The final season of True Blood has begun, and saying goodbye to the long-running HBO vampire drama isn't going to be easy. For actress Amelia Rose Blaire, who plays Willa Burrell, it's a different experience because not only is the show ending, but she just got promoted to series regular. We checked in with Amelia on Friday to get her take on the end of True Blood and what she plans to do after it's over.
"Honestly, the last couple months and even the last couple days and even today - we had our red carpet premiere last nigh - I've been going through such a wild range of emotions," she told us, "from being so incredibly happy and grateful to crying in my car after table reads."
"I only found out a couple of weeks ago how the entire series is going to end," she continued. "We weren't getting scripts [early]; we would get them like a week before we'd start shooting. It was exciting, and it's really thrilling to not know what's going to happen, because I feel like a fan. I kind of like not knowing, because it kind of allows me to just be in the moment."
Amelia joined True Blood as a recurring cast member in season six, so she's gotten to know Willa pretty well by now. We asked her what moments she would put on her character's highlight reel, past and present. "Last season, I would have to say the number one [moment] would be the turning, because when does that get to happen?" she said. "That was an iconic thing to shoot and with Alexander [Skarsgard]...He's such a dream to work with and very unassuming and very grounded. I've been watching the show since season one, and Eric has always been one of my favorites!"
As for this season, she's staying mum on specifics, but did tease that "I definitely had a couple of things that I did where I left the set feeling very happy and empowered."
Playing Willa has been important for her in another way: it's the first time she's been a series regular on any program. We asked Amelia what it's been like to sink her teeth (pardon the expression) into a character for more than an episode or two. "It has been an incredible experience," she enthused. "To get to be a regular on a show like True Blood on a station like HBO is so special, because you get a luxury of time that I have never gotten on any other television set. We shoot an episode in 24 days, which is so much time compared to the usual eight days that it takes to shoot an episode of television.
"And I have grown so tremendously alongside of Willa," she added. "It's been a life changing experience."
Plus, the role has earned her coolness points amongst her family and friends. "I think that my sister in particular has been milking it for all it's worth," she joked. "I took her to the red carpet premiere last night, and she gave me [her] list beforehand. 'These are the people that I have to meet by the end of the night.' I was taking her around, introducing her to people. I was happy to do that for her."
Do any of those previous parts particularly stick in Amelia's memory? "I really loved the work that I got to do on Law & Order: SVU [in the episode "Wonderland Story"]," she reflected. "That was such an incredible set to walk onto, because [the show] has been going on for fifteen years...Everybody on the set was so present and we were all having such a great time.
"Mariska Hargitay was the leading champion of the entire set, and she was a dream. She was so present with me the entire time. Even when the cameras were turned away from her, she was just as engaged," she continued. "I really admire her and Kelli Giddish...They're such strong women."
Speaking of noteworthy women, Amelia is certainly one to watch off camera as well, devoting her time to a number of worthy causes. "I have always been a huge animal advocate," she told us. "When I was growing up, my [family] were always the kind of people who would stop the car for the stray dog down the street, and bring them into our home.
"And then also I've been part of Big Brothers-Big Sisters now for almost two years...I think that empowering our youth especially young girls is very, very important, because they're going to be the next ones to take the lead."
So how does one follow up something as significant as True Blood? What is Amelia going to do after wrapping the project that's been so memorable for her on so many levels? You might be surprised.
"As the series wraps, I am going on a huge escape," she revealed. "I am turning off my cell phone. I am not going to look at any Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or anything. I'm going up north to Wyoming with my boyfriend, and we are just going to be present in nature with each other." Considering she'll just have completed work on one of the most popular shows on television, we think she deserves the break.
The True Blood seventh-season premiere airs at 9 PM ET/PT tonight on HBO; for more on the show, don't miss our previous interview with Tara Buck. For more on Amelia, be sure you're following her on Twitter (@AmeliaRBlaire).