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The Vault: Exclusive interview with Carrie Preston

The Vault: Exclusive interview with Carrie Preston

Carrie Preston is the multi talented actress who portrays the no-nonsense waitress Arlene on True Blood. Besides acting she owns a production company “Daisy 3 Productions”, writes scripts and has directed two movies. And on top of that she has been happily married for many years to actor Michael Emerson who portrays my favorite LOST character Ben Linus.

I spoke with Carrie on the phone, she is a very easy person to talk with and a few times I forgot to stick to my questions and started telling her things. She even asked me a couple of question about The Vault and the fans.


Carrie Preston

Carrie Preston

Last time The Vault interviewed Carrie was back in February at the Macon Film Festival where she was promoting her production company’s latest endeavor Ready? OK! The movie is out on DVD now.

It is going very well. We are getting a lot of sales and rentals and people are very excited about it. We are the third top selling DVD for our distributor, which is Wolf Video. So we are doing quite well and we’re just happy in this climate day and age to have sold a movie and to have it out available for people to see, because so many film makers aren’t able to make sales at this point in time because of the economy.

I heard you went to Paris with your husband Michael Emerson to attend the premiere of the fifth season of LOST in France. Had you ever been there before?

No, I had never been and neither had Michael and we were so taken with the city, of course it is so historical and to be able to actually see all those buildings and all that art work in person was really stunning. And the French people were so kind and very, very welcoming. There is a huge LOST contingency there who are really big fans, so they were going crazy for Michael and it was real fun to see that.

Michael plays a very important role on Lost and I am sure he gets recognized on the street all the time.

He does. Unlike me who looks so different from my character on True Blood because I wear a wig and I definitely don’t look anything like Arlene. It is very interesting to see because it is very hard for him to disguise himself but it is very easy for me.
People are always very surprised, they recognize me from other things and then they ask me “What are you doing now?” And when I say that I am on True Blood, they say “No, you are not.” Yes, I am Arlene! Everybody is always a little surprised so that is kind of fun. I like to see their faces when they realize that it is me.

When I wrote articles about you on my website and I always mentioned that you play Arlene, otherwise I received questions from readers asking who you were and which part you played.

Oh, that is so funny. Even the fans. Like I said people would recognize me from other things but not from True Blood. But people are starting to catch on and people in the know who are real true fans, if they see Michael and see me with him they put two and two together. “Oh oh that’s the girl from True Blood”. But it is definitely not something the general public is quite aware of yet. But it is just fine with me.

You and Michael: Both husband and wife on two of the most successful shows on television today.

Yes, we are very aware of that because of course there have been times when neither one of us had been working so it’s really nice to have both of us on successful shows and to be working. It is logistically kind of complicated because he shoots in Hawaii and I shoot in LA and we actually live in New York, so we’re a little bit all over the map, but these are good problems to have.

Life must be very busy in the Emerson-Preston household?

It can be, yes. We never know exactly what the schedule is from one week to the next, but we make it work. We try to see each other every couple of weeks. Although now that he is on hiatus this summer we are spending a lot more time together.

Last month you and the other cast members were part of the True Blood Panel at the Paley Fest. Fans flew in from all over the United States, they came from as far as New York to meet the True Blood cast. How did you experience that evening? Was it a special event for you as well?

It was, it was a really special event. First of all as a cast we haven’t done very many things like that. I think Anna and Stephen have done things, but to have eight of us all going to an event like that together was special and to experience the energy from the fans together was really great, we spoke about it a lot afterwards just how amazing it was to see that in person. Especially for me, because just like I said, I don’t get approached very much by the fans out in the world because they don’t know it’s me. So to have them there and to have them put two and two together and see what I really look like and what I really am like compared to Arlene, it was fun for me, it felt like a coming-out party or something. The questions were very smart from the moderator as well as the fans and it was just a great night to hear that cheering and the excitement when they showed the clips and when they showed the preview for season 2, which none of us had seen either. That was exciting, it was just a great night all around, really fun.

The visitors on The Vault come from over 100 different countries. How would you explain that True Blood appeals to such a wide range of people of all ages and backgrounds?

Well, it seems to me there is a little something for everybody in the show because you got the romance and the supernatural, violence and humor and you got great music and a really interesting, very good cast, so you can pick your favorite and stick with them. There is so many different storylines, different flavors that it would have made sense that it would appeal to so many different people. I didn’t think it was going to be that wide of a demographic, but I was really pleased to see that. The numbers are great. The audience was growing the first season from one episode to the next, word of mouth was bringing people to the show and that was very exciting to see.

carrie_preston_2At the Paley Fest you all looked like a group of friends who just happen to be working together. What is it the atmosphere like on the set?

We have an amazing crew who achieve the impossible every day, consider they are doing an hour’s worth of television in ten shooting days. That’s pretty extraordinary considering how complicated it all is I mean because we all have the INL and Special Effects and all that stuff and the crew is tired, but they seem to be tireless, they are constantly there and shooting really long days, but they are very supportive. The actors, we have really strong directors, we go in there and everybody is prepared, that is not always the case on television shows. Sometimes they kind of coast or they don’t really put in their homework. We have a cast that is extremely prepared at all times and that goes for the crew too. So when we get in there to do the work it does make it come a little easier. We never feel pressured to get it perfect or anything like that, it feels like there is always time even though there is not really time. Which says something about the directors and the crew. And also the actors we all get along really well. We trust each other. We are always prepared and that is saying something after two seasons already. Sometimes things lack of a little bit having been on the show for a little while, but that is not happening with us.

