The first time I saw Aaron Perilo was back in mid May when I went to downtown Los Angeles where True Blood was filming some of Season 4. I waited outside the hotel where a big scene was being shot in the ballroom, hoping that I might get a glimpse of some of the cast as they came and went.
It was great to see Alexander Skarsgård, Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer and other members of the cast, but it was also intriguing to see the new cast members that were there.
I didn’t get to “officially” meet Aaron Perilo, on that day, as I only got the opportunity to say “hi” to him as he whisked by on his way back to the set (see photo below). I was interested in what character this new cast member would be playing and later found out he would be a vampire. I’m a big fan of the vampires, so when his publicist emailed last week asking if The Vault wanted to interview Aaron, I jumped at the chance.
When, I spoke to Aaron yesterday, he answered some questions about his new role in True Blood and his character of Blackburn. He also talked about how he got started as an actor, about his audition for the part, his other projects and his likes and dislikes.
Blackburn, the new vampire in Season 4 will be introduced to True Blood’s audience starting in episode 5. We’ll have to wait until then to find out what this new vampire is all about since Aaron is sworn to secrecy about his character. However, he did reveal that Blackburn is very old, saying “he’s an ancient.” I’m betting Blackburn is going to cause trouble in Bon Temps because from what I gather, he sounds like he’s not such a nice boy.
As I chatted with Aaron I learned that he is a big fan of True Blood, so much so that he told me he only read his scenes in the scripts they gave him for each episode because he didn’t want to know everything. He still wants to watch the show as a fan, and reading the full script would spoil his experience. I’m not sure I would have such discipline, but its nice to know that Aaron will be able to experience the show they way he wants to and get the full fan experience. He said that “the fact that I’m in this fantasy world that I have been following for a few years. It’s the most surreal job I have ever had.” He also talks about attending his first red carpet premiere and that Alan Ball is one of his favorite writers.
Below is my interview with Aaron Perilo:
You said in a recent interview that you got interested in acting while in junior year in high school. What was it that made you discover the interest at that time?
I’d always been acting since I was in the first grade, doing plays and national tours and things like that. And, it wasn’t really until my junior year that I realized that I wanted to do it as a profession. I’d always had an amazing time doing it, just being able to explore different sides of humanity and that has always interested me. And, when it came time junior year to start thinking about what I wanted to do for my career, I really couldn’t think of anything else I could do and also be able to have fun. My motto has always been that I want to make money and have fun doing it. And, acting is definitely something I have a blast doing and it makes money if you’re lucky enough to actually be able to get work.
Did you go to School for acting?
I applied to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. They have one in New York City and one in Los Angeles. I originally was set to go to the one in New York, because I love New York and it’s always been a dream of mine to live there and still is, but I’ve modified that because I now want to have a place in LA and a place in New York. I want it all! I ended up going to the one in Los Angeles because it just made more sense with all the work that’s out here.
Since two of your siblings are also actors, was it something your parents encouraged? Did you ever get resistance from them or others about going into a profession that is difficult in which to find success?
My parents have always been very supportive. They know that I know the risks because I’m the youngest of three siblings that are in the entertainment industry and I’ve seen what my brother has had to endure. I was sort of a wild child growing up anyways and they actually didn’t think that I would stay out here as long as I did and have as much success. They told me that later though. I came here about six years ago and have been here ever since. I have done a lot of travelling during the six years, but I’m based out of LA.
I know you were a fan of True Blood before you auditioned, but had you watched the entire series and who was your favorite character?
I really, really like all of the characters, but Russell Edgington might be my favorite on the show. He is unbelievable and such a vicious guy and I love his character.
Are you Team Bill or Team Eric?
I think I’ve always been Team Bill and I don’t know why, but I really like Eric also though. Eric is so conniving and has such a great character and I’m starting to like him more now.
Has your view of the show changed now that you have been in several episodes?
No, it still has the magical quality that it had before. It’s such an amazing fantasy world that Alan Ball has created; there’s no denying it. I actually didn’t read most of the scripts because I didn’t want to ruin it for myself. I read what I needed to for my story lines but as far as anything else, I wanted that to be a surprise.
So you will still be watching it as a fan?
Yes, I’m going to be watching Season 4 as a fan.
I know a lot of what happens, there’s no getting around it because I was in those scenes and I know what happens, but there are certain story lines I don’t know, like I don’t know what happens with Lafayette or with Jason, there’s a lot I don’t know which I’m excited to find out.
How can you not read the scripts? Isn’t it tempting?
When I first got it, I started reading the script and I was like, “Oh My God”; I was getting blown away. Then, I said, wait, I don’t know what built up to this because I started in episode 5, so I decided after I read ten pages of episode 5, it was just too good, oh man there’s some stuff that happens in episode 5, particularly at the beginning; I couldn’t do it to myself, I couldn’t ruin it.
Was Blackburn the only parts you auditioned for in True Blood or did you audition for other roles, too?
Blackburn is the only part I auditioned for.
How did you get the audition and how many others were you up against?
Through my agent, but I believe I got the audition, because I had just done a guest star on another HBO show that hasn’t aired yet, called “Luck”. It’s coming out in September, but that could change. And, I know that HBO likes to “keep it into the family”, so there really weren’t that many people who auditioned for this role. I don’t know the exact number, but not very many.
Did they have you in mind for it?
Possibly, they pay attention to the actors that are on their other programs, so it could be.
As a new kid on the block, how were you welcomed by the TB cast? How was your first table read?
