I spoke with the gorgeous and inspiring Charisma Carpenter about The Lying Game, the charities that she works with, Supernatural, and more. Charisma is one of the most admirable people that I have ever interviewed. She’s out there really making a difference and is improving the lives of so many. Please make sure that you check out some of the charities and projects that she is involved with – Nevada SPCA, The Ronan Thompson Foundation, The Thirst Project, and Bands For Beds. It was an honor to be able to speak with her about these important issues. You do not want to miss the spring finale of The Lying Game, tonight on ABC Family. Did Rebecca do it? Watch the all-new episode tonight at 9/8c.
Lena: I loved the episode of Supernatural (“Shut Up, Dr. Phil”) that you did.
Charisma Carpenter: Thank you. It was so fun. That was a really good time. I don’t know if you could tell but we had a lot of fun. I loved working with James (Marsters) on and off set, and I love Vancouver. Anytime they want to have me back, I’m there.
Lena: That’s what I was going to ask you. Do you know if they have any plans on bringing you back? [Supernatural has been renewed for a ninth season.]
Charisma Carpenter: That show is like the new Smallville. That was on for about eleven years.
Lena: It’s so hard for a television to stay on the air, so good for them.
Charisma Carpenter: It really is and The CW is good at that, keeping a show alive; except for Angel, it got cancelled after five season. [Laughing.] Those boys are great. I’m happy for their success. Hopefully, they will write us back in or they can create a spinoff for James and me. That would be a lot of fun.
Lena: The fans would really love that.
Charisma Carpenter: I would love that.
Lena: Before we get in to The Lying Game questions, can we talk about some of the charities that you work with because you do some amazing work?
Charisma Carpenter: I’m an honorary board member of the Nevada SPCA. I try to do what I can to raise awareness, and when they have galas I always try to show up for them, being that that is my hometown. I’m a big animal lover. I wouldn’t say I’m an activist; I’m just a lover. I just want to promote adoption as much as I can.
I’m involved with The Ronan Thompson Foundation. If you don’t know Ronan’s story, he’s a three-year-old that passed away from Neuroblastoma cancer. When they did the Stand Up to Cancer concert Taylor Swift made a song and sang it at that live performance that was broadcasted internationally and at the end posted his photo, that’s Ronan. The Ronan Thompson Foundation was started by Maya Thompson, his mom, in an effort to increase awareness and funding for pediatric cancer, which is the least funded cancer of all cancers. If you can believe it or not, even with the Ronald McDonald House and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, childhood cancer does not get the funding that other cancers do. The board that is in charge of it, in the government, doesn’t fund pediatric cancer as much. Neuroblastoma, which is what Ronan passed away from, is nearly never heard of. Basically, Neuroblastoma is if you are one or older, you will most likely die. If you are diagnosed with Neurolastoma at one year or younger, you have a higher percentage of survival with aggressive treatment. He’s a friend of my family’s and we were very close so I do what I can to raise awareness of his foundation, which specializes in funding and research. They are building a research center in Arizona with all the funds that they get. Thanks to Taylor Swift, all of the lyrics to Taylor’s song were written from Maya’s blog, so she made Maya a co-author. Maya was able to share in all the residuals, which is such a generous thing for Taylor to do. She can use those funds to go into the foundation as well. That’s a beautiful, beautiful story. They kind of don’t need me because they have Taylor [laughing], but I do what I can.
The other charity is The Thirst Project. Seth Maxwell started it in his early twenties. He started it based on the fact that there are people in third world countries that don’t have access to safe, clean water. The problem with not having access is that people are dying from waterborne diseases. The diseases are crippling, especially the young and old, and are preventable. He’s come up with a concept of raising 50 million dollars to put into clean drinking water for the whole entire country. He does school tours. He received some funding from Coca-Cola. Warren Buffett has expressed interest and I think he did give him some money. When they get that to work they are going to be able to use that as a template for other countries. They are going to be able to get the globe access to clean, fresh water.
While I was in Uganda, I funded a well in Uganda. I was also on a donor trip where we were visiting all of the villages in a certain region. While I was in Uganda, I came across a school called The Bethlehem Parents School. It’s a primary school/orphanage. There are 350 kids that live there, give or take, 652 attend school during the day, and 42 of them are HIV-positive and gravely ill. The school made such an impression on me, their optimism, their spirit, their courage throughout all this adversity – they are starving, they have sanitation issues, they don’t have shoes, beds, clothes (that are not tattered and falling apart). I just fell in love with them. There was a little boy there that I would have loved to adopt and take him home to America with me. I want to raise money for the whole school and get them all food. I did a lot of research and brought in some teams. I fed them for a few months when it was really bad times and ultimately, what I realized is that I don’t have enough personal wealth to write them a check for $40,000 a year to keep them all fed, but what I could do is have a fundraiser and just try to take a little bite out of it at a time and learn the process of fundraising and hopefully, get them beds; something workable and tangible by my means. My boyfriend is in a band called The Public Trust. We decided to have a fundraiser and call it Bands For Beds. Mike’s (Rossi) band can play and one of my costars on The Lying Game, Allie Gonino, is friendly with his band and her band is named The Good Mad. I called up all of my actor friends that I could and in one night we raised $5,600. Now we need to raise just $4,400 more to get every single one of the kids new beds, mattress covers, proper linen, beds that are metal instead of wood, and get them outfitted with that. That was my first goal.
