Carrie Preston stars as the fiery-haired Arlene on HBO's enormously popular series True Blood. When she's not busy working in Bon Temps, Preston also stars on The Good Wife as Elsbeth Tascioni. We spoke to the actress about True Blood secrets, her busy schedule, her upcoming movies, and the film that she directed and produced, That's What She Said, which just premiered at Sundance.
True Blood is about to begin its fifth season on HBO (June 10). When we last left Arlene, she was conflicted about the future of her child. Has she resolved these issues?
CARRIE PRESTON: In season 4, Arlene's baby generated a lot of fear and worry for Arlene, but by the end of the season, she realized the baby was actually not possessed by the ghost of her dead serial killer fiancé at all. He was being controlled by another ghost altogether, and the baby is actually normal and fine. Only on True Blood!
What would you say is the main plot of season five?
CP: This is the season of the Vampire Authority. There's a struggle between the Authority, who want to mainstream, and the fundamentalist vampires who don't. So I guess you would say the theme is having to choose where loyalties lie.
Do you tap into your background as a southerner as Arlene? (Sidenote: I'm from Georgia, too. I was raised in Roswell.)
CP: If you were raised in Roswell, then you know what strong southern women are like. I grew up with them, too, so I always draw on my personal understanding of those women. Even though Arlene isn't based on a particular person, I definitely knew women like her and find that she comes easily to me as a result.
True Blood has such a cult following. Do you get mobbed by fans wherever you go?
CP: I don't get mobbed by fans the way some of the other cast members do. I am so different from Arlene that even with the red hair people still have to take a moment to make sure it is me. But the fans are always so kind and excited to tell me how much they love the show.
I have to mention, you were also a guest star on another iconic show, Sex and the City, playing Madeline Dunn, the lady that unwittingly steals Miranda's potential British suitor! I love that character.
CP: Yes, that was in their second season when the show was still fresh and figuring out exactly what it was. I was thrilled to get that role. I had understudied Cynthia Nixon in a Broadway show when I first got out of Juilliard, so it was fun to play those scenes with her. And Stephen Barker Turner, the guy who played my betrothed, had been a classmate of mine at Juilliard, so it was like marrying my brother or something!
You also star on The Good Wife, an incredible show. How in the world do you juggle your filming schedule?
CP: The Good Wife was a huge gift. That role is one of the best characters I've ever gotten to play, and I feel extremely blessed to have been trusted with it. Luckily the episodes I did were not a conflict with True Blood, so we were able to work it out. There are a lot of logistics to be worked out, but luckily there has always been time to make it all happen.
Tell us more about your new movie, Bag of Hammers, and other upcoming projects.
CP: Bag of Hammers is a wonderful indie film I did a few years ago that is finally coming out in the world. I play a feckless single mother who is in over her head in the raising of her son. It was a darker role for me, so it was really creatively satisfying. My main focus these days is getting the movie I directed and produced out into the world. It's called That's What She Said, written by Kellie Overbey starring Anne Heche, Marcia DeBonis, and Alia Shawkat. We had our world premiere at Sundance in January and have been playing festivals since then. We were acquired by Phase 4 Films, who will release the film in theaters and online, VOD, DVD, etc. in the fall.
Will you be in New York for the premiere? Are there any favorite spots you like to visit when you're in the city?
CP: New York is my home base, so I try to be there whenever I can. My favorite restaurant is Il Buco in the East Village. I used to live in the East Village, so I love to go visit my old haunts down there such as Virage, Big Bar, Decibel, and Cloister Café.