By Gianna Sobol
Despite her busy production schedule, Carrie Preston was kind enough to jump on the phone with me for a few minutes to dish about her character, season 4, and just how lovable Terry Bellefleur really is...
Gianna: At the end of last season, Arlene was faced with a very difficult decision about having a serial killer's baby...
Carrie: Yes, she made a very, very difficult decision not to bring a baby into the world that had an evil father. So she had to reconcile her feelings about abortion, because Arlene is very anti-abortion and certainly her background and the people around her are pretty conservative. That's not something you choose to do. If you get pregnant, you have the child. But Arlene is also very superstitious and believes in things like good and evil. And the only way she could deal with the fact that Rene killed all these people – and she didn't even know he was that kind of a person – was that he was evil. He was a wolf in sheep's clothing. She thought he was the best guy ever, but underneath, he was a really rotten person. Arlene had to deal with the fact that bringing this child into the world wouldn't be fair to the world. She had to find an alternative way to let go of this child, and that was presented in the form of Holly. They bonded on a fundamental level and Arlene trusted her immediately. So they went into the woods and did this ritual, and she had a conversation with Mother Nature, with her own mother and with God, and she said, I'm doing this because it's right. And Holly said, If it doesn't work, you have to let it be. So when she woke up in a pool of blood, she thought, OK, it worked. And then she hears from the doctor that the baby is on board... So that's where things were left off for Arlene: The baby is on board.
Gianna: What's up for Arlene this season? Is there anything you can share with us?
Carrie: Let's just say that the problems grow exponentially...
Gianna: What do you think the fans will most look forward to in season 4?
Carrie: Everybody is aware that the witches are coming, I think people are probably looking forward to seeing in what shape and what consequences come from the witches entering this world of vampires and werewolves and faeries... Where are the witches going to fit in? And the audience is going to get a taste of that immediately this season. As for Arlene, everyone is going to be really curious as to what is going to happen. Is she going to have the baby? Isn't she? How does that affect her relationship with Terry?
Gianna: Arlene and Terry have become one of the most loved and loving couples on the show, one of the more stable couples. What do you think Arlene loves so much about Terry? What keeps their relationship going?
Carrie: He's extremely loyal and attentive and this is something that doesn't happen a lot in Arlene's life. Certainly, her relationship with Rene seemed to be that, so it was hard for her to trust that Terry was going to be what he said he was. But he keeps proving that he will do anything for her. I think that's what keeps her in a relationship with him – he's different from everyone else. And he's been through a lot and so has Arlene, so they have that in common. They're protective of each other. Arlene is never without a man. A lot of women are like that in the world, especially in the South, they feel stronger and more comfortable in the world when they have a man by their side. Terry is also really great with her kids, and they're very important to Arlene. That's something that is rare, I think. A lot of men would run away from something like that. But Terry wants that kind of love and constancy in his life, and Arlene is happy to give him that, because it benefits her too.
Gianna: A lot of waitresses have come and gone in the world of Merlotte's. What is it like to be the last woman standing at the bar?
Carrie: Arlene takes her job very seriously, and I love that about her. There is no sense that she's doing some menial labor or some job that is not really fulfilling or anything like that. This is her life work. She's not waitressing to get a degree in law or get through school or something. It's nothing transitional, it's permanent. So when these waitresses come in and out and they're not good at their job, it really drives her crazy. And certainly when Jessica comes in, it really upsets the balance. She represents everything that Arlene is afraid of and it jeopardizes her job. There is a sense of being protective of the work and of Sam and of Merlotte's. This is her livelihood, it's how she supports her children. So she takes on a lot and gets pretty dramatic about things, but it's because she cares so much about the people who come there and this place and what it means.
Gianna: Aside from Terry, is there anyone else at Merlotte's that Arlene feels really close to? Or anyone that's come and gone that she misses in particular?
Carrie: I think she misses Sookie, really, because she's not working that much and is embroiled in these personal matters that Arlene couldn't even conceive of. I think she misses that time before vampires came into the world. Everything was predictable, the schedule was understood, the relationships were clear. I always think of Arlene as being like Sookie's big sister. She's very protective of her, but at the same time can be a little hard on her, the way a family member is. And Sookie just hasn't been around. She's probably the one that Arlene misses the most.
Gianna: True Blood has become a major hit, what have been the ups and downs of being on such a popular and widely watched show?
Carrie: There are definite perks. It lends a credibility to your career, to be attached to a hit show, no matter in what capacity. It sort of opens some doors, industry-wise. But as far as my life, even with my red hair, I'm pretty incognito. I'm a character actor, I change from role to role. People come up to me, but not with the frequency of other people in the cast, I'm sure, people who look more like their characters. I live in New York City, that's my home base. So working out here in L.A., having a home base out here too, that has changed. There's more travel, more logistics to deal with, but I deal with them happily because it's a great job.