I spoke with the gorgeous Carolyn Hennesy about my new favorite show, True Blood. Carolyn will be featured in season five as Vampire Authority Member, Rosalyn Harris. I can’t even begin to tell you how fantastic it was speaking with Carolyn. She is not only in the show but she is also a huge fan of the show, and that makes all the difference in the world when actors bring characters to life. It’s beautiful how passionate she is about True Blood, and I know that passion will bring exceptional “life” to Rosalyn Harris. Carolyn gave me that final push that I needed to welcome True Blood into my life and I will never rescind its invitation. I can never thank her enough for that and for sharing in my enthusiasm. While you are waiting to see Carolyn in True Blood check out some of her other projects like Cougar Town, General Hospital, and her Pandora book series for young adults. Book six of the Pandora series, Pandora Gets Greedy, comes out in June. I am counting down the days until the premiere of True Blood on HBO.
Lena: First off, I have to thank you because I’ve been held hostage by True Blood for the past week and I’ve loved every minute of it.
Carolyn Hennesy: (Laughter) Isn’t it the best? When I first got the job, and everybody knows this from the production team to Alan Ball, I had not seen the show so I wasn’t familiar with it. I got confused between Twilight, Vampire Diaries, True Blood, and what’s what and so on and so fourth, and then I got the job and I watched all four seasons in ten days. I completely understand being held hostage by True Blood, but it’s the best kind of bondage possible.
Lena: I watched all four seasons in five days.
Carolyn Hennesy: Five days, my hats off to you, you got me beat by five days. It’s amazing isn’t it, and really no pun intended but it just sucks you in.
Lena: Oh, yeah. I caught half of an episode before and I couldn’t get into it because it was in the third season and someone turned into a panther and I remember thinking, “What the hell is this show about?” (I thought it was a vampire show.)
Carolyn Hennesy: Yes, a werepanther and I know, I hear you.
Lena: You forced me into watching it.
Carolyn Hennesy: Well, my work it done. I’m glad that I’ve been what I would consider monumental help (laughs).
Lena: Definitely, True Blood is now my new favorite show.
Carolyn Hennesy: Isn’t it? I get so excited at the table reads when storylines that I am very much caught up in, because of having watched it so intently over a very short period of time, when I find out what is going to happen. I find myself saying, “Oh good, that’s happening over there while I’m doing my thing in the Authority but what’s happening with Sam (Sam Trammell), Alcide (Joe Manganiello), and Tara (Rutina Wesley)?” It’s very exciting to now be a part of it.
Lena: I can imagine. I can’t wait for season five. It’s going to be fantastic because not only are they bringing in you but they are also bringing back Denis O’Hare (as Russell Edginton).
Carolyn Hennesy: One of the finest actors on the planet. Denis O’Hare is very liberated as an actor. I mean he’s just fearless and as a result he inspires that in others around him, at least he does me. I like to think I’m fearless anyway but then when you see someone that makes it look so easy, it’s really a joy.
Lena: He’s delightful. I spoke with him about American Horror Story, on a press call,and I feel like a heel for not watching him on True Blood. I love him as Russell.
Carolyn Hennesy: Everything is workable and you can rectify that any day by letting him know what you just saw. (laughing) Oh, he is wonderful. “We are vampires and we will eat you.”
Lena: You also have Chris Meloni (from Law & Order: SVU) coming in.
Carolyn Hennesy: Yes, Chris Meloni and you have to give a tremendous amount of credit to the writers. The writing on that show is spectacular. The material that they give us to work with is fantastic, no slouch there.
Lena: I can’t wait to see Chris.
Carolyn Hennesy: Yes, I’ll just give you one word and that’s sexy.
Lena: Definitely! I’m excited for you and that you get to play a vampire because if I was an actor that would be my dream role.
Carolyn Hennesy: It is. I didn’t realize how much of a dream role it was until I finally sunk my teeth into something. It really is tons of fun. You get to be on gorgeous sets, never go out into the sunlight, and really fight for your life as a member of the undead.
Lena: Where do they film the show?
Carolyn Hennesy: Right here in Los Angeles and various locations around Los Angeles.
Lena: They do such a great job with the stages.
Carolyn Hennesy: I know, they really make you feel that you are in the outskirts and the wild hinterlands of Louisiana.