It must be hard because there are a lot of night shoots.

There are a lot of night shoots and those are really hard to do. Your sleep gets really messed up. I’ve had some night shoots, but not nearly as much as the vampires of course. The scenes in Merlotte’s are shot on a soundstage and for the most part we shoot that during the day and into the evening, but not all night long. But the exteriors we do on a lot of night shoots.

What about all those different accents that are spoken on the set? Southern, English, Australian, Swedish. Have you ever worked with such an international cast before?

No, I really haven’t. I always say it is like the united colors of Benetton on our set, because there are so many people from so many different places and different races. It is great and I think that is part of the appeal of the show. We are from all these different places but we are trying to create a world that is very specific. It is fun to rally together and make that happen. Some of us are from the south. I am from the south and Nelsan is from the south and Sam is from Texas and that is good to have it grounded in some real Southern flavor but then everybody else seem to have really been able to appoint themselves and get themselves there. Although it is the south, it is still fictitious. It is a world where there are supernatural characters and there is the element of the hyper-real about it and that is very forgiving when you are trying to do southern accents, it is not like we are trying to be 100% truthful to the south.

Did you pick up a little English or Australian slang?

No, not really because I don’t have a lot of scenes with Stephen or with Ryan, they are British and Australian and Anna doesn’t really sound like she is from New Zealand any more, she sounds pretty American when you are talking to her. They have overall become more American, I guess. Most of my stuff is with the Southerners.

You read all the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris to see if your character Arlene would die. Does that mean that you would like to remain part of the show for a long time?

Yes, I have, although I haven’t read the latest. I would love to stay a part of the show, it’s a really good show and it’s probably going to last for a while. It is always nice for an actor to have a steady gig, because those are hard to come by.

You have never done a series before?

I have, but it didn’t last very long. I have done seven pilots of potential shows, but True Blood really is the only one that hit.

The story of True Blood is filled with outspoken characters, how would you describe Arlene? What is her role in the Bon Temps community?

Arlene is a truth teller, she is strong and opinionated and she is a single mother trying to get by, trying to provide for her family. She is a no nonsense gal who really speaks her mind and that makes her really fun to play.
Her function on the show it to provide some comic relief, but at the same time the writers will sometimes give me some gravitas which I am happy about.

Will we see a different side of Arlene in season 2?

Yes, you are going to see a little bit of a different side to her and you’re going to see some of the same stuff too. Season 2 picks up right after season 1 ends, so Arlene is still dealing with the trauma of the whole Rene thing.

carrie_preston_4How did you prepare for the role of Arlene?

I read the books and growing up in the south was quite a preparation in itself, I mean I know women like her. I didn’t base her on anyone in particular but the writing is so specific and I was able to bring my southern sensibility to it and then trust the language and it took me where I needed to go. And it’s been fun because I feel like I am trying to do justice to these women that I knew personally growing up, as well as what the writers want and what Charlaine [Harris] wanted. It’s a challenge because a lot of times I am not given that much material to do all that, but I feel like Arlene is a big presence on the show even if I have only one scene, because there is no one else like her on the show.

Have you given it any thought why all Arlene’s previous marriages ended in divorce?

I think Arlene doesn’t know how to pick a good man, clearly. She probably goes for the bad boy, the thrill seeker, the troublemaker. She probably is one of those women who find that exciting and then gets in for the relationship and realizes that it’s not going to last. That’s why it was so disappointing with Rene, it seems to her that he was the complete opposite of any of the other guys she had ever been with and then to find out that she was even tricked by that… she starts doubting her ability to pick a man at this point. But she is a woman who is never long without a man.

Does that mean we can expect a little romance for Arlene?

Yes, I think so.

Is your production company, Daisy 3 Productions, working on any new projects?

We are in development on a few different ones right now. James [Vasquez] who wrote Ready? OK! is writing a new script, I am collaboration as a writing partner on a script and we have another script that a friend wrote that I am trying to raise money for right now to start shooting hopefully in the next year. That script is ready to go, it is only a matter of getting the funding in place. We have never let money or the lack of money stand in our way. We shoot low budget and with a lot of heart and a lot of talent. That’s how we have done our movies in the past and we hope to continue to do that.

by Shadaliza for The Vault – Copyright The Vault –
Photo credit: JSquared Photography
Video property of HBO

Written by Shadaliza

Shadaliza loves the Internet, film and TV shows, writing, running websites and charity fundraising; she has found the perfect combo in the fansites to express her creativity and passion. Shadaliza is Dutch, but has lived in Italy for many years and works as Marketing Executive for an Internet hosting company.

18 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    June 03, 2009

    she seems so cool. i love that first picture of her. arlene is a great character. she doesn’t get loads of screentime but she makes a big impression and kind of represents the heart of everyday bon temps.


