Exclusive interview with Carrie Preston
March 23, 2012 | Carrie Preston is best known for her role as lovely Arlene Fowler on the vampire mystery show "True Blood", which she talks about in this interview. She also tells us how she got into acting and talks about her recurring role on "Good Wife" and about some of her other projects.
© Josh Williams Photography
1. How did you get into acting?
I grew up in Macon, Georgia and started doing plays when I was 9 years old, following in the footsteps of my older brother John G. Preston, who is still an actor as well. I considered myself a character actor from the very beginning when I did plays in the community theater and in school. Even then, I wasn’t Alice in Wonderland or Snow White or Cinderella. I was the Mock Turtle, Maid Dim Witty, and the kooky FGM (Fairy God Mother), complete with ass pad and glasses. I studied acting in various places, the most notable being the University of Evansville in southern Indiana and The Juilliard School in NYC. I relished the controlled chaos within the womb of higher education. And at 18, I started performing professionally doing Shakespeare in the summer breaks. But eventually the real world came calling, and I was definitely ready to get out into it.
2. When you booked the part of Arlene on "True Blood", did you know right from the start that her fiancé René was the murderer?
The series is based on the Southern Vampire novels by Charlaine Harris, so there was a blueprint to follow. In the book, Rene is the murderer, so I did know from the start that he was the killer. But the show took liberties with some of the character traits and plot points, so a lot of that was surprising.
3. Your "True Blood" character is very superstitious. Is that something you and Arlene share or do you have something else in common?
I grew up in the south, so I know women like Arlene. I also trust the writers, and I let their words take me where I need to go. We are both strong women. I'm not narrow minded like Arlene, but we have the same work ethic. We both deeply care about what we do for a living.
4. The show seems to have more and more supernatural creatures. If you could be one of them which one would you like to be?
I definitely think the vampires have more fun on our show! I keep pitching to Alan Ball the idea of making Arlene some kind of supernatural, but to no avail. I think they need someone to hold down the human fort. And Arlene is the woman for the job, I think.
5. Can you tease a little bit about season 5? Will Arlene still be skeptical towards her baby?
This season focuses more on Arlene and Terry than on the baby. We have not seen the last of Patrick, the mysterious figure from Terry's past that came into their lives at the end of season 4.
6. "True Blood" is very different from "Twilight" and "The Vampire Diaries", which mainly address a younger audience. How do you like the different approach "True Blood" takes?
In this youth obsessed world of ours, I think people love the idea of living forever. With "True Blood", one gets to see what it would be like to live forever as a sexy, passionate and sometimes political creature. On our show, which is for grownups and not teens, the vampires stand for any disenfranchised group of people fighting for their rights in society. You can either choose to look at the show as a sexy soap opera or you can find social commentary in it. It exists on both levels, and I think that's what sets it apart.
7. There are some explicit scenes for adult viewers on "True Blood". Were you ever shocked or found it difficult to shoot these scenes?
Mostly when you play the funny role on shows, they don't make you do sex scenes. So I haven't been asked to do a lot of that on the show, with the exception of the season 2 orgy scene. Those long nights in season 2 out in the fields wearing the black contact lenses doing the orgy scene with naked background actors dancing around us were some of the most bizarre and oddly funny nights of my career.
8. What is the best part from working on "True Blood"?
It’s always fun to go to work because I know that I get to put on that makeup, those nails, that bust-line and those heels and really transform into Arlene. I have a good time with her. When I’m on set I feel like myself but a little bit of her definitely rubs off on me. It is fun to be in the skin of someone you’ve been playing for four seasons, which is something that I’ve never really had the luxury of doing before.
9. Elsbeth Tascioni from "The Good Wife" is probably the funniest yet competent lawyer in TV. Would you let her represent you if you were indicted with something?
Elsbeth is dizzy like a fox. You think she's all over the place, but then she nails you to the wall. I would trust her with anything, but I'm someone who enjoys the thrill of a roller-coaster.
10. What is like to a play recurring character on this show? Do you get to spend a lot of time with Julianna Margulies and the other regulars?
Julianna and I became friends around six years ago when we did a Broadway show together called "Festen". Although she didn't have anything to do with me being cast, she and I were certainly very happy to work together again. I adore her, and the "Good Wife" set is so lovely to work on. That whole cast welcomes me with open arms every time I go on there.
11. You and your husband Michael Emerson were on stage and in a movie together. Do you play with the idea of the perfect show for you two together? What characters would you like to play together?
Michael often jokes about a show where the two of us play a zany wise-cracking Broadway couple from the 30's where we get to play dozens of different characters, and everything goes wrong.
12. You played Felicity Huffman's sister once on "Desperate Housewives" and in "Transamerica". What's working with her like?
Felicity is a consummate professional, and I have always admired her. She and I got along really well in both cases. I thought to myself, "If I make an entire career of playing Felicity Huffman's sister, I would consider myself lucky".
13. Please tell us about your film "That's What She Said".
I have a production company called Daisy 3 Pictures. Our third feature film is called "That's What She Said", which was was written by Kellie Overbey and stars Anne Heche, Marcia DeBonis and Alia Shawkat. It takes the chick flick genre, mashes it with the balls to the wall silliness of a good bromance and let's the girls come out on top. I like to call it an East Village cousin of the Bridesmaids genre, which I’m very happy now exists. We’ve been trying to shepherd this project into the world for a good seven years, off and on. And we had our world premiere at Sundance in January, which was the most incredible thing we could ever imagine. Now we have a distribution deal with Phase 4 Films, so the film will come out in the US hopefully in the late summer. It’s really extraordinary to have finally achieved that particular dream.
14. myFanbase is a website that is devoted to American television shows. Do you have one or more favorite show(s)?
I am such a television fan. My current favorite shows are: "Person of Interest" (Yes, it stars my husband, but it's also really good!!), I'm a huge fan of "Breaking Bad". The more recent shows I'm love are "Boss", "Game of Thrones", "Homeland" and "Enlightened".
Thank you, Carrie, we wish you all the best for your future!
Nicole Oebel - myFanbase
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