Lena: I just interviewed someone that wanted to know if they filmed True Blood in Louisiana. I didn’t think so but I figured I would ask.
Carolyn Hennesy: Every once in a while they’ll do location shots but that is very rare these days. You know they say that in California you can go from the mountains to the sea, you can surf and ski in the same day, it has all kinds of environments and it’s true. There are places in California that you can use for Siberia, Bon Temps, Pakistan, and South Africa. It’s all here.
Lena: I’ve been watching so much True Blood that Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) is rubbing off on me. I’ve started calling people hookers.
Carolyn Hennesy: (Carolyn does a perfect Lafayette impression) Yes, hooker… I don’t say that shit, hooker… Listen, I saw the show before the holidays so I had family gatherings and people were looking at me like I was insane (laughing).
Lena: (Laughing) Yes, he really rubs off on you.
Carolyn Hennesy: Yes, and Lafayette to me is one of the finest characters on the show and he is played to perfection by Nelsan. He’s such a beautifully layered character, beautifully layered performance.
Lena: Season 4 ended with Sookie (Anna Paquin) deciding not to choose Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) or Bill (Stephen Moyer) but rather go it alone. Tara (Rutina Wesley) was also shot in the head, but I’m assuming that she recovers (or they work around that because it is True Blood afterall).
Carolyn Hennesy: What I can say it this; the actress has not left the show at all (laughing).
Lena: It’s a supernatural show so they can make anything work.
Carolyn Hennesy: Yes, it’s a supernatural show and the actor is still a member of the cast. I invite you to draw your conclusions, as you will (laughing).
Lena: Speaking of Tara, wasn’t James Frain amazing?
Carolyn Hennesy: Oh yes, Tara’s psycho lover vampire boyfriend (Franklin). Yes, just lovely and again another fearless performer. There are so many of what I would call fearless performances on the show. In the hands of any other actors or writers it could all go horribly wrong. This show is perfection. This show not only walks the line, it creates the line. That was a fantastic performance. I’ll tell you who else I loved, the actor that played Talbot (Theo Alexander). I loved him, just loved him. He was just dreamy. Alan Ball knows exactly what he wants for his show and casts it accordingly. I don’t think that there has been a misstep anywhere.
Lena: What can you tell me about season 5 and of course, Rosalyn Harris?
Carolyn Hennesy: She’s a vampire, very old, from Texas but Texas, in the timeline, is not very old. Rosalyn has come from somewhere else but we are just not quite sure where but she has made Texas her home for the past 100 to 200 years. She’s one of those game gals that helped to settle the Old West. She’s very comfortable branding a calf. She knows that pearls can go with anything, so she is always a lady. She can brand a calf in the morning and go to the opera at night. She’s a man’s woman. She’s what we would call a great broad. She’s very funny and very folksy, but if you cross her she will drain you on the spot. As they say with regards to Texas hair, big is just a place to start. Rosalyn has hair high enough to interfere with air traffic control.
Lena: I am looking forward to seeing that.
Carolyn Hennesy: She’s a lot of fun. I’m not wearing a wig so somehow they were able to get my short bob up into the heavens.
Lena: How did she become an Authority Council Member?
Carolyn Hennesy: She was made an Authority Council Member by the Guardian, Chris Meloni’s character (Roman). This happened centuries ago so what their relationship was like, we don’t know yet. If the Authority has been around 2000 years then she has been a member for 1900 years. As long as the Authority has been around she’s pretty much been a part of it.
Lena: What characters are we going to be seeing her with the most?
Carolyn Hennesy: All of my other Authority members as it stands now like Christopher Heyerdahl (as Dieter Braun), Peter Mensah (as Kibwe), and Chris Meloni. There are some huge, huge political battles being fought in the vampire world this season. There are a lot of heavy duty and very important council meetings.
Lena: I hope you filmed some scenes with Alexander Skarsgård because he is my favorite.
Carolyn Hennesy: Well, I have worked and I can tell you that I have worked with Alexander and Stephen and I count myself as pretty much the luckiest gal on the face of this Earth because…(expressed with a sultry voice) yes, I have worked with them (laughing).
Lena: (Laughing) Sookie is an idiot for not choosing Eric.
