it up from when they shot it last, or making sure that they get what they need for that particular scene. It is hard on everybody. It is hard on the prop master. If someone is bringing in flowers that day, then the prop department  has to run out and get fresh flowers. Nobody really enjoys changes,  but usually it is doable and people are understanding if something falls short. (laughs). We are pretty organized actually. I have meetings with my department based on the episodes so that everyone knows what’s going on. I’m not the type of production designer that thinks information is power. Everybody knows what is going on, and they step up to the plate.

TBN.com:  That leads to my next question. Season 1 you had to start from scratch but now for season 2 a lot of sets have already been built and have already been set up. So, how much work had to be done before the season began?  Or does each episode require a little bit of tweaking?

Suzuki:  The start of Season 2 was exceptional because we had to change studios. We had to take down all the sets from Hollywood Center Studios and bring them to a new location. All those huge sets like Merlotte’s, Sookie‘s House, and Bill’s House had to be packed and moved. We started 8 weeks before everyone else. We set them back up, and then we had to re-paint them because they needed touch up after they had been sitting on a truck and in storage. They did hold up relatively well, thanks to the efforts of my construction coordinator, Mike Wells. He definitely builds things to last and believes in quality.  We also had some new sets that we had design and build as well. With Alan Ball, you can pretty much count on there being new sets every season. (laughs)  New sets and many, many new locations. We are even busier than we were the first season in many aspects because there are so many new twists and turns going on story wise, with many new sets and locations. We are also constantly re-vamping things. [Editor’s note: we all had a good laugh at the re-vamping comment].

TBN.com:  Which set would you say is your favorite and why?

Rusty Lipscomb and Laura True Blood Set DecoratorsSuzuki:  My favorite set would be Sookie’s house. I just feel that it encompasses so much of who Gran was, and her sensibilities. Our decorator, Rusty Lipscomb, really captured the time period in which Grandma lived and also the feel of the South. Also, the crew ended up donating a lot of their personal family heirlooms and photos which added to it being special. Even Alan Ball included several family photos of his parents, uncle and he and his brother. Our construction coordinator’s mother-in-law had passed away right before we started the pilot, and she had such an assortment of items that indicated a bygone era. He and his wife donated a lot of these items to the show, like beautifully crocheted doilies, pill bottle caps and needle point wall hangings. She is a definite part of that set and it feels like her memory is still alive.  There is something about those items, and the love that Rusty put into the decorating of Grans that makes it very comfortable, and homey. It was interesting, we had a lady visiting from Louisiana who walked into that set, and she started crying because it reminded her of her Grandmother’s house. There is no bigger compliment than that.

TBN.com:  In regards to Bill’s house, what type of mood or theme are you trying to convey with the decor?

Suzuki: With Bill’s house we took the direction that he had just inherited that house, and that it was not maintained for years before his arrival. He had just moved back in at the beginning of our story, and we learn that he has no electricity. We start with lanterns in there and then Sookie arranges for him to get an electrician. Now we have electricity and beautiful light fixtures in there, but not much else has changed yet. Our show takes place within maybe 2 months so far. So no time has really passed, and he has apparently been very busy. (laughs)  It’s not like he is spending time fixing up the house. So, we decided to leave it in a kind of “faded glory”. That also represents who Bill is. I think it gives  the set a magical feeling, and it’s also different from our other sets. We weren’t trying to go for the old, scary vampire house but instead a more romantic feel. We  also figured vampires do not have too many personal artifacts, and they are not as emotionally attached to objects as humans are. So, he really doesn’t have a lot of furniture or objects in the house.

TBN.com:  Plus he has the books we notice. And the only personal item is that in one episode he has a photograph.
Suzuki:  Yes, and that is something that we got from episode five. That is when we learn about Bill‘s past life during the Civil War, and the mayor of Bon Temps hands Bill the photograph of his past family. We figured that It was a great detail to include that photo into our set from that moment forward.

TBN.com:  How are you going to re-create the outside of Bill’s house since you cannot use the property anymore?

Suzuki:  We are looking to shoot a plantation called The Oakley on the outskirts of Baton Rouge. It is currently a museum and it has a very similar look to Bill’s house. We would try to play it off as the back of his house from now on, and I think it could evoke the same feeling. Or, if worse comes to worse, and we have to shoot a lot of the exterior, we will end up building it somewhere in Los Angeles. Just like we ended up building  the exterior of Sookie’s house on an empty dirt lot. We couldn’t find the look we wanted and it ended up being much easier to just build it.

