Deborah Ann Woll joined the cast of “True Blood” late into season one, but she immediately made her presence known during one of the series’ most dramatic scenes. What else would you expect from an episode that features the show’s first human-to-vampire transformation?
Yes, Jessica the good Christian girl became Jessica the vampire when Bill was forced to sire her. Since then, she’s become his student and a thorn in his side. But as season two plays out, fans will watch Jessica go from puppy to predator — a dichotomy that Deborah absolutely relishes playing!
PopWrap: For Jessica, this season is very much about learning to be a vampire — does that put a crimp in Bill’s relationship with Sookie?
Deborah Ann Woll: Well, we certainly both need his attention. Jessica is young, inexperienced and needs his guidance, while Sookie needs her boyfriend. But some events arise that bring us together.
PW: What does Jessica think of Bill?
Deborah: Jessica thinks Bill is kind of lame, the way most teenagers probably see their parents. I think people who treat teenagers like children get a certain amount of attitude back … and Bill will get everything he deserves. Promise.
PW: Some fans see Jessica as annoying. How do you see her?
Deborah: The amazing thing about being a teenager is that they have feelings that run very deep and don’t feel constrained by society — they express those emotions. There’s something incredibly beautiful about Jessica expressing, to her fullest ability, exactly how she feels. Sometimes that might come off as annoying, but in a way it’s very self confident and self assured. I wish I had more of that in me.
PW: It must be fun to play someone so open, experiencing everything for the first time.
Deborah: It’s interesting — in the script where Jessica is first turned, it’s written that she feels like a newborn. She’s like a toddler in her terrible twos mixed with a teenager, and it creates something so heightened that I don’t know if any parent could deal with it. So it hasn’t just been an angsty teen’s coming of age story, but also seeing someone go from a baby who knows nothing about the kind of creature she is to someone who is learning about life through intense experiences.
PW: Jessica also dabbles with her sexuality in an upcoming episode. How dangerous is it to have basically this child mentally in a teenage girl’s body running around Bon Temps?
Deborah: Oh, that’s very dangerous because you don’t know what to do with those feelings, or how to control them. And your heart can take an unexpected turn at any time. I think she has all the same urges any 17-year-old would, but not the presence of mind to control them.
PW: What first attracted you to “True Blood”?
Deborah: Well, I love things that are just on the edge of reality — or even a little further is fine with me [laughs]. I think it’s fun to play with worlds that you can add a lot of your own imagination to. With “True Blood,” you’re not limited by anything, there are just leaps and bounds of the imagination you can take with these characters. And I love genre pieces because you can do or say anything and hopefully you’ve got someone like Alan Ball attaching an important message with it as well.
PW: I couldn’t agree more — whether it’s “Buffy” or “Dracula” there seems to be something about vampires that really lends itself to social commentary.
Deborah: Absolutely. There are the obvious comparisons to minorities and disenfranchised groups, which is important to talk about. Apart from being a woman, I haven’t experiences a lot of that. It’s interesting to take a look at people who deal with prejudice on a daily basis — it’s been a real eye opener for me. But my favorite theme we explore on the show is intimacy.
PW: In the romantic or interpersonal sense?
Deborah: When you really love someone, they know details about your soul and if they shared that with others, it would hurt so deeply, it could kill you. And the idea of doing a love story with a creature who could not only emotionally but physically harm you is an interesting idea.
PW: Jessica’s back story is a little murky — will that be explored more in season two?
Deborah: Oh, absolutely. Where you come from is such a huge part of who you are today. There would be no way to explore this new person Jessica’s become without looking back at who she was.
PW: How do you think season two stacks up to season one?
Deborah: Season two is much bigger. Last year, I think I only worked with three different actors essentially. This year it’s been much more about huge group scenes and that’s a little unusual for the show, but it’s more fun that way!
PW: And how would you describe Jessica’s journey in season two?
Deborah: I would say that this season is about growing up for Jessica. Every episode she becomes a little bit more adult. In the beginning, when she does something wrong, it’s “that’s your fault!” A lot of whining and complaining — what you saw in the first season. But as the episodes go on, Jessica starts to learn how to take responsibility. When things go wrong it becomes about learning how to deal with them in a more adult and compassionate way. You know, for a vampire.
“True Blood” premieres Sunday June 14 at 9 pm on HBO