Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book Signing with True Blood cast in West Hollywood

booksoup

Last Monday night I attended a book signing for the book TRUE BLOOD: STEVE NEWLIN’S FIELD GUIDE TO VAMPIRES. The signing was held at a small book store called, Book Soup in West Hollywood. It's a friendly, little bookstore right on Sunset Boulevard that is home to over 60,000 titles, specializing in art, film, photography, music, controversial non-fiction, and literary fiction, as well as international magazines at our outdoor newsstand, NewsMews.

booksoupphoto

Attending the event were the authors, Michael McMillian, who plays Steve Newlin on True Blood and Gianna Sobel, Associater Producer. But that's not all, two additional cast members attended the signing, Deborah Ann Woll, Jessica Hamby and Anna Camp, Sara Newlin.


Michael McMillian, Giana Sobel, Anna Camp and Deborah Ann Woll

The book signing began at 6pm, but a few of us had been invited to interview Michael and Gianna about the book before the signing. Below is my short interview with Michael and Giana filmed just before the foursome lined up for the book signing. Michael and Gianna weren't able to provide much information about Season 7, sadly, but it still was a fun conversation. I asked each of them about how the book came to be and what each of them are doing now.


See more photos from this event by going to the Vault Photo Gallery.


Michael McMillian and Gianna Sobel at Book signing of their book.Here's a little about the book: The vampires and otherworldly creatures that call Bon Temps, Louisiana home often clash with humans, one of which was their self-appointed nemesis: sweet-talking, bible-thumping Reverend Steve Newlin. A hater of all things supernatural, Newlin developed a demented journal, his Field Guide to Vampires, which chronicles all he knows about these “Creatures of Satan” and how to kill them. The journal fell into the hands of vampires Eric and Pam who defaced it in a most disrespectful and snarky manner. Packed with untold insight into key storylines and several compelling characters, True Blood: Steve Newlin’s Field Guide to Vampires is an endlessly entertaining read that perfectly captures the tongue-in-cheek humor that has made True Blood a hit.

And, here's an inside look at a page in the book:

True-Blood-book_990x683

Click here to purchase your copy of this delightful read.


photo source for inside look: shelf-life.ew.com

Amanda Foundation Halloween Event - The Big "Bark" Theory

First published on The Vault: TrueBlood-Online.com

amandabowwowwowbanner2013-4


On Sunday night, October 27, 2013 I attended The Amanda Foundation's annual Bow Wow Beverly Hills Halloween event. This year the title of the event was The Big "BARK" Theory because the event host was Kaley Cuoco who plays Penny on the show, "The Big Bang Theory."

It was held at the same prime location as in the past at 2 Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Teri Austin and Tracy Jones put on a great event for all the many animal lovers who attended. Pets, of course, were welcome and some were even dressed up  for the annual Halloween costume party. It was a fun time that also included silent auctions, great food, drink and music for all.

I arrived in time to watch Kaley Cuoco receive the "Worthy of Love" award from the head of the Amanda Foundation, Teri Austin.  Teri also spoke about a doberman who desperately needed an operation on his leg and she asked for attendees to donate for that operation.  I'm happy to report that our furry friend will be having the needed operation as many who were in the audience stepped up to contribute.

Kaley Cuoco and Teri Austin

Many celebrities attended to show their support for The Amanda Foundaiton in addition to Kaley Cuoco, such as Melanie Griffith, Jade Tailor, Glenn Hughes, Abri van Straten, who came with his wife, True Blood's Kristin Bauer van Straten.

Kristin being interviewed by the press.
 Kristin arrived later than most as she had just come from another charity event.  She told me she had also just flown back from Tulsa, OK earlier that day where she had appeared at a Halloween event on Saturday night.  She sure is a busy lady.

However, that didn't keep her from being very friendly and generous with her time to all.  She posed for the photographers and then gave interviews to all those that wanted one. Kristin is such a caring and genuinely giving person, I wasn't surprised a bit.

Lucky me, got to "hang out" with Kristin and Abri for a bit and I asked her if she knew anything about True Blood Season 7  and when it would be starting production? Just like all the other cast members I've asked, she said she knew nothing and that she hadn't heard a thing from HBO yet about a start date.  She did say that she expects production will start up in early January, as has been reported. I chatted with her and Abri for a while and they told me that they are about to leave for a vacation in Tahiti.  I'm sure this is well deserved as Kristin has been very busy making lots of public appearances during True Blood's hiatus, so I wished them the best for a wonderful holiday.

Kristin Bauer van Straten and Abri van Straten At 2013 Amanda Event
Kristin and Abri van Straten

Go to The Vault Photo Gallery to see more photos:

Below are three videos from the event.

The first is one I took amidst the crowd of photographers of Kaley Cuoco getting her "Worthy of Love" Award, (sorry about the shaking; it was very crowded).



The next two are of the photographers shooting photos of Kaley and Kaley on the red carpet:

Kaley Cuoco on the red carpet



Kristin Bauer van Straten on the red carpet




Please consider supporting The Amanda Foundation by donating to save the life of a god or cat.

You can make a direct donation to The Amanda Foundation here :

Friday, August 30, 2013

Introduction - Exclusive Interview with biographer Eve Golden on John Gilbert

evegolden

Introduction  


I have been fascinated by John Gilbert since I first heard about him. And, what I heard wasn’t very flattering. All I knew about him, at the time, was that he failed to transition from silent to sound films for the reason that he had a high voice. I just had to find out for myself if this was true. Turns out that it wasn’t.

I became so fascinated by his story that I created a section here on Classic Movie Favorites about him.

Even with having done so much research about him for CMF, until reading Eve Golden's new biography titled, John Gilbert - The Last of the Silent Film Stars, I never really completely understood why he was considered to be such a liability by MGM or, why the studio hadn't helped him through the transition as they did with Greta Garbo.  At the time of his demise, he was still very handsome and highly talented, so why was he abandoned by the studio he had made so much money for? I thought his life tragic, so I wanted to know more.

The only book I had read on Gilbert until recently, was his daughter, Leatrice Gilbert Fountain’s book, “Dark Star.” Her account of her father’s life was a good one, but I still didn't find convincing answers to my questions about Gilbert’s failure in film. So, when Eve Golden’s book came out, I bought it right away. I also immediately contacted her and asked if she would be willing to be interviewed, and thankfully she said, "yes."

When we spoke, I was happy to find out that we have similar roots, both coming from Philadelphia and each of us huge classic movie fans who grew up sneaking into the living room to watch the "Late, Late show" on TV when we were supposed to be in bed. For us both, that love for classic film has never faded.

Until the last few years, I was never really interested in silent film, preferring sound films. But, now I've gained a new appreciation for silent films through meeting the great Kevin Brownlow, watching his documentary "Hollywood," and through films by stars such as the great, Garbo and of course, John Gilbert. My first viewing of a Garbo/Gilbert silent was "Flesh and the Devil," which is now one of my favorite films.

Here's the waltz scene from Flesh and the Devil:


My interview with Eve Golden took place last month and it was a joy. Below are just a few quotes from Eve that I wanted to particularly highlight from our discussion.

