True Blood’s Lorena – Mariana Klaveno: The Last Bite-Exclusive Interview!

September 13, 2010 by  

Mariana Klaveno True Blood Lorena in red

We’ve talked to a lot of True Blood actors and they are all intelligent and exciting and nice. But no one was less like their character than Mariana Klaveno. She’s sweet and fun and has a really nice laugh! We didn’t once think we were about to be bitten or tortured or anything! We did this interview in the start of the season but wanted to save her for the end because it was just that fun an interview. She’s

Mariana Talks About Her Beginnings:

TBN: Can you tell us how a farm girl from Washington decided to become an actress?  Did you plan on doing something else first and you fell into this?

MARIANA: Honestly, if the rational side of me, which is the majority of me, had its way, I would have been a computer programmer or something,  Not that I have any sort of knowledge or skills when it comes to computers, just something a little more secure and dependable because being an actress does not necessarily align itself with the rest of my personality.  But for some odd reason it’s the only thing that I’ve ever wanted to do.  Ever since I was a small child.  I was actually kind of embarrassed about it because nobody else from my area had that kind of aspiration and it was so outlandish.  I was rather shy about telling people and I kept it a secret. When I was in high school I leaked it out to my parents, letting them know that acting was something I might want to be interested in and then my very close friends knew.  But it wasn’t until I got into college that I came out, so to speak.

TBN: Wow that’s really different.  We know you studied acting at the University of Washington.  Can you tell us a little bit about that?

MARIANA: Yes, I had wanted to go there because it was in state and affordable and because I knew it had a really competitive and well respected drama program.  I had a wonderful experience there.  I started right off the bat auditioning for things and got into every class I could and did a play just about every quarter, sometimes several and did all kinds of theatre.  I did modern pieces, I did classical pieces, all different types of material really and I just fell in love.  There wasn’t hardly any emphasis on film and television so I had to wait until I came to Los Angeles to branch into that, but in terms of theatre it was a wonderful foundation and I loved it.

TBN; So, you’ve done a lot of theatre then and I know Seattle’s great for theatre performances.  Did you have a favorite roll you played?

MARIANA: Yes I played Helena in a production of “ A Midsummer Nights Dream” and it was unlike any production of Midsummer that I’ve ever seen.  It was a very dark version actually, not unlike True Blood. It was very sexy and very violent.  Not the typical version with colorful fairies, it was much darker and crazier. That’s funny, I never thought about that similarity! I guess there’s sort of a running pattern with me.  I don’t know what that says about me.

TBN: What was your very first performance?

MARIANA: My very first stage performance was at college, it was a little play, a short play called “What she found there.” I’m hitting myself because I can’t think of the playwright right now.  It’s a great little play, a dark take on “Alice in Wonderland” and it was a reflection story. When Alice goes in to the looking glass, the Alice of the Looking Glass world comes into our world.  I played this girl from Wonderland stuck in Brooklyn in some seedy hotel, but it was fun!

TBN: And how did that go?

MARIANA: It was fun; it went well.  It was a success as far as student plays go.  At least I thought it was.

TBN: Aside from True Blood, what has been your favorite acting experience up to now?

MARIANA: Gosh that’s tough.  I did a production here in town.  A small, small production that we basically put up ourselves at a theatre in Studio City.  It was the play “Three Days of Rain” by Richard Greenberg.  Most people know that play because it’s the play that Julia Roberts did when she went to Broadway. It’s a beautiful play and a very complex play. There are only 3 actors. Those are my favorite kinds of plays—the really intimate ones. Aside from True Blood, that was my favorite acting experience to date.  It was challenging and really very difficult and I still think about it sometimes.  I would give anything to go back and do it again.

TBN: In what ways was it challenging?

MARIANA: The parts are extremely challenging in a wonderful way, in the best way.  The kind of play where you can mine it for material for months and months and months and still, there’s always more to the text and more to explore.  Each actor gets to play 2 different parts.  It’s first set in the 90’s, the mid 90’s and it’s about 2 siblings and their friends. That’s the first act. Then in the second act you go back in time and play all of their parents.  You see how the children end up first, and then you go back and see how the parents lived and how that set up how the children would turn out. It’s a really beautiful play. If you ever get a chance to see it, I recommend it.

