Janina Gavankar was interviewed by Interview Magazine by Emma Brown where she talks a lot about her part in True Blood. Janina is well known to the fans as Luna, but before she stepped into the vampire world, she was Papi on The L Word and periodically popped up in Mark Duplass’ TV show The League. She’s also a fairly regular contributor to Funny or Die. Next up for Janina are two indie films, Satellite of Love and I’m Afraid of Virginia Wolf, and, of course, the fifth season of TB. Janina was interviewed before she left to the Dallas Film Festival this weekend where she is right now to promote her film, Satellite of Love and below is part of that interview.
EMMA BROWN: You’ve joined a couple of shows after they’ve already been running for several seasons; how do you fit in? Do you feel like a transfer student on the first day of school?
JANINA GAVANKAR: [laughs] I’ve always done the safest thing, which is to assume that it’s going to feel like that, to assume that you’re going to feel like a freshman in a group of seniors—if you expect the worst, then it’s never going to be that bad. But in both cases, True Blood and The L Word, they were just such well-oiled machines and everyone was so professional that it was far from feeling out of place. It was much easier than expected.
BROWN: Do they take you around and introduce you to everyone your first day on set?
GAVANKAR: No. I met a lot of people at the first table read, but it’s funny in True Blood, because there are so many of us the only time we really see each other is at the table read unless our story lines intersect. I was sitting next to Rutina [Wesley], but my character Luna has never met [Rutina's character] Tara so we’ve never worked together, we’ve only sat next to each other and hung out in real life, but that’s it. It’s a funny little beast.
BROWN: Are you going to try and nudge the writers in writing you a scene together?
GAVANKAR: [laughs] That would be nice! But it is the most complicated show on the planet to make and to write; one change would be like the butterfly effect. It would create a ripple that would change everything.
BROWN: Can you tell me a little bit about how you got your role on True Blood?
GAVANKAR: I was told that there was a role that might be good for me, but I wasn’t immediately chomping at the bit, I had a whole bunch of conditions before I was ready to sign onto the show: One, I didn’t want to be a vampire because vampire sex freaks me out and I know that everyone has sex and gets naked on the show. [laughs] Two, I didn’t want to play a stripper or anything like that, not that I’m opposed to playing strippers, it’s just that at that moment I wasn’t really into it. And I didn’t really want to audition if it was a small part. But it [the role] was a new series regular, a classy schoolteacher and she was a shape-shifter. Those three things made me go, “Huh. That’s really interesting,” so I auditioned the next day and they brought me back to have a chemistry read with Sam Trammell, who I got along with swimmingly, immediately, and it was straight to work.
BROWN: Did you have an “Oh, I’m going to be naked all the time” moment?
GAVANKAR: When it comes down to it, I’m kind of a nerdy actor. With nudity for a shape-shifter, we’re not even really connected to our bodies because we can shift into anything. The vessel that we’re born in is malleable, so vanity isn’t really a huge part of the identity of the shape-shifter, so nudity isn’t a big deal. You’re just as naked as a horse as as a person. That’s very real to me as Luna, so I was even more okay with the nudity on this show than on The L Word.
BROWN: There are so many characters on the show, it seems like there is always a chance that one is going to be killed off in some brutal way, do you worry about that for Luna?
GAVANKAR: No, until I am told I am going to be offed, I don’t think about it. But I’ve said before, “If I’m going to go, let me go big. Let it be in a fit of glory!” [laughs]
BROWN: So would being killed by a vampire be too commonplace?
GAVANKAR: I don’t know, what would be the most fabulous way to go? The way vampires go is so amazing, the way they explode in fits of goo.
BROWN: So you could get turned into a vampire and then die!
GAVANKAR: I have all these nerdy shape-shifter questions I always ask on set and to the writers and annoy them: “If I’m wearing fake nails, and I turn into something else, the fake nails would fall off… right?” But I don’t think we can turn into vampires, because they are dead.
BROWN: Could you be made into a vampire?
GAVANKAR: I think so! But then can I shape-shift after I’ve been turned into a vampire? I don’t know that.
To read the rest of this interview with Janina, go to: interviewmagazine.com