Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Interview: Jamie Gray Hyder's Life-or-Death Stakes

With only a few episodes left in season six, and with the recent news of its season seven renewal, “True Blood” is ramping up for a spectacular cliffhanger (which airs Sunday, Aug. 14 at 9 p.m. ET/PT). But, then again, as we die-hard fans know, it wouldn’t be “True Blood” if it didn’t. Last season’s newcomer to the Shreveport wolf pack, Danielle — played by Jamie Gray Hyder — is finding her footing in the wolf hierarchy, and is stepping on a few toes in the process. Namely, her packmaster’s No. 1 gal, Rikki (played by Kelly Overton). I spoke with Jamie recently about her supernatural role, and she’s excited for fans to see what the show has planned for us.

Celebrity Extra: First off, tell me how you got started in the business, and how that led to the role of Danielle on “True Blood.”

Jamie Gray Hyder: I’ve been performing since I was only 2 years old. I’ve been doing stage work since I was really young, and I’m a classically trained vocalist. I started off on stage and performed there, and then went to college and got my degree in theater and film studies. I stayed on the East Coast for a little while, and then I moved out to L.A. four and a half years ago to pursue film and television. I’d been in L.A. probably about three years and done upwards of a hundred auditions. And then “True Blood” came along, and I got the role. I’m super excited.

CE: Had you been a fan prior to landing the part?

JGH: Of course, I knew about the show. I had to watch four seasons of the show in a couple of days because I started working right away. I don’t have a TV, so I’d previously seen only a few episodes of the show with friends. After watching all four seasons, I thought, “Oh my God, what did I get myself into?” (Laughs.)

You know, everyone is so good at their jobs — from the acting to the writing and all the crew — that I thought that if it came down to doing nude scenes, I think that they’ll take care of me. And that’s what happened. I did that love scene with Joe (Manganiello, who plays Alcide) and Kelly, and they make you feel comfortable and make sure you have all the provisions necessary to help you shoot the scene.

CE: From all I’ve heard, it sounds like a really great set to work on.

JGH: It’s great. Everybody is so nice and has a great sense of humor. We’re working long hours in harsh conditions. The fact that everybody gets along and enjoys what they’re doing is huge. And when I first started on the show last season, I was the new person. I walked in and everybody introduced themselves and welcomed me into the club. It’s really a unique atmosphere.

CE: The ladies certainly love Joe Manganiello. How is it working with him?

JGH: Joe is great. He is the ultimate professional. He’s so disciplined both on his work as an actor and on his body. He’s a great example, I think. He was one of the first people to welcome me when I first came to the show. I’m very grateful for that.

CE: As the show kicks into high gear as we finish out the season, can you give me any scoop?

JGH: There are some pretty big things that are going to go on that I don’t even know much about. The few episodes that I’m not in, I don’t see the script for it. I get to watch along with everybody else. The tension is going to continue to be heightened as the season goes on, with the clash between the vampires and the government. And now you have this “Billith” creature. There’s potential for things to just completely implode.

CE: How is the Shreveport wolf pack handling the upheaval?

JGH: I think with the vampires being attacked, we don’t know who the next target is. We’re scrambling just to keep our pack as tight as possible and to look out for our people. I think that all of the supes are doing just that. Everyone is sort of banding together, bearing down for survival.

L to R: Sam Trammell as Sam, Joe Mangeniello as Alcide, Dale Dickey as Martha, Jamie Gray Hyder as Danielle
CE: What does the rest of the season hold for Danielle and the Shreveport pack?

JGH: With everyone struggling a bit throughout the pack and the season, it gets really interesting. I’m looking forward to watching all of that evolve. I’d love to see Danielle step up and be the No. 1 bitch in the pack, but I don’t know if she has it in her.

CE: Alcide’s current No. 1, Rikki, certainly has her opinions about how the pack should be run. In fact, she questions Alcide, your pack leader, a little too much. I think he’d be better with Danielle.

JGH: Yeah, Rikki definitely is stubborn, and definitely questions Alcide a lot. I think we’ll see that continue to play out throughout the season.

CE: How do you feel about the decision earlier in the season to kidnap Emma when Luna died because they wanted to keep Emma with the pack, with “her own kind”?

JGH: If one of us is threatened, then we’re all threatened. For her to be out and exposed like she was, then we’re all outed. To protect her is to protect ourselves. We need to have all of our ducks in a row; we want all of our people on our side.

CE: It seemed kind of desperate and out of character for Alcide to do that (however, he got back into my good graces when he gave Emma to her grandmother, Martha, and let Sam and Nicole escape).

JGH: Yeah, but the stakes are so high, I think that’s why you’re going to see more of these desperate acts. It’s life or death. And it’s causing some people to do some things that are extreme and unusual.

CE: Tell me about your latest project — starring in the PlayStation 4 videogame “Killzone: Shadow Fall,” which will be released in time for Christmas. What was that experience like?

JGH: I did weeks of motion capture and face and body scanning. The renderings of the character look just like me. It’s a new realm to apply my skills to. It was really fun, but it’s a really tedious process. You have to learn really quickly how it works. You’ve got a lot to shoot. We went down to San Diego to Sony Studios, and we shot a few weeks of motion capture. I did a day of voice-over in Los Angeles. We did additional face and body scanning. I had two weeks of fight and weapons training to prepare for all of my motion capture. I was trained in hand-to-hand combat techniques and tactical techniques, and working with handguns and rifles. It has been a really cool project, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.

CE: A lot of actors are getting involved in these videogame projects. Why do you think that is?

JGH: It’s such a unique thing. I think these projects are starting to employ actors more now because videogames are becoming more cinematic, and they’ve got these really involved story lines. The fans are smarter, and they need more than just the action of the game to be involved in.

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