Carolyn Hennesy: I know but a lot of people are Team Bill. Team Bill and Team Eric, what side do you fall on. I of course, have fallen on the side of Team Sam. I love Sam. I’m a big Sam gal. I just think he’s wonderful. He’s got such heart. He’s just such tremendous heart and we find out some pretty interesting things about him. He’s not squeaky clean, but I still think he’s a wonderful guy.
Lena: I love the scene with Eric and Sookie when she sucked the silver out of him and she was disgusted by it. Are you kidding? Any girl would do that. I would certainly volunteer for that one (laughing).
Carolyn Hennesy: Anyone would (laughing) and she gets mad at him for tricking her, really…okay (laughing)…
Lena: His face was brilliant. Alexander is amazing.
Carolyn Hennesy: He is and it was wonderful, so passive like okay, now I can read your thoughts so there you go. Oh well (laughing).
Lena: (Laughing) One of my favorite scenes in the show is when Eric rips the guy apart with the highlighting foil in his hair.
Carolyn Hennesy: They (Alexander and Alan) realized that they just wanted to change Eric’s hair but how could they do it so for him to agree to that with his highlighting foils, I think that scene got the biggest laugh from me in the series so far. Watching him struggle wearing the highlighting foil, that was hilarious.
Lena: That is the beauty of True Blood they know how to take (an extremely) brutal scene and add a touch of humor to it.
Carolyn Hennesy: Exactly! I’ll go back to General Hospital and it’s why I think people loved the character of Diane Miller so much because there was so much violence, kids being shot, people getting stabbed, blowing up, etc. and you had to have a bit of comedy as a breather. That’s the mark of any good show and certainly any good drama because if you just hit people over the head with the angst, the sorrow, and the desperation, people are going to kill themselves. Your audience is going to get so depressed. This show is gory and wicked but they poke fun at themselves. They know exactly how to do that and brilliantly so.
Lena: Yes they do. I’ve officially renamed one of my chinchillas Eric Northman in his and the show’s honor.
Carolyn Hennesy: (Laughing) You have chinchillas, I love it.
Lena: What do you have?
Carolyn Hennesy: We have two rescue dogs named Liza Jane and Arbuckle and a rescue cat named Buster. We are big on the rescues in this family.
Lena: I adopted my cat from the shelter. He’s really old and the chinchillas pick on him but they are keeping him young. They love pulling his tail but he really enjoys playing with them. (PSA — Always rescue a pet from a shelter. They will love you more and you never know one of them could be Sam. Are you willing to let that chance pass you by? Seriously, adopt before you go to a breeder. They know you are saving their lives and they will love you forever.)
Lena: The cast of True Blood is absolutely amazing and quite possibly the best looking cast on TV.
Carolyn Hennesy: I gave up being intimidated weeks ago because if I hadn’t I simply would not have been able to drive through the studio gate. If it is even possible, they are better looking in person. I’m not quite sure exactly how that happens. I come from a soap opera, I come from Cougar Town with Courteney Cox, one of the most beautiful women on the planet, and still pound for pound, per actor capita, this show is the most gorgeous on television. It’s crazy and yet they are all wonderful and really lovely people. Even the guest stars and the new characters that they are bringing on this season, I just say God bless, I can’t compete. Have fun and enjoy your beautifulness (laughing). I’ll be over here making this funny.
Lena: Come on you fit in perfectly with them; you are one of them. (Carolyn is being modest. She has that classic glamour that I adore. Feel free to name one vampire on the show that isn’t gorgeous, yeah that’s what I thought, you can’t.)
Carolyn Hennesy: That is sweet of you to say but trust me I know what is and what isn’t. If you look at Kristin Bauer, who plays Pam, or Tara, or Anna, Stephen, Alexander, or Sam Trammel, who is gorgeous, and Janina, the lovely girl that plays his girlfriend Luna, it’s like well alright, I’ll just stare. They also have the most gorgeous physics, and then you have Alcide (Joe Manganiello) who is just spectacular. And then you have Joe (laughing)…
Lena: Yes, that’s all you need to know.
Carolyn Hennesy: You must have just lost your mind because I know I did. The scene at the lake, when Eric is standing in the lake and then Joe comes up beside him and they are both naked. It’s like well I can go to bed happy.
Lena: Absolutely! It is the best show. I was reading an article about Ryan Kwanten (he plays Jason Stackhouse) where he helped a wounded man and carried him across the street to safety after an accident. He even waited for the ambulance to come.
