Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched True Blood’s season 7 premiere, stop reading now (or at least read our recap first). Rutina Wesley talked with EW about the opening twist.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you know Tara would be killed off when you filmed the season 6 finale?
Rutina Wesley: I found out over the hiatus about the end of my journey on the show. [Laughs]
What was your reaction?
I think it’s great. I think somebody had to go. To have a main character right off the bat go, that’s gonna bring everybody into the show. It’s like, “Okay, and the show has started.” It’s kind of like the catalyst for everything else that’s gonna probably happen—I don’t know what’s gonna happen, because I didn’t read anything else because I want to be surprised. I think it’s kinda cool that the last time you see me, it looks like I’m gonna win the fight, and then you cut to Lettie Mae. Me and that vampire went at it, and unfortunately, he wins. [Laughs] They’ve given me such an incredible journey on this show that I’ve never had any complaints about what they’ve written for me. So when I found out, I was just like, “Okay, great. Let’s get it started. This is the final season. We can’t all make it to the end.” You wouldn’t have a show. There wouldn’t be any drama. It wouldn’t be True Blood if somebody didn’t die.
After drinking Willa’s blood to heal, Lettie Mae is high and says that she can see Tara. Does that leave the door open for the audience to see Tara again?
She’s dead. But I can tease that dead doesn’t always mean gone on True Blood.
How would you like fans to think of Lettie Mae now? She and Tara had that beginning of a reconciliation, and then when the H-vamp was attacking, Lettie Mae seemed to be only thinking about herself.
I think Lettie Mae is genuinely asking Tara for forgiveness. In that moment [in the season 6 finale], I think Tara decides to make amends with her mother. When Lettie Mae says, “Let me feed you,” it’s like, “It’s the least I can do after the years and years of bad parenting. Let me feed you, let me nourish you.” She meant it. It’s tricky with her because Lettie Mae has been such a hypocrite. The last time we saw her, she basically disowned Tara and now she’s sort of back. I think the fact that Tara does go to feed on her says a lot. I think that says Tara is finally at peace with it. I hope.
What are you hoping to keep from the show?
I’m hoping to keep a set of my fangs. I think we all get to keep a set of our fangs. That’s a memento I’d like. And also [Laughs] from the first couple of seasons, I was always in those tight cutoff jean shorts. I kinda want to frame them and put them in my woman cave. I think that’d be kinda funny.
There’s a True Blood musical in very early discussions. Would you be into that?
Oh yeah, I love to sing. Musicals are my favorite. I’m a musical theater buff. I grew up in the theater—that’s my love, my passion. So I would be down for the True Blood musical, definitely.
What do you picture Tara singing?
That’s actually a really hard question because we have human Tara and then we have vampire Tara. I listened to a lot of music the first couple of seasons for human Tara because she’s so defensive, she has so many insecurities. So there was this song called “Runaway Slave” by Stic.man and Young Noble. It’s a rap song, hardcore. It just reminded me of her, because she has so much fire with people. Like if you cross Tara, if you did something to her the wrong way, she was gonna come at you and put you in your place—kinda like how she did the guy with the whole, “Isn’t that funny, I’m named after a Plantation.” Tara loves that.
What other artists did you listen to for Tara over the years?
Lil Wayne was definitely in my ear a lot because he’s passionate, and I felt like I could get into the zone of Tara when I would listen to him, especially when I had to shoot a scene when she was on fire and angry. [Laughs] And I listened to a lot of Death Cab for Cutie. Like, for example, the hospital scene when Sookie was in the coma, and we were all around her bed—I think it was “Your New Twin-Sized Bed.” Music is definitely influential on how I approach my scenes. It’s nice to have it.
What else do you have coming up?
I did a little indie horror film from the Weinstein Company called 13 Sins [now available on demand], and I did a film called Last Weekend with Patrick Clarkson that just premiered at the San Francisco film festival and will hopefully come out in the fall. They’re both very soft characters, very different from Tara. People can see me in a different light.