On the hit HBO series True Blood, actress Lauren Bowles plays Bon Temps waitress Holly Cleary, who is also a practicing Wiccan. As part of a coven with Merlotte’s cook Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and his boyfriend, Jesus (Kevin Alejandro), she realized that she was in totally over her head when powerful coven leader Marnie (Fiona Shaw) started slaughtering not only vampires, but members of her own coven.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, Lauren Bowles talked about how landing the role was a dream come true for her, that she was a fan of the show since the pilot, how awesome this cast has been to work with, that she lives in fear of ruining the twists and surprises when she does interviews, and how things are going to get even crazier in the Season 4 finale. She also talked about how much she enjoyed playing half of a married couple, with her own husband (actor Patrick Fischler), on Larry David’s HBO comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Question: How did you originally get involved with this show and what was your auditioning process for it?
LAUREN BOWLES: It’s the beauty of Alan Ball and HBO. Some jobs are just so long and involved, and you have to go back a zillion times. With this, I just got the audition, went, read for him, HBO trusts him and I literally got the call by the time I was home, that I had gotten the job. I was like, “What?!” It was so out of my realm because it was a big job. I was a huge fan of the show and a ginormous Alan Ball fan. It was so beyond my scope that I would actually book it that my goal was just to have Alan really like me, so that they would bring me back for a guest spot. There were big people there that I recognized, so I thought, “I’ll never get this, but hopefully they’ll bring me back.” It was literally a dream come true, when I actually booked it.
Had you been a fan of the show since it started?
BOWLES: Yeah. I was in from the pilot on. Not that it’s sci-fi, but I’m normally not a supernatural fan. That’s not where my instincts go. But, I love anything that Alan writes. American Beauty is one of my favorite movies, and I was a huge Six Feet Under fan. I watched the pilot with some hesitation, being like, “I don’t think this is going to be my cup of tea, but I have to check it out because it’s Alan,” and the world just immediately drew me in. So, from the pilot on, I was obsessed.
How daunting was it to come into a show that was already so popular with so many devoted fans? Did it help that there’s always new people, every season?
BOWLES: Yeah. The year I joined – last year – there were a bunch of new people added, so I wasn’t the only new kid in school. But, the main thing is that it truly is the most awesome cast. I would normally read that and be like, “That’s bullshit!,” but it’s really not a lie. I’ve worked on a lot of TV shows and hierarchy is always a part of it, but everyone is just so awesome. The fact that everyone is so welcoming really makes it so easy to just jump right in. Because the cast is so large, if your storylines aren’t with certain people, you can go all year and not see some of the cast, other than at table reads. It took me a long time to actually get to meet everybody.
Is there anyone you haven’t really gotten to work with much, who you’d love to do more scenes with?
BOWLES: I don’t have too much with Ryan [Kwanten], who plays Jason Stackhouse, and he is really divine. He is such a lovely guy. I’ve had a little bit with him, but not tons, and he’s just awesome.
How difficult is it to be on a show that’s so popular but so secretive?
BOWLES: Really hard because I can be such a fucking idiot, to be honest with you. I live in utter fear, whenever I talk to anyone or do interviews, that I am going to be the one that spills some major beans. I say nothing because this is the best job I’ve ever had and I don’t want to blow it. But, one of the best things the show has going for it is that element of surprise. The twists and turns that they take are really like a roller coaster ride. All of my friends that are huge fans of the show really don’t want to know. I’m pretty good about not telling anything, but no one wants to know because that’s half the fun. My husband (Patrick Fischler) is an actor who did a season on Lost, and it was the same thing. He would be reading and gasping in the other room, and I would be like, “Don’t tell me!” I really do feel like, if you’re a real fan of the show, you don’t want to know because then you miss the ride. So, it’s really not so much from people coming up to me or friends. It’s really mostly in interviews, with people trying to get you to spill the beans, so they can start with some good, juicy headline. But, I’ve been pretty good, thus far.
Were you excited to learn that this would be the season of the witches, and that you would be much more a part of that?
