Exclusive Interview with Carolyn Hennesy of True BloodInterview by Jamie RubyWritten by Jamie Ruby
Tonight the highly anticipated fifth season of True Blood
will premiere on HBO. The series, which boasts a blend of romance, suspense, mystery, and humor, takes place
in a world where vampires can survive on synthetic blood and have "come out of the coffin," so to speak, to live alongside humans.
This season the show welcomes some new faces, including Carolyn Hennesy as Texan Vampire Authority member Rosalyn Harris.
Hennesy, who many fans will know from shows such as General Hospital
and Cougar Town
, recently talked to Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview to talk about her new role.
The actress had not watched the show before she landed the part, but once she did, she loved it. "I had not watched the show. And I remember telling this to Stephen Moyer, when he was leading me on my very personal tour of the set one day. I said we did not have HBO, we got HBO when I got on the show and I watched all 48 episodes, all four season, in ten days.
"Which was, can I just tell you, the best Christmas present I've ever had, the best Christmas present I've ever given myself. And it's also one of those things where ultimately you smack yourself in the head and say "Where have I been? Where have I been? My life has been worth nothing." It's like you've come upon uranium and you want to share it with the rest of the world, and the rest of the world goes "We've known about this for four years." "
She got the part by auditioning. "They called my agent and they said, "We would like her to come in," and I said, "Yes." I just auditioned for it. A call went out, and from what I understand, it was a very small call of actresses they were seeing for the role. And Alan [Ball], he's just so freakin' smart that he knew what he wanted and he just wanted to make sure that all the personalities jived together and it was a good, good pule that he was putting together. And one audition and there it was, which was very exciting and very rare."
The actress jumped at the opportunity. "Honey, it's True Blood
. It's the best; it's the cult favorite; it's the biggest show on HBO. The fans are just as loyal and tenacious and as intelligent as any Cougar Town
fans or General Hospital
fans. It's the lighting; it's spectacular, the production values are spectacular. Each show is like a mini feature film.
"No one in their right mind would dare to say "no" to True Blood
. So it wasn't like "Gosh, hmm, I wonder if I should accept this?" It was "When do they want me there?" "
Hennesy plays one of the new vampires this season. "Rosalyn Harris is a Vampire Authority member; she's one of the most powerful vampires on the planet. She's very old as vampires go, she's not as old as some, but she's very old, and she's been a member of the authority pretty much since it was formed, since it began.
"And for the last few hundred years she's made her home in Texas. Where she came from before that is a matter of speculation. Obviously she knows, but she's rather circumspect about it. And she loves
Texas, everything about it. Rosalyn is one of those women who helped to settle the golden west. She helped move this nation forward.
"Rosalyn is what you call a broad, and she's a dame. She's a game gal. When she was living she liked a good glass of whiskey and she likes a good joke, and she can have a night at the opera as easily as she can brand a calf."
The actress, however, could not reveal why a new member of the Vampire Authority was brought in.
Hennesy did not do research before taking on Rosalyn, but she did talk to people. "I just talked to all my friends who were from Texas and I realized that Texas is kind of an amalgamation of various sounds, so I kind of eased up a little bit on that. But I talked to all my friends who were from Texas and I just started back-combing my hair. Just teasing my hair up to God. Started wearing it like that a little bit, why not?"
The actress has scenes with new members of the cast, including other members of the Vampire Authority, including Peter Mensah as Kibwe, from Spartacus
, and Guardian of the Vampire Authority, Roman, played by Chris Meloni of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
One of Hennesy's memorable parts from working on the show was working with Meloni. "Watching Chris Meloni work is like getting your own private little master class. And there's some very serious goings-on this season with the authority, and yet he managed to justify on so many layers and fill it, and watching him work was terrific."
The actress of course interacted with some of the original cast as well. "From the regular cast we've had wonderful scenes with Alexander Skarsgård and Stephen Moyer. So it's been a veritable vampire buffet.
"...All I can say is that just watching Alexander and Stephen in their torn black jeans and torn tee shirts was my best day as an actor."
Playing a vampire, Hennesy has to wear makeup and fangs. "Believe it or not, being made up to be a vampire takes far less time because, at least for my character there's no real glam to it. So they slap on a coat of white, they tease up my hair until it basically touches the sky, and I'm good to go. And then you get your fangs, and fangs are fun. Fangs are a tremendous amount of fun; don't let anybody tell you different.
"Learning to talk with fangs is really interesting. You sound like you are possibly drunk, initially. But then you learn to work around them."
Playing a vampire can be a messy job. "I'll tell you, it's a slip fest. It's gooey and gory and fun and the special effects people are just the best in the business...
"You know, you don't want to wear white. That's it, it's True Blood
and the season truly lives up to its name, really lives up to its name."
When it comes to the characters on the show, Ball knows what he wants. "They are strict with the script and they should be. Their lines are fantastic. You don't mess with [them], they're very specific. Alan Ball knows exactly what he wants and he gets it.