Carolyn Hennesy: I wouldn’t doubt it. I have not had any scenes with him but he was one of the very first actors to extend his hand to me at the table read. Nobody knew who I was but he came up to me and said hello and introduced himself. There are nothing but reports about how this guy is basically a knight in shining armor. I think one of the girls shares the same dentist as he does and even the dentist says this guy is just perfection. He’s lovely to work with and a lovely actor to boot.
Lena: I love Australians.
Carolyn Hennesy: Oh sure.
Lena: One of my other favorite things about True Blood is their use of special effects makeup because it’s a dying art in today’s CGI age.
Carolyn Hennesy: The special effects makeup is spectacular but you have to have a really good special effects makeup base to make the CGI work. Sure you can create characters out of thin air but there is nothing like having a living, breathing actor underneath latex. You’re just not going to get the same performance. You can get an excellent performance with something like Gollum but it won’t be exactly the same. The special effects makeup people are the absolute apex, they are the best at what they do and even the vampire makeup, as pale and as delicate as that has to be, we have probably one of the best makeup teams on the planet.
Lena: Definitely, they do such a phenomenal job. I loved Russell’s burn makeup, what a great job.
Carolyn Hennesy: I couldn’t agree more, absolutely. They are fantastic.
Lena: Obviously, they use a lot of CGI because if Alexander could take off like a man-rocket in real life we would have a few problems, (or maybe not)…
Carolyn Hennesy: Yes, they call that vamp speed.
Lena: I love it when he just shoots up in the air.
Carolyn Hennesy: I know, every episode is like a feature film. They take that much care, that much attention, they spare no expense and it looks like it. They really pour their heart and soul from Alan Ball all the way down to the set PAs. There is a sense when you walk on to that set that you are doing something important. Are we curing cancer? No but are we bringing a wonderful story with an amazing cast of characters to life, absolutely. People love that and people understand that and really respond to that.
Lena: You really need to get away from how harsh the world is and just sit down and enjoy a show.
Carolyn Hennesy: Exactly but Alan Ball is very clever in the fact that he infuses each of these seasons with a social message of some kind, with a political message and it’s obviously from his political perspective but he’s got the power to say, okay people how do you compare the attitudes of some of these characters onscreen to the attitudes of people around you or your attitude in a similar situation. Yes, it’s light and frothy but there is a lot to be said socially for these shows.
Lena: I would love to get your take on your character’s makeup, fashion, mannerisms, and those little details that really bring her together for you.
Carolyn Hennesy: Rosalyn is what you would call a great broad and at all times a lady. Tease the hair until it reaches God, slap a set of pearls on and you are good to go because everything else will fall into line. She is always impeccably dressed. If you cross her she will stake you, she will snap your neck as soon as look at you. Do not cross Rosalyn Harris. For me, Rosalyn’s key trait is her wonderful sense of humor. I feel that she wants to mainstream because she understands the importance of mainstreaming but she never loses that wonderful sense of humor that has enabled her to survive all these centuries.
Lena: What did it feel like to wear the fangs for the first time?
Carolyn Hennesy: Oh it was so much fun. It’s a little difficult to talk but you look great when you smile. The special effects people have fitted them so beautifully. Each set of fangs is different and each is unique and specifically made for the actor and for the character. When I put in Rosalyn’s fangs, it’s like snap, I’m instantly in that world.
Lena: Alan Ball is stepping down as showrunner next season, what are your thoughts on that?
Carolyn Hennesy: I think it is going to be a tremendous loss but I also know that he will not be gone. I think Alan Ball will be checking in. I think he will always be checking in and saying hello and seeing what’s going on. He’s also left the show so solid, it’s like concrete it’s so solid. While he will be absolutely missed I think he knows that he has chosen the right time for himself that he can go off and pursue other things down other avenues. I’m so confident that this show is not going anywhere. He’s left the mark he wants to leave so other people can take it from there. He trusts Gregg Fienberg, as he should, to carry on.
Lena: Are you prepared for the True Blood fandom?
Carolyn Hennesy: I can’t wait for the True Blood fandom. I’m used to dealing with loyal, committed, smart, intelligent, and fun fans thanks to General Hospital. I’ll match you fan for fan, in terms of loyalty, but I have a feeling that we might be dealing with a little bit of a different animal here. I can’t wait.