TBN: Interesting ..Also, you recently filmed “No God, No Mater”.  Can you tell us a little bit about what that film is about and your role and is that going to be on wide release?

MARIANA: That’s a good question. I’m not sure.  As far as I know they’re still working on it.  They have to do some re-shoots if I’m not mistaken.  And sometimes the life of independent movies, it’ll be out there for a few years before it actually makes it to the festivals and then hopefully gets picked up. I’m hoping. I’m crossing my fingers that it will at some point be somewhere that people can see it.  It’s a wonderful story. It’s actually based on a true story that I didn’t know anything about previously. It’s set in 1919 New York, and its about a government agent, played by David Strathairn, who has been put in charge of solving a series of crimes.  This group of Anarchists proceeded to set off a bunch of bombs around the city at different targets and David Strathairn’s character was put on the case to bring them down. And while attempting to do that, he discovers this whole conspiracy within the FBI to illegally deport immigrants. It’s a very interesting, complicated story and that it’s all based on true events, I found it all the more fascinating.  I play this very mysterious woman who is associated with the Anarchists but you’re not quite sure to what extent.  You don’t know where her loyalties lie.  I loved it, she’s sort of a deep throat character. She knows all of the information but she’s not giving anything away.  It was very unglamorous which is a nice departure from True Blood.  I got to be dirty and the opposite of a super glamorous vampire.  I like to switch that up.

Mariana Klaveno as True Blood's Lorena

Mariana Talks Lorena:

TBN: It sounds interesting, another complex individual that you’re playing.

MARIANA: Yes, I do tend to like the characters that have a certain level of duplicity to them.  You don’t quite know what they’re going do next or what’s in store for them.  I tend to be drawn to those.

TBN: Interesting! And which leads me to True Blood.  How did you prepare for the role or how do you prepare for the role and have you read any of the books to help you in creating your character?

MARIANA: I did read the books.  They don’t actually give a lot away about my character.  She doesn’t show up until I believe the third book and even then you hear a lot about her but you only really see her in one or 2 scenes because as the books go it’s always from Sookie’s point of view.  Of course, as you know, True Blood is from various points of view.  So it was nice just to get the context from the books but Alan and the writers really departed from the books and went out on their own in creating the back story of Bill and Lorena. I’m glad that they did, obviously, because it means I got more episodes.  I hadn’t read the books before I did the audition for the part.  I had read the first book around the time I started filming True Blood.  I mean, in the beginning I really wanted to focus on the fact that this was a real woman. When you first see her, I really wanted you to be struck by how lonely she was and her vulnerability and her sadness and to be drawn in by that. I wanted to focus on that. Of course, the pay off is that she reveals herself to be this evil vampire who turns Bill into a vampire.  Actually before every scene I always go back to the fact that her motivation for everything that she does is her love for Bill. She’s a very tragic character in that sense because she has this burning desire for him but what drives that desire is exactly the same thing that prevents him from ever returning her love.  It’s a very tragic cycle, and it’s also good writing that creates drama.  Also that’s how I justify what she does later. How do you prepare for doing horrible things?  You can’t judge your characters when you’re playing them, so I just try to focus on the fact that to her it’s not an evil act.  She’s always doing it for him and what motivates her is her love for Bill.

TBN: So more than any other character on the show, it seems like everything Lorena is in she feels, to the viewer, she feels very dangerous.  I mean you never see here sitting around, relaxing.  Yeah there’s no pink fuzzy slippers in her future. Is it difficult to project that kind of image on an on going basis?

