True Blood’s Denis O’Hare Goes Wild in Mississippi

June 15, 2010 by  

I’m sure Russell Edgington, vampire King of Mississippi, as played by Denis O’Hare, is just as warm, charming and cuddly as you might expect (kind of like an undead Tony Soprano).

O’Hare, a Tony award winning stage and screen actor,  spoke with Dave Walker of the Times-Picayune, New Orleans, and described what it is like to play the 2,800 year old vampire in Season 3 of HBO’s True Blood.

Denis recalls he was in Budapest working on the feature The Eagle of the Ninth when his agent called with the news he was being invited to join the cast of the Southern vampire gothic.

“I’m a big fan of the show. I think because I was such a fan of it, I never pushed to get on it or imagined being on it. I didn’t imagine myself fitting in there. As an actor watching another show, it seems perfect, and you can’t imagine inserting yourself in any way. I didn’t see myself in it at all.”

But then he discovered he was to play a 2,800 year vampire king and thought “Oh, this is totally me”.

He describes Russell Edgington as: “at once savage and cultured. I think he’s got a lot of charm and a lot of humor and he’s deadly. Except for the deadly part, it’s just like me.”

O’Hare describes the research he did to flesh out his portrayal of Russell, visiting Jackson, Natchez (used as Russell’s nest in the show) and New Orleans.  He also created a back story for the King.  Given his age, Russell was obviously not from Mississippi, in fact, not from the US at all.  Instead, O’Hare theorizes:

“He was probably from East of the Danube, where the Celts came from. This guy moves across Europe through the sweep of history. We decided his base accent was something Germanic, so when the character gets exorcised or totally out of his mind, he slips into German.”

O’Hare muses about what it would be like to live so very long and what it would mean for his relationships with humans and other vampires, including his husband of 700 years, Talbot, played by Theo Alexander. The vampire contempt for humans has its basis in the impermanence of mortal life, he explains, it is:

“Based on the idea that these people don’t exist for very long, so why would you form a relationship with them? They’re just not worth it.”

And can a romantic relationship last 700 years?  Well, sort of.  Denis explains that the fact Russell and Talbot have stayed together for 700 years means they have a bond of loyalty that goes beyond the physical.

I guess we’ll all get to judge for ourselves just how cultured and funny the King of Mississippi really is come episode 2 of True Blood’s third season.

As for Denis O’Hare, he is having the time of his life working on the show.

“It’s a total riot.  As an actor, the best playground is the imagination. You sit there in a scene and let your imagination go wild.”

For the full interview go to The Times-Picayune.
Photo credit: HBO Inc.