On watching silent films, Eve Golden says:
"You have to really sit still and pay attention, and its best with the lights out and it really takes you into another world, the way the talkies don’t."
On the transition from silent to sound films, Eve Golden says: 
"It’s funny because one of the things I liked about writing about John Gilbert was that whole change over from silent to sound that culturally never happened before or since where in a period of just three years, an entire art form died and an entire new art form was born, which is why you have films like Sunset Boulevard. When you look at Sunset Boulevard, you realize that Gloria Swanson [and her character, Norma Desmond] is still a young woman; she’s not even 50 and she’s talking about a period that’s only thirty years ago, like us talking about the 1990’s and yet, the silent era is like talking about the age of Louis the 16th."
For those who don't know much about Gilbert's career, before you read the interview, I suggest you watch this episode of Kevin Brownlow's documentary, "Hollywood." This episode features two of the biggest starts of the silent era who didn't make the transition to sound films, Clara Bow and John Gilbert. 

Clara Bow is featured first, and John Gilbert's portion starts at 18:24 minutes in. 



This interview with Eve is a long one that I have divided into four parts.


Click on the links below to read each section:

Part 1 - Exclusive Interview with biographer Eve Golden on John Gilbert

evegolden

Part 1 - About John Gilbert
From lowly beginnings to superstar


LYNN DOUGHERTY: About his childhood, which is still kind of murky for me, do you think that his horrific childhood might have anything to do with his later troubles, i.e., drinking, etc?
EVE GOLDEN: It’s hard to tell because you can have two people with similar childhoods and they turn out differently. He did have a tough childhood, but tough as it was, it’s hard to tell because he just romanticized and made things sound a lot worse than they were. He demonized his mother and I really wanted to give her an even break so I went back and found out that his mother actually had quite a good career and was a talented actress.
You have to look at things from her side and say that this is a single mother dragging a kid with her all over the country working as an actress; and that’s a tough life. I really tried to give her an even break. 
He was probably a difficult kid as he was a difficult adult, but he was very lucky and he got into films at THE perfect time, with lots of connections and got work right away. He really had a charmed career.He was very thin skinned, took everything to heart, not only a perfectionist, but was very easily insulted and it’s hard to play armchair psychologist, but I’m guessing bipolar. I have a couple of bipolar friends who read the book and said, “Oh my God, that’s me.” 
LD: I was going to ask you about his being bipolar because in the book on page 148, it’s mentioned and I was wondering how you felt about it. 
EG: I think so, but I said in the book that I was only guessing and these are the reasons that I think he might have been and, since the book came out I've heard from some people who are bipolar who said he was, “absolute textbook,” even the drinking, because a lot of bipolar self medicate with alcohol. 
LD: You said in the book, “he came from nothing and he was glad to be part of it and didn’t look down on it like theater people did and he was happy to be where he was. It’s such an example of what could have been and wasn’t.” 
EG: He really had a good time when he could, even right up to the end. Thank goodness he was smart and kept his money, I mean could you imagine if he’d gone through all that and had been broke. 
LD: How early do you think he got into this drinking heavily? 
EG: It didn't really become a problem until his career started going downhill. He drank a lot; certainly from the early 20’s he was on all the bootlegger’s lists, but it didn't become a problem until about 1926. And it wasn't a health and career problem until after the talkies. 
LD: And, so was alcohol a key player in his death? 
EG: It’s probably what killed him. I spoke to a Forensic Pathologist, who said it might not actually have been a heart attack that killed him, but it might have instead been an aneurysm, or an ulcer from the drinking, but there was no autopsy done, so we’ll never know for sure. 
LD: How long was he ill before he died? 
EG: Really, he was ill for three or four years, but he was critically ill for about four months. His health had been going downhill for years from the drinking and malnutrition because he was always underweight and you can see in some of the photos from the early 30’s that he was dangerously underweight. Virginia Bruce said he had the bleeding ulcers and he was vomiting blood and so he was in poor health for about four years, but it was about four months of really serious illness before he died. 

THE ATTRACTION OF JOHN GILBERT 

LD: His women - which of his women was Gilbert’s ultimate love, Garbo or one of his wives? 
EG: Oh, he would say all of them. The last woman he saw was the love of his life. I’m sure that nurse that was taking care of him at the end of his life was the love of his life. That’s what he was like. But, the Garbo thing, that only really lasted a couple of months and he was still in love with her. And, one thing I find really interesting is that out of all the women he was with, Garbo was the only one who ever badmouthed him. All of his ex-wives had nothing but lovely things to say about him. And, Garbo was the only one that was kind of embarrassed by the whole thing and bad mouthed him.
LD: Until recently most of his silent films were not really available to see. I had never seen Flesh and the Devil before, for example, and when I saw it, I immediately became interested in him because, I thought “Wow, that man has electricity plus” in this film and he was as gorgeous as Garbo was. 
EG: Oh, he was amazing and, so good looking. 
LD: Gilbert and Garbo - so many myths have been written about these two, but after reading your book it seems that the affair wasn’t as much as the press made of it. Is that a fair assessment? Was Garbo his true love?
EG: I think he just swept her off her feet. I don’t think she was ever in love with him. I think she was bowled over by him; swept along for a couple of months and then basically backed off like Hell. Gilbert fell in love at the drop of a hat; he would fall in love with the waitress who brought him his coffee in the morning and every woman he met was the love of his life. I really find the Dietrich/Gilbert relationship much more interesting than the Garbo/Gilbert relationship because they were both grownups and I think that was a much more adult relationship and she tried to help him as he tried to help her. 


This interview with Eve is a long and a rewarding one that I have divided into four parts.

Click on the links below to read each section:

Part 2 - Exclusive Interview with biographer Eve Golden on John Gilbert

evegolden

Part 2 – Gilbert’s film career

Silent to Sound  


Poster of John Gilbert in
Poster from "The Big Parade"
LYNN DOUGHERTY: What do you consider to be Gilbert’s best silent film? And, if there is one, what would be his best talkie?
EVE GOLDEN: Of the silent films, his favorite was certainly, The Big Parade and I have to agree. I’m not crazy about Karl Dane in that; too much broad comedy from Karl Dane, but that is probably his best silent along with “Love,” which I think is the best Garbo/Gilbert film, except of course, for the horrible ending they tacked on.
John Gilbert in Downstairs
Gilbert in "Downstairs"
The best talkie is definitely Downstairs,” but I also like “The Captain Hates the Sea;” which I think it’s as good as “Grand Hotel.” It’s low budget and it’s no “Dinner at Eight,” but for an ensemble piece, with comedy and tragedy, and all these little ins and outs, it’s good. And he gives a wonderful performance’ in it. That scene when he is alone in his little cabin listening to the record that his fiancé made, I think it’s just brilliant.
LD: Speaking of Grand Hotel, one of the questions I was going to ask you is while they gave that part of the baron to John Barrymore, I would have much rather seen Gilbert in the part. Do you agree?

