One of the most complicated characters on HBO's True Blood is one that novel writer Charlaine Harris never imagined in her Sookie Stackhouse vampire mystery series. Actress Deborah Ann Woll portrays Jessica Hamby, a young girl from a religious family who gets turned into a vampire in the first season and has been growing up before our eyes for the past three years.
"Jess and I got to do a lot of fun stuff. Very active and dramatic. It suits a growing teen. I love going on her adventures," says Woll in an exclusive interview. "Am I human? Am I vampire? Girl or woman? Dominant or subordinate? Can I be everything at once or do I have to choose? It's a confusing time for Jessica."
What's not confusing for Woll is that she's got a fantastic character to sink her teeth into. "It is a dream to play Jessica. I feel so privileged to have happened upon her so early in my career. I love that I never have to play the same scene twice. She is always evolving and never boring. She also represents some of the core hardships of being different in a homogenized world. I like being able to tell that story," she says.
Still, Woll admits that in some ways she's gotten a little too attached to Jessica. "I have been with this role for so long now that as the story lines change and evolve I find myself feeling nostalgic for old Jess and excited for new Jess. I am protective of her and go through some anxiety even outside of work when her life is in upheaval. Is that weird?"
Maybe. But her character has given us the full range of what a newly born vampire might go through, and we have to admit we're a little attached to her ourselves.
In the season four premiere of True Blood last Sunday, we discovered that Jessica had shacked up with her main man, Hoyt, a relationship that seems to be going through growing pains. "Hoyt is Jess's first love and that means so much. However these are tough times to be in a vampire/human mixed relationship. No matter how much you love each other it's going to be challenging," she says.
Woll, who has guest stared on The Mentalist, ER and CSI, believes that of all the roles she's played, Jessica is special. "Every role is different. We just tag along for the ride and hope to lend a little of ourselves. But Jess is unique in her searching and curious nature. She seeks out answers to her questions and although she makes many mistakes along the way she almost always comes out stronger for having tried. I find her brave," says Woll.
"True Blood has always been dark, but it's also been contained to Bon Temps or the south. The events of this season are much more political and could have national, if not global, importance in the True Blood world. You can no longer hide from our darkness. We are coming to get you."
True Blood airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.
Here's a video of Deborah Ann Woll:
What do you think the odds are that Jessica and Hoyt will live happily ever after?