Pussy Galore/Hallowe’en Familiar: RUTINA WESLEY (Tara Thornton), TRUE BLOOD – SEASON 4, HBO {Mild Spoilers}

{CLICK FOR BIGGER} Rutina Wesley (CENTRE) plays Tara Thornton in HBO’s dark vampire comedy True Blood. The 32 year old was born and raised in Las Vegas, studied at New York’s prestigious Juilliard and spent a summer at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. A strong Broadway career lead to dance movie How She Move and the call for True Blood. We asked – so, at the start of season 4 Tara is a lesbian cage fighter. That’s a lot to unpick. Firstly – it looks like you’re actually doing the fighting…

Rutina Wesley: I did do a lot of it. We all have stunt doubles but I did do a lot of it, ‘cause l like to do that kinda stuff. It is just easier for camera work too, when they can get our faces and get our bodies moving around and fighting. It was awesome for me because I am actually a fan of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), so I was really stoked when I heard that I was going to get to do a big cage fight. It was like an actor’s dream, to get to do something like that.

  • Q: Did you do the full martial arts training?

RW: No, I actually would love to train but HBO would get mad at me, because it is so easy to get hurt. I mean, we are always taking off our clothes in some form or another, so you have to work out. I don’t think you need to have a six pack. The guys, they can compete, do what they want, but a girl – just don’t have a beer belly. One of my pet peeves is that young women think they have to be a size zero to be beautiful.

  • Q: Obviously that was a big 12 months between season three and four for her. Then she goes back to Sookie? Why?

RW: I think she would do anything for her best friend. I think that relationship has the strongest bond – sometimes we don’t get to see that, ‘cause we are either fighting or she is after vampires, but she would do anything for Sookie. So when she gets that text from Lafayette saying Sook’s back and Tara thought she was dead it’s like, yeah, I had better go back and see my best friend. Tara is a survivalist, but also is a protector. She would do anything for her cousin so when Lafayette gets into the Wicca thing the next thing you know she is trapped.

  • Q: It is an interesting friendship – you fight with each other a lot

RW: I feel like they are sisters. Sisters fight, sisters try to give each other advice – they grew up together, you know? Tara didn’t have a mother really, because her Mum was drunk. She had Sookie. So when they fight – when Tara warned her about Bill first time, ‘you don’t even know what this guy does. Where does he get his money? He’s biting you!’ But Sookie’s right back at her, claws out. [Laughter].

  • Q: Is her love for Jason all played out?

RW: I don’t know. I think that is a sensitive spot for Tara – I don’t know if she could ever forgive him for shooting Eggs, her man.

  • Q: And I guess she’s got a girlfriend now…

RW: My back story is that she kinda got side swiped. You don’t realise you are getting hit on and the next thing you know, 12 hours later you wake up with the same sex and that’s okay. I think she likes it because this girl actually likes Tara for Tara and I think that it’s okay. I personally hate labels. So I don’t think she’s bi-, or she’s gay or any label. I think she just fell in love with a woman, because she is ready for love. She is finally beginning to open up. I think if Sam had come along at this time, it would have been Sam, so I don’t think it’s a necessarily a black or white situation. I just think it sort of happened and she is happy so why not?

  • Q: Yeah, but she never gets a break, does she? Basically, every time something seems sorted…

RW: That’s True Blood, man. It’s funny. I think she did get a break. I think her break was to make up a new self, a new identity, and but what good does that do you when you have a strong possibility of it all coming back to haunt you. I think she was happy for a little bit. It was nice to see her smile. I don’t think I have seen her smile since season two. Poor girl. She has been tied up. She has been chased by wolves. The only thing she wants is happiness. [Laughter]. But if everybody was happy, the audience would be bored.

RW: I actually read the first book, and then knew they were going to be changing the character drastically, so I decided not to read on any more.

  • Q: Have things changed for you as a result of the show?

RW: Yeah, I get recognised a lot more. People come up to me and they say ‘man I thought you were going to be mean. You are so nice!’ You’re like, I’m Rutina. I’m an actor… I come from a theatre background and I feel like I just graduated from school not too long ago, so all of this is still a whirlwind for me. I still can’t believe I am on TV. Even when I watch the shows back, I am like, ‘wow, that’s me!’ My family is so proud – I’m a Vegas girl but honestly, it is still gets to me that I am getting to do what I love to do.

Q: You studied with Nelsan Ellis, who plays Lafayette, didn’t you?

RW: We went to Juilliard, and we’re very close. He keeps me on my toes. But he’s more respectful off camera. He doesn’t call me ‘hooker.’ [Laughter]

Q: How did you find switching from the stage to the screen?

RW: It took me a couple of episodes, watching other people and realising that the microphone’s right in your face because I have a big old voice from being on stage. But True Blood allows for an actor to be big because the stakes are so high. You’re allowed to overact if you’re being chased and raped by a vampire. [Laughter] You know what I mean? It works. You can be extreme. My husband is an actor too and he told me when it started to work – ‘baby, you are getting it now.’ I am starting to find the happy medium.

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