On Season 6 of HBO’s True Blood, the Authority is gone, TruBlood is in short supply, humans are in open conflict with vampires, in a way that’s proving to be a real threat, and Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Jason (Ryan Kwanten) are preparing to face their parents’ killer – the mysterious and ancient Warlow. And then, there’s that little issue of what Bill (Stephen Moyer) actually is, now that he’s emerged reincarnated from a pool of blood.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, British actor Rob Kazinsky – who plays a mysteries faerie named Ben, that Sookie finds herself drawn to – talked about how things just seemed right when he auditioned for this role, marathoning five seasons’ worth of episodes in three days, how little he was actually told about the character, how intimidating it is to come in as a new love interest for Sookie, working with Anna Paquin, having to get naked on the show, how amazing it is to have Rutger Hauer there this season, and who he’d like to have scenes with that he hasn’t worked with yet. He also talked about the experience of playing a super soldier in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
ROB KAZINSKY: It was the standard, completely normal scenario. I had just wrapped on Pacific Rim. My agents had been saying, “There’s this great character coming up on True Blood. You’re going to go in for that. That’s the next thing for you.” I was like, “Okay, I’ll go and audition.” I went down there and did my job and met Anna [Paquin], and we did tests on it. It come in the completely normal way.
Could you tell that things felt right in the audition, or are you typically very hard on yourself?
KAZINSKY: I always feel like, “Oh, this feels totally right,” and then I get it and I’m like, “I’m awful! I totally suck!” But, it was a role where I felt like, “This guy is me.” The character description was me. As soon as I walked in the room, I felt very comfortable with the dialogue. I was like, “I can do this one. This one feels right.” And I get to play on this kind of show, which is my kind of show and my kind of genre. I was like, “This feels predestined for me.” I was really thrilled when I got the job.
Was True Blood a show you’d been a fan of, or did you have to catch up a bit?
KAZINSKY: True Blood is one of those shows that is so deep and good that you can’t have it on, in the background. It’s one of those shows that you have to dedicate time to. I’d never seen an episode ‘cause I was waiting for a time when I had enough downtime to actually sit down and watch. All of my friends are obsessed with the show. And then, when I started auditioning for it, I was like, “I better find out what this is all about,” so that I could get the feel of it and how it was meant to be played. So, I watched all of the episodes of the previous five seasons in three days, on HBO GO. I didn’t see daylight for three days. It’s my kind of genre. I’m a massive science fiction and fantasy geek. And to see something like this – not to impugn any vampire movies that might have been made in the last 10 years – that isn’t aimed at tweens and teenagers, and has adult content and takes the subject seriously, was great. I know that True Blood is a sexy show, but instead of just glamoring it up, it shows the gritty reality of what life would be like, if this were the situation. To play that reality is incredibly attractive.
KAZINSKY: No, none of that. The scenes that we did for the audition, some of them never appeared again. One of them appeared again, in a very different form. All I knew about the character was that he was a faerie. I literally knew nothing. Not even when I got the job, did I know anything about him. About a month afterwards, I finally started to find out some details of who and what I would be playing. When I sat down with the showrunner, he said, “Now that we’ve found you, we know what to write for.” That was when they created the character. To have that kind of situation is a blessing.
What can you say to tease who Ben is and how he fits into the craziness of Bon Temps, this season?
KAZINSKY: Well, Ben is the male equivalent of Sookie. He’s a faerie hybrid, like her. He’s ostracized from society, like her. He’s never even been accepted among his own people. He is the ultimate loner, and he’s been lonely for a very, very long time. He’s as lost as Sookie is. She has a family that loves her, but he has nothing. So, when Sookie finds somebody who seems to be so similar to her, and he finds somebody who feels like home, it immediately allows them to form a bond unlike anything Sookie has shared with anyone else on this show. The progress of that and how that evolves becomes equal parts wonderful, fascinating and scary.
Regardless of how things play out over the season, your character is clearly there to catch Sookie’s eye. What’s it like to be the new guy, coming in to Season 6 and trying to win over audiences as a possible love interest?
KAZINSKY: It’s intimidating, for sure. There is the Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) camp, the Alcide (Joe Manganiello) camp and the Bill (Stephen Moyer) camp, and I know the fans of those guys are going to hate Ben. But honestly, if they give him a chance, they might really be pleasantly surprised by what happens. Unlike those guys, this is the first time that Sookie has not been trailing in the wake of something more powerful than herself. This is the first time she’s found somebody equal to her. This is probably the first chance she has at a realistic future with somebody, and being happy. But this being True Blood, things never go the straightest course. Speaking of those previous three, there is certainly an intimidating menagerie of ex-boyfriends to contend with. They share something not more meaningful, but unique, and that the others didn’t.
KAZINSKY: He is fae, and therefore a creature of the light. He has the same powers that Sookie has, but greatly amplified. However, fae are and shall always be vampire food. I am playing a faerie, but I’m 200 pounds of hair, so I’m going to be a tough, manly faerie. At the end of the day, they are still vampires, and he is still fae.
What’s it been like to work with Anna Paquin?
KAZINSKY: She is really, really wonderful. She took me in, on the first day. Most of my entire season has been spent, just me and Anna. I’ve really grown quite close to her and Stephen, and her family. They’re just such welcoming, kind people. And Anna is just so into the work. She just has no ego or vanity, when it comes to it. She made it so easy for us to do love scenes. She made it so easy for us to do anything. We worked really hard to earn this romance. We worked really hard at making this a believable thing. She has just been such a breath of fresh air. She’s an Oscar winner, and somebody of such stature and talent. She’s been really humble and kind, and made it really easy for a little boy from nowhere, trying to fit in on this ginormous monolith of a show.