BOWLES: Oh, yeah, I was thrilled. I came on at the end of last year, knowing that this character was being introduced and set up for the following year, which would be the year of the witch. Alan had announced that, so I entered it knowing that that was going to be the case. But, it’s just such a wild ride. It’s just crazy! Every time I get a script, I’ve gasped out loud when I’ve read stuff. I’m reading it of two minds – first as the actor, seeing what I’m doing and what’s happening within the context of our world, and then as a fan. Normally, you get a script and you look for your own character, but really, that’s not the case. Being a fan of the show, I am as equally interested in the fates of everybody. It’s just such a blast.
Does the show still actually give full scripts to everybody?
BOWLES: Yeah, they give full scripts out, but they’re fully watermarked with our names on them. I treat them like state secrets.
How fun has it been to have the witches become a very real threat to the vampires?
BOWLES: I see the witches vs. the vampires as life vs. death. We are really harnessing the power of nature and what is alive, and vampires are death and the underworld. They’re on opposite sides of the same spectrum, but equally powerful, and I don’t think the vampires are used to coming in contact with things that are as equally threatening as themselves.
What do you enjoy most about working on this show? Have there been any particular challenges with it?
BOWLES: It’s so odd to say no, but not really. The hours are long, for sure, and I’ve got a baby girl. But, what’s great about the show is that, if you do have a 17-hour day, because the cast is so big, it’s not like I’m doing 12 days in a row that are that. There are so many storylines to cover that you work some long days, but then you absolutely get some breaks. But, that’s hardly a challenge. When you love what you do, it’s not work. The fun part is that the stakes are so high. As an actor, getting to commit to these insane circumstances, and sinking your teeth and pulling the meat off the bone, is just so much fun.
Did you have a favorite episode from this season?
BOWLES: Yeah, the finale. All I can say is, “Oh, my!” I’ll leave it at that. Often, it’s the one before the last, and then the dust settles in the last one and sets up the next year. That is not the case this year. That much, I can say.
How did Curb Your Enthusiasm come about for you?
BOWLES: Curb was so much fun because I got to do it with my husband. We played a married couple. My sister is Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who was on Seinfeld, so I had done a bunch of episodes of that. That’s how I got my SAG card, actually. So, I’ve known Larry [David] for years. There was a part for a married couple, so we came in. My husband played one of those guys that likes to hug too much, and I was a completely nosy busy-body. They shot it about five minutes from where I live, so we were laughing and said, “When does this ever get to happen, in your career?” We got to drive to work together, for a noon call time, after playing with our baby girl all morning, got in hair and make-up, shot our scene for about two hours, improvised with Larry, and were home by six o’clock to give our daughter dinner. We didn’t have to memorize any major speeches or lines. When does that ever happen? That was a dream job, I have to tell you. He gives you the rough outline of the scene and says, “Here are the beats that need to happen,” and you just go do it a bunch of times.
Is that intimidating at all?
BOWLES: Not for me, it wasn’t because I’ve known Larry, over the years. I’m sure that if I didn’t know him, I’d be like, “Oh, my god, that’s Larry David!” It’s not like we’re besties or anything, but I have known him over the years and really enjoy him. And, I love improv. It was a blast! My husband and I oddly have worked together a couple of times. We did a Veronica Mars episode together. We didn’t work together, but we were both in Ghost World. We had a theater company in L.A., for a bunch of years. So, we’ve worked together a fair amount, and it’s always just great fun.
Are there any types of roles that you still haven’t gotten to do, but you hope to get the chance to do?
BOWLES: That’s a good question. It’s hard. I don’t really ever think in terms of what type of person I’d love to play. I usually just read stuff and can tell. It’s always fun to get to do things that stretch you and that you don’t get to do a lot, but you never know until you see it. I love working. I’m just a pig in shit when I’m working. I haven’t done theater in awhile, so I’d really, really like to get back to doing some theater. I’m a huge fan of the Geffen and the Taper, and places like that. I would love to do some theater.