Death Becomes Denis O'Hare
BY Brandon Voss
June 18 2010 9:55 AM ET
Even before gay vampires were in the picture, True Blood’s vampires have widely been viewed as metaphors for gays and gay rights. Do you see Russell’s desire to marry Sophie-Anne, the vampire queen of Louisiana, as the ultimate marriage of convenience?
Yeah, it’s like any royalty. Edward II, who was probably gay, was married to a French queen who complained about his male lovers coming in. Those royal marriages were always power marriages.
I don’t understand why a gay vampire would choose to settle in Mississippi, which is about as red as red states get.
I know. I ask myself those questions as well. I actually went down there to Jackson and Natchez — my boyfriend, Hugo, and I stayed at a B&B where they actually weren’t very welcoming to a gay biracial couple — and some interesting things occurred to me. I noticed this thick coat of fog, and I thought that if I were a vampire, I’d want to be someplace where I’m not very noticeable and could skirt daylight, because the fog obscures you and keeps the sun from penetrating. These people had to hide all the time, so it was all about where you could hide the best, and a place that’s foggy, thinly populated, with large houses and incredible tracts of land between them is a good place to hide out. You’d also want to be in a place where people have a belief in the gothic, a belief in the very thing that you are. Another interesting thing for my character is that the ancient druids worshipped the oak, which was their totemic tree. All those plantations are just littered with massive oaks, so you can imagine this ancient Celt landing in this area and going, “I’m home!”
Russell has been dating his vampire boyfriend, Talbot, since the early 1300s, so he’s clearly a pioneer of the gay vampire community.
Oh, definitely. I think he’s always had various men. Theo Alexander, the guy who plays Talbot, and I spent a lot of time walking in Runyon Canyon fleshing out our backstory. It was kind of a push-me-pull-you arrangement, but we came to the idea that they met in Byzantium, where Talbot was some sort of Greek prince. They met at a costume party where Talbot was dressed as Alexander the Great and Russell was dressed as Augustus. Talbot was still a mortal when they fell in love.
You created your backstory while hiking? How butch.
Well, after the hike we’d have a salad and quiche at lunch, so it wasn’t that butch. We spent a lot of time hanging out, so we got really comfortable with each other. By the time we had our first table read, we had this incredible bond, which hasn’t gone away. I still talk to him about once every week or so, and we try to get together every two weeks. He’s really a delightful guy. Fleshing out our backstory was hilarious because I didn’t want to impose anything on him, but I definitely had my ideas. Theo would posit something, and I’d say, “Well, I’m not so sure Russell’s the bottom.”