MARIANA: Yeah, it is. I’m glad that you say that and thank you. I hope that I maintain that.  I always try before a scene to get myself to a place internally where I want to scream, literally scream at the top of my lungs. But I don’t.  I cover it and I smile and that’s kind of where Lorena lives.  Just on the edge of completely loosing it and ripping a door off its hinges, but she doesn’t. She strikes a pose and she smiles and the scene starts.  That’s kind of where she lives for me physically, how I physically find her and I hope that’s what viewers find.

TBN: As we have seen in the spoiler clips, Lorena is somehow still involved in Bill’s undead life.  How would you describe Lorena’s relationship with Bill, beyond the fact that she loves him?

MARIANA: Beyond the fact that she loves him, the other wonderful thing that Alan and the writers have woven into it is the fact that she’s his maker. That relationship is also reflected in the Bill and Jessica relationship. You can see the differences between the two because, aside from being lovers for decades, the bond between a maker, between a vampire and his or her maker, is a strong, strong thing in True Blood Mythology.  So that type of parental relationship is also something that we explore and it’s actually being explored even deeper in Season 3.  The things that you teach them, the lessons that you teach them: how to become Vampires. The strain in the Bill and Lorena relationship is that Bill doesn’t want to be a vampire.  He always wants to be human.  He tries desperately to maintain his humanity and it’s very frustrating always to Lorena because to her, her humanity is something long gone and she’s done with it.   That’s why it’s not horrible to her to do the violent things she does because to her it’s not horrible.  That’s what we do, we’re vampires.  She’s always trying to pull him into the vampire way of life and he’s always rejecting that and trying to get back to humanity.

TBN: We see components of Lorena that make us want to hate her and at the same time there are other parts of her that make us feel very compassionate for her, you’ve talked about the loneliness.  Is there any special relationship that you feel with her? How do you relate to Lorena?

MARIANA: I think she’s an absolutely fantastic character, I mean aside from me being an actress and playing such an outrageous character.  I do have a lot of affection for her because of the tragic side of her that I described before.  Yes, she is this monstrous, strong, dangerous creature but she’s also so fragile and very vulnerable. It’s funny, in the stand off scene between Lorena and Sookie at the party in Godric’s house, I was having the hardest time blocking it because I didn’t understand, you know blocking the scene, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just run up and kill her, because was saying such horrible things to me.  It was really hard to try to find out where that performance lived because it just didn’t make sense to me. I kept looking at the director asking, “Wouldn’t I just kill her, wouldn’t I just kill her…I’m right next to her. I had to kill her. And then I realized, no, it’s because the words that Sookie is saying are just so hurtful to me, that’s like Lorena’s Kryptonite.  She’s so fragile at the same time that she is so dangerous and powerful and I think that’s what is so endearing. And also she’s a little crazy and a little broken.  Somebody like Eric, not that Eric doesn’t have his complexity as well, but he has this “Joe Cool” quality, Eric and Pam have this very aloof, wonderful energy about them and I wanted it to be different with Lorena. She’s cracked, and those are the qualities that make her endearing to me.

TBN: How has Lorena developed from last season to this season in your eyes?

MARIANA: This season, without giving too much away, I am hoping that you see different sides to her.  You’ll definitely see some different sides to Bill and their interactions with each other.  I think you’ll see more vulnerability and I think you’ll see more of those cracks that I am describing.  Yeah, both on flash back and in present day you’ll see some new sides to her and it will explain more of the relationship I was describing between Bill and Lorena as it pertains to the maker-vampire relationship.

TBN: Okay great because that leads to my next question which is how many episodes will we be seeing Lorena this season and will we be seeing more of her back story.

MARIANA: I am in 6 episodes this season and yes, you do see a little bit more of the Bill and Lorena back-story. You don’t get to see too much, but you get to find out more about her own past separate from Bill. That was news to me and I was eager to find out about it.  It’s just a tiny taste.

TBN: I think the fans will love that

MARIANA: Yeah! I hope so because it’s a big question mark.  It’s a hard thing playing a character like this because you never know what the writers are going to do so you can’t make up this whole back story on your own.  It might just have to get scrapped. So you have to stay in this very flexible place as far as that goes.