TBN.com:  So just rebuild it based on the photographs and the film?

Suzuki:  Exactly.   We have measurements and we can just fill in the rest with our imaginations. It is costly, and it takes time, but it is worthwhile if we see a lot of it. It took us 5 weeks to build Sookie‘s.

TBN.com:  That’s amazing because it looks like a fully functional house when we looked at the photographs that you showed us from the side and front.

Suzuki:  We just finished the fourth side [of Sookie‘s house] because the fourth side was never finished. We are very happy that it is a completed house now, at least from the outside. It just makes it more flexible for directors to shoot, as well as providing variety for them. The inside of the house only has the completed foyer down stairs, so that we can have actors enter the set. Sookie‘s bedroom is actually designed into the upstairs there as well, because we ran out of stage space.

Lafayette Livingroom True Blood Suzuki IngersolTBN.com:  One of the more lavish sets is Lafayette’s. How did you decide to create the interior of his home that way?

Suzuki:  We just thought that we could have fun with his flamboyant character. We did some research, and found some great books on crazy interiors. We started with a country style guest house for a location, and turned it into a wild space, complete with 1970’s foiled wallpapers, leopard carpeting and a panther coffee table. To further create Lafayette‘s space we thought it would be fun to have these wild lighting in there that lit up the space as well as the main focus of his home, his shrine. Lafayette‘s religion is not just one type of religion, but instead encompasses many branches of religion. His shrine has Jesus, Buddha and many other religious icons, I think our set dressing crew had fun with that. The actual location is a very small, tight space, but we feel like we were able to bring Lafayette‘s eccentricities into it, and capture who he is.

TBN.com:  What energizes you the most when you are creating a set?  Do you like it to be challenging?

Suzuki:  I do like challenges. I like  projects interesting and creative. Last season our challenge was how to create Louisiana in an arid climate, which I had never done before. I really had to learn the ins and outs of creating the feel of older houses, lush vegetation, and at the same time incorporating the dampness that exists in a humid climate. Again, the ultimate compliment that we have received is that a lot of the audience, and Industry people, think that we shoot the entire series down in Louisiana.Lafayette Livingroom True Blood Suzuki Ingersol

TBN.com: When I had the opportunity to do the tour of the True Blood set I noticed that there was extra furniture in the dining room at Sookie’s house. Do you do that to make room for lights and cameras in a different room?

Suzuki:  Yes, we move stuff out of the way of the shooting crew, and then restore it as need be. They will store items in different rooms to get them out of the way, and then they will have quick access if they need to restore it. For instance, If they are not shooting in the dining room and the camera does not see into it, they will probably move the furniture out, so that the crew can move around with equipment a lot easier. We have a position on set called an “on set dresser” who is in charge of moving all of the furniture and keeping track of it.

TBN.com:  How do you keep track of where everything should have been?

Suzuki:  Lots and lots of good pictures. (laughs)  We have our little bible, or what we call our set  reference books. Also, when the on set dresser moves something, he will take a picture of how it was set, and document it. Then, when we go back into that room, we will know exactly where everything was. It is particularly difficult on episodes where we are shooting a scene that is not completed until the following episode, he has to remember how everything was set. The script supervisor and the prop department will also help out with continuity.

TBN.com:  So every time they finish a scene they take a new set of pictures?

Suzuki:  Absolutely, it is the best way to keep track of things.

TBN.com:  There is an incredible amount of detail that goes into the décor. Do you have a check list of things to go over?

Suzuki:  No, every space is different. I work with the decorator to try and create a feel and look for every character. It is fun to try and incorporate details that may not be obvious to the audience, but help the actors get into character. My art director found a door knob online that has a dog’s head on it, and we incorporated it into Sam’s office. Also the picture in Sam’s office of a little girl and a dog was a great omen. It was fortuitous that my decorator found the print in an antique store. We also went on eBay and found a lot of those old beer coasters, and we laminated them into the bar top. Details like that are fun and give the sets character.

Bill Compton Livingroom True Blood Suzuki IngersolTBN.com:  It is interesting that in Bill’s house the bathroom, bedroom and hidey-hole aren’t really there.

Suzuki:  Well the hidey-hole is kind of in there. (laughs)  You can open the door and you can go down into it a little because since our set is raised up on platforms. But yes, when we do the shots inside there, the set is on a different stage. We would never be able  to get cameras underneath our house. Also, bringing cameras up stairs is less than desirable, and so on two-story sets, we create the rooms somewhere else on stage. We just pretend to have the actors go upstairs and then we cut and pick them up somewhere else. That applies to Bill‘s bedroom and bathroom.