EG: Oh, he would have been terrific and Buster Keaton in the Lionel Barrymore part would have been great.
LD: Was he still with MGM at that time? So they could have cast him?
EG: It was 32, so he was still at Metro. Yes, they could have cast him. Even Norma Shearer admitted that Irving Thalberg really didn't help him as much as he could have. They were also going to give him Red Dust and I really can’t blame them for casting Gable instead since he was so good with Harlow, they were such a great team, so OK, I can forgive them for that, but he would have been better than John Barrymore in Grand Hotel because John Barrymore was too old for the part.
LD: I thought Barrymore was too much of a “stage” actor for that part.
EG: I love Barrymore, but he seemed like Garbo’s father in this part. Plus in the book, it’s a young, hot thief romancing a middle aged ballerina, so they kind of reversed it.
LD: Also I think Gilbert would have been better because whether he and Garbo were still together or not, the charisma between the two of them was undeniable.
EG: And they worked together beautifully and because of the charisma, as you say, I think he would have been much better than Barrymore. Have you ever seen Desire, the film he was making when he died? It’s a great film, very funny screwball comedy and when you see it and you see John Halliday and the role Gilbert would have played it just really hurst to know how great John Gilbert would have been in that role. It wasn't the male lead; he played the second male lead, Marlene Dietrich’s slightly older criminal partner.
LD: What was his greatest acting performance? I’m sure he would say The Big Parade.
EG: There is no film where he gives a bad performance, but in some of them there is not much of a performance you can give because the script and the role aren’t up to much, so you just kind of roust your way through it and do the best you can.
Gilbert in
Gilbert in "The Show"
Some of the romantic and swashbuckling roles, like the Cossacks and Bardelys the Magnificent really didn't require any acting, they instead required looking good and laughing and romancing and it wasn't acting. So there were a few films that, he gave his best, but there was nothing he could do with them.
The Show” was also a really fun film directed by Todd Browning, but it was very weird. Its very sexy for one thing and is basically the story that became “Carousel” so Gilbert works in a circus and wears the tightest pants in the entire world and this striped sweater and they let his hair go all curly and, Oh My God, he is so hot in that film. 

LD: The last film he worked on, was “Desire.” Are there outtakes of Gilbert in Desire?
EG: Thank goodness for Kevin Brownlow. He showed the colored tests that Gilbert did for that role. That’s on YouTube actually; in three parts and in the last part they show the color outtakes of Gilbert. You will just faint when you see these, because the only other color footage of him is from “Hollywood Review.”
LD: Was that the film where Gilbert was replaced when he had the mild heart attacks?
EG: Yes, and John Halliday was about 20 years older than Gilbert and he replaced him and when you see that, it’s just so frustrating.
Garbo and Gilbert in Queen Christina
Garbo & Gilbert in "Queen Christina"
LD: When Gilbert was in “Queen Christina” with Garbo, he was quite good even though they completely shrunk his part.
EG: That was a nothing role. I mean, it was sweet of Garbo [to get him the part], but all he did in it was stare at her adoringly. 
LD: Yes, but that was the first time that I actually got to hear him in a film because most of his sound films, like “Downstairs” and “The Captain Hates the Sea” weren’t available until recently. I have now seen "The Captain Hates The Sea," however.
EG: Yes, it’s a lot easier to write biographies now because of DVD’s and YouTube, and things like that.


This interview with Eve is a long and a rewarding one that I have divided into four parts.
Click on the links below to read each section:

Part 3 - Exclusive Interview with biographer Eve Golden on John Gilbert


Part 3 – Gilbert’s Demise
The perfect storm of awfulness

Lynn Dougherty: Personally I never used to look at silent films; I was always in the sound world, but Kevin Brownlow’s documentary “Hollywood” changed that for me. Did you also have a hard time originally getting into the world of silent film?

Eve Golden: It’s a whole different world. You have to really sit still and pay attention, and its best with the lights out and it really takes you into another world, the way the talkies don’t. It’s funny because one of the things I liked about writing in the book was that whole change over from silent to sound that culturally never happened before or since. In a period of just three years, an entire art form died and an entirely new art form was born, which is why you have films like Sunset Boulevard. When you watch Sunset Boulevard, you realize that Gloria Swanson’s Norma Desmond is still a young woman; she’s not even 50 and she’s talking about a period that’s only 30 years ago, it’s like us talking about the 1990’s. As if, the silent era was like talking about the age of Louis the sixteenth.
LD: Besides the lack of a studio system, what would you say is the biggest difference between today’s Hollywood and yesteryear, specifically the silent era?

EG: Right there, you said it, the lack of a studio system. I think that is such a huge thing because, the stars today are just as talented and just as attractive as they ever were, but they don’t have that backing; they don’t have the publicists backing them up; they don’t have people telling them what to do, they don’t have people forcing them to take small roles and build them up in a stock company like they used to.Lillian Gish and Bette Davis both said that if they had come around 50 years later, they never would have become stars. I also think television and video have really changed the star system. It’s a whole different world; it’s a lot more difficult for young people coming up nowadays than it used to be.
The unions also have made it a closed company. It’s almost impossible to become an actor now because you have to be a member of SAG or Actors Equity and it’s the old story of you can’t get a job if you don’t have a union card and you can’t get a union card unless you’ve got a job. And everybody is their own Louis B. Mayer now. You see people like Johnny Depp making horrible, horrible career choices. He doesn’t have the studio telling him no, don’t do that crap, you need to do this.
Gilbert holding a sound disk.
Gilbert with sound disk
LD: There seemed to be a different type of star rising up at the time of the transition from silent to sound films. King Vidor said that Valentino would have probably suffered the same fate as Gilbert because his “type” didn’t transition to sound. Do you agree?


EG: Yes, death was a very good career move for Valentino. He was starting to gain a little weight, and he was losing his hair and he had that accent. He probably would have gone like a lot of the Latin lovers and just become a character actor, he would have been playing Ricardo Cortez roles.
John Gilbert had a very modern personality and I’m so glad that I was able to find those unpublished interview notes by Gladys Hallbecause you really got his voice in there which is so important to get his personality. He had a great sense of humor, he did not take himself seriously and he really did not cut himself any breaks; he was on to himself. He knew he was his own worst enemy and he knew all the mistakes he made and he admitted them and I really loved that about him.
LD: Did they have agents, managers and publicists in the silent era like they do today?

EG: They did, but they didn’t all have good ones. John Gilbert was lucky to have a very good business manager who invested in real estate. He lost some in the stock market crash but not much. He spent a lot of money on cars and houses and jewels, but because he had a good business manager, he could have survived financially for years and never had to work, but he would have been bored stiff. He said he couldn’t just sit there in his backyard and look out on Los Angeles for the rest of his life, he wanted to do something.
John Gilbert relaxing at him home in the Hollywood hills.
Gilbert at home
So, at least when he died it was in a beautiful house with lots of money and a gorgeous blonde nurse. I’m glad they gave him a gorgeous blonde nurse, too.
LD: What I enjoyed most about your book was it helped me to finally understand Gilbert’s downfall. It was the result of a combination of things, right?

