Exclusive: Jamie Gray-Hyder on Threesomes in the Woods and Working with Stephen Moyer!

Jamie Gray Hyder as Danielle HBO

During my video recap on Monday, I hinted that I had gotten to the opportunity to speak with one of the ladies involved with the werewolf threesome seen in the True Blood season 6 premiere, Who Are You, Really? Jamie Gray-Hyder has played the werewolf Danielle since last season. She took the time to speak with me the day after the premiere. In the course of the interview, we discussed everything from Jamie’s theatre background to the surprisingly fast audition that earned her the role of Danielle with creator Alan Ball in the room. Then we discussed what it was like to do that steamy scene in the woods with Joe Manganiello (Alcide Herveaux) and Kelly Overton (Rikki) as a first time being naked on TV. We also got into a discussion about working with Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton) as a director. And no interview would be complete without a tease! Read on for a few hints regarding what Danielle will be up to in episode 62, the Sun!

What made you want to get into acting?

“Well I’ve always been a singer and a performer and I started off super young. I had the attention span of a gnat growing up and the fact that I could stand on stage for hours at a time was a hint to myself and to my parents that this was what my energy was best suited to. So I’ve always been involved in acting and I’ve never really pursued anything else. I have other interests for sure but acting has always been my focus.”

How your background help prepare you for the experience that is True Blood or is it something that took you completely by surprise?

“A lot of my background early on was in stage and in theatre and when I came out to LA and started working in television I had to learn to shift my skill set from what I did to what I’m doing now. True Blood is the first application of that for me and working on the same show for two seasons is such a treat because you really get to develop your character and get comfortable with it and revisit it more than once. Often times in this industry you’re on set or on a show for just one day at a time and you don’t really get to settle in. So True Blood is a great mix not only getting to apply my skills to a TV show but being on it for a longer term really took me back to my theatre days where you’re working on something for a long period of time with the same group of people. So it was nice to get back to that feeling of ensemble.”

Jamie Gray Hyder Maxim 100 Party Frazer Harrison Getty I’ve heard from various cast members and crew in interviews and other things that True Blood is a very good environment to work in and that you had a positive experience shooting with everyone.

“Yes, everyone is so warm and welcoming and has a great sense of humor. But they are also all very professional and know how to do their jobs without everyone wanting to kill each other. So we’re able to get a lot done.”

And that’s good especially considering that with True Blood so much is packed into those 50-55 minutes of air time. You have to be able to work together to fit it all in.

“Yeah and it’s not like we’re sitting on an indoor set most of the time filming a scene. With the werewolves, we’re out in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night in the middle of winter. Sometimes we’re shooting in 30 degree weather and if you don’t like the people you’re working with, attitudes can surface very quickly under those kinds of circumstances.”

Jamie Gray Hyder Season 5 Getty

How did True Blood come about and what was your audition process like?

“The audition process wasn’t what I was expecting. I heard about the auditions and I was so excited. My audition consisted of one line so I knew I had to fill the whole scene and the whole space with as much energy and context as I could. The first round in most casting sessions is you, another person, and a camera. When I went into the True Blood audition, I walked into a room with 10 people including [creator and executive producer] Alan Ball and sitting next to him are all of the writers and producers of the show. I wasn’t expecting that for the first call. But I did my one line the best that I could and it went as well as it could have. Then I got a call from my manager about two hours later and he said I had booked it. I thought that since it was such a huge show it would be a much more drawn out process with several more auditions and network auditions. I didn’t realize it would be such a quick turn around but it was. It took me a couple of days to realize what had happened. But I’ve been super grateful to be on the show since then.”

What was your initial reaction when you found out about the scenes you’d be doing in last night’s premiere?

“I found out in December so I had a long time to think about it as far as what it would be like to be naked on television. When they approached me about it we had a conversation about it and for my character and for the werewolves, it’s a convention of our characters to shift and be naked and that’s just the way that it is. So you really have to just own it as your character and trust the people that you’re working with.

I knew with Stephen [Moyer] directing and the amazing crew that we have that I would look good no matter what because they want you to look good and you trust their skills and I knew it would be good for my character. I was very excited to be involved in bigger plot lines and really making an impact. That was exciting for me. The nudity was daunting at first but there is no safer or more comfortable place to do it than True Blood. The actors and the crew are all used to it so it isn’t as awkward and is surprisingly comfortable because you trust the people you’re working with. The only downside of the scene was the fact that it was 30 degrees so that was the uncomfortable factor that it was freezing cold. But since I trusted everyone around me, the cold weather was the only challenge to deal with.”

