IF Magazine recently interviewed Deborah Ann Woll, who plays Jessica on True Blood. I had the pleasure of interviewing Deborah myself earlier this year, you can read that interview here: Interview with Deborah Ann Woll.
iF MAGAZINE: When you got the part, what did you know about Jessica?
DEBORAH ANN WOLL: Almost nothing. I had a three-line description – she was a sheltered Christian girl who’d been kidnapped for sacrifice. I had the scene from [Season One’s] Episode Eleven, running through the woods with Bill, so I knew that she had a nice little twist for her right in the beginning there. And then I think they pushed me as far as they could into the bratty mode. I was a little reluctant at first, but I think it turned out better for that.
I would say that [playing] the vulnerability is a little bit easier for me. Whenever you’re playing a side of a character that’s a little irritating or annoying, it’s a little bit of a worry that people will think that’s just how you are [laughs], so I think there’s a hesitation for me, which is why I was glad that they pushed me and said, ‘Keep going, we promise you this is right for the character.’ I had to trust the writer and the director a lot at that time. The vulnerable side is fun. It’s easy to play when you’re acting with someone like Jim Parrack – you just look in his eyes and it’s quite easy to fall in love [laughs]. That’s a really fun thing to play every day. It’s not a bad day at work when a cute boy makes love to you for hours. While I really enjoy the bratty side, and that’s the side you don’t get to explore very often, I like working with Jim and [playing] those scenes.
iF: How do you feel about Jessica’s relationships with Bill and Sookie?
WOLL: Well, honestly, for this season, they’ve kind of abandoned Jessica a little bit. They’ve had bigger problems to deal with and I think the redheaded stepchild was kind of pushed off into another room. I think it’s interesting that in the episode when Maxine Fortenberry accuses her of being an orphan vampire, she says, ‘Well, I was made against my will, I don’t have a family any more.’ I don’t think I’m quite to the point yet of considering Bill and Sookie to be my family or close in that sense. I hope that’s something we can explore and there’s certainly a scene or two coming up that I think is interesting in that regard, but with Jessica, we haven’t spent that much time with [those relationships] yet to make any kind of clear statement on that.
iF: Most of your scenes this season have been certainly with Jim Parrack as Hoyt and with Dale Raoul, who plays his mother Maxine …
WOLL: She is fantastic. She is so much fun to work with.
iF: Were you surprised by Jessica’s ongoing problems with having her virginity physically regenerate after every time she has sex?
WOLL: My father said, ‘You’re probably the very first actor that has ever had to portray that particular situation,’ so I am now the source material for the regenerating hymen. It’s great. I had dig real deep, it took a lot of imagination [laughs] to come up with what that would feel like. I think for me it has more to do with growing up, being a woman, trying to break away from whatever bonds my family had put on me and feeling like now, physically and because of the curse of being a vampire was put on me, I can’t do that. I’m again being restricted and caged in some way.
iF: Are you parents excited for you, or are they going, ‘Ack, our little girl is doing vampy things!’
WOLL: No, they’re very excited. I don’t know if they ever would have expected to be seeing me in a role like this, or on a show like this, but they love it, they watch every week, they invite all their friends – they’re incredibly supportive.
iF: When did you know that Jessica was going to be a regular part of the show?
WOLL: After we filmed the last episode, they had left it kind of open and I thought, ‘Oh, I should be back for an episode or two to take the story further, it hasn’t been completed.’ But then they gave me a call and offered a series regular position for the second season and that was a huge surprise and it really changed my life. Jessica was my first true recurring role. I had never done more than one episode of a character. So to be given the opportunity to work on it as twelve one-hour movies is really an opportunity for me to learn and really get my feet wet [in terms of playing a character over a long period of time]. Even in theatre, we would have runs that were a couple of weeks. This is the longest I’ve performed one role.
I always found when I was in theatre, I would do the run, and then it would end, and a month or two later, something new would occur to me and I’d go, ‘Oh, man, I wish I had thought of that when we were working on it,’ because it would be something new to add to it. Because in theatre, every single performance, you try and just find something else, something different, something more involved to lend it new life each time you do it. With film and working on a role for this amount of time, it’s like that month or two later, when I have new epiphany about a character, I am still working on it, so I can start to incorporate. There’s never been a moment when I was bored or thought I’ve figured this all out. If that happens, then I should quit [laughs]. I am constantly finding new little things that interest me about her and this character and the writing absolutely helps with that. They give you incredibly cool little tidbits that spark your imagination, Even now, weeks and months after filming, when I watch the episodes when they air, I go, ‘Oh, that’s interesting. I didn’t even notice I was thinking about that at that moment, but now I want to play with that later on.’