For "True Blood" junkies, season three has been a major fix thanks to one jaw-dropping scene after another.
Bill Compton's head-turning (literally) between-the-sheets moment with his maker Lorena, and Sheriff Eric Northman's steamy naked staking of Talbot all raised headlines, eyebrows and left viewers slack-jawed, but the scene that made the biggest waves among the "Truebie" community was entirely clothed. That moment was claimed Aug. 15 by Mississippi vampire king Russell Edgington, played in a deliciously complex fashion by the remarkable Denis O'Hare.
Derailing the American Vampire League's movement for equal rights with humans, the nearly 3,000-year-old king ripped out a TBBN newscaster's spine on live television, before addressing the cameras and telling viewers: "We will eat you, after we eat your children," before breaking his steely stare and turning things over to Tiffany for the weather report.
"My favorite reaction was from a friend of mine who basically just wrote 'HAHAHAHAHA...' Then, he wrote, 'I adore you,' " O'Hare recounted to AccessHollywood.com of that evening's text message influx. "Literally, at like 10:02, I started getting text messages and it was pretty crazy."
Unhinged by the death of his lover of nearly a millennium — Talbot (Theo Alexander) — at the hands of Eric (Alexander Skarsgard), O'Hare's character, Russell, has gone from mysterious and conniving to just plain unpredictable, and according to his portrayer, there's a lot more of that in store.
"[With] Russell, it's never gonna be an expected trajectory. He's not going to necessarily do what you would assume he would do," Denis explained. "He has his own internal rhythm and [Sunday's] episode, he kind of goes into hiding and mourning... It's kind of more of him regrouping. He's kind of dealing with feelings."
Though Russell is said to be the oldest bloodsucker in the Americas, O'Hare noted his character hasn't exactly conquered the whole wisdom thing, especially after the events of the last couple of episodes.
"What I think is great about Russell — as opposed to other villains on other shows, other seasons — is that he's not omnipotent. He's got limits to his power; he's got limits to his abilities. He's not always rational; he can't foresee everything. He doesn't see things coming. He gets duped 'cause he gets tricked by Eric. Eric appeals to his vanity, saying, 'Oh, you're the next great leader,' and then he kills Talbot," O'Hare explained. "So I love the fact that Russell's got blind spots and the more unhinged he gets and the more angry he gets, the more sloppy he's gonna get."
To bring life and depth to his undead character, O'Hare hired a dialect coach, and before season three began filming, the actor and his partner took a road trip — at his own expense — down to Mississippi for research.
"I actually visited the plantation where my character lives — it's based on a real plantation. It's called Longwood in Natchez," he explained. "I got to take a tour and walk around. This place was built in 1860, so it just gave me a real hands-on sense of where I would be stomping around."
Russell's clothes on the set have helped with his character too. While his first scene earlier this season was in riding pants and a maroon jacket, clothes fitting of a vampire king, Russell's dressed more modern of late, in a host of designer duds O'Hare adores.
"It's been great! Ted Baker and [John] Varvatos and Hugo Boss, it's been a lot of fun," he said.
Although Russell has remained clothed (thus far), don't think Denis isn't as committed to working out as some of his more skin bearing co-stars.
"I'm doing P90X. I'm in my third week of it and it's killer," he revealed, referring to a popular new workout regime.
So killer in fact, that the actor — who is gearing up to star alongside Brendan Fraser on Broadway in "Elling," and a fall run in New Jersey in his own adaptation of Homer's "The Illiad" — has nearly lost his breakfast once or twice.
"You know, I've gotten close. During the ab routine, I was like, 'This is not — I'll just die!" he laughed.
Beyond "True Blood" and the theater, O'Hare's hard workouts will be put to good use on Sept. 11, when he hits the road in Williamsburg, Va., for the Hare & Tortoise Ovarian Cancer Run/Walk, a memorial run O'Hare's father, John, is sponsoring in memory of Denis' mom, Karene, who passed away in 2008.
"I'm going to run the whole thing," he said. "I work out pretty hard and I've definitely run in the past. I ride my bike everywhere ... at least an hour a day. It's not the same thing as running, but that's how I get around New York. So I'm hoping I won't make a fool of myself. I think I'll be all right."