True Bloods Deborah Ann Woll Talks Vampire Virgin Jessica

And while the series boasts a vibrant cast – Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Ryan Kwanten, Sam Trammell, Rutina Wesley and Nelsan Ellis – for Season 3, the attention also falls on Jessica, a teen-turned-vampire played by Deborah Ann Woll, who has to come to terms with being a vampire. (Jessica wasn’t part of the original Charlaine Harris books upon which the series is based, but a specially created character for TV.)

“(Producer) Alan Ball has defined (this season’s theme) as ‘identity’,” said Woll in a teleconference.

“And it’s like, ‘do I want to be true to my vampire nature, or do I want to rise above that and be compassionate as well?’ Jessica (has to find out) where on that spectrum she wants to fall in.”

Woll, initially started in theatre and didn’t think too much of it when she auditioned for her role (“It was just a guest spot, I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” she said previously). Her audition pieces – a traumatic tribunal scene followed by a lighter one with Moyer – wowed the producers that they turned Jessica into a regular character. And probably one of the sexiest and deadliest ones on television.

But of course we had to ask: What does Woll think of the summer hype surrounding the new Twilight movie?

“I saw the first one, I haven’t seen the rest. And I think it works for them, that their characters are younger,” she said.

“One thing that does interest me though is that in the Twilight movies, there’s this sense of ‘if you were a 17-year-old forever, how cool would that be? You’d be young, attractive and you could hit on all these 17-year-old girls forever’,” said the 25-year-old actress.

“But for me, I think being 17 forever is the worst thing in the world! I mean, eternal virgin, I cry all the time, everything is up and down – it’s taken the romanticism out of that idea. So, to have a teenage vampire in a story for adults, that takes a whole new perspective on that idea.”

Did you watch any vampire movies to prepare for your role?

I did watch those movies but I didn’t use that to prepare. But I think True Blood has its own mythos – its world is very specific to itself. It’s very different from Anne Rice’s or Stephanie Meyer’s world. And I wanted to be very sure that I stayed true to the type of vampire this show has created. I like the human nature versus animal nature (of being) a vampire. So, I studied animals a lot, actually.

What’s the biggest challenge on the show?

Playing a teenager. Every single scene is blood, tears, fangs, crying … there’s never a sit-down-and-read-a-book scene with Jessica. That’s hard. It’s a lot of high energy work.

What’s your most memorable experience on set?

We had real wolves on the set this season, and they’re gorgeous. I’ve never seen anything so wild and beautiful in my life. Although I don’t have a lot of interaction with them, the little bit that I got to do has impacted me. They’re really good actors – puts the rest of us to shame!

Do you actually drink that synthetic blood?

Yes! I think it tastes pretty good. We have a couple of different types. The bottled one that anyone can buy is like a blood-orange soda and tastes like grapefruit soda, non-carbonated. What we drink on the show is much thicker. We have mouth blood, which we use when we’re biting someone, which has a minty chocolate flavour to it. But the stuff out of the bottles is purple carrot juice. We even have a sugarless version for some people who don’t want to damage their teeth.

What’s it like working with Anna?

Anna’s lovely! I think she’s extremely cute and sexy. And she works hard for it, too. So, she deserves all the credit. She’s very funny and makes a lot of jokes. Watching her work, I sometimes get a little lost. She’s so good that sometimes you forget that you’re working with her and you’re not an audience member. She can take you out of it like that. She’s beautiful in that way. I feel very lucky to work with them. A lot them have a lot of experience, like Anna and Stephen, and it’s nice to learn from them. Stephen has a brilliant eye for the camera – he knows what to do onscreen. So, I enjoy picking up tips from him.

So which of the guys – Stephen, Alex, Ryan Kwanten – is the sexiest?

Oh, Jim Parrack, who plays Jessica’s boyfriend Hoyt, he’s definitely the sexiest! (laughs) I think they’re all extremely attractive men, but they’re also very nice men. They’re more concerned about doing really good work and being warm and welcoming to all the cast before they’re concerned about how pretty they look. But, you know, it certainly makes it easy to go to work, I’ll tell you that!

Is Alex as hot as his character?

I haven’t got to work much with him, but he’s so different from Eric. Eric has got this eternal cool and queerness about him, but Alex is a big sweetheart. He’s very flirtatious and makes all the girls feel we’re … extra special.

So … a younger guy like Ryan or someone more mature like Stephen?

Stephen Moyer plays my dad. So, I don’t know if I can look at him that way. I think he’s an attractive man and one of my good friends from the show, but he’s my dad. Can I pick the middle? My boyfriend is in his 30s! That’s a pretty good age. I think I’d like a guy with a bit of maturity. I don’t want to help a boy grow up. It’d be nice if he’d already done that.

Are there any Spinal Tap moments?

There’s no ego or anything, so we don’t really run into those problems! But I must say we get asked to do some pretty ridiculous things, like getting covered in blood and rolling around in the dirt. I mean, I’ve been buried alive – I don’t know how many other people can say that! In terms of goofy, off-the-wall moments, we’ve had plenty of that.

How’s life different after True Blood?

Certainly, more roles have been offered to me. Before True Blood, I had to prove myself every time I auditioned, but I think now, people have seen me and how I work, and I’m very pleased with the opportunities that have come because of True Blood. I love the role. I really, really love it. And to be as green as I am; to work on something where I haven’t had to compromise in any way is rare. I think I’ve been very lucky.

Would you like to do more movies?

I would love to make films and do theatre too. The first film I worked on (was) Little Murder, last summer, with Terence Howard and Josh Lucas. It’s a detective story set in New Orleans after Katrina. But we shoot True Blood like we shoot a feature film. So, it’s not that different. I’d love to branch off and do more.

What kind of role would you like to play?

One of my favourite roles that I’ve always wanted to play was Cleopatra, from Anthony And Cleopatra by Shakespeare. I like the idea to be a crazy, powerful woman. It’s such an interesting perspective and I don’t think we see a lot of women portrayed like that. I’d love to play royalty, but “powerful aggressive queen” would be really fun.

Who would you like to work with?

Alfre Woodward is one of my favourite actresses and she’s in season three. Unfortunately, I never got to work with her. I didn’t even get to meet her, really. But I would really love to work with her. Everything she’s done has blown me away.

For a long time I’ve wanted to work with Terry Gilliam. I like those films that teeter along that edge of fantasy and reality and Gilliam is really brilliant about treading that line. Brazil is one of my favourite movies of all time. He’s definitely someone I would love to work with. And yes, I’m definitely a Monty Python fan. They’re very creative, and with the drawings and artwork included in the show, it was such a multi-media experience. My favourite sketch? I like the funny walks a lot. They’re so silly, you just sit there and giggle and lose complete control of your senses. There’s something lovely about that!

What do you think makes True Blood so successful?

The storylines. Charlaine Harris laid a good foundation … but our writers make sure the show is fun and sexy but also has a huge heart and has something important to say. They really put in a huge effort to make sure these are important stories. I think the show has a lot to offer, but you have to remember not to take it too seriously. It’s just a lot of fun and I hope you really enjoy it.

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