Mariana Klaveno as True Blood Lorena in Plum

Behind the Scenes of True Blood:

TBN: Who have you had the chance to act with besides Stephen for season 3 of True Blood and can you share your experience?

MARIANA: I have the pleasure of working again with Anna.  We exchange a few words –laughs- that’s all I’ll say.  I work a lot in this season with Denis O’Hare who comes in to play the King of Mississippi this year and I have been a fan of Denis’s a long time now and it’s such a pleasure to get to work with him.  He’s just a fantastic actor and it’s so much fun to just watch him and learn from him as an actor.  We had a lot of fun.

TBN: Now this is a question that a lot of fans wonder.  Have there been any funny bloopers on set moments while filming your scenes on True Blood?

MARIANA: Yes, I feel like every time I work with Stephen. Stephens a bit of a jokester and he’s so funny and witty, I feel like there’s always bloopers and we’re always trying to one up each other. Whether it’s the director and me or Steve, the camera guy, everybody’s always poking fun at each other.  It makes for a very fun atmosphere to work in.  I have a scene this season where I’m wearing my fangs and I have to get into Anna’s face and I’m very angry with her and I said to her right off the bat, I said, “Anna I’m terrified because I’m pretty sure I’m going to accidentally spit on you.” When I mentioned it she said “its fine don’t worry about it.”  I made it through though every take until the last one and then a big old drop of spit landed square on her face.  I was so horrified that I’d just spit on Anna Paquin! Right when they called cut I ran over and of course was falling all over myself apologizing and she’s so lovely and such a pro she laughed it off.

TBN: Too funny! You said that you try to keep Lorena kind of angry.  Does it make it hard to get Lorena back in that angry space if everybody’s having a lot of fun or do they manage to suspend that during filming?

MARIANA: If it’s a really crazy emotional scene where you have to be crying or a really raw emotional place I tend to not be casual with how I interact.  But if it’s just normal, every day Lorena, it’s not hard for me to do that. I don’t know if I can explain how that is.  It could be that it’s season 3 and I know where she lives and it’s easier to go from laughing one second and right into that scream place the next.  I think it’s just gotten easier for me to get to that place.

Mariana Talks About Fans and Ways to Follow Her Career:

TBN: True Blood is a phenomenal success as I am sure you are aware and the fans are very active.  Are you at all prepared to meet the True Blood Fans?  Have you run in to any of them yet?

MARIANA: There are some I might be a little afraid to meet because they may try to stake me or something, believing me to be as evil as my character is! Which I’m not I swear.  Everyone that I’ve met has been completely lovely so I welcome meeting people. It’s not every day that I get recognized because I’m quite done up on the show with costumes and wigs. In my every day life I certainly don’t look that glamorous, so I think that I fly a little low under the radar but it does happen and so far everyone’s been lovely.

TBN: Are you going to one of the conventions this year?

MARIANA: I’m not sure but I would like to though.  Yeah, I think it would be fun and hopefully I don’t get too overwhelmed by the circus. I’ve heard comic con is actually crazy.  But it is so wonderful to be part of a show that’s so loved by people, that they are so passionate about it.  It’s really wonderful.

TBN: We always offer the actors the opportunity to ask the fans any questions?

If you could see Lorena do any kind of flashback what would it be?

Since most of her scenes are with Bill, if you could choose any other character from the show, with whom would you most like to see Lorena interact?

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

MARIANA: It has actually in a way.  Working on my character, it’s not always so black and white.  Whether it’s my character or whether it’s Bill’s character, when you’re doing something for someone you love, the line of good and evil is a blur. A lot of great shows do that, for example Breaking Bad.  He’s breaking the law and making a really nasty and horrible illegal drug but it’s to save his family. Yeah, that’s one of my favorite things about the show, the shades of gray.

TBN: It’s interesting, the first year we asked this question, pretty much everybody said oh no not really but for the second year almost everybody has started saying, yeah, well yeah it has.

MARIANA: I think that means the shows been more of a success this year.