EG: It was a perfect storm of awfulness. Right down to his health. If he hadn’t drunk himself into a heart attack or an ulcer, he could have had another twenty years as a character actor. And, he was aging very well, you see that in his last couple of films, he is an attractive middle aged man and you could see that he was going to continue to be very good looking as he aged. And, with Marlene Dietrich’s help at Paramount he could have gone on like Adolphe Menjou for another twenty years.
LD: One of Gilbert’s contemporaries, Ronald Colman wasn’t as successful in silent films, but he transitioned very successfully when Gilbert didn’t. Besides Colman’s fabulous voice, which of course was a big advantage for him, why do you think Colman was more successful in sound films?

EG: Well, he was more of a team player, he didn’t complain about everything. He had a couple of terrible talkies, too. If you look at the early talkies, you will see that many of the biggest stars had just as many stinkers as they had hits. Even Norma ShearerJoan Crawford and Marion Davies, they all had some really terrible early talkies, but Colman’s looks and his voice and his talent carried him through and he aged well.
And, that voice. I’m sure if John Gilbert could have arranged a voice transplant, he would have. John Gilbert had a good voice, not a great voice, but it was passable. His voice did sound a bit strained but he had a lower voice than Clark Gable or Douglas Fairbanks. A lot of them didn’t have great voices; it was really what you did with it. Not everybody could sound like Ronald Colman.
LD: I know I keep coming back to the same question, but Gilbert didn’t have that many flops, and had MGM groomed him a little or fostered him a bit I think he could have been good, so why didn’t they help him?

EG: They didn’t want him by that time; they wanted him out. They had all these new up and coming stars, and they had Clark Gable. Gilbert was taking so much money from MGM through his salary that they didn’t put into his films and promote him to make his films a hit; they just wanted him to work off his contract and get the hell out at that point.
He had to force them to take him in Downstairs, which is his best sound film and they didn’t promote it.Downstairs could have been a hit had it been really promoted, but it wasn’t. It was as good a film as Red Headed Woman and Baby Face and all those other scandalous pre-code films. It’s like a male version ofRed Headed Woman. It’s a great film, and he gives a great performance.
Here’s a clip from Gilbert’s sound film, “Downstairs”



LD: MGM did everything in their power for Garbo when she transitioned to sound to insure her success and they did nothing for Gilbert. It was probably because she was making them oodles of money at that point and he wasn’t, would you agree?

EG: Oh yes, and he had $250,000 per film contract, so it always boiled down to the money. They didn’t like Garbo much either, she was troublesome and a perfectionist also, but she was making them big money.
gilbert035
King Vidor and Eleanor Boardman wedding
LD: Do you believe the story about Louis B. Mayer and Gilbert on the night of Vidor’s wedding? Or, do you think it was made up? I’ve also heard that Adela Rogers St. Johns blew that out of proportion, is that true?

EG: I don’t know if you can use the phrase, “lying sack of “sh*t, or not?,” but Adela Rogers St. Johns was one of these people who was very entertaining and would never tell the truth if a lie was more interesting. My grandmother was like that so, I really appreciate this. She just told such stories. If she loved you, you were the greatest person in the world and if she hated you she would say anything about you she could and she just said things which were demonstrably not true. So every time I quote her, I have to say, OK, this is what she said, this may or may not have happened or, this definitely did not happen.
The fist fight stories, one from Eleanor Boardman, and one from Sam Marks, two separate stories, again I don’t say they didn’t happen, I say why they are debatable because when you look at them and take them apart, logically they kind of fall apart.
What was Eleanor Boardman doing in the men’s room? Somebody must have told her the story. And several things in her story didn’t make sense. Several people who were also there said it “flat out did not happen.” And, if John Gilbert had hit Mayer so hard that he fell and hit his head on the tile floor and was bleeding, I think he would have needed medical attention.That’s a hell of an injury.
Also, Louis B. Mayer could have fired him for that and would have loved to have had an excuse to fire him, and didn’t. Louis B. Mayer supposedly said, “Your career is over; I’ll end your career, you’re through Gilbert.” This is in September of 1926 and John Gilbert’s career was not through. He had lots and lots of years ahead of him and lots and lots of huge films. He was considered of and spoken by Mayer, in the press after this, as one of their greatest stars and with the great films they were giving him, if Mayer was intending to ruin his career, he was really bad at it.
LD: So, in your opinion Louis B. Mayer was not out to destroy Gilbert?

EG: They hated each other, but I’m saying that the fist fight didn’t happen. As long as Gilbert was bringing in money Mayer was willing to put up with him, but when he started losing more money than he was taking in, he was not going to put his hand out to help him and nobody else was either. Thalberg was a businessman and he wasn’t going to help if it wasn’t making the studio money.
LD: So, do you think Thalberg was Gilbert’s friend?
EG: Thalberg was MGM’s friend. Thalberg would have cut off his own wife [Norma Shearer] if she wasn’t making the studio money. He was a businessman; a very good businessman, so business came first.
Mayer really knew what he was doing and was a very good head of the studio. He wasn’t an easy person to get along with, but, for example, I spoke to Ann Miller and she really loved him, so it depends on who you talk to.
Mayer and Gilbert hated each other and John Gilbert loved poking him with a stick and annoying him.
LD: Then, couldn’t you argue that part of the reason Gilbert failed was because he refused to give up his contract with MGM? Had he gone to another studio, he might have survived, right?

EG: He was his own worst enemy; he really was. [In the book,] I liked when I pointed out the difference between him and Joan Crawford because Joan Crawford was a smart cookie and a team player and she knew that you have to take two or three crap films to get a good one and you had to play the game. He was not good at playing the game, he was a perfectionist and every film had to be another, “The Big Parade,” and anything less than “The Big Parade” and he would pitch a fit, and you just can’t do that.
LD: Could he have gone into Directing?”

EG: He was really scared of that, plus you had to be there every day and have to be on top of your game every day. He had that one really bad experience in the early 1920’s with directing and I think that scared him off and the same with writing. He always said, “I want to write, I want to write,” but he never wrote. He might have been a good assistant director because he worked well with actors on a one to one basis, but a director also has to work with producers and cameramen and lighting people and prop people, and I don’t know if he could do that. He would have been a good acting coach but being a director is more than just working with actors. I don’t know if he had the kind of personality that would have dealt well with that. You have to be really professional and deal well with people, and he was not good at that.
LD: He was a generous actor, don’t you think?
EG: Oh yea, but he wanted to be a director, so he was very good to work with because he was a director’s actor. And, the director of “Love” said that he basically directed all of Garbo’s scenes.
LD: If his health had been better and he had been given the support, do you think he would have made it in sound films?

EG: Oh definitely. If he had gotten that contract with Paramount that Marlene Dietrich was arranging, he could have had another 25 or 30 years as a character actor, and he would have loved that. By that time, he was more interested in doing fun interesting roles. He loved playing the villain, he just adored that, so he would have been great as the evil middle aged roué and the awful uncle and that sort of role, even monster roles, the Boris Karloff type, evil mad scientist roles. He would have had a great time and would have loved that. And, he aged beautifully. You can see in some of his later films, he’s looking distinctly middle aged and you could see he was aging really well.
This interview with Eve is a long and a rewarding one that I have divided into four parts.

