Exclusive: Carrie Preston Talks ‘True Blood'


A new episode of True Blood is on this Sunday night. And to whet your appetite we've got an exclusive interview with Carrie Preston, who plays Bon Temps' pie-slinging skeptic Arlene. I chatted with Carrie at this year's Saturn Awards, at which her husband Michael Emerson was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in Television for his role as Ben Linus on Lost. Preston told me what to expect this season from True Blood, what direction she'd like Arlene's love life to take, and what differences she sees between Lost and True Blood fans. Hit the jump to read what she had to say.

True Blood has become quite a phenomenon in just a short time.

Yeah! I'm so excited.

What can you say about this season?

You've probably seen the first two already and you can tell the show is definitely a departure from the books already.  The second book was completely different than the series.  I mean, Lafayette was supposed to be dead and the second book was about finding his killers, so already we're kind of departing from that.  But the show really established itself in the first season and I think now it feels very free and able to kind of go to new places.  There are new supernatural characters introduced; we're going to be going places that you don't expect, that certainly our characters don't expect.   Alan Ball even sat us down in our table read for the very first episode and said, "You guys are going to be doing things that you aren't going to believe and if you have any problems just come and talk to us."  It's true.  We've done some crazy things this season.

Alan even seems shocked by what he's seen on screen. For example, when we spoke with him he seemed surprised by how extreme the first episode's love scene appeared on screen.

Yeah, I know, I know. I think there's an amazing team around him, cause it's not just him. We've got all these great writers and producers and stuff that are helping make it happen.  I don't know…  I hope Alan sticks around for the whole series.  He might just want to, you know, sort of turn it over to everybody else and move on.  But he likes to have his hands on things, so hopefully we're going to have Daddy around for a little while longer.

Speaking of being around for a while, where would you like to see your character go? Given the choice, is there a direction that you think she should take?

Well, what I think is kind of great about Arlene – and what I hope they explore more – is that she sort of bridges the gap between the two polarities: that vampires are great and vampires are the most horrible things in the world.  She is sort of someone who actually voices something that no one else on the show really voices.  Which, "Hey, wait a minute… maybe they aren't all good or all bad.  Maybe we should just be wary of them around our children.  I mean, they're killers.  And because I'm saying that doesn't mean I'm a racist.  It just means, let's take a look at this kind of potentially dangerous thing." 

The whole babysitting thing started in the first season when Bill was babysitting for her kid.  I think it would be fun to see something like that develop more, to see Arlene in situations where she has to deal with her kind of uncomfortableness with the unknown.  So I would love to see that down the line.  Who knows?  It would be cool to see her get in a relationship with a vampire or something like that.  Just to see how she would handle that, like an interracial thing.  You know what I mean?  It could be interesting.

How long do you think the show should continue?  Have you talked about this with Alan?  How long would you like to see your character continue on the show?

As long as they find a good story for me, I'm so happy to be on a show.  I mean, I've always wanted to be on a TV show, to have that kind of consistency, to play a role for a long time, which you don't get to do very much.  So I never thought it would be a character like Arlene, because I'm obviously so different from her.  But it's great.  I mean that's where I've ended up, and it's cool.  And Charlaine [Harris] has written like nine books now, so there's a potential for nine years.  I mean, who knows what could happen in that time.  Charlaine came on the set actually, and she did a little cameo last week on the show.  We were talking to her and she said she was really excited about the show because it is so different from her books.  And that she feels like she gets to experience the world that she created in an entirely different way and she gets to experience it with the audience, which is kind of cool.

In real life, what's your greatest fear?

My greatest fear in real life?  I guess losing my passion.

Your husband stars on Lost.  So you both have quite a few fans now.

Most people are not sure that I'm on True Blood, so I don't get the benefit of talking about the show so much because you wouldn't recognize me.

So you don't have an opportunity to compare your fans with his?

Yeah, I don't see that at all.

But having witnessed some of the True Blood fandom, how do you feel it compares to that of Lost?

I had never really experienced it until the Paley Fest.  Because, like I said, I'm not recognized.  But I was there, and I was identified as the woman who plays Arlene and so I did get to experience that for the first time.  And I was able to see.  Because you know I've been watching that with him, and I thought, "Wow, it exists for our show too." – and the show has only been on for a season, so it's kind of neat that there's a cross-pollination there: my fans, his fans, the show's fans.  You know, a lot of the same people watch the shows.

So you're spreading the love?

Spreading the love, sharing it.  But there are differences too.  I mean, I don't know… I would love to see a chart.

A Venn diagram perhaps?

Yeah, I would like to see that.  There are a lot of like middle-aged women who are really into True Blood.  I wonder [about] the numbers of True Blood in relation to Lost.  There's such a romance element to True Blood, you know? – that Harlequin thing.  It sort of feeds the Housewives sort of thing.  More than Lost, I think.