True Blood Jessica Series 5 Interview

True Blood star Deborah Ann Woll took to the official HBO site to answer fans questions about her role as  Jessica on the hit vampire series. Read the full interview transcript below, where Jess talks about fangs, blood, series five and much more…

How are you enjoying filming season 5 of True Blood?

I had a blast shooting the 5th season of True Blood and am so excited to see how the fans like it! I’ve always been fascinated with the vampire politics.

Your performance is fantastic and Jessica has grown so much, what would you like Jessica to do in the future?

Thank you! That means so much to me that you think so. I think Jess is a very compassionate vampire and I think she could have a strong voice in the vampire integration movement; I would love to see her as a social leader of some kind. Of course after she matures a bit more.

What’s the most rewarding experience you have had while filming true blood?

I have had many rewarding experiences. But my most recent one if kind of a spoiler so I can’t give you details. It is in episode 510 and I feel everything came together beautifully to create a moment we can all be proud of.

What does True Blood taste like?

We have many types of blood for different occasions. The actual Trublood has been a thick purple carrot juice, a carrot syrup with red food colouring (super sweet and it’s hard to drink very much of it) and sometimes a cranberry juice if you have to down it! Chug-a-lug!

Does your family watch the show and if so what do they think?

Most of my family dos watch the show. They are very happy for me and I think they genuinely enjoy the storylines. My mother is very good about following all the extra features and re-watching episodes. She’s probably following along now. HI MOM!!

Is there any special preparation you have to do to get into character as Jessica?

I do a ton of preparation. One of the most time consuming is before every season I take a month and watch every episode from 101 to the end to remind myself where we have all come from. Then I spend the last week, going over and over just Jessica’s storyline.  Then even though it’s been 5 months since we shot the last episode it feels more like it happened recently which is how it happened for Jess. That’s one way I get back into it after our hiatus.

Will Jessica ever become a maker?

That’s up to the writers, but it thinks of Jessica and most vampires as being lonely solitary creatures and making a vampire is one way to have a companion. I think Jess would probably want to be a maker down the line and I think she’d be very good at it, because she understands how hard it can be.

We love Jessica’s video blogs, whose ideas were they?

Thank you! I love them too! We have such a great time shooting them. I’m not sure whose idea they were initially. I believe it was They had done similar vlogs on other shows. But Gianna Sobel writes and directs them and I think she does just the greatest job. One day towards the end of the season we shoot all of them in succession. So I go through hair and make up about ten times and we shoot about 25 pages of material. For comparison 4 pages a day is more the true blood average. It’s intense but really fun!

Do you get to do your own stunts?

Yes and No. We always do the into and out of the stunt, but the actual impacts and really anything where you might get hurt or requires skill is done by our fantastic team of stunt performers. They are magnificent at what they do and should be given the credit they deserve.

What kind of music do you like?

I like anything bluesy or funky. My favourite musician is Martin Sexton. His new album Sugar Coating is stellar. I also have always been an avid listener of Nina Simone and I love any classical piano.

How long does it take to film an episode?

We shoot long episodes. I think we had one or two this year that went up to 24 days!! Most hour long shows on network shoot 8-10 days, we always shoot round 15 and more involved episodes can be over 20. That means a lot of double up days where two episodes are shooting at once with two full crews. It takes a lot of very dedicated people to pull this show together. Not to mention, a typical day is 14-18 hours!

We have table reads do every episode where the entire cast and production team get together and read through the episode. Then the production crew goes to prep everything and when the actors and crew come to set e do a rehearsal where everyone gives their input on how the scene should be staged or played and then we practice a few times and shoot it for many hours. All for a few minutes of footage.

How does the vampire super speed work when you’re filming?

We move normally and then they speed up the movement in post. Actually it’s the non-vamps that have to move differently. They have to pause and when we start of move and then once we land whip around like we blew past them. It can be funny to watch. One thing I did think about was that as a young vamp being new to this kind of speed, I would be clumsier at it. So I flail my arms a bit so my blur is bigger. Whereas an older vamp might have a tighter more contained blue that looks almost more like a teleport.

Do you ever feel spooked out while on set?