Click on the links below to read each section:

Part 4 - Exclusive Interview with biographer Eve Golden on John Gilbert

Part 4 – About the Author
Eve Golden
photo credit: Amy Sussman
Eve Golden photo credit: Amy Sussman

LYNN DOUGHERTY: You are from Philadelphia; me too, which part are you from?
EVE GOLDEN: I’m from the Main Line, right outside of Philadelphia.
LD: I see that you are a photo archivist, can you tell me about that?
EG: Yes, I work at the Everett Collection and go through our filing cabinets to see what we need in our online database. I also kill celebrities. When celebrities die, I put together their obituraries and send them out to the media (newspapers, magazines, television stations, etc.), anyone who is our client or who we hope to get as a client. I have been there for 7 years.
LD: So this means that you’re not a full time biography writer?
EG: Oh, no one could make a living at that. I’m lucky if I make much of a profit because biographies are so expensive to research. Photo rights alone cost about $3000 for the John Gilbert book and I had to travel to Washington, DC to the Library of Congress to see some of the films and get a hotel there. I also had to buy certain books and DVD’s and videos that were not available anywhere else, so, I’d say the book cost me about $5000 to write.
LD: So, hopefully you’ll break even or make a profit?
EG: I usually make a profit, but not a big profit. I have to sell 2500 books, just to break even. So, I’m hoping that this will do well enough, I’ve been promoting it and I’ve been very lucky with reviews and TCM, so I’m hoping this one will make a tiny bit of a profit but really biography writing is a hobby; not a living.
LD: What is your educational background and what made you start writing?
EG: I was Theater and English major, so I graduated prepared to do absolutely nothing. If you’ve ever watched Mad Men, I was “Peggy,” basically. I was an actress for a few years and a very bad one, so that didn’t go over well. then I got into a secretarial pool of an advertising agency so I was a little typewriter girl and I clawed my way up to become a copywriter, just like Peggy, and that’s how I became a writer.
And, I wrote my first book because of course, I was already an old movie fan and I was thinking, “Gee, I’d love to read a good biography of Jean Harlow, it’s a shame nobody’s ever written a book about her. And, I thought for goodness sakes, I’m a writer, why don’t I write one myself?” I did not realize what I was getting into or how difficult it was and so I just dived in and did it. At the time, the only book on her was that one byIrving Shulman, which I read for the first time at 13 and even at 13 I knew it was crap.
LD: You’re obviously a classic film fan; can you talk a bit about that? Why do you like classic films (silent and sound) and do you think they are relevant today? Where does it come from?
EG: From the time I was a kid, I used to watch silent films on PBS and there were revival houses in Philadelphia that showed old movies that I went to with my grandmother. From the time I was eight years old, I’ve been clipping obituaries from the newspaper. I know because of the years of the first one’s I saved. I’ve always been a biography and obituary fan and not only old movies, but theater as well. I wrote about Anna Held and Vernon and Irene Castle, but it’s harder to write about theater people of course because you can’t really see their performances.
LD: What are you writing now that you’ve finished Gilbert?
EG: Not a darn thing. There are about 5 or 6 people I would like to write about but either other writers have dibbs on them or the family won’t cooperate or, there’s just not enough documentary material to get a book out of. So, I’m kind of stuck right now.
LD: What made you decide to write about Gilbert?
EG: I was casting about for a new subject and desperate, as usual to find somebody that was doable and I just started flipping through books and I saw John Gilbert and I thought, Ah! Why had I never thought of him before? Also, I’d never written a full biography about an actor; I’ve always written about actresses, except for Vernon and Castle, which was a dual biography and I thought it would be interesting to write for a man for a change. I love John Gilbert, he was brilliantly talented and I couldn’t write about somebody I didn’t at least, respect and it just kind of hit me like a lightning bolt, John Gilbert, perfect!
LD: The only other book I knew about him was Leatrice Gilbert Fountain’s, “Dark Star.”
EG: That’s a really, really good book and I recommend that everybody read it, but it’s a daughter’s book, which is an entirely different thing.
A few weeks ago, I went up to Connecticut and met with Leatrice and her sons, all of whom are handsome and delightful, by the way.
Fountains1web
With Eve, in photo above, from left, they areGideon, Christopher and Anthony Fountain (grandson’s of John Gilbert)
LD: Is Leatrice Gilbert Fountain a fan of your book?
EG: She loves it. She is in frail health right now, but she clutched the book, and has been very supportive from the beginning, and said that anything that brings more attention to her father she is happy about.
LD: Did you use the Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire film at all when writing about the Castles?
EG: I watched it of course, but there was very little truth in that movie. One thing Irene didn’t want known was that she and Vernon were about to get divorced when he died. It’s much more romantic if she is a grieving war widow than a soon to be divorcee, so she brushed that under the carpet.
LD: I also liked when you wrote about 1939 vs. 1932. 1939 is much known as the best year of all time for film, but you disagree, can you talk about that?
EG: I love 1932 so much. I don’t know what the big deal is about 1939, I think 1932 is so much more interesting and it had as many good films. By 1932, talkies were on their feet, it was no longer an experiment anymore, so they really knew what they were doing, but at the same time there was still a freshness about them and most importantly, the production code hadn’t kicked in yet. So, you’ve got the really naughty films in 1932, which you didn’t have in 1939, plus you had a lot of new people coming in. There were the stage people and the former extras who were just starting to become huge stars of the 1930’s, and you still had a lot of the silent people who were still working. I just think 1932 is so exciting and when you look at the list of films from that year, it’s just breathtaking. 1939, definitely doesn’t suck, but I just find 1932, more exciting.
I find the early 30’s to be fresh and interesting and still a little experimental and, as I say, before the production code, a lot naughtier.
LD: Of all time, what is your favorite film?
EG: No, not one, I have a whole list of favorite films. There are films I can watch over and over, like Dinner at Eight, and The Best of Everything, I love. I adore that film. When I started out as a secretary in New York, it was still like that. I have a friend who was an office temp with me and we still call each other Hope and Suzy. And it was one of Joan Crawford’s best performances. Speaking of Joan, I love “Rain.” I adoreFootlight Parade. Oddly enough, I like modern films like “Airplane” which I think is one of the funniest films ever. Of course, only I would think of 1980 as a modern film. The Bad Seed is one of my favorite big acting films. When the Bad Seed is on, I just turn it on, have to watch. I also love IT with Clara BowMillion Dollar Legs with Lyda Roberti, a parody of Mata Hari.
This interview with Eve is a long and a rewarding one that I have divided into four parts.

Click on the links below to read each section:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Exclusive Interview with "Evidence" writer, John Swetnam

First published on AllStephenMoyer.com


johnswetnam3


Recently I had the opportunity to meet and talk with John Swetnam, the writer of Stephen Moyer’s latest film, “Evidence” which hit theaters on July 19 and will soon be available on Blu-Ray and DVD. I wanted to know what the process was like from beginning to end from the writer’s perspective and John was kind enough to provide me a glimpse into the experience.


John: Stephen [Moyer] came in with smart questions, sort of attacking it and trying to do it right. As soon as the director said “action” they did it; never a wasted take.


How did your childhood as an “air force kid” influence you?
I moved around every two or three years and lived all around the world. I was born in South Carolina and lived in Japan, England, Korea and all over the states, Northern Maine, Southern Maine, Tennessee, Florida and Southern California. I think moving every two or three year is why I like movies so much.

