With True Blood's huge season-three premiere headed our way Sunday on HBO, we talked with three of the show's stars: Rutina Wesley (who returns as Tara) plus new regulars Denis O'Hare (Russell Edgington) and Lindsay Pulsipher (Crystal Norris).
While creator Alan Ball recently gave us some sizzling spoilers, the actors shared some spoilers of their own regarding their characters and their storylines. Wesley chatted about Tara's sexy/scary entanglement with bad boy vamp Franklin Mott (James Frain), O'Hare dished about becoming the Vampire King of Mississippi, and Pulsipher talked about NOT getting naked for the series ... yet.
This season on True Blood ...
"There's so much blood and sex! It's so gory sometimes, and it's like, 'Oh, my gosh, what am I watching?' But it's so engaging because you just see this small community affected by all these different things," said Wesley. "We all get mixed up in a bunch more stuff coming up in season three—like it doesn't stop. We keep getting ourselves into these places, like between a rock and a hard place."
For O'Hare, who plays one of the new bad guys on True Blood this season, he feels that "the story lines and the episodes are a mixture of great plot and great physiological exploration. You have whole storylines where nothing is happening plot-wise but the characters are developing, learning about themselves. Jessica, the vampire from last season, I feel like you are watching a young woman awaken, and I feel like vampire Bill's trajectory has been a trajectory of discovery."
Well, Bill's trajectory is actually one of being kidnapped, at least as of the end of last season's cliffhanger. "When did that happen? Oh yeah. I wonder where he went?" he said casually, sounding a lot like he knows exactly where Bill Compton went.
Tara gets a taste of bad boy vamp Franklin Mott ...
It looks like Tara has more challenges ahead than just grieving for her dead boyfriend Eggs when a mysterious vampire named Franklin Mott comes into her life. "I can't say whether or not this relationship is by choice, but it's definitely a very interesting storyline that you're about to see. I mean, I think he sort of comes in and saves the day, and then she gets wrapped up in this thing with him," said Wesley.
"I think she's trying to find herself. I mean, after everything with Eggs, she's gotten knocked off her feet a bit, and I think she's just trying to find her feet again. And yet she gets mixed up with this vampire, and he knocks her back off her feet, and I think you see her really kind of want to have the will to live life and enjoy life and just realize how valuable life is to her. And she's going to really come into her womanhood and find herself, hopefully. It's a huge struggle, because she does have this relationship with Franklin Mott, and, like I said, it's either by choice or not by choice."
Crystal Norris' magical connection with Jason Stackhouse ...
"She's a pretty colorful character," said Pulsipher. "She comes from a sad background. She was raised in the sticks in Louisiana, with lots of meth ... she cooks meth. She happens to run into Jason Stackhouse in Bon Temps, and she's like immediately taken by him."
The girl from Hotshot, the other side of the tracks, is smitten with Sookie's brother, said Pulsipher. "Crystal sees Jason as a way out of her lifestyle. She's been kind of trapped in this horrible lifestyle. So they have an amazing kind of a magical connection, and it's really a struggle for her to see if she can escape the life that she's always known."
Those familiar with the Charlaine Harris novel series know, at least when it comes to the books, where this is all going to lead. Crystal has a secret, and in the books challenges abound for her character when it comes to her attempts to leave the past behind. How close her story is to that of the books, "I am not able to say," said Pulsipher. She'll only reveal, "She's kind of a slow reveal. She unfolds slowly throughout, and then she really starts to pick up towards the end."
The Vampire King of Mississippi is never rude ...
"Russell is older than Godric. So he's actually the oldest vampire," said O'Hare. "I'm a research freak. I love to research and the ability to go ahead and delve into the past. What Alan [Ball] and I finally realized is that this guy is probably an ancient Celt and the Celts actually came from somewhere east of Italy, probably across the Carpathian mountains, so present-day Romania."
