By Diana Band
Rutina Wesley, the actor behind Tara Thornton, dishes on her set souvenirs, her personal favorite ‘bad thing,’ and the craziest thing a fan has ever done.
What’s been your favorite part of playing Tara on ‘True Blood’?
My favorite part was being turned vampire. It was fun to do something different, and a little challenging. I got be sexy, too -- it was great. And, of course, I got to play alongside the beautiful Kristin Bauer van Straten.
Apart from being turned vampire, do you have another favorite storyline?
I really enjoyed working with Sam Trammell. I thought the whole Tara/Sam storyline was sweet and that it could have worked out, but you know that happiness doesn’t make for good TV. [Laughs.] I liked being a vampire, but I also really enjoyed being a human in those early seasons.
Do you have any favorite memories from those early seasons?
I love the first season. Season 1 was awesome -- it was just like sparks flying off the screen. It was amazing. I also loved working with James Frain [who played Franklin Mott] and Michelle Forbes [who played the Maenad Maryann Forrester]. Working with the talent that has come through the show has just been insane. That’s been one of favorite experiences on the show -- working with so many talented actors.
What initially attracted you to the role?
I audition for everything that comes my way because you never know what’s going to come out of something. When I got the script, I thought, “This is great. She’s funny, she’s feisty” -- something I thought I could pull off. I got the role three days after the audition process finished, but it felt like three years later. [Laughs.] I was in shock when I found out. I’d just graduated from school, and all I could think was, “Wow! I’m going to be on an HBO show -- this doesn’t happen that fast!”
Have you taken any souvenirs from the set, or is there anything you’ve got your eye on?
I really want my fangs, and I don’t know if I can fit into them anymore, but those jean cutoff shorts that I wore all the time in the first few seasons? I kind of want them for my womancave. Put ’em in a frame or something.
Do you think that Tara made her peace with being a vampire?
She wasn’t happy about it, but she learned to deal with it. Ultimately, she was happy to still be around. And she really got to bond with Pam -- it was nice to see the two of them together. Pam finally met her match.
Tara also makes peace with her mother right before her death. Why do you think she was finally able to forgive her?
Tara just realizes that it’s time. She can look her mother in the eye and see that she’s being genuine, that she really means it this time.
It’s a nice moment for the two of them.
It’s one of my favorite scenes that I’ve ever done. I love working with Adina Porter. She brings out the best in me! She’s just so good!
Is the True Death really the end of Tara?
I’ll just say this -- she’s dead -- but that doesn’t always mean gone on ‘True Blood.’
And what are you doing next?
There’s a film that came out in April called ‘13 Sins,’ starring Mark Webber. I play his fiancée. It’s a cool little indie horror flick. I also did a film with Patricia Clarkson called ‘Last Weekend’ that just premiered at the San Francisco Film Festival -- hopefully that will come out in the fall. I’ve got a few things on the horizon, but I can’t speak of them just yet.
Can you see yourself playing another vampire?
I don’t know. I’d actually like to be the leading lady in a ‘Notting Hill’ type of film. I love comedy -- I love being silly and crazy and sweet -- and I also love drama, so it’d be nice to do something completely different from Tara.
What’s the craziest thing a fan has done or asked you?
Somebody asked me to bite them. And they had fangs on. No -- wait -- this one’s better: A girl got my autograph tattooed on her leg. She had me write it in Sharpie and then she came back the next day to show me the tat. It was kind of insane.
You played a vampire on the show, but if you could be any supe, what would you want to be and why?
A shapeshifter because you can turn into any animal. It would be fun to experience different life forms. And you could actually be a fly on the wall!
‘True Blood’ is famous for its love of ‘bad things.’ What’s yours?
You know, I’ve never had it.
What? No! You are missing out. Missing. Out.
What do you recommend?
I get the cheeseburger no onions, fries and sometimes a strawberry shake. That strawberry shake is like my guilty-guilty pleasure, so I don’t always get it. And when I’m being guilty but healthy-guilty, I get the cheeseburger, protein-style, on a bed of lettuce. I love it!