Is horror your favorite genre and if not, what is? What’s your favorite movie?
No, not at all, probably action or action thriller would be my favorite. I like popcorn stuff. My favorite films are Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Gladiator, big popcorn, fun movies, but I like everything.

Would you consider yourself a horror/thriller writer? If so, why? If not, what other types of films do you want to write?
No. I have multiple projects going now and they are all over the place.

Can you tell me how how you got your scripts sold? Was it luck?
No. I graduated college and came out to California in 2002. I always knew I wanted to make movies, but hadn't committed to it before then. So I packed the truck, I drove out here and applied to a graduate school in Orange County. While in graduate school I started as a directing major, but ended up getting a master’s degree in screenwriting. I then moved to LA, eight years ago.

Unfortunately, a master’s degree in screenwriting, it literally qualifies you for nothing, except waiting tables. I thought, “I have a master’s degree, people are going to pay me to make movies,”  but no job, nobody cares. Having a master’s degree I was just good enough to be shredding Parmesan cheese on people’s salads. At the same time, I was writing. I wasn't good at it, but I kept doing it, so I wrote about 19 scripts in my basement. I think Evidence was number 17 or 18. And that’s 19 scripts just writing them, hoping that one day, somebody would buy them.

I see you were a director and executive producer of a short called “Evidence" in 2011. Is there any relation to your full length film of Evidence?
Yes, what happened was that I was writing for about eight years while waiting tables. I couldn't sell anything. I’d written 17 scripts and at that point and didn't understand or know what to do, so I decided to part ways with my manager and start fresh making my own film in order to have something to show to people. And, as it happens, as I was actually making it, the feature script started getting out there and it just went off on its own, so we didn't even finish the short.

What inspired you to write Evidence?
I’d been writing for about ten years and I was writing a lot of things and I was trying to figure out what I could write that would provide the quickest way to get it on the movie screen. It was the kind of idea that you could sell quickly, that people can make quickly because it’s not going to cost $150 million dollars.

Was that because it was a “found footage” film?
Yea, when I wrote it, all the films like, Paranormal Activities had come out and I thought, I knew it was going to be found footage, I knew it was going to be horror, but how do I make this something unique? I’d written the script, we sent it out to a bunch of buyers and it sold in January. It was bought by a company called Bold Films. Bold Films paid for the script, and then they attached Olatunde Osunsanmi, as the director. We got the money to make the movie and by August, we were in production, which never happens; that’s a very short window to sell a script and shoot it. Then, once the movie was made, we went to festivals to get people to distribute it and that’s when Image came in and they’re the ones who got it in theaters and video, etc. It’s a fun process.

The film is in theaters now, did you go see it?
I went down on Sunday and saw it and one of the actors, Albert Kuo who plays Steve, the magician was there. It was really cool to bump into him. I had seen a rough cut of it a long time ago, but I wanted to wait to see it on the screen with all the special effects and music, etc. It was cool.

How different is Evidence now from what you conceived it to be when you wrote the script?
It’s a really interesting process. When I’m at home writing the script, nobody cares, nobody’s paying me for it, I’m allowed to just sit there and do whatever I want. So, the very first draft of it was just what was in my head, what I wanted, what I saw. Then, what happens is we sold it, so I don’t own it anymore. Once I sign the contract, it’s somebody else’s; it’s like selling your car. Once you sell your car, if they want to paint it pink, it’s not your car anymore, but that’s my choice. Selling it to a company like Bold was great because they had “Legion” and they were working on the movie “Drive” with Ryan Gosling, which I knew was going to be really good and the producer, Marc Platt is just amazing. Because it was them, I thought, “this is a dream come true, please buy it.

Then, what happens is that you bring in a lot of people, it’s a big process. The director has a vision, the producer has a vision and then when you bring in 100 people to work on it, it always changes, but everybody’s trying to make a really good movie, but every movie is just not going to be an Oscar winner; it's just impossible. It’s an evolution.

It’s an evolutionary process for sure, but are you pleased with the outcome?
Sure, I think of movie making as very gaseous; it’s just gas everywhere and you don’t know what you have until at the very, very end. As you’re making  it’s just craziness.

When you started writing it, did you already know the end?
Yes, I knew I was going to do a horror movie and I knew I was going to do found footage. I used to live up on Hollywood and Highland, the tourists district, and I remember seeing this bus of all these Japanese tourists, about 50 of them, and everyone one of them had a camera and cell phone them just filming everything. That’s when I started thinking, “I like that” so I thought of the bus accident and everybody’s filmed something so you start piecing it together. Then I thought, what’s the twist ending? I’m a huge fan of, and I have no problem saying it, of The Usual Suspects and in homage to that film I thought it would be fun to do something similar. When you watch the news and YouTube , etc., you always believe what you are seeing and  I thought the idea of that was really interesting, and so I built toward that ending.

When I first wrote the script I wanted it to all build up to that moment in the film. There’s a line in the movie, one of my favorite lines, where he says, you can’t fix this with editing” and she replies, “I can fix anything with editing.” I always had that line in my head because you watch these reality TV shows and its all editing, everything, but you just believe it and get in with it..

How involved were you in the production?. I was working a lot and was very involved with the rewrite process so, up until probably the day of production I was working with the director and the producers because we were rewriting it constantly trying to make it work within the budget. I was on set for a couple of days because I wanted to see Stephen (Stephen Moyer) do the monologue in the interrogation scene I had watched him on True Blood, I was a huge fan and to see him give 100% and to see him just dig into it was so cool.
Stpehen Moyer in Evidence
Stephen Moyer wasn’t on set for that long was he? It was a very short filming period for him?
To even get something with that small a budget into a theater and to get a guy like him to do it; yes, it was very short, he was there for maybe a week. Most of his scenes are just in the police station, but he came in and just went to work. It was fun, it was great to watch.

Did you have Stephen Moyer in mind for the role?
When I sold the script I put together sort of a “look book”, my vision of the movie. I didn't have Stephen listed, but I had a list of maybe 6 actor’s types such as, Dennis Quad, John Cusack, very much that type of guy, like leading man kind of the guy you just “like,” sort of. So, Stephen fit it almost exactly.

Radha Mitchell was completely off. That part was for a  50 year old Spanish man. It’s a funny story because the name of the character is Detective Burquez, which is a super Spanish name. So I always thought of Esai Morales or somebody like that. I named him Burquez because that was my girlfriend’s name, and when broke up, I thought, I’m going to use her name in this movie and when the director told me that they were going to cast Rahda Mitchell as Detective Burquez the studio said, you can’t name a blonde Australian “Burquez.” So, I told the director, that’s my girlfriend’s name, we broke up, I need that name in the movie so, in the first scene of the movie, everyone is calling out “Detective, Burquez, Detective Burquez, and no one ever said anything that it was the weirdest, most Spanish name ever. Its little things like that are the funniest part about being a writer where you can put little things in for yourself that only I’ll know about.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Exclusive interview with True Blood's Amelia Rose Blaire

Exclusive interview with Amelia Rose Blaire

As originally published on The Vault - Trueblood-online.com

Last week, I met in Los Angeles with the woman who plays, Willa Burrell, Amelia Rose Blaire. I wanted to interview her to not only find out more about her but what it must have been like to play the character she plays on True Blood, the governor's daughter.