Every time I do an interview an interview, I always like to talk about it so I can’t thank you enough for asking about it up front.
Lena: You do some wonderful work.
Charisma Carpenter: Thank you.
Lena: Your fans sent me some The Lying Game questions for you. Do you think that Rebecca has any allies left?
Charisma Carpenter: No. She’s worked herself right into a corner, hasn’t she? I feel like she really doesn’t have a lot of allies at this point. Right now I think the only one that she’s kind of winning over is Ted (Andy Buckley). But if he goes to jail for murdering Derek, I don’t know what is going to happen. I really believe that Ted could trust Rebecca with anything. He could tell her the most horrible thing, I won’t even speculate on what that could be, and I think Rebecca would still love him, which is such a head scratcher for me. I don’t get it.
Lena: A lot of people think that Rebecca is responsible for Derek’s (Ben Elliott) and now possibly Theresa’s (Yara Martinez) murder. Stepping away from your character, just as a viewer, who do you think is guilty Rebecca, Alec, or someone else?
Charisma Carpenter: I have to think about what the motives are and I try to think as a creator or writer, who do I think is the most unlikely suspect. It’s usually that person; the one person that you would never think of like Kristin (Helen Slater). Kristin would never do it. So if Kristin ends up being the murderer I will be so shocked. I wouldn’t be surprised because this show is full of twists and turns. You never know what is going to happen. If I had to speculate whom, over Alec or Rebecca, I would have to say Alec. I don’t think Alec would be stupid enough to do it with his own bare hands, but I think he would hire somebody. I think it’s possible that Rebecca would, but I don’t think she does. We really don’t want the twins’ mom to be cooped up. She can be devious, a little misguided and amoral, but we don’t want her to be straight up pathological or psychopathic. Right? That’s hard to work around likeability.
Lena: That’s true. What is it like working on the show and with the cast members?
Charisma Carpenter: This is probably one of the most amazing casts that I’ve ever had the fortune to work with. I loved working on Angel. It was like a tiny family, and we were together for so long. I went over to Veronica Mars and I’m surrounded by all these amazing twenty-year-olds who are involved with Invisible Children. Here were these kids that were making huge changes in the world; it was so inspiring. I come to this show and I’m surrounded by mature hardworking, thoughtful, Allie and Alice (Greczyn) are very thoughtful analysts that are politically involved. When I brought them in to The Thirst Project, we bought a well together. They really care about the world. I just think to myself, where was I? I was on a soundstage in Paramount and I was in such a bubble. I just admire them so much and I love working with Adrian (Pasdar). There is not a day that goes by that he isn’t there on the set, in terms of if there is a guest, he takes it upon himself to make sure that they are all situated, that they get a nice tour, that they get a little souvenir when they leave. When you are in a scene with Andy there is just no getting through without laughing. He’s the biggest prankster and joker. Everybody is great; I love everybody. When I had this impromptu tailgate party for Julie Benz, my friend, her husband would come to town because her husband is an alumnus from Texas so we would have an impromptu tailgate and every single person came. When I had Bands For Beds every single person came. As far as I’m concerned, this cast is like family to me.
Lena: That’s great to hear. I interviewed Randy Wayne, who played Justin Miller, last year and he was really nice.
Charisma Carpenter: I didn’t get to work with him that much. He was kind of going out while I was coming in, unfortunately.
Lena: Without giving too much away, what can you say about the finale, something that will get the fans really excited?
Charisma Carpenter: I think the Derek murder suspect will be revealed, and somebody’s future is in peril. The cliffhanger is that we don’t know if that person is going to live or die, and I’m not talking about Theresa. [Laughing.] Somebody else’s life is in peril.
Lena: They talk about one of the twins facing a danger that they didn’t see coming in the preview.
Charisma Carpenter: I don’t know what they mean by that. That’s very interesting. I think it’s either Alec or Rebecca as the culprit, the most deeds or evil doing suspects or murders, or what not. I think those are the two to watch out for.
Lena: So they are going to leave us with a cliffhanger.
Charisma Carpenter: You’re going to have a cliffhanger, sorry. Hopefully, with this season, they will not leave with that cliffhanger for ten months. They have to keep us on the air and keep the momentum going. I hope that they do and give us that chance.