TBN: I think the actors, the first year it was more of an external role and now they’re internalizing it a little more,

MARIANA: I think you’re right…

TBN: What do you imagine is on Lorena’s head stone.

MARIANA: Oooo that’s a good question.  I don’t think, in my very loosely drawn together back story, I don’t think she was married. I think that she lost whoever she loved and suffered a great deal in her human life.  I think her head stone is actually pretty sparse.  It may just be a date and enough said.

TBN: It would be sad but fit the character…

TBN: During TB’s hiatus, do you have any projects coming up?

MARIANA: Oh I hope to very soon.  I just finished my work on True Blood so I’m back out there looking for stuff.  So hopefully I’ll have something to report back very soon.

TBN: What do you like to do during your spare time?  During your down time?

MARIANA: I’m pretty spoiled as far as actors go, I really am.  I stay in most nights.  I’m really boring, I love reading, I love going to the movies, I love going and hanging out at my brother’s restaurant, he’s a chef at a restaurant here in town.  My boyfriend and I love to go wine tasting.  We love to go up at the Central Coast wine taste from time to time.  Nothing too crazy.

TBN: What kind of books are you reading?

MARIANA: I just finished “The Remains of the Day” which I’ve never read before and it has now become one of my all time favorites.

TBN: And what kind of restaurant is it your brother has?

MARIANA: He is the chef of Yamashiro, which is a Japanese restaurant but the cuisine is American/Asian

TBN: What are your favorite types of movies?

MARIANA: I actually love everything except romantic comedies.  I’m not a big romantic comedy lover.

TBN: How very Lorena of you –laughs-

MARIANA: Yes, unless they’re old black and whites, the old screw ball comedy ones. “His Girl Friday” is maybe my all time favorite one.  Yeah but I love dramas. I love westerns.  I love all of it, even a great action movie. Everything if it’s well made and well acted and well produced. I try not to discriminate too much.  And yeah. I love going back and watching the old classics.

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

MARIANA: Yes, for a number of years I have donated to St. Judes Children’s Hospital and it’s such a wonderful organization. I’m sure everyone does but knowing how difficult it is for young people that are just starting out their lives, fighting for their lives.  I can’t even imagine how hard that is, so I try to do what I can to help.

TBN: Do you twitter?

MARIANA: I just opened a Twitter account.  You can find me @KlavenoFarmGirl

I don’t think I’m very good at it yet.  I take too much time thinking about what to say.  I suppose because I’m not sure anyone will find it that interesting!

TBN: Oh I can assure you of that. We Twitter heavily…

MARIANA: I’m a little private. But I have a Facebook fan page.  I have stepped out of the dark ages and got one of those! That’s officially mine.  It’s just my name. I had fake Facebook pages claiming to be me. I think they’re all down but there is a fan page that I am associated with, a friend of mine is running with me so it’s an official fan page.

TBN: Do you visit fan sites to read about yourself or True Blood ever?

MARIANA: You know, I don’t do that very often and I feel very conflicted about that because on the one hand I don’t want to be ignoring the fans.  I know there are so many fans out there and not being a part of that, not sharing that I am missing something. But on the other hand I have experienced the dark side of people saying really horrible things about me. I know they’re talking about the character and they’re just really excited and passionate about the show. But it’s not always the nicest thing to hear or to read things said about you that are very negative and not in the way of,  “I don’t like her acting.” They don’t seem to make the distinction between myself and my character.  Some of those early experiences were a little overwhelming so now unless I know a website or somebody recommends for me to go to this website, which I have done from time to time, I don’t go. Sometimes somebody has said, “They’ve written XY&Z about you, you should really see it.” But mostly I try and not read everything because our egos can be rather fragile sometimes.

We here at want to thank Mariana for taking the time to talk to us and HBO for arranging it. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of Lorena in flashbacks.. as we say, not even death can save you from True Blood! We’ll be keeping track of Mariana’s career and give everyone the 411 on anything she’s going to appear it. We have to, or she might send Lorena after us!

(Photo credit: HBO and Paul Johnson, and Mariana Klaveno)