'True Blood' Star Deborah Ann Woll: No Longer a Baby Vamp

'I see Jessica as being able to lead a forward movement into a better coexistence between vampires and humans'

deborah ann woll
LACEY TERRELL
Deborah Ann Woll as Jessica Hamby on 'True Blood.'
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Eternally 17-year-old vampire Jessica Hamby has had quite the wild ride in this season of True Blood. She's been luxuriating in maker Bill Compton's wealth while he's off doing the Authority's (and now, Lilith's) bidding and indulged in a no-strings romp with Bon Temps' most eligible bachelor, Jason Stackhouse. But in the most recent episode, her nonstop party came to a screeching halt when a violent argument, fueled by Deputy Stackhouse's anger over his parents' vampire-related death, culminated in Jessica getting shot in the head. Her vamp status made the injury more of an emotional wound than a physical one, but it looks like things are going to get way worse before they get better – especially if ex-boyfriend Hoyt Fortenberry's new hate-group buddies have anything to say about it. We checked in with Jessica herself, Deborah Ann Woll, to get her take on her character's growing pains.

You caused a quite a stir a couple of Sundays ago when you tweeted that someone might die in that night's episode [Christopher Meloni's character, the vampire Guardian Roman Zimojic, wound up being killed. The tweet has since been deleted].
Oh, gosh, I felt so bad about it afterwards because I had completely forgotten Roman was going to die that night [laughs]! Because I had that big immortality speech [in Episode Five], I had been getting a lot of tweets from people afraid that Jessica was going to die. So I was like, "Well, why don't we just stir them up a little bit? And hint at someone just as, like, a lie. And then when I watched the episode that night and Roman died, I was like, "Hah! That's funny! Someone did die!" And then I got a call from HBO, and they were like, "You blew it!" And I was like, "Oh, my God, I'm so sorry!"

Jessica's evolution has been so much fun to watch, especially this season. As she said on her blog, Babyvamp Jessica, she doesn't feel like a baby vamp anymore, but a teenager. Is that how you see her now? Or do you think she's matured even farther along than a teenager?
I think teenager is a pretty good representation. As a baby, I think part of it was there was no impulse control – she was still learning things and figuring out how to deal with her vampire side. But by the time you get to be a teenager, you're developed. The question is how are you going to use that? And, to me, it's more like, she's still gonna make a lot of mistakes, she's still very innocent in many ways. But, she's also very wise about other things.

In real life, you're about 10 years older than Jessica – she may look 17 forever, but she's still only about 18, 19 years old, given the passage of time in True Blood. So what do you do to channel your inner teenager for the role?
I think part of it is actually just about allowing yourself. Once you become a grown-up, it's a lot of impulse control. You say, "All right, I feel like lashing out and screaming at the top of my lungs, but I'm not gonna do that." What's really fun about playing Jessica is that if I get that impulse, it's just like, get out of your own way, let yourself scream and shout about it, because that's what a 17-, 18-, 19-year-old might do.

Are you having the time of your life this season? Jessica is living off of Bill's money, hooking up with Jason (although in the most recent episode things have started to get ugly) – and she got to have an all-out girl fight with Tara. It looks like so much fun!
It is! It's fun to do different things each episode and see where it goes. But I'm really excited about the second half of this season. We're getting into more serious, scary stuff coming up and I think that will be fun for audiences. Now, certainly, with the death of our Authority leader, who knows what's gonna happen over there? Russell [Edgington] seems pretty powerful. Or more powerful than we thought.

I'm a little confused as to how Jessica feels about Hoyt these days. For the most part, she seems over him, but how come she got so upset when Tara fed off of him?
Here's the thing: Tara is almost draining him. Hoyt is dying and Jessica feels Hoyt's fear. So her response is to come and pull Tara off of Hoyt to save his life. The fight starts because Tara sasses Jessica after she saved Hoyt's life. So, in my mind the moment was never about Jessica being jealous of Hoyt being with another woman, so much that she feels Hoyt is being hurt and she's trying to save him. And then Hoyt misinterprets that care for him as love. That care for him will never end, but I don't think she's possessive of Hoyt. I think he hurt her so badly when they broke up that in a way it's too damaging to even be in his presence – and vice versa. She hurt him so badly that he's in this downward spiral now. The two of them are pretty damaged.

Stephen Moyer went behind the camera for this Sunday's episode. How did your "maker" do as a director?
He did such a great job. I'm so happy for him. He was born to be a director. From the very first day I worked with him he was talking about camera angles and how to stage it so it told a better story. He has that innate sense about him – and I think we just all were looking forward to it. It is a bitch to have to shoot and do pre-production and be in your own production, and then post-production. I almost can't believe he did it because it's just so hard.

If it were up to you, what would you like to see happen to Jessica? I envision her as a Catwoman-esque superhero because she's so loyal and good to her friends. But at the same time, she's going to do what she wants.
I think she's one of the most humane vampires we've ever had. While she has these vampire impulses, she does not see humans as merely food or something less than her. I really see her as being able to lead a forward movement into a better coexistence between vampires and humans. Now, she's young and hasn't quite figured out how to do that yet, but I do see her – as she matures – being able to hold a place of power.

Jessica was brought up very Christian in her human life, so is that going to have any sort of impact on what happens with this impending religious war between the vampires and the humans?
Sure, Jessica does have some firsthand experience into what religious fanaticism can do, and her situation particularly is a more negative experience. I think though that she'll recognize it immediately and possibly be more keen to its traps.

Could you see Jessica becoming a maker someday? What do you think she would be like?
Well, I definitely think she would, if only because she is so lonely and has no friends. It's true that vampires are lonely creatures and one way to have a companion in your life is to be a maker. She'd be good at it because she has such a strong understanding of what it's like to be young and scared and lonely. She was a good vampire sister to Tara for all of five minutes.

Do you see any similarities between yourself and Jessica?
When I owned a Facebook page (I don't anymore), the only thing I had in my "About Me" [section] was, "I try really hard and it never gets me anywhere." And I do think that's something I share with Jessica, in that she just keeps trying to do the right thing – she keeps trying to live her own dead life in a way that makes her a good vampire, but it doesn't end up doing her any good no matter how hard she tries. She still ends up struggling.

Now that True Blood is on hiatus, audiences can check you out in the new film Ruby Sparks. Was it refreshing to play a character other than Jessica?
It's very fun to play different types of characters. This one's pretty quick, but I really enjoyed the short time I got to spend on the film. I play a girl named Lila, and essentially I'm an ex-girlfriend of Calvin, Paul Dano's character. It's a beautiful movie. I'm so happy for Zoe [Kazan] and all that she's accomplished.