This Sunday Lauren Bowles makes her ‘True Blood‘ debut as Merlotte’s newest waitress Holly Cleary. Bowles, whose credits include everything from guest starring on numerous procedurals, to starring opposite her real life half-sister Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the comedy ‘Watching Ellie,’ is thrilled she landed a longterm role on one of her favorite shows. She opened up about Holly’s secret powers, why the cast is afraid to give out spoilers, and what to order at Merlotte’s.
Tell me about your character, Holly Cleary.
What I can tell you, because it’s shrouded in secrecy on this show, [is that] I am the new waitress at Merlotte’s – a single working Mom. I might have some interesting abilities that will develop as the show goes on.
There are some hints, at least judging by the books, that she might be a witch.
This is what I have been told. This is what the word on the street is. I’m not even joking. They make you sign a confidentiality agreement, ‘You can tell nothing. Don’t say a word.’ But she does have some interesting abilities that will develop.
Is Holly new in town?
She’s been skipping around the South.
What sort of relationship is Holly going to have with the rest of the Merlotte’s staff?
She and Arlene hit it off right away, both being single, working class moms. They develop a friendship pretty quickly.
What about Jessica? She’s been a bit territorial about Merlotte’s this year.
She certainly has been. You don’t want to stiff her. But I don’t deal too much with her.
In the books, Holly ends up dating Jessica’s ex, Hoyt. Is the series going to follow that story?
[Alan Ball's] funny with the books. He sort of follows them and then he doesn’t. So I really have no idea what his plans for that are.
Can you give me any hints about the season finale?
Everybody’s going to be satisfied.
How did you get cast? I imagine becoming a regular on ‘True Blood’ is an arduous process.
You would think, but it was one audition. It was so funny too because I read heavy recurring, possible series regular. Normally for jobs like that they’ll be at least three or four auditions but because Alan is Alan and HBO implicitly trusts him, he pretty much gets to make up his mind. So it didn’t really – I have to be honest with you – occur to me that I was going to book it. I just thought, ‘I want to do well so they’ll bring me in on something else in the future.’ That was my goal. The next thing I knew, I had gotten it. It was truly a dream come true because I am a huge Alan Ball fan.
How huge? Did you watch ‘True Blood’ before you were cast?
I was a huge ‘True Blood’ fan. ‘American Beauty’ is a film that I am just obsessed with. I’ve watched it I can’t even imagine how many times. The script, the performances, everything about that movie is just impeccable. That was my big introduction to him and I’ve loved everything he’s done since. He’s such an amazing, specific, unusual writer.
It’s already been announced that Holly’s going to be back next season.
I always knew it was a possibility. When I got that call, it was another huge scream.
Was it strange stepping onto the sets you’d seen so many times and interacting with characters you enjoyed watching as a fan?
Yes. When I am sitting in that Merlotte’s set I literally look around and I truly can’t believe I’m here. Usually I’m focused on the scene but I do have those out of body moments where all of a sudden I’m like, ‘Wait. I’m wearing Merlotte’s shorts, standing at the bar. What the hell is going on?’
What are some of your favorite moments and characters?
I was a ginormous Lafayette fan. Huge Hoyt fan. Huge Jason fan. Jason honestly deserves his own spin off. He’s hilarious. Arlene, obviously. The scene where Bill turns Lorena’s neck around was unbelievable. It’s so rare that TV can surprise you like that.
Were you nervous about doing the graphic sex scenes?
They make it clear that you need to be cool with whatever goes down but they’re incredibly respectful so if someone’s not comfortable with something they won’t force you to do anything. My solace is that that there are a lot of hotter people on the show I’m sure they’d rather look at over me.
Are you Team Bill or Team Alcide?
If you watched from the beginning I don’t know how you can vote against Bill. [He and Sookie] just seem destined.
Who do you think would be a good guy for Holly?
It’s a little cliched since it’s already been done, but Sam. He’s her boss, he’s right there,and he’s pretty easy to look at as well.
Have you had any bloody scenes?
I can’t say too much, but I witness some stuff.
So much of this season has taken place is Mississippi. Will more of the action move back to Bon Temps?
Everything always ends up back in Bon Temps.
Who are your closest friends on the set?
I have to say Carrie [Preston] who plays Arlene. She’s awesome. She’s from New York and I went to NYU so I spent some time in New York. She’s done plays with some friends of mine. I knew Sam [Trammell] before, very peripherally, but we had a friend in common as well. Those two I’ve bonded the most with. I’ve also worked with them the most. Really, it’s one of those sets where everyone is awesome. I think it’s because it all starts from the top down and Alan is so great. He hires cool people and everyone feels so lucky to be there.
Which ‘True Blood’ species would you want to be?
Definitely a shapeshifter. [As an actor] you could play any role. You could experience anything from flying to jumping like a kangaroo. I think that would be the coolest thing ever.
What’s the best thing on the menu at Merlotte’s?
I’m not going to lie. It’s not the best food in town, but you’re pretty safe with a bowl of gumbo and a beer.