As waitress Arelene Fowler on HBO’s True Blood, actress Carrie Preston adds to the show’s campy sense of humor (it’s not all dark and stormy), providing many of the laughs with her paranoid hijinks and virulent abhorrence of vampires. A native of Macon, Ga., and a graduate of the Juilliard School’s prestigious drama program, Preston tells fans in our exclusive video interview that she has almost always landed in clown roles. No wonder — despite Arlene’s somewhat prejudiced notions about vampires, her comedic presence on True Blood is indispensable.

Now in its fifth season, True Blood has amassed more than just a cult following despite taking enormous risks in terms of storyline, character and fantasy-world logic (if there is such a thing). Also starring Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Ryan Kwanten and Kristin Bauer van Straten, as well as many others, True Blood is created by Academy Award winner Alan Ball (American Beauty, Six Feet Under) and based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries (commonly called “The Sookie Stackhouse Novels”) by bestselling author Charlaine Harris.

Leave a comment

Read more about:

Q: Hi Carrie, it’s Julie from New York. I was wondering how your character has evolved over the seasons. - juliecohen1122

It’s been really been fun for me now because Arlene has definitely been designed to be the comic relief in the series and she is sort of responsible for maybe a more narrow-minded view of the world. One can even say that she stands for a little bit of intolerance, which we see a lot in society. But what has been fun for me is seeing how the writers have started to trust me as the seasons have gone on with more dramatic story line, a deeper story line, more emotional accessibility to Arlene and from Arlene. That has been really wonderful that they’ve been able to help find that balance. I always want to find the humor in it. I definitely love that side of her, but I think it makes all characters more interesting when you have the other side as well. As far as the evolution of her beyond season five I don’t know. Like I say, I put myself in the writer’s hands and trust them to come up with things. I never would have never even though that Arlene would get pregnant, much less have a baby that was being possessed by a ghost.

Q: Hi Carrie, this is Kimberly from Florida. Arlene and Terry have had a bit of a rough times, do you think that they’ll be able to make a go of it? - Kimberly Steele

I think it’s wonderful that we’ve been able to stay together. I think that in a show where sometimes I think the writers and the audience feel like they have to change things up all the time, it's nice to have the consistency of their relationship. Arlene is someone who wants to always have a man in her life and Terry is the best one yet. So she does everything she can to fight for it. This season we’re going to see some tests to the marriage because of Terry’s past. I can’t really say what is going to happen, but they do love each other.

Q: How do you make your character believable in a world that’s filled with so many fantastic stories and characters? - Kimberly Steele

Well, the show I think in order for it to really work in this world of supernatural vampires, werewolves and fairies is that it has to be grounded and it has to have a context and the context needs to be real human beings. So I think the show doesn’t work if you don’t put those super natural characters in a world of reality, and albeit it is a fictitious depiction of reality, but it is nonetheless human to begin with. I’m very happy that I am part of the few that is providing that context for the audience.

Q: Hi Carrie, This is Justin from Houston. You’re married to Michael Emerson from 'Lost.' Have you ever considered what a mash-up between the worlds of 'True Blood' and 'Lost' would look like? - JustinJannise

That’s a great question. I certainly haven’t considered the mash-up of the worlds, but there’s definitely a mash-up of the fans. When Michael and I are out and about, we notice that a lot of people who were fans of one of the shows are also fans of the other. So we like to have that consistency. I guess both of the shows have a fantastical element to them so I wonder what the smoke monster would have done if Eric and Bill got a hold of it. One would wonder.

Q: You’ve had experiences in both acting and directing, but if you had to chose one which would it be? - Leslie Chen

Hopefully I’ll never have to chose between producing, directing and acting. I kind of feel like they are all of a piece. One feeds the other. I learn a lot by doing one thing and turning around and applying it in the other. The fact that I started off as an actor, I think was very helpful once I started wanting to direct and produce. I certainly take advantage of being on set all the time and watching the camera crew and watching the director of photography and watching even other directors. I have the great benefit of watching tons of directors. Whereas those people who aren’t actors, they really only know their way of working or maybe they had a couple of mentors along the way, but I had tons of mentors. I kind of steal from them when I can. I love it, I love doing it, I love being able to see something start from an embryonic stage and then just grow into a full-grown being, so that’s very exciting. I directed a film a year and a half ago on hiatus, it’s called 'That’s What She Said.' It stars Anne Heche and it’s written by my friend Kelly Overbey. It stars Anne Heche, Marcia Debonis, and Alia Shawkat. It just extraordinary because for about eight years I was trying to get this made and finally I was able to figure out how to do it and make everything happen. Now we’ve premiered at Sundance and we’ve been at all these festivals and we got distribution so we’ll be able to share it with a lot more people come late September hopefully.