Exclusive Interview with Denis O’Hare!

August 4, 2010 by  

Denis O'Hare True Blood's Russel Edgington The King of Mississippi and Theo Alexander as Talbot

Before the season started had the great pleasure of interviewing Denis O’Hare. He was just oodles of fun to talk to and was very patient with all our foolish human questions! It was a most delicate interview as we didn’t want to be spoiled but really wanted to know all about the King of Mississippi! Plus, as it turns out Denis grew up around here and, like many, was glad to be from Michigan.

TBN: You were born in Missouri but you were raised in Southfield, Michigan. As it happens that’s where I’m calling you from now.

Denis: Where are you calling from? Where are you?

TBN: I’m in Southfield, on Meadowood.

Denis: Oh no way. That’s, like, a half a mile from where I grew up. Not even.

I used to go to the civic center over that way. I was there since I was two years old and I was about 18 when I left there. I lived in Birmingham on Wing Lake.

TBN: Do you ever get back in this area?

Denis: I came back the last time a while ago. It’s been a while because everyone’s left. They all just moved away but I had a very good friend who lived there for years in Royal Oak. I think he still runs the Aquarium shop in Royal Oak.

TBN: Oh, that’s where I get my fish.

Denis: That’s my friend David that runs that place.

TBN: Oh wow. I’ll have to mention you next time I go in.

Denis: That’s funny. I used to go back and see him. The last time I went back was ‘98 or ’99, which is horrifying to me. It was changed. I was like where’s the zoo? What happened?

TBN: The Zoo is still there but they put an expressway through near it.

Denis: I know and I used to go to the mall over on 11th and Lahser and get Ribbon Cake.

TBN: Oh yeah.

Denis: The mall, amazing cake.

TBN: So if you ever come back here, let us know and we’ll take some pictures for the website.

Denis: I love it, thank you for that offer. I’ll think about that actually. I have to come back. It’s been a long time.

TBN: Detroit is a big new place for doing movies now so… but anyway, on with the interview. Did you always want to be an actor?

Denis: You know, I was a musician, my mother was a musician and I played church organ as a kid. I also played oboe and violin, and clarinet and recorders. I was actually an opera major for a little bit. I auditioned to go to opera school at U of M and then I panicked and decided at the last minute that I needed to be farther away from my parents than 45 minutes. So I went to Northwestern in Chicago because it was farther away. I ended up at Northwestern for acting so I just followed that path. I didn’t even make a decision. I just sort of fell into it and I became an actor. I’m still a musician. I still play piano all the time and I’ve done a lot of musicals in my time and I’ve gotten to play my clarinet. I played clarinet in Cabaret. I sing at weddings usually. I used to sing at weddings for a living. I don’t do that any more. And it’s funny, I don’t like to sing in public, which is kind of a weird thing. .

TBN: But you’ll be right there when they do “True Blood” the opera.

Denis: You better believe it. What’s funny is that Stephen Moyer is a musician. He plays piano quite well.

Yeah there are a few other people I believe that play some instruments …Sam. The guy who plays Terry is actually a musician.

TBN: So they could do it. It’s possible . You’ve done a lot of plays and you even won a Tony Award. Can you tell us a bit about the role you won that for?

Denis: It was a play called “Take Me Out.” We did it in 2003 and I played a gay accountant who suddenly got the biggest most beautiful baseball player to be his client. So of course he was kind of undone by him and infatuated. But the accountant falls in love with the game of baseball. It’s the transformation of a fan, somebody who becomes a fan. It is about his love of the game and his love of baseball. And his ultimate betrayal by the player. It was pretty fantastic. It was a great experience. I did it for 535 performances. We did it in London, then we did it off Broadway, then we moved to Broadway. We had a great time; it was a great cast. Daniel Sunjata was in the cast is a very good actor and we had fun.

TBN: That sound great! Do you prefer working on the stage or TV or movies?

Denis: They’re all so different and I feel so lucky that I’m able to do all three. I kind of like doing all three. Each medium has its own requirements and own difficulties and challenges and I like to be challenged. There are things you can do on film that you can’t do on stage but there’s kind of an ownership of the experience on stage that doesn’t happen on TV and film, so I like having them all.

TBN: Greedy. I love greedy. ::laughing::

Denis: I’m very, very lucky. I understand that.

TBN: Do you have a favorite role that you played? One that stands out?

Denis: You know, I’ve got a bunch. I love doing Mercutio of “Romeo and Juliet.” I played Mercutio a few year ago. I did “Major Barbara” a few years ago and that was fantastic. I played a part in a four-hour play about the Russian Revolution, I played a guy named Peter in a play called “The Devils” which was grueling but I loved it. I did a play written by John Logan who is a pretty famous screen writer. We used to plays together and we did this play together called “Hauptmann” and played Richard Bruno Hauptmann and that was a part I really loved.

TBN: What was it about those roles that stand out for you?

Denis: Well, as an actor, you only get lucky once every four or five years and get a role where the match is so perfect and your ability to do it is so perfect that it creates kind of a weird glow around you and gives you an amazing opportunity. If you’re lucky to get those once in a lifetime; that’s quite fantastic. I feel I’m lucky enough to get four or five of those roles where I feel it’s a perfect match and something can happen. Certainly the guy I played in “Take Me Out,” Mason Marzac, was one of those.

TBN: Can you share with us how you got the role of Russell Edgington on “True Blood?” Tell us about the audition.

