True Blood’s Denis O’Hare Talks About Playing Many Roles!!

As the vampire Russell Edgington, actor Denis O’Hare wreaks havoc as season five of “True Blood” builds to another bloody finale. As the Baker in the Stephen Sondheim musical, “Into the Woods,” O’Hare returns to his New York theater roots, singing and dancing with co-star Amy Adams.

O’Hare sat with the Journal for lunch recently and discussed his latest play…

Do you enjoy being in a musical again?

I do. I’m more of a play guy, a straight actor as they call it. But I’ve always done musicals. I did “Cabaret” in 1998, and then I did the movie version of “Once Upon a Mattress.” I did “Sweet Charity” on Broadway. I’m not a musical theater aficionado. I’m an opera aficionado. I love opera, I see opera all the time. I don’t tend to go to musicals unless I have somebody who I know who’s in it.

Is it important for stage actors to be able to sing and dance as well?

I don’t think so. Those of us who are lucky enough to have some talent in singing, it’s great to go back and forth. In some cities, I know like Chicago where I was, it was very strictly bisected. If you were a straight actor that’s all you did. If you were a musical comedy actor, that’s all you did. In New York there’s a lot more fluidity. I think of someone like Raul Esparza, Michael Cerveris, Donna Murphy. You also have actors who don’t go back and forth between plays and musicals. Like anything, the more options you have, the better….

You were in “J. Edgar.” Do you like to do film?

I love doing film. Lately I haven’t been able to because I’ve been committed to these TV projects and quite literally I haven’t been available. As of this fall I’m beginning to read more scripts. It’s the one medium I haven’t worked in to satisfy myself. There are still things I want to explore in that medium, that there are technical things I haven’t figured out yet. Every medium has its own content. I find content in film is the most interesting. In TV you can create a continuous narrative of a character from week to week but that narrative is subject to odd demands, different writers, the popularity. Whereas in film it’s a cohesive vision by one person and it’s a world that you create together. TV characters can be very complex and very rich, but film, if it’s a bigger part they tend to be very complex and I like that.

How does your approach to doing a film differ?

When you read a stage script versus a film script, you read them very differently. Reading a play, all the information is verbal, the characters tell you who they are, other people tell you who they are. In film it’s not verbal, it’s an actual imagination. You have to really read the script and say all right, he’s sitting in a diner, it’s a rainy afternoon, he gets a phone call, he doesn’t pick it up, and then he leaves. Next scene, he walks in, he walks his dog, checks his watch, it’s 4:00, he closes his eyes, gets up and walks his dog. What does that mean? You get a feeling for a character in a very different way in a film script, and that feeling can be very attractive. It’s more of an intellectual process I think in theater sometimes. And in theater you rehearse and you rehearse, you hammer it out and you perfect. In film, it’s a lot more instinctual. (The Wall Street Journal)

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t imagine Russell singing and dancing in a musical!!  But I’m sure O’Hare does an awesome job and would be a sight to see!!