Recommended second chance
Carrie Preston plays flame-haired waitress, Arlene, in the supernatural drama, True Blood. In real-life, she’s married to Lost and Person Of Interest star Michael Emerson. As the fifth series of True Blood is about to begin, Carrie tells us more about the show, and her future projects…
How do you feel about Arlene now? She’s gone through so many changes since the series started, but it’s all happened in a relatively short space of time in Bon Temps.
Right. The seasons generally pick up where they had previously been left off. So the only time jump we’ve had was between the third and fourth series, which was about a year. The rest of the time it’s all been a couple of weeks (laughs). So the first season played out over the course of around two weeks, then we picked up the second season where we left off and went for another two weeks. Everybody assumes that because the show has been going for five years, the characters have been taking five years to tell their story. But in script years, it’s probably not even been a year and a half.
So much happens to them all. Surely the entire town should be in therapy?
I know. They should be (laughs) I can’t imagine Arlene ever being comfortable in therapy though. She would probably be the one to give the therapy (laughs) because she’s so opinionated.
Why don’t people just move away?
I know, right? I guess when you’re someone like Arlene, you’ve lived in that town your whole life. Those are your roots and the thought of leaving is more terrifying, I think, than anything else. But also the comfort that you have being surrounded by people you’ve known your whole life, is a reason to stay.
Away from True Blood, you’ve appeared in an episode of your husband’s latest TV series, Person Of Interest.
Yes, he did a lot of press for that and couldn’t wait for the UK to see it. It’s a very stylish show. It’s really fun. It’s a procedural show, but it also has a big story arc running through it.
You’ve also appeared alongside him in Lost. When we last spoke, you said that you’d mentioned to your bosses at True Blood about the possibility of Michael coming onto the show. Is that still an on-going discussion?
(Laughs) If he wasn’t so darn busy, I’m sure they would find a spot for him over there. It’s actually a great problem to have that Michael is actually too busy to come on True Blood. But I think it would be really fun if he got to come in and do an episode or two.
He’d have to come and sit in a booth in Merlotte’s, surely?
Oh I think so! That would be fun. We’ve talked about it. Everybody always assumes that if he goes on True Blood, he’ll play some kind of evil character. But he’s like, ‘No, no, no! I want to play something that is completely against type.’ It would be fun for him to play a regular town person or a tourist just passing through.
As well as True Blood, you’re also playing Lynette in the forthcoming film, Bag of Hammers. And while Arlene is a caring mum of three, Lynette is the polar opposite…
I really got to go to a place that I don’t get the opportunity to go on a show like True Blood or The Good Wife. She’s definitely a pivotal character for the movie because her actions are what propel the main characters to continue on their journey and transformation. So it was wonderful to be trusted with such a pivotal character.
It’s the sort of role that would send us running home in tears every night to rid ourselves of spending the day as an uncaring mother…
Yes, it was definitely like that. To be sitting in that dark place day after day was tough. But it was a very safe set and it was filmed at a pretty quick pace. So in some ways, it was easier to do it like that, compared to when you have to hold onto those emotions because sometimes you barely get a chance to put it on camera because they spend so much time setting up shot. But in this case, when I was ready to do it, the camera was too. It was really great.
And your film, That’s What She Said, which was produced by your own production company, seems to be doing well on the film festival circuit. Will it be shown in the UK?
We’re not sure. We have had a wonderful festival run, and it premiered at The Sundance Film Festival, which is the top of the top. From that, we showed the film to a distribution company and it will be coming out in the US on October 19. Then we’re hoping to get some interest from foreign sales. So fingers crossed.
Are there other projects in the pipeline for you in the future, whether from an acting/producing/directing point of view?
I have a couple of things in development right now. There’s a TV pilot that a colleague is writing that I would star in and produce. We’re pairing up with a production company and starting to get it out to networks and studios. That’s exciting because we’ve mostly done features and shorts, and have been eager to get into television.
I also have a couple of feature films that I’m going to direct and we’re in the process of finding funding for those. When I’m on hiatus from True Blood, I do spend a lot of time working on these projects that I’m producing, directing or creating. I love it so much and get so much satisfaction from seeing something like That’s What She Said finally come to fruition and get out in the world, after I’ve worked on it for so long. I love acting and that is obviously my first love. But when you create something and you’re responsible for all the elements, it’s pretty rewarding.