I was brought in with “open fangs”; I was welcomed with open fangs. Everyone in the cast and crew are just really nice people. On my first day I worked was with Stephen [Moyer] and he’s hilarious; a really great guy and doesn’t take it too seriously, which is so great to see. If he did take it too seriously, it would be a little disappointing. It was a really long day of working but it was very pleasurable. No one really got into a crappy mood or anything and everybody loved doing their job. You can tell everybody like the makeup crew, the hair crew, etc., and all the actors, really enjoy doing it, which is very important.
We understand that you worked mostly with Stephen Moyer. How was that? What did you learn from him? Who else did you interact with?
I worked with Alexander, Stephen and some other people. About what I learned, I have to go back to not taking it so seriously and being precise, but laid back about. It is important because it frees you up and lets you be more, improvisational, I guess. You’re not saying anything that’s not on the page, although actually, I did. I did add a couple things to certain lines and they were totally cool with it. I guess just not taking it too seriously and trusting that the work is good enough. That’s what those guys do best.
More about Blackburn, what’s the character like? From a casting call we understand that he might be a sheriff, is that right?
He could be a sheriff, I can’t say if he is or not. A lot of people are speculating, though.
Does he have a love interest?
I can’t say that, because that would be giving away too much if I did. I can tell you some of my traits. You’ve probably read in a couple other interviews about this, but I have an attitude, I like get into trouble at the drop of a hat and I am an old acquaintance of Bill’s and Eric’s.
Are you anything like the role?
Just that I like to drink blood, but that’s about it, [laughs]. That’s a good question; no I don’t think I am. I use myself in every role I play, but it’s not who I project to the world.
Since you’re character seems to be around at the end of the season, is there any chance you will be back in season 5?
I can’t tell you that, but anything is possible.
We’ve heard stories from several of the vampire cast members that talking with the fangs in takes some real getting used to. Can you share your experience with that?
I never had any experience with them shooting out, they pretty snug on my teeth. It was definitely difficult to speak with them at first, and you just have to get used to it. The trick that Stephen told me is that you just need to forget that they’re in your mouth, but it’s easier said than done, but true. When you are just talking with one of the crew members in a conversation, I wasn’t lisping at all, and then when you start acting and it counts, you start thinking about it; you really have to be disciplined, the more in the moment you are, the less problem you have.
Are you a horror/vampire genre fan?
I’m not really. I’m surprised that I got so into watching True Blood. I’m not a Twilight fan or any of the other TV shows that have vampires in them; they are corny and cheesy. I liked Interview with a Vampire; that’s a great movie. And, since then I really haven’t been into that kind of stuff. To be honest, it took me about three episodes to really get hooked [on True Blood]. Once I saw that third episode, there’s something that happened and I was just hooked, and it’s been great ever since.
So you don’t see horror films?
They have to be really scary. The problem with horror films is I always know what is going to happen and you know, the anticipation, I don’t know; most of them just aren’t good.
What’s your favorite horror movie?
The Shining is my favorite horror movie, because that is actually scary and frightened me.
Who’s your favorite actor or role model?
I love Daniel Day Lewis. He is probably my favorite actor right now. There are so many great actors though, so it’s hard to say who’s the best, but he is definitely one of my top, top favorites and I just admire how much dedication he puts into it and how much of his soul he bears.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman is unbelievable as well.
I really look up to those guys.
Which TB vampire could be Blackburn’s role model?
My character has such an attitude and is a bit cocky, I don’t even know if he has a role model. I think he thinks he’s like, the shit.
Do we know how old he is?
I can say he’s ancient and is older than Bill.
Was your role on True Blood more challenging than other roles you’ve played so far? Why?
I don’t know if it’s more difficult but it’s definitely one of the most fun roles that I’ve ever had. It’s the character that I’m playing, just the traits that I’m able to do or have and who I’m playing opposite and the fact that I’m in this fantasy world that I have been following for a few years. It’s the most surreal job I have ever had.
How would you react if vampires really would come out of the coffin?
I’d be frightened, I’d be super, super scared. I don’t know what I would do. I would try to be way under the radar of those guys. Not stir any kind of trouble. I don’t think I’d want to be a vampire in real life because I like food and blood sounds kind of gross to me. Living for eternity would be cool and I’m already pale, so I wouldn’t be losing anything.
Can you talk about some of the other films you’ve done? Anything in particular you want to say about them?
I have a couple of movies that I’m in and that I’m going to be in later in the year. One is called “Sassy Pants” that I’m in with Haley Joel Osment, Diedrich Bader and Ashley Rickards and it’s a dark comedy. I play a similar character (Cory) to Blackburn except I’m not a vampire. And that’s a really funny, dark but funny movie. A movie called “In Time” and I had a scene in that movie with Justin Timberlake and I just got done filming a movie in Boulder, Colorado coming out next year, called “Mind’s Eye.” Malcolm McDowell and Dean Cain are in that. It’s a good sci-fi thriller and has to do with parallel universes and you know the usual.
Do you feel you have a type, leading man or character type?
I like to think of myself as versatile. I would love to do the type of roles that Daniel Day Lewis has done. Even Leonardo DiCaprio, he’s a leading man for sure, but he has done character roles and yea, so I guess I’m considered more of a leading man, but I think of myself and have more fun playing character parts.
Was the True Blood Premiere the first you’ve been to or have you been to others?
This was the first premiere I’ve been to. It was really, really cool, I enjoyed it a lot. I was a little nervous going into the whole red carpet and all that, but it was a lot easier than I thought and I had a lot more fun than I anticipated. And, I got to watch the first episode of True Blood in a huge theater which was a very cool thing. Before the premiere aired, Alan Ball went up on stage and gave thanks to certain people and he mentioned my name. That was a huge deal for me because Alan Ball is definitely one of my favorite writers of all time.