Interview with ‘New Blood’ Carolyn Hennessy via Fearnet.com
More and more these days, TV shows keep everything secret. No one wants to hint at what is to come – like somehow giving us an overview of the upcoming season would lessen our excitement to watch it. True Blood is one of the most notoriously tight-lipped series on television, thanks to creator Alan Ball (maybe it will change when he steps down at the end of this season). So I was a little nervous about my interview with Carolyn Hennessy. She is one of the new vamps in Bon Temps this season, so I had nothing to ask her outside of “What is happening next season?” Luckily, Carolyn was an utter delight, devoted to her craft (after getting the role, but having never seen True Blood, she sat down and watched all 48 episodes in a mere 10 days), and had a lot to say about her character, Rosalyn.
You play a new character this season, Rosalyn Harris, who is part of the Vampire Authority. Tell me about her.
It’s funny because in the script, she is always referred to as “Rosalyn Harris.” I feel like it’s “Miss Barbara Stanwick” or something. The two names are one name.
Is that a show of respect? Are you higher up in the Vampire Authority?
I am not. The Authority was started by one particular member. I am not the oldest member of the authority but I was there shortly after it started. Very shortly. There are, chronologically, older members of the Authority. But it’s [all relative]. It’s like if the Authority is 2,000 years old, Rosalyn has maybe been on for 1,950 years. In the grand scheme of things all the Authority members – it used to be eight with Nan Flanagan, but she’s gone so it is seven – are the most powerful vampires on the planet.
Was your character in the books?
I don’t believe she was, but I can’t say that with authority – pardon the pun. I just started reading the books to find out what is going on, and to see where the big differences are. Like Lafayette was gone in the first book, but everyone loves him so much – and rightfully so!
He’s a dream. He’s a little dream walking.
Do you get to work with Nelsan Ellis a lot?
I do not. I have not gotten to work with him yet. But I have gotten the best: Alexander [Skarsgard] and Stephen [Moyer]. And Chris Meloni [who plays Authority vamp Roman]. So really, a girl cannot ask for more than that. In the first season I am on – and with any luck, there will be more, but that’s all in the writers’ hands – to be able to work with them… let’s not be greedy! When you are staring at those faces, you think, “All is right with the world.” [Laughs].
It seems that this season is going to be very focused on the Vampire Authority. We’ve only seen them in bits and pieces. What is going on there?
There is a battle brewing. As has been referred to in previous seasons, there are the [vampires] who are all for mainstreaming. The Authority members are purely for mainstreaming. After all, we are trying to assimilate. We want to be taken seriously. We want to be accepted into this world. We want to be able to live with humans, who outnumber us. That will ensure our survival. Then there are those who don’t [want to assimilate]. As Russell Edgington said when he pulled the spine from the newscaster, “We are vampires! We will eat you!” There are two differing factions. Are we going to be able to coexist? That is really what this is all about.
The description I have here says that Rosalyn has “hair high enough to interfere with air traffic.”
Well, where Rosalyn comes from is still something of a mystery. I’ve kind of solved it myself, with the character background I have created. Rosalyn is from Texas – for the last 500 years or so. Where she comes from before that is Prague, or someplace overseas. But she loves Texas. She is one of those women who helped tame the Wild West. She loves everything about Texas, that it’s a man’s world and she is a hell of a woman in it. In Texas, as they say with regard to everything, but especially to hair, “big is just the place to start.” So Rosalyn embraces everything Lone Star. When you think of Rosalyn, you need to think of Anne Richards and Mae West and Joan Crawford in Johnny Guitar. She is a broad and a half. She’s a great dame. Pearls go with everything, and your hair can never be too high. And she will kill you on the spot!
How much of Rosalyn’s background did you get to create for yourself?
I got three things: that she is from Texas; that she has hair high enough to interfere with air traffic; and she has a “home-spun wisdom.” So she’ll come up with the quip that relates to gelding a horse, or say, “Well, when I was on the ranch….” But her instincts are almost always right. Once she makes up her mind, and she knows she is right – and it takes a lot to change Rosalyn’s mind. But it can be done.
Does Rosalyn have any romantic entanglements this season? Sex and blood are really the two things that True Blood is all about.
Well, we are in the middle of this very dire [Vampire Authority] situation. So far, there have been no romantic entanglements for Rosalyn. I will say that she has a secret crush, but I think that is all I can say. She has a secret crush that I don’t even think the writers know about! [Laughs.]
Well, like you said, when you are working with Alex and Stephen, how can you not?
Right! But yeah, she has a secret crush, which I think is highly unusual for a vampire. Vampires can act on anything, but Rosalyn is playing this one close to the vest.
Is Rosalyn for assimilation?
Very much so. She understands the wisdom of it. In the time that Rosalyn has been alive, we have put a man on the moon; we have conquered oceans; we have this synthetic blood. What else can [humans] do that can be of benefit to vampire-kind? That is what really interests Rosalyn, and the only way vampires can reap the benefits of these discoveries is if they act in concert with human beings.
Would you consider Rosalyn a “good guy” or a “bad guy?”
A good guy. A very good guy. Of course, if you cross her, she will snap your neck. As far as I am concerned, Rosalyn loves humans. She loves them for what they may be able to do for vampires.
I know you can’t say much about the season as a whole, but is there a general direction this season is going in?
Well, with only my scenes, it would be that there is a real push for mainstreaming. A real push. And then what ultimately results from that tremendous push. That’s really all I can say.
It sounds almost like this season is getting a little more political.
Very much so. That is a great way to put it. Does it reflect on [the country’s] own political situation? Possibly. It is interesting that we have the Presidential election coming up in November, and the show is premiering in June and running for three months – right into the heart of election season.
True Blood has always been socially aware.
Yes. Issues of immigration, issues of acceptance, issues of… not quite racism, but kind of, with vampires-versus-humans and where do you stand – and why do you stand wherever that is? Metaphors galore!
Are you done shooting for the season?
No. We’re only half-way. We started in late December / January.
How many episodes are you in?
So far I am in seven.
Are you going to be in the whole season?
I don’t know. The mind of god – also known as Alan Ball – he knows all those answers. So we shall see.
Do you have anything lined up after True Blood?
Maybe a trip to Tahiti! I have a book series for young adults that I am finishing up. The final book in a series of seven is due in April. Book six will be published in June so I will probably be doing a tour for that.
What series is that?
It’s called Pandora, and it is a retelling of the classic Greek myth of Pandora with modern sensibilities.