Not usually. When we are shooting it there is always a crew of 40 people or more, plus light stands and cameras in your face, so the illusion that we are alone is just that, an illusion.

Do you have any say about Jessica’s Wardrobe and make-up?

Absolutely. The wardrobe and hair/makeup departments are very talented and they work with the writers and directors to get an idea of what they would like for the character and the they come up with ideas and present them to the actors and we all work together to figure out what we like best. If I have  a specific idea that I think would be cool, I might email the department and throw it in there early in the days that  can be prepare don the day should they like my idea, In the end the producers have final say but they have always been very cooperative.

What was the classic rock t-shirt Jessica wore when she went to Fangtasia?

That was a Slash T-Rex shirt. Pretty rad huh?! I like that Jess is experimenting with her style now. First her parents dressed her then Bill, then Hoyt and now she can finally figure out what she wants to look like. It’s been fun mixing it up his year.

Do any of the cast ever play pranks on set?

Ryan and our camera operator Simon had a pretty good battle going on for a while. I believe Ryan parked Simon’s smart car in the elevator and Simon retaliated by filling Ryan’s car with Styrofoam peanuts. And I mean filled it to the brim. No air left in that car. Pretty genius stuff.

What was your audition like for True Blood?

I auditioned with the turning scene at the vampire tribunal and then the scene after I’ve been turned running through the woods. I had to die and come to life in the audition and be attacked by an imaginary vampire. I remember lying on the floor and squirming about and eating my own tears. I’m surprised they didn’t toss me out as some crazy lady! But I’m so glad they gave me a chance.

Is it awkward when you’re pretending to drink someone’s blood?

There are many days when I shake someone’s hand then a few minutes later I’m sucking on their body somewhere. I usually try to be very open and friendly with the actors that come in to get fed on. I want them to feel comfortable to ask any question. We have soft fangs for feeding scenes if anyone would prefer that. But all acting requires you get intimate with strangers very quickly. We sort of know that’s part of the job.

How do you think Jessica has changed since the beginning?

I try to help show that Jess changes very season. I think she is constantly on a quest to find out who she is because she was never given that chance at home. But now being a vampire complicates that quest even further. So while I think she’s come a long way to discovering herself from a girl to woman, the vampire side is still impulsive and naïve.

What else are you working on outside of the show?

A film I worked on last year is just opening in theatres this month. It is called Ruby Sparks and it is such a good film, I have a very small part in it, but I am so proud to be involved at all. Zoe Kazan wrote and starred in it with Paul Dano, and the directors from Little Miss Sunshine directed it. I really recommend everyone go and see it if you can.

Who do you want Jessica to end up with romantically?

I don’t have a want for Jess in that regard. I want her to be happy and respected. I think it can’t possibly work with Hoyt. She can’t give him what he wants which is normalcy, and while Jason and Jess are clearly attracted to one another and care for each other neither of them seem to be in a place where they can be in a relationship. I’d like to see some growth from both of them, but I think there’s more potential there.

Finally how hard was it to get used to having fangs?

It did take a while. The trick is not to think about it. Just let your bottom lip hit. You end up with nasty little cuts on your lower lip by the end of an intense day but it’s worth it.


Fifty Shades Of Grey Author Rules Out Casting Twilight Stars

Fifty Shades of Grey has officially become the fastest selling paperback of all time and currently tops the book bestseller lists around the world. Universal and Focus Features recently won a frantic bidding war for the film rights, with rumours of Angelina Jolie being lined up to direct and a host of young stars keen to land the daring lead roles of kinky businessman Christian Grey and virginal love interest Ana

At her first ever UK fan event Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James spoke about the forthcoming movie adaptation. She emphatically ruled out casting Twilight stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, despite the fact the novels were originally written as Twilight fan fiction. She did admit however that despite have her own shortlist of stars to play Ana & Christian, the final casting decisions would not be left entirely up to her alone.

The author also defended the books from BDSM community criticism about how the novels present the lifestyle to a mainstream audience. Despite the phenomenal record breaking success of the series, EL James also admitted that she does have fears about the ability of the film version to live up to fan expectations and avoid being a big screen disappointment.

EL James spoke to fans for one and a half hours but you can read interview highlights below:

First question, will there be more books in the series and are you intending on re-writing the books from Christian’s perspective?