  2. Avatar
    June 03, 2009

    Fantastic interview, Shad. I love Arlene and what she brings to the show. Carrie is a terrific actress and perfect for the role.


  3. Avatar
    June 03, 2009

    Wow, great interview Shad! Carrie is so personable and seems really friendly. You asked such great questions.

    It was good to hear and I’m so glad that the cast enjoyed Paley as much as we in the audience did. It was a magical evening!

    I can’t wait to see what Arlene gets herself into this season. And I think that she is a valuable and interesting True Blood character. Carrie does a wonderful job of becoming Arlene and she’s right, you’d probably not recognize her as Carrie if you only knew her from her portrayal of Arlene, she really does look different.


  4. Avatar
    June 03, 2009

    Congratulations Shad, great questions. Carrie is such a genuine and quite intelligent person! It was cute that she was so pleased for people to see who she really was at Paley, with her quote about a “coming out’ party. Having been at Paley, it was remarkable to see the camaraderie between all of the actors, you were very right saying they were all just like friends who acted together. Great insight into the show! Thanks


  5. Avatar
    June 03, 2009

    Shad, your interviewing style is really maturing, and this did seem more like a friendly conversation than a battery of questions.

    Carrie Preston is articulate and warm, not to mention talented. Arlene is the voice of fear and suspicion in Bon Temp, and Preston gives her a snippy quality. I can’t wait to see what develops between her and Terry Belfleur this season.


  6. Avatar
    June 03, 2009

    Thank you for this Shad. Carrie is such a pretty woman and so down to earth. I love Arlene–she can be so funny at times. The photos are great.


  7. Avatar
    June 04, 2009

    Shad , another great interview!

    Carrie Preston seems so down to earth, genuine and friendly in this interview. What a lovely young lady. I love her protrayal of Arlene. She is a great actress and plays Arlene perfectly. What a talent !

    I cannot wait to see what Arlene gets herself into for Season 2 – crossing finger they put Arlene with Terry. I think Todd and Carrie compliment eachother when playing off eachother. At the end of Season 1, we got a taste of it.

    I wish her the best of luck with Daisy 3 Productions and I can’t wait to see what the unveil next.


  8. Avatar
    June 04, 2009

    Wow, Shad, once again a great interview. I love Arlene on TB and Carrie is a lovely lady. I hope we get to see more of Arlene in Season 2. She made me laugh quite a bit in Season 1


  9. Avatar
    June 04, 2009

    This is a fantastic interview! You skills are leaving me speechless. Well, maybe not speechless, but I’m mucho impressed. Carrie Preston is as lovely in spirit as she is physically. She has skin like a porcelain doll and is such a nice person to talk to. I’m so glad you got this interview and I cannot wait to see lots of our favorite red-haired waitress with the jones for bad boys. Whenever she’s in a scene you just know something funny will be said. If you read these comments Carrie, I think you really rock! Great pictures!


  10. Avatar
    June 04, 2009

    Great interview! Carrie seems so sweet, and I can’t wait to see more of Arlene in season 2 – she’s definitely great comic relief. Her husband still totally creeps me out on “Lost,” but I’m sure he’s absolutely lovely in real life.


  11. Avatar
    June 04, 2009

    Shad, thank you again for a wonderful interview! I’m also glad to hear she enjoyed herself at Paley, and that she really appreciates and enjoys working on this show. Thanks Carrie!
    “How in the world is she gonna nurse a baby with fangs!?”


  12. Avatar
    June 04, 2009

    What a beautiful woman! i enjoyed this interview as much as our billsbabes first go around. i know exactly how those southern girls are and she does a fantastic job. i sort of wish you could have had just a general conversation, ie “when you and your honey have supper, what do you cook?”, and just general questions as it makes everyone real. arlene, bring it on!!


  13. Avatar
    June 04, 2009

    Love that Carrie!! You showed us once again shad what a wonderful down to earth person she is. Love that the hubby gets all the public attention and it takes everyone a moment to register who she is. I have a hunch that that is going to change. With all these wonderful interviews and pictures she too is going to be recognized for the great work she does. “Brava” Arlene!!


  14. Avatar
    June 04, 2009

    Thanks for another great interview Shad! And it was all done over the phone! What a geninuely nice person Carrie is and I hope she has some more camera time in season two. I’m glad she had as much fun at Paley as us fans did.


  15. Avatar
    June 04, 2009

    Thanks for the interview. I enjoyed reading it, since all interviews with Carrie are great.


  16. Avatar
    June 04, 2009

    Great interview. She’s adorable!!! LOVE her as Arlene….


  17. Avatar
    June 04, 2009

    Shad keep em coming! You may have to change, or add careers — inerviewer of the stars! Great stuff — thanks so much — and yes Carrie Preston is a terrific actress and warm person — must be lotsa fun in the Preston/Emerson household. Amazing that this TB universe is such a galaxy unto itself!


  18. Avatar
    June 05, 2009

    Great interview, Shad! I love Carrie as Arlene and think she is a real asset to TB. I too hope she is paired with Terry in Season 2.


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