As well known as this show is for getting its cast naked, was there any level of intimidation for you, on that end?
KAZINSKY: Of course, there’s massive intimidation, massive fear and massive vanity. It’s a really weird thing to have to do. But, they’ve been doing it for so long on this show that they’re like, “Just take your damn clothes off!” Nobody cares. Everybody has been naked. If your main character, Sookie, is getting naked all the time, than you damn well better get naked, too. And they make it so comfortable for you. The first time I did it, I was standing there completely naked and really nervous. I did one take, and then after that, I didn’t even put my pants back on. I was like, “Yes! I’m naked, guys! Look at me!” It’s really, really weird, but kind of freeing. I had a really weird moment when I was doing ADR, and I was watching a sex scene that I was in. I had this really detached moment where I realized I was looking at my own behind in third person. How many people get to see their own behind from a third person perspective? It’s a very weird job.
KAZINSKY: Rutger is amazing. That “Tears in Rain” scene in Blade Runner is my favorite scene in any movie, ever. I’m sitting there, working with Rutger Hauer, who is completely eccentric, in the most charming way. There’s a lot of egos with actors. We certainly don’t like to be directed by other actors, or anything like that. But, I do a scene with Rutger and, by the end of that scene, I’m 10 times the actors I was. He is so good, and he is so nice. He’s just so got it down. Every scene he’s in, he steals. You can learn a lot from watching Rutger Hauer.
With so many characters on this show, is there anyone you haven’t gotten the chance to cross paths with, that you’d love to have a scene or storyline with?
KAZINSKY: I would have liked to have worked with Carrie Preston. I think Carrie Preston is one of the most talented actresses I’ve ever met in my entire life. I’ve seen her do a lot of other things, and she’s fantastic. She is so good. I would have liked to have had more to do with Kristin Bauer van Straten. She’s the nicest human being that I think I’ve ever met. But, I pretty much get to play with everybody, so it all works out pretty well.
What was it like to be part of a film as high-profile as Pacific Rim?
KAZINSKY: It’s a pinch yourself moment. Being a part of True Blood is phenomenal, but Pacific Rim was my first lead role in any major movie. Every day that I was filming that, and every time I see a trailer, I pinch myself. I’m like, “Have I actually just done a Hollywood movie?! Really?! That’s crazy! I was stacking shelves, not long ago, in a supermarket. What the hell?!” To be on set with people like Guillermo del Toro, Charlie Day and Idris Elba, and working with those guys is just like, “How did this happen to me?!” And then, I went to watch a movie in a theater, a couple weeks ago, and the trailer came on. My face is in the trailer, and then my name came up on the credits, and this is the dream you dare to dream, that came true. Even with all of the hype and everything attached to it, I am supremely confident that it’s going to live up to the hype, and then supercede it. Guillermo is not only the most talented director that I’ve ever met or worked with, but he’s also the nicest human I’ve ever met. And he’s so funny. He doesn’t have a single story that isn’t hilarious. He’s such a good man. I will do anything for Guillermo del Toro, if he asked me. I would give him my first-born child.
KAZINSKY: I play a character called Chuck Hansen, who is the finest soldier left in the Resistance. He is the best pilot still around. Him and his father, who’s played by Max Martini, are the go-to team. They pilot a ginormous robot called Strike Eureka, which is the strongest and the fastest and has 11 Kaiju kills. At the end of the war, there’s not much left. It’s left to us, and it’s left to Charlie [Hunnam] and Rinko [Kikuchi] to try to save the world. It’s no big deal!
You’ve had some experience on television before True Blood, but how does the schedule of American television compare?
KAZINSKY: Well, they’re very different things. In England, I worked on a serial soap, and I worked on another TV show that was one hour a week. The way it’s done here and the difference in money allows for a huge difference in the scope and cameras and editing team. It’s a much grander machine here. It’s not that different, in terms of where you are in front of the camera. There’s just much greater stakes, if you fuck up. I’ve never had a day at work where I wasn’t thrilled and grateful to be there, wherever that might be.
What was it that originally led you to acting? Was it something you had just always wanted to do?
KAZINSKY: No, not at all. I was never interested in anything, particularly. I didn’t get through school. I was a layabout. So, I started working at a theater to earn some money, as a part-time job, and I would watch these shows and always be like, “I could do that!” When I was 18 years old, I said to myself, “You know what? Stop talking, and just go and do it.” I went through the phone book and found a local kids’ theater school for 3- to 11-year-olds, and I went there full-time. I did ballet with the five-year-olds. The headmistress was a very well-respected theater teacher. She taught me what stage left and stage right were, what a director was, and what all these things meant, which was something I had no concept of. She sent me off to drama school, at age 18, and I stayed there for three years. Before I knew it, I was working on a TV show.
It was a bit of a whirlwind. It’s certainly something I never imagined myself doing, although my parents tell me that it was obvious, from a young age, that I was theatrical. It’s not something I had ever planned to do. It’s the best job I think you could possibly have. I’m a creature who bores, easily. I could never do one job, for the rest of my life. I’ve played a super soldier, a doctor, a World War II fighter pilot, a professional footballer, and a meth-dealing junkie. All those things allow you to educate yourself about different worlds that you have to get familiar with. While there are things with this job that remain constant, in terms of how you shoot, the actual crux of the character is always different and always evolving. That constant education is what keeps me interested. That’s what absolutely fascinates me about this job. This week, I’m playing a faerie. Last year, I played a soldier. What am I going to be playing in six months? It’s amazing! It’s a wonderful job.
True Blood airs on Sunday nights on HBO.