Stephen Moyer Frazer Harrison Getty Images

You mentioned Stephen Moyer directing you in the episode. We’ve heard other cast members talk about the experience. What was it like having him direct you since you hadn’t gotten to work with him before as an actor?

“I did get to work with him before since he directed an episode I was in last season (5.08 Someone I Used to Know). Acting-wise our characters don’t cross paths but I did have the privilege of working with him last season. He is just so great to work with because you really do feel like you’re working together. And while he absolutely has his own vision, focus, and style, it’s a conversation. He asks you to do what he wants, you do it, and then he asks you if you have anything to add, if you feel comfortable with it, or you can say can we shoot it again because I want to try something. He would be totally open to that. Having a director who is also an actor and has an actor’s mind is a huge asset because they can convey their ideas and what they want in terms that you’re familiar with. While all of the directors on the show are amazing, that’s definitely one asset that Stephen has is that actor’s perspective.”

How does working with Stephen in that way compare with working with some of the regular directors on the show? Do they have a similar style or are they all totally different in their approaches?

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with many different directors that are brought in for the show and some I’ve been able to work with more than once. They are all great and everyone has their own directing style and vision for everything. So working with Stephen as an actor-director and working with the other

directors, you don’t really notice a difference in the caliber of their work. They are absolutely amazing at what they do in both cases. I would say that the reason why I feel closer to Stephen is just because of the nature of the scenes I was in while he was directing. But every director that comes on the show is so amazing and so talented and comes with a huge roster of shows that they’ve done, so much experience, and such a different perspective each time that it’s really cool just to work with so many different people.”

270857_10151567850973563_1177182221_nHow was it working with Joe Manganiello and Kelly Overton in the scene that you did in the premiere? You had one scene where it was just you and him and then the one with you, Kelly, and Joe together. So what was it like working with them?

“It was really great. I’ve been working with Kelly and Joe ever since the first episode I shot on the show. The moment I walked in for the first table read to this day they’ve always been so great to me. And Joe having been on the show for several seasons made all the new werewolves who came in last year feel comfortable. He was so stoked to have a pack to work with and I think that I would have not felt more comfortable with anyone else than the two of them. They both checked in with me and they’ve done nude scenes like this before and they knew it was my first time doing it so they made sure I felt comfortable doing it. Did I have any questions, did I want to run through anything? And I told them that I trusted them and felt comfortable and was ready to do the scene and we did. We managed to have a good sense of humor about it. After you do take after take, you start to desensitize yourself and everyone around you so you’re cracking jokes and having a good time. I think part of the success of that scene is the interaction between all three of us off screen and the fact that we all get along and we all have a lot of trust and respect for each other.”

What has been your favorite scene to film so far?

“This past week [the premiere] was a doozy. It was a learning experience for sure. But I’m excited for this week’s episode [The Sun] because Danielle continues to cause trouble and she gets to work and interact with some people that she doesn’t typically get to interact with. So for me, I’m really excited about what Danielle gets in next episode.”

944312_10151567850488563_718695316_nWho else would you like to work with in the cast and why?

“I have a ton of favorite characters on the show. But I love Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and I love Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) so getting to interact with them as characters and as the amazing actors Nelsan and Kristin are would be fun. The characters they get to play have such great life to them.”

What other projects do you have coming up?

“I have a really cool project that will be coming out soon and information about it should be coming out in the next few weeks.”

Jamie Gray Hyder UNICEF's Next Generation LA Chapter Launch Frederick M. Brown Getty

Anything else you’d like to discuss?

 “I always watch the show with a group of my girlfriends and upon hearing about the nature of my scenes this past week, they jokingly said “We’ll just watch it with you naked so you don’t feel uncomfortable. They didn’t actually end up doing it but that was their big joke that they were going to do watching the episode.”

 

Thank you to Jamie Gray-Hyder for taking time out of her schedule to speak with me and thank you to Traci Coulter of TCO PR for working with me to arrange this interview!

True Blood Fan Source is always looking for material to post  and we love doing interviews! Email us for more information.

Image Credits: Getty Images, HBO, Inc, Frazer Harrison and Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

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  1. […] Gray Hyder, who plays the smoldering werewolf Danielle on HBO’s True Blood, chatted with True Blood Fan Source about her role on the show and her steamy threesome with Joe Manganiello and Kelly Overton on the […]

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