Lena: Working on General Hospital must have worked in your favor because True Blood is really a supernatural soap opera.
Carolyn Hennesy: Exactly, we just have the luxury of getting more takes while we are filming.
Lena: That’s right, I’ve heard that soap operas are tough to film.
Carolyn Hennesy: They are tough to film if you are not used to it, but you get used to it real quickly. It’s like oh really, one take, okay here I go, I hope I get it right because I’m only doing it once.
Lena: It really sharpens your acting chops.
Carolyn Hennesy: It can, absolutely. In some cases it can make you get very lazy, but in most cases it just keeps you really in tune.
Lena: Do you watch Community on NBC because Abed (Danny Pudi) always brings up Cougar Town?
Carolyn Hennesy: I don’t, that’s not one of my television appointments but I’ve heard that. Oh Cougar Town, I had so much fun on Cougar Town.
Lena: The fans (and Abed) fought not to lose it.
Carolyn Hennesy: We fought not to lose it and Barb, my character, really only interacted with Courteney Cox. It was such a fun character to play. Oh my gosh, talk about comedy gold and writers knowing exactly what to write for a character. There was just enough of Barb to make you cringe but you were also titillated at the same time. You anticipated Barb’s one-liners and she was on long enough that you would just cringe but you didn’t turn away.
Lena: Are you planning on attending Comic-Con in San Diego this year with True Blood?
Carolyn Hennesy: I’ve never been to Comic-Con and I know nothing about it except that it’s a mob scene. If invited, I would go. If the production sends the panel down and they want to bring the character of Rosalyn down to the panel of course I would say yes. To have that chance to mingle and see what the audience’s response is, I would not say no.
Lena: It’s crazy but really fun. I went last year for the first time and I’m hoping to go back this year.
Carolyn Hennesy: That’s great. I hear that it has just grown into a living, breathing animal all on its own. It’s just crazy but in the best way.
Lena: You also write books and you’re a trapeze artist, is there anything that you don’t do?
Carolyn Hennesy: Nope (laughing)! Well, anything that I don’t do that I want to do, no except that I would like to go into space. If anyone has 20 million dollars that they want to toss my way for me to go and spend it on the International Space Station…I would love to go into space sometime. I would promise NASA that I wouldn’t touch anything. My book series is going exceptionally well, the Pandora series for young adults. I’m working on several fabulous tricks on the trapeze, so life at this particular time is a very blessed event for me. My twitter fans, God bless my twitter fans, they all know every time I’m going to fly on the trapeze, they pretty much know everything about me.
Lena: Trapeze is a fantastic workout.
Carolyn Hennesy: Oh it is. I’m also starting a different type of trapeze workout with a brilliant teacher, whose name I will mention because I think she deserves it, Ruth Percival. She is teaching me what is called the static trapeze or single trapeze and it’s what you see a lot of in Cirque du Soleil. It’s where the aerialist does not leave the bar. In flying trapeze the aerialist is thrown all over the place, and you want to talk about a workout, Lena, you would lose your mind. I’m beat up after one of these things but it’s the best feeling in the whole world. I think in a former life I must have actually been a circus performer.
Lena: It’s a great workout because it never gets dull.
Carolyn Hennesy: No never, you can go up there and do fifteen different tricks or you can do fifteen different reps with free weights. I would rather do fifteen different tricks.
Lena: How many episodes of True Blood have you done?
Carolyn Hennesy: We are still filming and we are in the middle of filming episode eight. I’ve been in quite a few of them.
Lena: That is fantastic. I loved talking True Blood with you.
Carolyn Hennesy: Anytime. We will have to make another date after it premieres to talk again.
Lena: That would be great. I can’t wait to see what you bring to the series.
Carolyn Hennesy: You and me both, let’s see what they managed to get on film.
Lena: Thank you again for taking the time and for introducing me to the show.
Carolyn Hennesy: My pleasure, my work is done.
Carolyn Hennesy Interview
Vampire Authority Member “Rosalyn Harris”
April 10, 2012
True Blood Season 5 Premieres June 10 at 9PM on HBO
By Lena Lamoray
Follow Carolyn on Twitter @carolynhennesy