Death Becomes Denis O’Hare
BY Brandon Voss
June 18 2010 9:55 AM ET
No, I didn’t. The only complaint I got was that my character ended up being a bit of a villain at the end because he dumps Charity. I was like, “Look, she lied to him about the fact that she was a hooker. He had every right to dump her!”
Is it a special treat for you when you do play gay?
Well, it’s certainly home territory. You can kind of relax a bit because you’re not lying. In acting there’s always the feeling that you’re being a fraud — like someone’s going to catch you and go, “You don’t chew gum! You’re not a doctor!” So to be doing something that’s your native posture feels like at least one level of authenticity. I do like playing gay characters, but a character’s sexuality, even if he’s gay, isn’t necessarily the most important attribute to me. In the case of Russell, he’s a power-hungry ancient druid who has a serious concern for the stewardship of the earth. Not to downplay it, but being gay is just another aspect of his life.
To use the As Good as It Gets casting lady’s words, did you and True Blood creator Alan Ball have any conversations about how “gay” Russell should act?
No. Alan Ball is a gay man talking to another gay man, so we didn’t feel we needed to have that conversation. Because, you know, when I’m in a scene with a good-looking man, there’s no doubt that I’m looking at him.
I can’t give away too much, but you’re surrounded by hot naked men in your very first scene.
Oh, yeah, and believe me, it was a really fun shoot. I was like, Wow, this is going to be a fun job.
True Blood is known for its gratuitous male nudity. Would you get naked for a scene if asked?
I was asked, and I’m in bed with somebody in episode 10. It’s just from the waist up, but I was wearing a teeny jockstrap thing. I’m 48, so I wasn’t quite hoping that’s the way my career would go, but I’m proud of how I look. I can’t compete with 25-year-old bodies, but I’m in pretty good shape. I did spend the previous two weeks doing a little extra at the gym.
And Russell is, what, 3,000 years old?
Well, 2,800, but what’s a few centuries between friends?
Russell isn’t a major character in Charlaine Harris’s “Sookie Stackhouse” novels, so I’ve read that Alan Ball gave you some license to flesh out his backstory. Has Russell always been openly gay, or did he come out late in his vampire life?
He’s a Celt from somewhere east of the Danube like the Carpathian Mountains. I’ve done a fair amount of research on Celtic culture, and since he’s so old, from such a different culture, and probably a pagan, he probably has a different sense of moral code and cultural behavior than what we would understand today. I’m not saying there was a ritual of homosexuality in Celtic culture, but certainly in ancient cultures there was a very different idea about what people did in bed — like the older man-younger man sexual relationships in ancient Greece. But given all that, I just think it’s his taste. That doesn’t mean he didn’t marry women when he had to or pursue powerful women over the years.
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