Doll-eyed, Brooklyn-born beauty Deborah Ann Woll may be in her fourth year as newbie vampire Jessica on HBO’s wildly popular series “True Blood,” but the role doesn’t necessarily fit like a comfy pair of shoes.
“It’s been intense,” the 26-year-old Woll said recently about playing Jessica this season. “It’s asked me to try things I haven’t really done before, emotionally, physically and psychologically. It’s been really challenging, but great in that way.”
In its quest to show how supernatural powers wreak havoc on human nature, “True Blood” is nothing if not unpredictable. The show already has a dizzying repertory company of vampires, telepaths, shapeshifters, fairies and a werewolf. In this melange, Bible-thumping teenager Jessica’s transformation from Bill’s (Stephen Moyer) petulant vampire ward into a swoony yet feral bloodsucker has been one of the show’s more enjoyable character arcs.
“Originally the role developed because we thought, since Bill is a reluctant vampire, it would be fun to have him turn somebody who becomes a bratty stepchild,” says creator/executive producer Alan Ball. “But very quickly it became clear to us all that Jessica’s really special. Then to bring her and Hoyt together was magical, and she’s turned into one of the main characters on the show now. Her presence is so powerful and vital.”
Tonight’s season premiere skips a year in the show’s chronology, returns Sookie (Anna Paquin) from the land of the fairies, and introduces a witch, Marnie, played by theater actress Fiona Shaw, who spooks the daylights out of several characters. Jessica’s story line fits in nicely with these, and offers a funny yet turbulent glimpse of her domestic life with burly, kind-faced human boyfriend Hoyt (Jim Parrack).
“Everything on our show is so supernatural,” says Woll, “that it was fun to take a minute to show, well, how do you deal with chores and dinner when you’re in a mixed relationship and one person doesn’t ever eat?”
Ball says they’re the classic young lovers who promised themselves to each other too early. “These are two people who made this lifelong commitment when maybe they weren’t necessarily prepared,” he says. “Let’s just say the honeymoon is over.”
This season is about Jessica overcoming a self-hatred that Woll says permeated her character in season three, and which Woll believes is at the core of vampirism’s raging popularity. “We all have these darker thoughts and feelings in us, and we’ve come through some generations that said you ought to suppress that,” says Woll. “What vampires are representing is that you don’t have to necessarily be ashamed because you feel lust, or hunger.”
Of course, establishing a dangerous mindset helps when one of your accessories is prosthetic fangs. “Put on a diamond and you instantly feel classy, but put on fangs and you instantly feel scary,” says Woll, who gasps when asked if she’s ever worn her pointy teeth in public for laughs. “That’s precious hardware right there! We can’t take them home.”
One individualistic quirk she’s noticed among the vampire actors is what accompanies the moment a character’s fangs come out. “We all make these distinct noises, because it’s so silly to open your mouth and see little fangs there that you have to ground it for yourself with a noise,” she says, laughing. “Mine’s a very hissy, snake kind of thing. But I noticed Steve does a growl, and Alex” — Skarsgard, who plays blond hunk Eric — “has his own thing.”
Woll says she made a lot of noise as a kid growing up in Brooklyn. “I ran around, screamed my head off and spoke my mind, and didn’t let people put me down,” says Woll, who was raised by a teacher mom and an architect dad. “I was quite rambunctious.”
Although she’s lived in sunny California since going there for college at 18, her fondest memories of Brooklyn were the blizzards that led to snow days. “That big one, in ’96, the snow came up to the first floor of our brownstone,” she says. “We used to build tunnels underneath it, and slide down the middle of the street. It was great.”
Her rough-and-tumble personality eventually mellowed out, however, a result of being bullied in middle school, plus a major appearance change at 14: dyeing red her natural blond locks. “With the blond hair and fair skin, I just sort of disappeared, and I felt like my appearance didn’t match the respect I wanted to get,” says Woll, who sensed the change immediately, and not just from how others treated her. “I was different, too. I quieted down a bit, and tried to have more self-respect.”
Now she’s made her name playing someone who’s dealing with transition, too: a woman finding her nature as a feared, powerful creature. It reminds Woll of a line from one of her favorite TV shows, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
“Someone accused [Buffy] of having an inferiority complex about her superiority complex,” says Woll.
“There’s something interesting with that in being a vampire, that you know you have all these super-cool powers, but is it wrong that you’re stronger than your boyfriend? There’s really fun stuff to play with in that.”
SOURCE: New York Post
You must be logged in to post a comment.