True Blood’s Carrie Preston Talks to Movieline

August 31, 2010 by  

Carrie Preston as Arlene Fowler in True BloodCarrie Preston, who plays waitress Arlene Fowler on True Blood, is a chameleon character actor: change her hair style and she becomes unrecognizable; for instance she has played three different roles in different episodes on Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

She chatted with Kyle Buchanan from Movieline about True Blood, Arlene and that wig (among other things).

Carrie tells how she got the gig on True Blood after working on Alan Ball’s feature film Towelhead. During filming Alan suggested to Carrie there was a part in his upcoming pilot for True Blood that would be just right for her.

“So then my agents got ahold of the script and read it, and I didn’t know what he was talking about. It’s not like you read the description of Arlene and “Carrie Preston” is who jumps to mind. I know that if I hadn’t worked with him on Towelhead, I wouldn’t have even auditioned for that.”

Carrie had been working on a film at the time the True Blood pilot went into production and so when it came to transforming into the red-haired Arlene, a wig was the only option.  That, and the fact that over the three seasons only about 6 weeks or so have passed, meant that there was no scope for Arlene to change hairstyles, either.

“There really hasn’t been any time to change anybody’s look so I was kind of married to the wig, but I kind of like it because it makes me feel married to the character when I come on and put on the wig and the fake nails and the tan and the bustling and the drag queen makeup. Suddenly I’m not myself anymore, and that’s really fun. … [It] is really extraordinary how hair color and style changes you look. I’ve had this very varied career full of every color and style of hair in the rainbow. That’s what’s fun about being a character actor, is you get to transform from one character to the next, but I haven’t played a role that’s this transformative. For it to be the biggest TV show I’ve ever done is funny to me. This is the one that hit, the one where I’m basically in disguise.”

During the filming of Season 3 Carrie decided to dye her hair red, for real, and went from incognito to instantly recognizable.

“Today on the subway in New York, this woman was staring at me but, she couldn’t really tell if it was really me, and she came over and said, “You are such a dead ringer for Arlene on True Blood.” And I said, “That’s good to know, because I am!”

Having a “loud” character like Arlene on a cast-rich show like True Blood, where even the headliners Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer sometimes get only 10 minutes of screen time, is a plus.  While Arlene might only get are few minutes each episode, Carrie makes it count.

In one of the stand-out scenes of Season 3, penned by Alexander Woo, Arlene confessed to the new waitress, Holly, her real feelings about the baby she was carrying.

“I cannot tell you how thrilled I was with that. … I think it was high time for us to see another side of that character, and I think that’s what this whole season has been about: delving deeper into all the series regulars and getting involved in all their personal lives. It was very nice to be included in that, and it was fun to play that scene with Lauren Bowles, who’s new on the show. To play with a woman of equal age to me, it was great to have that kind of energy between two women that we haven’t seen on the show.”

During production of Season 3, Carrie was given the opportunity to guest star on the The Good Wife and she ended up doing several episodes. This caused consternation among Truebies who thought this meant Arlene was going to join the body count on True Blood.  Carrie is quick to put that fear to rest and hints there is still a lot more in store for Arlene.

“I was kind of taken aback by how upset people were about that! It was really nice. I only did a few episodes of The Good Wife and I don’t know if they’re going to bring me back, but the story got a little out of hand and it made it seem like I’m becoming a series regular on the show, and I’m not.

On True Blood, there will be a resolution to the conflict that Arlene is going through right now, but it’s certainly not over. That’s about all I can say! [Laughs]”

For the full interview follow the link below.

Source: Movieline; True Blood’s Carrie Preston on playing Arlene, dying her hair and being married to Ben from Lost

(Photo credit: HBO Inc.)

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