We sat down at The Grove on the terrace of Barnes & Noble for our chat.

 BACKGROUND

First, here's a little bit about Amelia:
Amelia's young, but energetic and seems to be navigating her way in the difficult world of being an actor in Hollywood. I predict that if her character doesn't last out the season, she will find work elsewhere because coming onto to True Blood in it's sixth season and to havoing to play most of your scenes immediately opposite Alexander Skarsgård must have been daunting for anyone, and in my opinion, she passed the test with flying colors.

Amelia has not worked on a series before.  Prior to her role of Willa she has only guest starred in episodes of various TV shows.  She does have a good solid acting education though.  She graduated from the Sanford Meisner Center Two Year Program in NoHo CA, has Studied with Oscar-nominated actress Lindsay Crouse and has graduated from The Atlantic Acting School Program in NYC & LA, founded by David Mamet and William H. Macy, where she studied with Felicity Huffman, Clark Gregg & Camryn Manheim.
Why did you decide to become an actor and what are your goals?
When I was younger, I was a ballet dancer. I was a hard core bun head and wanted to be a prima ballerina, but there was something about Ballet that I was always self-conscious about and my parents would tell me that whenever they would see me on stage dancing I looked insecure and looked at the people next to me.  I had a Parisian dance teacher who was very strict and I felt like I was motivated by fear.  And, then when I was in middle school I did a production of Bye, Bye Birdie. I got this tiny little part, I was this vaudeville dancer.  And, I went on stage the first night and I never felt that free before ever and I just lost myself on stage and after that, no more dance, I want to focus on acting.

Are you from this area?
Yes, I was born in New York, but grew up here in the LA area.

Why did you decide to study the Meisner technique and how has that helped you?
That was amazing.  When I turned 15, I decided I wanted to be a serious actress and the best actress I could be and so my mom started researching all these different schools and found the Meisner Center and they didn’t have a teenage program like all the other schools, but that’s what I decided to do.  I didn’t want a teenage program; I wanted to do an adult program. I interviewed with them and they said, we don’t take anyone under the age of 18 and I said, just let me try because I’ve been doing hard core ballet so I have a very thick skin.  They let me try it and two years later I graduated.  It really formed who I am as an actor.

You had done some schooling in New York, right:
I went to the Atlantic Theater company Conservatory in New York and I did that for two years and I stayed at David Mamet and William H. Macy School and NYU also has one of their studios there so I was in the conservatory program next to all the NYU kids. I loved Atlantic; we were living a breathing and eating acting day and all night. I didn’t want to come back to NY and when I grew up here (in LA) it’s difficult going to high school because you want to grow up so fast and you’re in Hollywood and everyone is being so cool and doing all this stuff and it’s easy to get swept up in that.  So, when I left LA for New York, I was leaving for good. I felt like I was fleeing to NYC and was scared to come back to LA, but I got into the Atlantic program and it was a totally different LA than I left since I was a different person and my social circle was totally different, I was navigating the city differently and it taught me a really good lesson that, the city is what you make of it. Now I love it here.

You’ve done some guest appearance on TV shows what period of time does that represent.
I started about 2010, so it’s been about three years. What I love about all the roles that I’ve gotten to do is that they are each very different, I don’t feel like I’m playing the same character with a different name. They all have very distinct flavors and that’s what excites me the most about being an actor is playing with different flavors.

How many auditions did you have to do to get those parts and how do you deal with the rejection?
100’s.  My manager said something to me when I was first starting to audition and got really close to a part and then, lost it and got really sad.  She said something that really changed the way I look at auditioning, she said, “sometimes they’re going to be looking for burgundy when you’re red, so work on cultivating the truest shade of red” And, that’s how I look at it because I have a lot of friends and we’re all actors and I see them plenty of times at auditions and allot of times, they book the job and I don’t and I could take it really personally or they’re just a slightly different shade of red, they’re more burgundy or more like blood red than I am. I just can’t see it as rejection.

Were you a fan of True Blood before you got the part? Did you watch the show?
Oh yeah! Yes, I remember when it first came out. I was so into it and I’d watch it with my friends and we’d go over and have True Blood parties and watch it all.  So to actually be on the show, I can’t believe it.

GETTING THE PART ON TRUE BLOOD


Did you only audition for True Blood once?
No, it was my first time auditioning for True Blood and I auditioned twice. I had auditioned for other parts for the casting director many times for other projects and when they brought me in for True Blood, it was my second audition this year. The first time I went in I auditioned for the director, and allot of the producers, writers and casting director and there were tons and tons of girls there.  Then, they called me back the next day and it was just me and one other girl. Everyone in the room was the same as the day before, but it was between me and a blonde actress.

Did Alexander Skarsgård have any say in who was chosen for the part?
I don’t know.

You didn’t have to audition with any other cast members right?
No.

How have things changed since you got the part?
Honestly, my day to day hasn’t changed that much. I got recognized for the first time last week and that was very exciting, I was shocked.  I was out at this really cool music venue called Sassafras and I was listening to Tara Buck’s husband play on his birthday and this girl came up to me and she was like, "Are you an actress?  I love you on True Blood, can I buy you a drink?" I was just as excited as she was since I’d never had anything like that happen.

Is this your “big break?
Yes, this is the biggest show I've ever been on and I've never had an arc this big before.

Has it been challenging and scary?
All of the above; that’s what I've loved about it. My favorite part about acting is going to the places that scare me and reading a scene would be like, uh I don’t know if I could do that; it’s terrifying and end up doing it anyway. And, playing Willa has given me countless opportunities to do that.  Every episode I read there was at least one scene where I said “I don’t know if I can do that.” So I feel that as a person, I've definitely grown. I feel more grounded in ways and more confident in myself, but otherwise it’s not really changed outside.

BECOMING WILLA BURRELL

What was the first day on the set like, and what was your very first scene?
My first day on set was when we were shooting at the Governor’s mansion in Pasadena. It was in episode two where I walk down the hall and ask my father, the Governor, to please let me go out. And, we also shot on that same day, the opening scene of episode 3 so, that was an experience. They made a lot of rewrites for that scene and originally when he (Eric) is glamouring me on the bed and he threatens to bite me he was going to bite my neck and then, in the van on the way over (to location), we got rewrites. And I read it and said, “Oh, OK this is going to happen.” And Alex and I were running lines and I said, did you know that this is happening now and he said, "I did not, but this should be good." So, I take that as my first day because that was probably the most involved scene.

So, was that scene with Alex as you were sitting on the bed intimidating?
I thought the scene turned out really well and it was actually a lot of fun to shoot because I’d never been in a situation like that and I've always been attracted to like twisted, darker situations in roles and that was so twisted with that dynamic and yea, that was like my first time meeting him (Alex).  I had met him very briefly at a table read, but at that time, we just introduced ourselves.

