When Rob Kazinsky auditioned for his new role as Ben Flynn on the sixth season of True Blood, the 29-year-old British actor simply thought he was reading a part to play a faerie. "My intention from the beginning of this was to add some masculinity to the word 'faerie,'" he tells Rolling Stone from London. "I went in [to the audition] as burly as I possibly could be. Thankfully I don't have to wear gossamer wings or chaps." But the producers had a different, more devilish trick up their sleeve. A few weeks into shooting, he showed up for work one day and his costume rack read "Ben/Warlow." "I got my phone out and called the producer and said 'Excuse me, but am I Warlow?' And he said 'Yeah, you are.'" It was at that moment he realized that his role on the popular HBO series had instantly doubled up. Not only was he going to be playing Ben the faerie (and new love interest of Sookie Stackhouse), he'd be portraying one of the show's dreaded villains, who's been mentioned over the last two seasons and is the known killer of Sookie's parents.
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For Kazinsky, the shot at playing a faerie-vampire couldn't come at a better time in his career. Best known in the UK as Sean Slater on the soap EastEnders, he left that show in 2008 and struggled to find work. "I had a lot of downtime," he admits. "I couldn't book a job no matter how hard I tried." For a brief spell, he entertained his longtime interest in the fantasy genre, and became a world-ranked World of Warcraft player, logging 16-hour days at the computer. "This game allowed me some sort of escapism into a genre I loved. I'd sit in my underwear and just be as unattractive as humanly can be. And I loved it."
But it's this level of commitment to gaming geekery that seemingly paid off in the end. When he got wind of the True Blood part, he felt he had to have it. "The fantasy world, the Game of Thrones world, the forgotten realms worlds – they're the type of worlds I've always wanted to live in. Where vampires, dragons, dwarves and elves are real," he explains. "The romanticism of that world always attracted me."
At this point, Kazinksy's character hasn't mingled too much with the rest of Bon Temps' supernatural residents; he's mainly interacted with Sookie and her grandfather, Naill. But it's clear that he and Anna Paquin have a strong on-screen chemistry, which he modestly attributes all to Paquin. But Sookie's love interests always have more depth to them, and that's an idea that will play out over the course of the season. "If this character was going to be completely evil, everyone would be dead," he says. "He's a good guy at heart. But he hates what he has to do and hates that he's dependent on hurting people. And he keeps on having relapses."
This Friday, Kazinsky will also appear opposite Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba and Ron Perlman in the alien-robot summer action flick, Pacific Rim. Like True Blood, it lives in Kazinsky's beloved world of make-believe, but on a much larger, metallic scale. "There's an awful lot of big-ass robots, I'm not going to lie," he says. And like True Blood, it's another larger-than-life experience that Kazinsky's found himself involved in. "I've gone out of on a limb and said that it's really going to change scale and action and what it is that goes into the screen. It really is titanic, this movie, in terms of the action sequences."