Monday, 23 November 2009

Salome in the Garden

Michelle Forbes: True Blood asks us about our beliefs

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 'The Day Dream', 1880.

Michelle Forbes is a beautiful woman who resembles her characters. She punctuates her sentences with an attentive and patient smile, but it can not dissipate the intensity of her gaze. She smiles and speaks in a deep voice, husky and warm, which she modulates at will and without effort. She smiles and looks at you with her dark eyes, shining with a dusty glaze. We imagine her slipping easily into the skin of Salome and demand the head of John the Baptist from Herod Antipas. Because she carries an element of mystery that one may construe her as a femme fatale. The role of Maryann Forrester in Season 2 of True Blood fits her like a tunic a Greek god.

Before that, she was the wife of Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne) in the first season of In Treatment. She was also an enigmatic and tortured mother in Season 2 of the excellent but little-known Canadian series Durham County. The time of three episodes, she was Admiral Helena Cain on Battlestar Galactica, but also among other things Dr. Julianna Cox in seasons 5 and 6 of Homicide: Life on the Street set for NBC by David Simon, the father of The Wire.

The actress was visiting Paris for the launch of Season 2 of True Blood which starts broadcasting on Tuesday, 1 December on Orange cinema series.

How important is the role of Maryann Forrester in your career?

My first important role on television was that of Julianna Cox in Homicide: Life on the Street, which is certainly one of the best crime series that has ever been filmed. In Treatment has also been a role I enjoyed playing. At the same time I turned to True Blood. Maryann is certainly the most flamboyant character I had ever embodied. But Helena Cain on Battlestar was so iconic that people remember me most for this character than the one I played in True Blood.

In hindsight, how do you see her?

It was only last week that I really realized what was the character of Maryann. It is a cliché to say that, but all the actors agree and that's true that you can not see a character that you embody as absolutely evil. When Maryann makes Eggs and Tara eat the soufflé, she really believes in giving them a gift. She is sincere in her whole approach. She is really convinced that it gives them freedom. And she really wants to get closer to the God. When she prepares the dish for them, she does so as a mother would do in preparing gifts for her children. For me, it was love.

Season 2 revolves around several different stories.

In this second season of True Blood, there are actually three distinct parts. The first season tells of a wretched little village, and we learn to know the people who live and work there. During the second season, three stories are pursued simultaneously. It is the journey that Bill takes to Dallas, there is the story of the Fellowship of the Sun, which for me was the funniest one to watch, and then there is the story of Maryann and the people of Bon Temps. What I like about this season is that it clearly addresses the question of our belief system. The purpose of Maryann is to challenge the moral beliefs and ideals of each of us. At the same time, the entire section on Fellowship of the Sun denounces the belief systems that require blind adherence from its followers. With regard to vampires, the question is about being judged, being regarded as different, and this questions our beliefs on the status of minorities. This forces us to ask us questions about our willingness to lead ourselves in a sheep-like manner, to follow a leader, one who can be very disruptive.

Music plays an important role in True Blood.

Yes. It is an essential element. What was amazing during the shooting was that we had one of the best sound engineers, Nathan Barr. In the series, the music is extremely important for Maryann but also for all of us. And the music was already included in the script when it was received. Each week we downloaded music from the episode that we will be filming next. This gave the impression that we had a sort of a soundtrack. And that immediately put us into the mood of the episode. I could not remember the B 52's, I had completely forgotten and when I downloaded the song, I said 'damn, it's really good'. "

To prepare for filming, I read about the maenads on Dionysus and Greek mythology, but what is interesting with Alan Ball and Charlaine Harris is that you can carry out all the searches you want, when you end up with the script in hand and you read that you'll need to dance to the B 52's, you try to understand how two things can agree with each other. And finally, you let yourself be guided by the text.

Working on HBO is a particular experience?

This may sound strange but I tend to work better when you're in a somewhat military environment. It is very difficult for an actor to find a series in which they believe. And when I discovered HBO, I almost felt too weak. They have a philosophy so strongly marked, they have such determination and at the same time such humanity. They really want to tell stories and they support their creators, they maintain their projects and they do not throw them out if they do not seem to work immediately. I am really impressed by their willingness to produce stories. This is not about money, it is like family to me. Perhaps I do embellish things a bit, but the more I worked with them the more I discovered on a personal level and I'm still admiring them.

What are you going to do now?

It has been almost two years since I have been shooting without interruption and I need to take some time for myself. I love gardening and I can not take care of my garden when I'm not in Montreal. I would also like to learn the joy of reading without having to memorize the text. I'll take the opportunity to cultivate my garden, in both senses of the word.
Source: Le Monde des Series (translated from French by me)