TBN.com:  Are they setup in another soundstage?

Suzuki: Sometimes, they can either be on the same stage if there is enough room for them or another stage with more space. Currently, we do not have Bill‘s bedroom and bathroom set up because they were not in the story lines and we needed the space for other  sets. If we don’t need the set, but we need the stage space, we have to strike the unnecessary ones and store them. The really big sets like Merlotte’s, and Sookie‘s always remain standing because they are too large and complicated to take apart. It would not be cost effective.

TBN.com: Do you store them in large pieces?

Suzuki:   We do. They all break apart somewhat easily, again depending how well they are built. They always need to be retouched when they come out of storage, and usually we need to redo the flooring.

TBN.com:  Besides your team, who do you work with most close on the set?

Suzuki:  I would say the executive producer, Greg Feinberg, this season. I work pretty closely with him, as well as Alan Ball. Also, the obvious being my department.

TBN.com:  You said Greg Feinberg this year. Was there someone different last year?

Suzuki:  Last year we had different producers.

TBN.com:  Did the writers and producers ever consult with you for your input on how they are writing or thinking about the script?

Suzuki:  Yes, they actually do. We will work together to make a scene work based on the limitations of our sets or how complicated a particular scene is. Once in a while, we will get a script where the writers and director have trouble making a scene work, and we will brain storm together to find a compromise. Which will either result in the changing of an action, or part of the dialogue, or we will add something onto our sets. There is always a way to make things work and usually with a little give and take we can correct the situation. Our writers are all amazing and they really understand our sets.

Sookie Stackhouse Livingroom True Blood Suzuki IngersolTBN.com  Are there any unusual aspects to working on True Blood compared to the other projects you have worked on and what are they?

Suzuki:  I think the craziest thing is all the destruction. (laughs). You have all these beautiful sets, and one of kind pieces from antique stores, and you have to be aware that at some point they may get destroyed. Chances are pretty great that some fate will come to the furniture pieces in our sets, like blood spilling onto them, or an explosion. We end up fixing quite a few pieces or replacing them. When we did the pilot, we didn’t realize that there was going to be this much destruction. Had we realized it, we probably would have purchased easier items to replace. (Although then we would have lost a lot of the character)

TBN.com:  Do some of the producers and directors give you some more input. If so how much leeway does Alan Ball give you?

SuzukiAlan Ball, since we have worked together before, gives me quite a bit of leeway. On major sets I like to share our design ideas with him and get his feedback. I try to get everyone on the same page, which includes the director and all the producers, and writers. We have an art department meeting for every episode where we go over all the new sets and location. The meeting is open to everyone and that way everyone can be informed.

TBN.com:  Are these meeting once every 10 days?

Suzuki:  Yes, for every episode we meet. Our episodes are approximately 10 days long.

TBN.com:  Is that challenging?

Suzuki:  I find it more liberating than challenging. I feel better once we have covered every topic and I feel like we know what direction we are headed.

TBN.com:  Do you ever get frustrated and why?

True Blood Merlotte's kitchen Suzuki Ingersol

Suzuki:  The only thing that frustrates me, and luckily it is not bad on True Blood, is lack of communication. I just don’t like surprises, and I don’t think there is any excuse for leaving people out of the loop. I find that the more everyone knows, and the more people I tell something to, the easier it is to accomplish.

TBN.com:  What other productions have you worked on?

Suzuki:  As a production designer I did “In Treatment”, “Six Feet Under”, and “Shark.”

TBN.com:  What was your favorite production that you worked on so far and why?

Suzuki:  I think it is “Six Feet Under” because it was five years of my life and it felt like a family. There were a lot of talented people on that show and it was well run. The show itself was also something to be proud of, especially the final episode. True Blood is second, definitely (laughs). It may even be up there with Six Feet by the time I am done with it.

TBN.com:  If you could be a character on the show, who or what would you be and why?

Suzuki:  I think I would be closest to a vampire. My crew seems to think I would be a better fairy, (laughs, as her crew is yelling “no” to a vampire for her in the background). The fairies come out later in the book series but, I still think I would prefer being a vampire. It would be great to be a vampire and enjoy the power. (laughs)  I think it would be pretty great not to deal with the mundane parts of life.

TBN.com: Thank you so much for your time.

Suzuki:  Thank you.

(Photo credit: HBO, Suzuki Ingerslev and Kasandra Rose)


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