"Character-wise we haven't really explored a lot of Rosalyn so I'm filling her with my own back story. And that back story dictates aspects of my performance. And no one said "No," no one said, "Don't go there." "
Hennesy has Rosalyn figured out. "I can only tell you that Rosalyn has a secret crush. The writers don't even know about the secret crush, nobody knows about it but Rosalyn."
Rosalyn is in more than one episode, though Hennesy can't reveal more than that. She does know, however, what she would like for the future of her character. "To be honest with you...I would enjoy seeing Rosalyn survive (laughs), because there's a lot of stuff happening."
Fans are always trying to get gossip from the actress about True Blood
. "I have a wonderful, brilliant Twitter following. I just have the best people following me on Twitter, and now I have some wonderful Truebies (True Blood
fans). And so I divulge information as I can on Twitter. We go back and forth and talk about it sometimes, and we get into debates. And I tell them all about how fabulously handsome Skaarsgard is and how absolutely delightful, sweet as pie, Stephen Moyer is. So all will be revealed on Twitter, as I am able.
"People say, "We want information now!" And it's like "Yeah, I want to keep my job!" So there's nothing I can do. It's all a big tease, and I know it's a tease and I feel so badly. But not really (laughs)."True Blood
is one of Hennesy's favorite roles, but she has some others as well. "I'm having three of them back to back. The powers that be at General Hospital
really allowed me to create Diane Miller and give her such a funny voice. Diane Miller was an exceptional character, phenomenal character.
"Barb on Cougar Town
, even though she didn't say much, what she did say was comedy gold. They allowed me, they gave me, the ability to hit it out of the park every single time. So even though Barb had one, maybe two lines on Cougar Town
in the episodes that I was on, you just knew that anybody watching that finished product was going to clench whenever Barb comes on, and that's such a great reaction to know that you're getting.
"And now there's Rosalyn. There's nothing more fun than playing a vampire. Come on, that's the best! That's just the best.
"So those three, I've been extremely lucky back to back. Diane Miller, Barb Coman, and now Rosalyn Harris. Is it going to get better? Doubtful."
Hennesy is not only an actress, but a writer, and has written a book for General Hospital
. They came to her because they knew of the children's book series that she writes. "Every time another installment of the Pandora
series came out I would take it up to their offices and shove it under their noses and say "Look what I do! Look what else I do; isn't this fun? If I happen to be away on a book tour, this is probably why!"
"So they knew I wrote, and they knew that I wrote things that could ostensibly get published. So I'm convinced that that is why they asked me to do it. I don't know if they read the books and saw the style in which I write, but I think they also saw the humor that I was bringing to Diane Miller so they thought, "We can marry these things; it will be a fun book to read. We can probably get a lot of mileage out of this."
"...The executive producer of the show at the time, Jill Farren Phelps, talked to me on stage one day. She got me alone, she took me aside and said, "We want you to write a book for us, about all the characters in Port Charles from the perspective of one character in particular, Damien Spinelli." And I said, "Where do I sign?" "
She would love to write a sequel to The Secret Life of Damien Spinelli
if she was asked to do it. "If approached by Disney/ABC to write a sequel, and assuming that they want a sequel, I'd do it in a heartbeat. No one has approached me about that yet."
In the mean time, Hennesy continues to write her Pandora
series. "That is the thing of which I am the most proud, ever, of anything I have done in my life. The Pandora
series starts with a book called Pandora Gets Jealous
. It is a retelling of the classical Greek myth of Pandora set in the ancient world but with modern sensibilities, modern overlays. These girls, my three protagonists – Pandora, who's thirteen, and her two best friends...
"Pandora has "accidentally," in big quotes, found the box containing all the evil in the world and she took it to school for a school project and naturally everything got loose. So she has been tasked with a quest. The alternative is eternal torture and torment in the flame pits of the underworld, or she has to go and get everything that got out of the box back in the box.
"There are seven big evils that she is going after and some lesser evils that she encounters along the way. She has her two best friends with her; she's got gods and goddesses that are kind of helping her on the sly, and one goddess that wants her dead, period. And she and her friends use their wits, they test the bonds of friendship, they rely on each other like family. It's all about girl power and stepping up to the plate, taking responsibility for your mistakes and trying to make it right. And it's done with a tremendous amount of wit and humor and cool tools and magic and adventure.
"...The target audience is 8 to 13, but I always say 8 and up because I know 65-year-old grandmothers who write to me on my website, and I know 16-year-olds. And you know 16-year-olds, they know everything. They don't want to read about a 13-year-old girl, but they do and they love it."
Hennesy would love to bring her series to television. "I'd love to write for television. I'd love to turn the Pandora
series into an animated series for young adults and believe me, if that happens you will see me writing for television."
The actress will be writing more in the future in addition to the Pandora
series. "I do have ideas for future books, more in the adult realm, for adults. But I'm going to take a nice, well-deserved break after finishing book seven because it's been eight years of my life that have been devoted to Pandora
. So I'm just going to take a little break and then I have an idea for a book for younger children and an idea for a book for the adults."
You can catch Carolyn Hennesy starting with the second episode of True Blood
this season, airing next Sunday.