Friday, June 20, 2014

Interview: Amelia Rose Blaire on the "Epic" Final Season of True Blood

Amelia Rose Blaire, photo by Bobby Quillard
From Beverly Hills to Bon Temps, actress Amelia Rose Blaire has worked with some of the hottest young stars in Hollywood today. Her first recurring role, which was on “90210,” helped prepare her for her current contract role, that of new vampire Willa Burrell on HBO’s “True Blood,” which returns for its seventh (and final) season June 22 at 9 p.m. I spoke with Amelia about this last season of the hit supernatural drama, and she gave me an inside peek as to what we can expect this summer from our favorite vampires, werewolves, witches and fairies.

Celebrity Extra: First off, can you give me a little background on yourself? How did you get your start in acting?

Amelia Rose Blaire: My younger sister was a huge catalyst in that. She started taking acting classes, and she was always much more outgoing, more social and braver than I was. I was a very shy kid. One day I decided to tag along with her and got bit by the bug. I knew that if I was going to be an actor, I wanted to be the best possible actor I could be. So I started studying at The Sanford Meisner Center in North Hollywood and did their two-year program. It was immersive and intensive, and I learned a lot about myself. Then I started studying with the actress Lindsay Crouse, who is a wonderful teacher of mine to this day. She directed me toward the Atlantic Theatre Company Conservatory in New York City, where I went after I graduated high school.

CE: Your first big part was on “90210”; tell me about that experience.

ARB: That was the first time I’ve ever had a recurring role on any show. That was very exciting. It was one of my earlier roles, so I just felt like I had my jaw open the entire time because I was experiencing something so different. But it was a lot of fun. It was kind of like being in high school, because I was playing a high-school character, and she was a little weird. She was very strangely possessive and kind of quirky and entitled. It was fun to bring out those different characteristics, because that’s not something I usually play with. Getting to play such a strange character who was really different from me was very special.

CE: Your next big role is your current role, as Willa Burrell in the phenomenally popular “True Blood.” Tell me about your audition and how you got the part.

ARB: I had been in that casting office many times before, but that was the first time I had auditioned for “True Blood.” But I have been a fan of the show since season one, so when I got the audition, I knew where I would be and how to fit into the show. The day I got the audition, my sister was in town, and her cat got hit by a car. I went over to my mom’s house, which is where the cat was, and I went in the backyard, and my sister was holding him. We didn’t know if he was alive or dead. He wasn’t moving. And she was wailing at the top of her lungs, just crying: “Is he gone? Is he dead? Is he dead?” And I had never seen my sister like that. It was a very grounding and sobering and sad moment. There was nothing I could do for her. And the next day, I had to go in to audition for “True Blood.” In the audition, the character was begging not to die, not to be turned into a vampire, which she kind of thought was the same thing as dying. In any other circumstance, I would have made it about not wanting to die, but because of witnessing the whole experience with my sister the day before, I made it about wanting to live. And at the time, it was this gift of getting to see a different perspective. Instead of making it about dying, it was about living. So, for me that was a huge shift.

After I left the audition, I felt out of my body, which is something that is really special when you are able to do that, especially in an audition room, which can be very difficult to let go. But because of that situation, I was able to do it. I got a call later that day that they wanted to see me again. And I went in one more time and kind of kissed it goodbye, assumed it was gone. And then a couple of days later I found out I had booked it, which was unreal.

CE: Is it as much fun to work on “True Blood” as I would imagine it to be?

ARB: It’s a total blast! I mean, where else in life do you get to play with fangs and special effects and blood? You get to live in this whole other world, where the realities of this world don’t exist or can be pushed. It’s so much fun. And everybody is so sweet and so welcoming and warm, and they’re down to play and down to get dirty. It’s really a special set.

CE: This is your second year on the show, but I know most of the cast have been there since day one. That set must be like a well-oiled machine, where everyone really knows his stuff — actors, writers, directors and crew.

ARB: They really do. They know their characters very well, and it’s really cool to see where they take everybody, because a lot of the time, you don’t even see it coming, and then all of a sudden you’re like: “Oh my gosh, yes! That makes total sense! I love it.”

Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and Willa
CE: I have to ask, and I’ve heard only good things about him, but is Alexander Skarsgard (who plays Eric Northman, the vampire who turned Willa) fun to work with?

ARB: Oh, yes. He’s very funny. He’s very sweet and very goofy. He and Kristin (Bauer van Straten, who plays Pam) are such a team; they’re so much fun to work with. He’s very tall and very nice.

CE: One of my favorite scenes of yours was after Willa was turned, and she came home to confront her father, Gov. Burrell (played by Arliss Howard). Tell me about filming that.

ARB: When I first went into that scene, I was expecting that he would be completely appalled by me and would be terrified. But when we started filming, all he wanted to do was hug me. It was such an incredible learning experience as an actor, because you go in with all of the expectations of how you think the scene is going play out, and then your partner brings something completely different, and you just have to drop everything and just be there with them. He gave me something completely different from what I was expecting, and I think also different from what Willa was expecting. It was a wonderful moment.

CE: What can you tell me about this final season of “True Blood”?

ARB: I think the fans are going to be really happy. The writers and everyone are doing a wonderful job. Everyone wants to make this the best ending that they can possibly make. Everyone is putting in 110 percent — it is going to be epic.

CE: Are you and the rest of the cast starting to feel the end approaching? What is the mood like on the set?

ARB: As the end gets closer, it’s going to affect everyone, because most of the cast and crew have been here since season one. They’ve been working together for seven years, which is an incredible amount of time in this industry. Sadness hasn’t quite taken over the set just yet, but ask me again on my final day of filming!

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