Why is Willa so interested in helping the vampires? What’s her motivation for it?
I think that the fact that her mother has been with a vampire and her mother has been pushed so far away from her and her father has kept her secret and apart from that. She has been very sheltered and there’s a part of her that she wants to get to know and explore and that’s why I think she stands up for vampires.  There’s also a part of her is really fascinated.

Do you think her father is anti-vampire because of what happened with Willa’s mother?
I think that definitely had a lot to do with it.  When I was in the first few episodes, something I was really interested in was what was the relationship between Willa’s parents and how did that come to break and what did that do to her and did she choose sides, did she get on the right side that she wanted to?

Did she want to stay with her father and how has he changed?
I really believe that she wants everybody to be able to come together and her father has been turning into this darker and darker character and she’s seeing him disappear in front of her eyes. And I think that his hate for vampires makes her want to bring them even closer together.  And, then becoming a vampire, I imagine if someone was sheltered for many years and then they got this whole new set of powers and abilities it’s totally liberating. She has all these powers and sensations and she can act on them and she’s like, free.

Ok, the big one, what was it like being made into a vampire by Alex Skarsgård?
We actually filmed that scene on two separate days. The exteriors were filmed in Griffith Park and everything in the grave we filmed on one of the sound stages. They built this half grave and it was truly surreal. I was very excited to shoot that scene just because, when do you get to be turned into a vampire?  Actually shooting the part in the grave, I don’t really remember. We shot it in many different increments so we stopped and had to add tubes and stuff so it was very kind of separate. I remember going into it thinking I was going to be really brave and it’s going to be really romantic and he can like sweep me off my feet and then, when we actually did it, it was kind of terrifying because he went in and the sensation of getting your neck bitten, and then feeling this warm liquid starting to pour down my body and then I looked down and it’s red and then he pulled back and he had all this blood in his mouth. I remember my hands were shaking, I started getting light headed and it was completely unexpected. The next morning I woke up and I went through this huge array of emotions, I was really, really angry and I was really, really sad and really, really happy and like angry again and I was just like going in all these different directions and I was like, “what’s happening to me?” Wait, I died last night.  It was very surreal.

We always ask this, but how did you adjust to the vampire teeth?
I think for me the hardest part was putting them on and taking them off because you shoot the scene and you say the line where you fang out and then stop to you put the teeth in and then, say the line again. So, doing that was really difficult because I wasn't able to get them in and I thought I had to do it really quickly or it would kind of like take me out, so I think that was the hardest part, putting them in and taking them off. But, I didn't have to speak in fangs for a while.

Some have been comparing your scene of being made with the first intimate love scene between Sookie and Bill. Willa is a virgin and she wears a similar gown as Sookie did, do you see any comparison?
That’s very flattering that they are compared. I think that the similarities when Sookie and Bill finally got together is about a loss of innocence, so having the white dress and the blood makes is similar, but I don’t know, Bill and Sookie have this huge love story that was building up to a climax. The whole dynamic with Eric and Willa is very different. So I think that the similarities only come in with the “loss of innocence.”

Jessica was turned as a virgin when she was turned, will Willa have the same problems since she was also a virgin?
I guess so, I don’t know.  She hasn’t done anything yet, so we’ll have to see how that comes out.



THE EXPERIENCE OVER ALL



How was it working with the True Blood cast?
Everyone loves each other and there a no divas and everyone is always joking and it’s just a fun group of people to be around. You’re doing all these really intense scenes but in-between people are cracking jokes with each other and like, making funny noises and trying to distract other actors while they’re doing something and it’s been really special to be a part of that. I have this memory of walking one day after we were shooting in Fangtasia, we had a table read or something but I was walking with Alex, Kristin and Rutina and we were walking to the table read and I thought, this is so cool that I’m walking with the three most bad ass Northmans right here. This is unreal. It’s the most bad-ass family to be a part of, so I’m honored.

Who have you worked with most on the show?
Probably Alex is the one I've worked most with on the show and he was really wonderful to work with, I learned allot.

Who helped you the most on the show?
I've always really loved Deborah Ann Woll’s character, Jessica so as soon as I met her, I wanted get to know her because I think that Willa and Jessica have a lot of similarities and watching her work and seeing how she navigated in front of a camera and what she would do in between takes, I learned a lot from her. We’re a similar age group and we have a lot of mutual friends, but everyone I worked with helped me in different ways advising, "don’t take is so seriously, have more fun, or let loose and be kind of crazy with it, etc.," but I definitely admire what Deborah has done.

Who haven’t you worked with on True Blood that you would like to work with?
I really wanted to work with Rob (Kazinsky); he’s so funny, so I really would have loved to work with him. I didn't get to work with Anna very much, we were on set some days but we actually didn't have any scenes together so; I would have loved to be able to work with her since she’s the star of the show. Oh,  and all the werewolves.

What did you think of spending all your time in prison scrubs?
I didn't really mind, but it’s hard to be sexy in those clothes. I really liked that white nightgown. I got very attached to it, so when I had to leave it behind for the blue prison scrubs, hmmm.  They are more comfortable, but I was definitely glad to take those off.

What do you think about the sets on the show?
They’re incredible. They are so detailed. It’s just very easy to give over to them, yes, I’m in a hard core prison camp and it puts you in a state of mind to be able to create.

Were you affected by the big changes that happened in the running of the show this season with the exit of Alan Ball and then losing the first show runner and now it being Brian Buckner?
I actually wasn't aware until after the fact, because I came in at the end of episode two, when they started shooting episode three, so I think that had already happened. But, the ship kept sailing and Brian is a dream to work with. He is a wonderful boss and he handles his job with such grace, has a wonderful sense of humor and has done such a great job this season and I really like the direction he’s taken it.

In a recent episode, your father dies, but Willa doesn't  know yet. How does Willa feel about her father now that she is a vampire? Could she feel his death? The show has never explored if there would be any feeling between human and vampire, so I wondered if Willa could feel that something had changed drastically for her father.
I think that Willa still loves her father but with everything that happened, like him putting her in the camp, it was like a huge disappointment. He has let her down in every way possible.

Did she know about the camp before she was taken there?
Yes. I don’t think she knew about the extent of it and I definitely don’t think that when she went back to him that she thought he was going to send her there.  That scene when Willa came back to her father made me so sad because she got what she wanted; she got him to see her as his daughter and accept that.  It was her own new instincts were her downfall. That scene to me was really tragic, but then when he sent her away and actually put her in this camp and put her in solitary confinement, I think was just a huge disappointment for her.

Did Willa know he was fooling around with Sarah Newlin?
I don’t think so. I think she still loves him but it’s covered by all this disappointment and sadness.

Will Willa be in Season 7?
That’s something that we’ll have to find out.

Well, if she’s not in Season 7, do you feel that this part has given you a broader base so that when you go out to look for more work it will be easier?
Yes, I’m so incredibly grateful to having been given the opportunity to be on the show and to play this character. She is so multi-dimensional and fun and scary. Over the past few months, I've done things that I never thought I could do so, I've stretched myself in many, many ways and I’m really thankful for that. You don’t get opportunities often, as  an actor, to really stretch yourself in many different facets and to do that on such a fantastic and fun show on HBO, is unreal.