There isn't a mama on television who makes child smothering look as side-splittingly amusing as True Blood's Maxine Fortenberry. Whether she's spouting off bigoted remarks about vampires, getting freaky while under the spell of a visiting Maenad or flirting with Vampire Bill, Maxine manages to keep things interesting as the one woman Greek Chorus for the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana.
I recently caught up with Maxine's portrayer, the insanely talented Dale Raoul, who for five seasons has recurred on the hit HBO serial. We dished about Maxine's glee over her boy Hoyt's (Jim Parrack) bust up with flame-haired vampire Jessica Hamby (Deborah Ann Woll). Does Raoul think Maxine will ever be tolerant of fangers and those who bang them?
The in demand character actress, who is currently appearing in three web series, as well as a feature film, also shared her thoughts on the news that Mark Hudis will be taking over as True Blood's showrunner from creator Alan Ball next season. Does Raoul think the transition will be a seamless one? Read on to find out.
Daytime Confidential: Maxine Fortenberry is easily one of True Blood's most hilarious, recurring scene stealers. Is there anyone you model the character on?
Dale Raoul: There are actually three women I am familiar with who have contributed to Maxine’s character, although I could never say who they were as they would probably be offended! She is not known for her fashion style or her kind heart, after all. But she does have a fabulous sense of humor, in my opinion! And Maxine thinks she is a fashion plate. Her accessories always match her outfit and her hair is always, always perfect.
DC: Maxine and Hoyt, played by Jim Parrack, are humans in what is fast becoming a predominantly supernatural Bon Temps. Do the two of you ever have conversations about how to keep your characters viable among all the vampires, werewolves, fairies and shapeshifters?
DR: Jim and I represent the town of Bon Temps, the human citizens. Our characters are important as they show the contrasts to the supernaturals, but sometimes the humans don’t seem to be the best species! Hoyt is more open minded and unafraid. Of course, our True Blood writers are fantastic and deserve all the credit — we just get to say the fabulous lines they come up with.
DC: In last Sunday night's episode we found out Hoyt, after having been betrayed by his vampire ex-girlfriend Jessica and best friend Jason Stackhouse, had moved back in with a very pleased Maxine. Do you think Maxine will ever become accepting of vampires, or at the very least tolerant of their alternative, blood sucking lifestyle?
DR: Well…I have to say I don’t really think Maxine will ever become very tolerant. It is not in her nature. To her, vampires are the worst. Although, whenever she is in the presence of Vampire Bill, she gets all tingly and giggly. There is something about him that really floats Maxine’s boat. Although she would never admit it…
DC: Hoyt has come a long way from being the aw shucks, mama's boy he was in Season 1. Following becoming a fang banger and getting his heart broken, he's even gone so far as cussing and sassing his mama — a huge Southern fried no-no! How will Maxine cope with this shift in his personality as Season 5 progresses?
DR: Maxine will yank on her apron strings even more tightly, to keep Hoyt close. She just wants him to marry a nice hometown girl and have them live near her in Bon Temps forever. I’m sure she would prefer to live with them if possible. After all, no one can take care of Hoyt the way she can.
DC: Last season, you got to play a bit of dual role when Sam Merlotte's shapeshifter brother Tommy morphed into Maxine in order to try to sell her property. What kind of preparation did it take to play a 20-something man pretending to be a woman?
DR: That was such a great scene to work on. The wizards who do our hair and makeup made it look like Tommy had done it, instead of me. So it was messy and sloppy and crazy-looking. I also watched a lot of footage of Marshall Allman playing Tommy, to get more familiar with his vocal cadence and his physical mannerisms. Tommy had such a cockiness to him and I tried to capture that. Also vocally, I aimedo be more masculine and demanding.
DC: Some fans voiced concern after learning series creator Alan Ball was stepping down as head writer. What can you tell us about new showrunner Mark Hudis?
DR: Mark is an incredibly experienced producer and I have no doubt that it will be a seamless transition. I understand that Alan and Mark are longtime friends so there is great trust between them. The show’s creative team is incredibly strong and Mark’s presence will only make it even better.
DC: When you aren't making fans howl (no werewolf pun intended) with laughter on True Blood, you're busy appearing in web series like Fumbling Thru The Pieces. As an actor, how do you think the advent of digital platforms has changed seeking out interesting parts to play?
DR: I really enjoy working on web series. Most of the time, the production teams are young and excited and the passion for the project really gets the creative juices jumping. And you are right about having more interesting parts to play. Right now, I work on three web series — in addition to Fumbling Thru the Pieces, I am also in Ave 43 and Dumbass Filmmakers. I play a nasty lawyer, a crazy mother and my favorite, a serial killer. How fun is that?
DC: What other projects are you working on?
DR: I am currently shooting a film called The Pretty One, starring Zoe Kazan. It is a wonderful project directed by Jenee LaMarque and it was on the 2011 Hollywood Black List which is a roster of the hottest scripts of the year. It also stars Jake Johnson who appears on New Girl.
True Blood airs Sunday nights at 9 pm EST on HBO.
Photo of Dale Raoul by Handel and Tesero
True Blood scene shot courtesy of HBO