If it's summertime and there's a smash hit serial on the tube, you can place your odds Dale Raoul is a member of the cast. I recently caught up with the True Blood scene stealer, who this summer added the CBS ratings juggernaut Under the Dome to her impressive list of credits.
What exactly is in store for Andrea Grinnell, the suspicious, hoarding, Chester's Mill eccentric, Raoul plays in the adaptation of Stephen King's best seller? How have Raoul and her fellow Dome dwellers reacted to the serial's impressive viewership? She answers those questions and more.
Of course we couldn't end our chat without talking about her True Blood alter ego, Maxine Fortenberry. Will the vampire-hating harpy make an appearance before this explosive season of the HBO supernatural sudser wraps? Keep reading to find out!
Daytime Confidential: You have a knack for being cast in blockbuster summer TV hits. First HBO's True Blood and now the CBS adaptation of Stephen King's Under The Dome. What's your secret?
Dale Raoul: Wow, I wish I had a secret! I think it is really mostly luck and being well prepared when I went in for the auditions. I feel so lucky to be in two hit shows, especially at this time of my life when there isn’t really as much work for character women. I am very proud to be representing older women, although my characters on both shows are exceptionally weird!
DC: You play Andrea Grinnell, an eccentric woman who is hip to the nefarious goings-on in Chester's Mill. It wouldn't be such a good thing for Big Jim, if Andrea starts telling more people about those mysterious gas trucks she spied. Should Andrea be afraid of Big Jim?
DR: Yes, Andrea should definitely be afraid of Big Jim. He is one nefarious guy. He likes being in control and is definitely not afraid of removing obstacles, like people who are in his way! Andrea is an annoyance to Big Jim because she is a busybody and she actually does know some things that could be detrimental to him.
DC: What was Andrea's life like before the dome came down?
DR: Pretty sad, I should think. Her hoarding problem has gotten way out of control. She lives by herself and people tend to avoid her. I think at one time she had a husband and family but they have vanished. Although, now that the dome has come down, her son has reappeared to see how she is. Andrea is very moved and touched by his visit, especially as she hasn’t seen him for 10 years.
DC: Including the pilot, you've filmed five episodes of Under The Dome. What role will Andrea play as the mysteries surrounding Chester's Mill deepen in the coming episodes?
DR: I am just about to shoot my sixth episode, which will be the last one of this season. I haven’t seen the script yet so I don’t know what Andrea is up to now. We have such terrific writers that it is always a surprise when you see what they have come up with. I just hope I don’t get killed!
DC: Have you and your fellow cast and crew members been surprised about the monster ratings for the summer series?
DR: Yes, of course it’s a big thrill. You never know how things will turn out. But let’s not forget that Stephen King is the author of the book and that Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment is producing, and that we have the most amazing, experienced team of producers, Jack Bender, Neal Baer, Brian Vaughan. The show had a lot going for it before it ever started shooting! I think the audience was hooked in the first episode after that cow got split in half. Pretty cool special effects, right? But I don’t think anyone expected this much of a fantastic response.
DC: Why do you think books, TV shows and movies with dystopian themes are so popular right now?
DR: Anything with enormous conflict or dysfunction makes for a great story! Most stories about utopia are not really that interesting. It’s more engaging to read or watch something about humans battling a fierce enemy.
Photo credit: CBS
DC: With Hoyt no longer living in Bon Temps, we haven't seen his mama, Maxine. Will you be back on True Blood at some point?
DR: Yes, Maxine will return near the end of this season. She misses Hoyt terribly, but is still managing to make her opinion known.
DC: It's kind of odd not to have Maxine around, since the humans are finally waging full-on war against the vampires this season. Have you been watching?
DR: Oh, absolutely, wouldn’t miss it. Gotta keep up with the goings-on in Bon Temps.
DC: Congratulations on your hubby, Ray Thompson's recent Daytime Emmy win for lighting direction on The Young and the Restless. How often do you two sit around and talk shop?
DR: Probably every night! We both feel so fortunate to make a living at what we love. We often wish for shorter work days but we wouldn’t trade it for anything. Ray has been a Lighting Designer at CBS for over 30 years, so it’s really his second family.
DC: Y&R is known for bringing on primetime actors for guest stints. Would you ever consider coming to Genoa City?
DC: You played quite the memorable role in one of my favorite sitcoms of all time, Lady June Randolph, Queen of the Junies, on Designing Women. Do people still recognize you from that gig?
DR: Yes, they actually do. It always surprises me because it was shot in 1986. I can remember the date because it was the year I got married. It was a long time ago, but that was such a fabulous show that people still love it and watch the reruns. I can remember I wore a flowery dress and had big hair, sort of like Maxine on True Blood. Although I think I was a little more ladylike!
Photo credit: HBO
Under The Dome airs Monday nights at 10/9c on CBS. True Blood airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on HBO.