Russell lives in a mansion in Jackson, Miss., when we meet him, with his boyfriend of 700 years, said O'Hare. "Russell's very charming. He's incredibly instinctual. He survived millennia of different vampire fads, and he is ruthless without being rude. He's never rude."
There's a marriage of sorts between the new characters and the returning ones ...
With over a dozen new characters this season, the world of True Blood is growing. "What they've done really well is they've managed to keep all the original characters completely in play, and those characters also continue to develop," said O'Hare. "It's not like marking time. They're still upfront and center, and they are still vitally important. The new characters aren't taking over in any way. They're integrating with the old characters and intersecting with them. It's a really deft marriage, I think."
Tara is a hard flower ...
"I've called her a 'hard flower,' meaning she's got this kind of rock on the outside, but as the seasons have gone along we've sort of been chipping away at the rock, and you can see these beautiful petals starting to show through. She's got incredible vulnerability. She's incredibly fierce. She's also incredibly defensive and annoying to some people, but I also think those defenses are earned," said Wesley.
"I always say Tara is the truth, ... Whatever comes out of her mouth is the truth. She's very observative. She tells it like it is," she said. This season the actress believes "I can really trust myself with Tara, that I finally have found my feet as an actor with her and I really know her. I really feel like she's in my heart, she's in my body, my mind, my soul. ... I really feel like I'm hitting the ground running this season."
They continue to step away from the novels ...
If you've read the books, you may think you know Crystal's story. But don't count on anything when it comes to True Blood. "It's always hard to tell what Alan is going to do, because he sticks pretty closely with the books, but he definitely gives it his own take and makes it his own," said Pulsipher. "Which I think is partly for creative reasons and also to kind of comply with the timing" of the series.
Of all the characters, Tara on True Blood is a very different and more important character than Tara in the novels. "I wasn't familiar with the books until I was cast in the show, and then I did read the first book or two, and then when I knew they were going to change Tara drastically, I decided to stop reading so that I could just create her on my own along with the rest of the writing team," said Wesley. "I mean I'm actually excited about that, because it just gives me much more to do in the show, and I was just like, 'Thank you for writing me ... you know, writing more for me.' I lucked out with that."
On getting naked with Crystal ...
Pulsipher admits she enjoys working with Ryan Kwanten, who plays the oh-so-hot Jason Stackhouse. "It is so funny, because he is this kind of a sex symbol for a lot of women, and he really doesn't have that personality. He's one of the most humble guys I've ever met. He's really, really sweet, and it doesn't even faze him."
However, Ball hasn't been shy about graphic sex scenes, and working with Kwanten may just lead to some sexy moments of her own. "I haven't done nudity before, and it hasn't come up yet, but the people that run the show ... I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. I'm not too worried about it," she said.
The Alan Ball of it all ...
"I think it's like every actor's dream get to work with Alan Ball and play such a colorful character," said Pulsipher with a laugh. "Kind of being the nerd that I am, like getting a script, I read it as a fan as well as my character study, and every time I get a script I'm just like ... I can't wait to read it."
"Alan Ball ... Alan Ball is, I think he's one of our great creative minds in TV and film, and I think Six Feet Under is one of those watershed TV series that pushed the form with the credits alone," said O'Hare. "The opening credits alone of Six Feet Under, I thought, changed credit sequences. I thought that then True Blood did the same thing again, changed credit sequences again ... Just wanting for me to be around the mind of somebody who does that."
"I'm a fan of the show," he said. "I never intended to be on it. I never sought the job out. I was a fan; I'd been watching True Blood since it came out and I was in Budapest doing a movie. I was doing a Roman movie last fall with Channing Tatum and Donald Sutherland, and I got a call from my agent, and he basically said, 'How would you like to be the king of the vampires on HBO's True Blood?'" O'Hare said with a laugh. "I was like, 'Oh, my God!' I said, 'My boyfriend Hugo loves, loves, loves the show,' so I knew he would flip."
So are you ready for some Sookie Stackhouse action in season three?