Denis: I didn’t audition. I was lucky enough that my agent called them up and said, “You know what? You should hire Denis for this part of the King of Mississippi.” Alan Ball had seen me in “Take Me Out” and think he thought it was a good idea so I got a call. I was in Budapest filming a movie called “Eagle of the Ninth” with Channing Tatum. I got a phone call while I was walking around the city of Budapest with my agent saying, “How would you like to be the vampire king of Mississippi for ‘True Blood?’” I was like whoa, yeah! It was truly fantastic.

TBN: How many episodes will we be seeing Russell in and can you tell us a little bit about what we’ll be seeing that won’t get you in any trouble?

Denis: I’m in 11 episodes out of 12 so I start in episode two and I go all the way into episode 12. It’s kind of the rise and fall of Russell Edgington. You meet me, you get to understand my power base, you meet Talbot, you see my beautiful house and then I begin to kind of go about my process of my machinations and trying to take over the world. Things go awry, blood is spilled, bad things happen. ::laughs::

Denis O'Hare as True Blood Russel Edgington The King of Mississippi

TBN: Sounds like “True Blood.” Who have you had a chance to work with closely in season three and can you tell us about that experience?

Denis: I’ve been lucky. I feel I’ve gotten to work with a lot of the cast. I did a little bit of filming with Rutina, who plays Tara. I worked with a guy named James Frain who plays Franklin Mott, who is fantastic. Grant Bowler, who plays Cooter, is also a great guy. Don Swayze who plays Gus, is a really, really fun actor. Theo Alexander plays my boyfriend Talbot and we got to work a lot together. I worked a lot with Stephen Moyer; I worked a lot with Alex Skarsgard, a lot with Anna Paquin.

TBN: Wow, you did the rounds.

Denis: Yes, you know I’ve been working with mostly all of them. It’s been really, really great. This is the first time I’ve played with Kristen Bauer, who plays Pam and Deborah Ann Woll, who plays Jessica, and you know they’re all really, really great people. I was amazed at how down to earth everybody is and how easy and accepting. They made me feel completely welcome. It’s a really great set; it’s one of the best sets I’ve ever been on in my life.

TBN: “True Blood” has been very successful and has a very vocal and enthusiastic fan base. Have you had any fan experiences yet? You were at the premier so how did that go?

Denis: Well, no one knows who I am yet because they haven’t seen me. So far I’m kind of sub rosa. The premier was fun but again, no one knows me so they were screaming for everyone else and that’s just fine with me. I’m a little bit of an anonymous guy and I kind of like that. I walk around New York City in awful clothes and I ride my bike everywhere and I’m always like the sweaty messenger.

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

Denis: Gosh, interesting about me? My character? About “True Blood” in general?

TBN: About anything …

Denis: Let’s see, I have a few:

1.)  What is it about True Blood that keeps you coming back week after week, season after season?

2.)  Why are vampires so fascinating?

3.)  What do you think of Russell’s house?

4)  What do you think of Russell and Talbot?  Do you think they’ll last as a couple?  Have they got a future?

5.)  What is your favorite episode of Season 3 so far and why?

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

Denis: No, because I have a very fluid sense of it anyway. Morals change depending on what we need and if you read the Bible and you look at some of the moral codes in there, they’re not things that we do today. We don’t stone people for wearing two different kinds of cloth. We don’t stone people for picking up pig skin. Morals are arbitrary and cultural and I’ve always had that point of view. I love the vampire world because they’re ethical. They have ethics and they have rules, and they have a different morality which may seem to human beings to be immoral, but it’s not.

TBN: If Russell died, what would you like to see on his head stone?

Denis: King!

TBN: Are there any charity and causes that are important to you?

Denis: You know, I wish I could say that. The most important things to me are usually some form of human rights. I give a lot of money to Medecins Sans Frontier.  There is a foundation started by my father in honor of my Mom who died of Ovarian Cancer. We have an 8K race every year – this year its on September 11th in Williamsburg, Va. The website is  I  give a lot of money to the UN. I’m a great believer in the UN. I believe that we have to have a kind of world organization to keep everyone’s interests in front. I give a lot of money to UNICEF. I give a lot of money to homeless organizations just because I feel like the homeless are the forgotten problem in our society. I used to go to a place called Food on Foot here in LA and volunteer on Sundays. So that’s kind of where I put my efforts and like everybody I think, I’m concerned about the environment. I’m a huge promoter of solar energy and I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t have a solar panel on the roof.

TBN: Do you Tweet and would you like the fans to like to know your Twitter name if you do?

Denis: You know, everyone keeps telling me I should Twitter but I just, I’m not that interested in what I’m doing, unfortunately. They’re welcome to, I don’t really say very much. I have a website and they’re welcome to go to that. It’s  “” and I like having interaction with people. I’m not sure I’m going to be a very good Tweeter.

Denis: Yes, my Twitter name is @denisohare

TBN: Do you want the fans to know or not?

Denis: Sure, Not that I’m incredibly private but I’m a little bit private ::laughs::

TBN: Okay, great. I see we’re past our time. Thank you very much!

Denis: My pleasure. Say “hi” to Michigan for me!

Obviously we interviewed Denis before the season began and have since fallen in love with The King of Mississippi and his live in love, Talbot. We here at want to thank Denis so very much for allowing us to interview him and for being so deliciously EVIL! Who can forget his laugh when Sookie repulsed his vampire thrall? We’d also like to thank HBO for the opportunity to interview Denis and as always, for “True Blood“.

Don’t forget to answer Denis‘s questions in the comments section and we’ll be forwarding those to him!

(Photo credit: John P. Johnson/ HBO)