Mariana Klaveno: From Waitressing to Witnessing the SAG Awards in a Single Year
By Brooke Tarnoff Posted Feb 9th 2010 06:48PM
"I was still working at a restaurant right up until season two of 'True Blood,'" the lovely Klaveno told PopEater in an exclusive interview. "I held onto the job for a long time, and it was what grounded me that I was a struggling, starving actress, and I didn't want to cut the security cord quite yet."
What an unexpected dichotomy -- viewers see you in the show in this glamorously evil role, and then you leave the set to do a shift.
"Yeah, I would, I would. I would put on my uniform and go to work."
But you're done waiting tables.
"[Laughs] I am, yes."
Once you hit the SAG Awards, there's no more refilling drinks.
"Yeah, you really can't go back. I think that's why I waited so long to finally quit, because I'd seen a lot of people -- and I get it, you know, they get their first big job and they think they've made it and they quit their job and then, six months later, the pilot that they've booked isn't going and the money has run out and they have to come back. I just knew I could never do that. I would rather err on the other side, working on set five days a week and then working two days on the weekend at the restaurant. I would rather err on that side than have to go back. I figured, once I'm done, I have to be done."
"It feels good."
Good, humble farm logic.
"Well, thank you. Yes. It's my dad's practical reasoning."
You are from - not a metaphorical farm - an actual, real, growing-things farm?
"I am, yes. A wheat and barley farm."
Do you ever experience culture shock, both in L.A. and in your own life, as an actress on a popular series?
"It was pretty surreal being on the [SAG Awards] red carpet and having Meryl Streep walk by; that's a first. I'd never seen that before. Just being in that room with all these amazing people that I've looked up to for years, I suddenly felt like a wide-eyed farm girl again, which I haven't felt in a while. I did a few times that night."
"I went to college in Seattle, so I had a bit of a bigger-city experience before I moved to L.A., but it's hard. I'm lucky that I have a brother here and the core group of friends that I had before I even moved here, and that helps a lot ... I can't think of another profession that has a more schizophrenic impression. I mean, people think that, when they hear that you're an actress and they don't know you and you're working at a restaurant, they kind of roll their eyes and go, 'Right, right,' and then two weeks later, they see you on TV and they want to be your friend and want to know what you just ate for lunch, and it's just sort of strange in that position, like, 'Wait a second, what?'"
It must be a little jarring, doing a few gigs a year and then suddenly have fan sites devoted to you.
"Exactly. It is. It is strange, and it's lovely, and I'm grateful, and I wake up saying thank you every morning -- at least I try to, anyway. I think I'm actually appreciative of the years that were tough, because it makes you humble and it makes you realize that this industry is quite ephemeral and six months from now, a year from now, hopefully not ... but the chances could go away and the job may be gone. I think it's always best to keep that in mind so you don't get too caught up. I think it's dangerous to read and believe the things that are said about you, good and bad."
I don't know. I appreciate the point you're making and yet, I've seen you on 'True Blood,' I don't buy it.
"[Laughs] It's an amazing part."
Other vampire fiction - and there's a lot of it out there right now - has a very simplistic take on vampire mythology. You have a soul, you're good. You don't have a soul, you're evil. 'True Blood' is interesting to me, in that the vampires do have to exploit humans because that's where the blood lives, but they're very nuanced. Some of them are nice and have respect for humans, some are primarily working their own agenda but they have some kind of sense of compassion... and then there's your character Lorena, who is thus far... well... why is she so just evil?
"The writers have put just a tiny little nugget in an episode that has just been released, which I can't say, of course. I love that it is more complex and each vampire, there's a lot of gray area between what they do to fulfill their needs and how they relate to the humans. I think that's one of the brilliant things in the show. She is evil, and it's hard because, as an actor, you can't judge your character. I just really try to focus on the fact that she's... I don't think that she's evil for no reason. She's focused on Bill, and, as weird as it sounds, she's motivated by love, and that's where it comes from, and it's obviously a different plane than the one we live in."
Mariana Klaveno Snapshots
Mariana Klaveno plays Lorena on HBO's hit show 'True Blood.' Take a look inside to see snapshots of the actress >>>
Jason LaVeris, FilmMagic
Jason LaVeris, FilmMagic
Mariana Klaveno Snapshots
"The way that I look at it is that she kind of operates from a different set of rules and, in her world, she wants what she wants and humanity is something that's not a part of her any more and she does what she needs to get that unrequited love, which kind of makes her a tragic character, which I love. What she wants will never want her back and the reason that he doesn't want her is what she loves in him and it's this horrible cycle."
"I think in this season ... she may surprise you a bit. You'll see, or you think you may, you think that she'll do something horribly evil, and she chooses not to, which I really love, and I think it'll maybe surprise people. Not as monstrous as maybe once perceived."
I love the books, but the storyline doesn't always correspond closely to the show. People who have read the books have a strong suspicion about what happened at the very end of last season. You don't have to confirm or deny that, but I think we have some theories. Is the show faithful to the books at this point?
"Uh, yes and no, which I know is not a great answer for you."
You have to be shifty, I know.
"[Laughs] In some ways, with some characters, they are loosely following the books, and in some ways not at all. Um, obviously, the character of Jessica doesn't exist in the book. Tara's character is much, much different..."
"Totally different person, exactly. They sort of created a storyline for her this season that involves a character that is in the book but it's just in a different way, which, I think people are going to love. As for me, I don't think I'm allowed to say other than... I'm, of course, back with Bill, where I want to be, in that we have scenes together."
"When I first got the part, which was just the one episode season one, you know, they sort of said it'll probably be a strong recurring role, but I had no idea how much they were going to get into it in season two. All of the flashbacks and the history is so much fun, and I think it's great, not only for me. Selfishly, I want to do all of the fun things, but I think it's great for Bill's character because you get to see a lot more of who he is and how he's made and what makes him the vampire he is today."
For people who've never read the books, the upcoming season might be a little shocking, if they're counting on Sookie plus Bill forever.
"I think they're... yes, yes, the hardcore Sookie and Bill fans are going to have some rough road up ahead. Bill has an interesting arc this season, yeah, that's all I'll say, but you'll see different shades of vampire Bill than what we've seen before."
'True Blood' is a very intense show. What is the mood on set? Are you guys a little more fun behind the scenes than we see?
"It's all fun behind the scenes. I adore working with Stephen, and that's who I primarily work with. I always have fantasies of Lorena picking up a few shifts at Merlotte's, with more of the different characters, like shopping with Lafayette one day or something. [Laughs]"
And you have practice waiting tables, so you'd be perfect.
"I'd be a natural! I don't know that Alan was thrilled by the idea, but yeah, especially with the vampy, bloody, dark scenes. I mean, it gets so ridiculous sometimes with the gore and the violence, you kind of have to just laugh. It'll be 4 AM or 5 AM and we're covered in blood doing horrible things to people. You just have to laugh. And Stephen has a wonderful sense of humor, as does Anna, actually, everyone on the set. There's a lot of laughs and it's a really fun, jovial set."
Who is the biggest goofball on the set?
"I would say Stephen, but I don't know because I haven't worked with everybody else."
There could be secret goofballs that you don't know about.
"There could be secret goofballs that I'm not aware of! Well, Stephen's very witty and very smart and very quick, there's a lot of quips that go on back and forth with crew, with other actors, with myself. It's fun."
It's an amazing skill, to learn to crack a joke while covered in blood.
"Yeah, I'm honing that skill. I just did it a few days ago."
I'm loathe to say that will serve you well in your life...
"[Laughs] You have to, or else you go to a darker path."
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