I might maybe. Yes. I mean… ohhh… It’s a question I get asked a lot usually on Twitter and I usually ignore it frankly. I would like to try and get away from them for a bit because I’m really sick of them frankly. They’ve lived in my head much longer than they have in everyone else’s. So yes I wouldn’t mind going away then coming back to them. But Christian’s a challenge; he’s a really tough headspace to be in. Part of me thinks it will ruin the mystique. But I don’t know, that’s my worry about doing it. I keep saying never say never. I haven’t ruled it out. But frankly I’m exhausted form all of this I need to go and just lie down on a beach.

The books have been celebrated for bringing the BDSM lifestyle to mainstream attention, but how do you feel about criticisms from within that community that Christian as the character who introduces us to that world is damaged, thus playing into the existing negative sterotypes?

Christian is from a damaged place. It’s not saying that Kinky is from a damaged place. The main reason I made him damaged is because I makes for a much more interesting story. If he wasn’t then the narrative just wouldn’t work. I did a lot of research into everything like dominance, submissives, contracts and slave traditions. I know that in the BDSM community it’s a sliding scale from starting with a bit of slap and tickle at one end all the way to a total power exchange. I understand the entire dynamic. It’s true that in this story Christian comes from a difficult place but I found many place on the internet where people also came to the kinky community from difficult places. I found one place where dominants were discussing the psychological problems of their submissives and I found that fascinating. I think because of this range within the community this is just supposed to be how he’s dealt with it.

One of the things I’ve learnt doing this is that I can’t own anybody’s response to the book. I wrote the books because I wanted to tell a fabulous love story. I think the BDSM issue is fascinating and arousing. I think you really need to read all the way through to see how Christian and Anna find their level of doing things and how their relationship progresses. I’m sorry if people do feel that way but if Christian had been a wonderfully rounded human being then the story really wouldn’t have been as good.

How closely inspired were you by the characters in the Twilight books and the performances of Rob & Kristen?

The characters grew; they started that way and developed into completely their own people. It was fascinating getting to know them and know them very well. I didn’t see an outline straight away; I had no idea where these books were going to go. I just went with them. As I go to know them they grew a life of their own.

There been some suggestions that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart could play Christian and Ana, how would you feel about seeing them in Fifty Shades of Grey?

I think it would be too strange ! It would just be .. Uggh weird!

Do you have a cast list in mind already for the film?

I have about 4 people in mind for Ana and 3 for Christian but I’m not telling anyone what they are because I’m not allowed to discuss the movie at all which is a real shame. Things are moving quite slowly on that but hopefully… it’s such fun and so hopefully after we’ve put a few things in place it will all start to move on. We’ve still got to get the producers in place then deal with the script and all that. The actual film is a long way down the line.

Do you have final say on casting and what kind of suggestions have you had so far?

On Facebook I’ve had a list of names as long as my arm from people. Oh my god yes! People have suggested that Pierce Brosnan needs to play Christian. Christian is in the eye of the beholder honestly. AS for the casting decision it will be up to all of us I suppose. It will be a collaborative effort, it won’t just be me. The Director, the producer, the head of the studio might want someone. It’s too early to say.

How do you feel about all the fan speculation about what the movie will be like?

There’s all these fan made trailers. I keep watching them going no, no, no that isn’t it! But I did send one to focus features. Hey look at this, what do you think, we don’t have to do anything.  I didn’t hear back from them.

Movie adaptations often seem to fall short the standard of the original books. Are you worried at all about the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey disappointing fans?

Oh yes of course I’m really worried about that. The thing is a book is such a personal experience it’s only between the author and the reader. It’s not like being part of a huge forum like this, where everyone is expecting you to have their interpretation of that on the big screen. It is a concern and for me I’d rather always see a film first the read the book. Because the books are almost always better. I did have concerns like that, but then I thought, when am I going to have the chance again to work on a Hollywood movie? I thought sod it. I very much believe that life isn’t a dress rehearsal. So I decided to go for it.

Who would you prefer Edward Cullen or Christian Grey?

Oh that’s a tough one but I’d have to say… Christian Grey, because he’s my ultimate fantasy man!