Monday, 22 June 2009

Michelle Forbes Juggles Three TV Shows and Entrances

In a recent interview, Michelle Forbes sat down with to open up about settling in with the very rewarding cast of True Blood, acting, her work with HBO (on True Blood, and In Treatment), and her intense experience in the role of Penelope Verrity in the upcoming second season of Durham County.

IESB: When and how did you know that you wanted to be an actor?

Michelle: As the story goes, I started off as a ballet dancer. I knew, pretty early on, that I needed another form of expression, and it just seemed that acting, and this idea of playing pretend and telling stories, was really fascinating to me. It was a natural progression, out of the dance world and into the world of theater and cinema.

IESB: For those who might not be familiar with the show yet, who is Maryann and how does she fit into the story?

Michelle: What I’ve been saying about Maryann is that she’s very mysterious and she likes her mischief. She has got quite an agenda, in this town, and she is going to have one hell of a time when it comes to light. She’s a wacky one. It’s been total fun to play.

IESB: What can viewers expect from Season 2, for your character?

Michelle: It’s so difficult to talk about this show without giving anything away. But, what I can say is that Maryann likes to have a lot of parties. She likes for there to be a lot of food around. She has a very strange entourage with her, at all times. She lures Tara into her world, but she’s just fascinated by everyone in Bon Temps and she wants to leave her footprints all over that town.

ESB: What was it about Maryann that you found so appealing? How can you relate to her?

Michelle: I don’t know that I can relate to Maryann, but I’m sure other people will. What I found so fascinating about her is that she’s completely liberated from everything. She has no sorrow, no guilt and no remorse. She doesn’t live with the same rules that we live with. Oddly, that was intimidating, at first. We always say that we want to be happy, free and content, and live with no rules, but when we’re given that, it’s terrifying because we tend to operate better with structure and guidelines. So, initially she was a bit frightening, but I didn’t realize what a gift she was until about half-way through the season. I had just finished doing this series in Canada, called Durham County, that was all about sorrow, remorse, guilt, regret, dead children and all sorts of light, fun things. You think you’re fine, but you don’t realize that you’re not fine until you’re back in the world, and I think if I had to go into another tortured role, I probably would have killed myself. So, playing Maryann, and experiencing her sense of fun, mischief and play, has been a lot of well-needed fun.

IESB: Now that you’ve been doing the show for awhile, do you feel like you have more of an understanding for why people are so intrigued by this genre?

Michelle: My theory is that we’re in a big national depression, with the economy and people being out of work. We have the hope of a new administration, but we don’t know what’s going to happen yet and we’re exhausted from worrying, and I think that it’s just a good bit of fun. It’s escapist, and it’s fun for smart people. Alan still asks questions about family and love, the pack mentality thinking, and how susceptible we are to judgement and having our minds changed about things we don’t understand. And, he’s able to explore these themes, but it never gets too heavy. There’s always a pratfall right behind it, or a really gross sex scene, or something that will shift the tone. There’s something to appeal to everyone, with this show. A lot of men watch this show, and they wouldn’t normally.

IESB: Can you talk about juggling True Blood, Durham County and In Treatment? How do those schedules all work out?

Michelle: I love to work. There’s an adventure that comes with every job, and you can never have too much adventure in your life. I have been busy this last year. I did the last couple of episodes on the first season of True Blood, and then I was on a plane to Montreal to do the Canadian series Durham County, which was very beautiful and I’m so pleased that I got to be a part of it. There was a possibility that I wasn’t going to be able to do it because of HBO. I was in Montreal for three months, and then I was in New York for a fitting for In Treatment, two days after I finished Durham County, and was just running on adrenalin from that job. I did a couple episodes of In Treatment, was in bed sick for the holidays, and then started on True Blood in January.

It’s wonderful. I’ll never complain about having too much work, but all three characters were so different and I’ve been living my own little repertory theater for over a year, jumping in and out of these different characters. It’s been a joy because they’ve all been such wonderful writers. Laurie Finstad-Knizknik, who wrote Durham County, is just such a brilliant woman. To jump from her pad and pencil over to Alan’s pad and pencil has just been a real joy.

IESB: Did it help that the characters were all so different?

Michelle: It really helped that they’re so different because they all helped me to shed the last one. This woman that I played on Durham County, Pen Verrity, held a lot of sadness and sorrow, and I didn’t realize how much I was carrying around with me. Maryann helped me to shed Pen, the more I became immersed in her. I think Pen would have stayed with me a lot longer, had I not been able to jump into Maryann right after.

IESB: Are there types of roles or specific genres that you’re still looking to do, that you haven’t gotten the chance to do yet?

Michelle: I want to do a period piece because I’ve never done one. I’ve always said that I just wanted to do one of everything. I got the Western out of the way. But, I have wanted to do one of every genre. I did the American cop drama, I did the British cop drama, and now, I’ve done the Canadian cop drama. I just always want new and different. I never know what I want, but I usually know what I don’t want, and what I don’t want is what I’ve already done before. I’m always just waiting to see what else is out there, to see what new adventure is going to be had.