True Blood's Marshall Allman on Alan Ball, His Old Costar Wentworth Miller, and 'Assin' Around' in the Buff
As Tommy, the impoverished younger brother to Sam (Sam Trammell) on True Blood, Marshall Allman plays a shapeshifting character who's still licking wounds from a family that forced him into dogfighting. Talking to Allman himself, however, is the furthest thing from a grim experience. The hilarious 26-year-old called up Movieline this week to chat about getting in shape, the tabloid treatment of his former Prison Break costar Wentworth Miller, and the lengths Mad Men showrunner Matthew Weiner went to during Allman's guest appearance.
You've been done with shooting this season for a while now, right?
Oh yeah, man. I've got a beard and long hair and everything.
Is that your bit of post-season rebellion?
Completely. Anytime I'm not currently in a job and I have to have a set hairstyle, I just let it go. I want to be ready for the next part, whether it's short or long or whatever. I always say that my hair is not my own, it belongs to my characters.
So how long was it when you went in for True Blood?
Dude, my hair was so long. 2009 was such a rough year for the industry in general, I can't even remember how many jobs I had. I think I had done Mad Men and a few cool guest spots, but nothing major, so my hair was super, super long. [The producers] were like, "We want to go short," so we spent about six to seven hours cutting my hair in stages, doing different looks, and sending photos to Alan [Ball] -- who would be like, "No. Shorter. Shorter" -- till we finally finished.
How did that initial audition go?
One of the funny things about anybody who goes in for True Blood and ends up in a producers session is that Alan always sits really close. The room isn't that huge and they have this big L couch, and Alan sits right at the end, right in front of you while you're auditioning. People are always like, "Dude, I was knocking knees with Alan Ball!" He always likes to be right up in the action, and it's nerve-wracking. It threw me off a bit, I was like, "Uh, Academy-Award-winning writer in my face..." [Laughs]
Were you excited that you character started working at Merlotte's, so you could finally share scenes with actors you hadn't yet gotten to?
Oh, I was so excited. No knock on Sam [Trammell], I love working with him and I'm very lucky that I get to be with him all the time in my storyline, but when I got the job at Merlotte's and I started getting scenes with Lafayette, Arlene, Jessica, and Hoyt, I was like, "Yes. Get me in with everybody! Have Sookie come back, I want to talk trash with Bill, anything!"
It seems like Tommy is interested in Jessica. What's to come for those two?
When Tommy likes something, he goes right after. it. We were watching The Dog Whisperer the other day and they had a pitbull on there, and he said, "When a pitbull wants to fight, pain doesn't stop it, it only fuels it. It knows no limits to get what it wants." It's kind of like Tommy, a little bit.
Are you worried that the fans who are so invested in seeing Hoyt with Jessica will come after you with pitchforks?
No, I have a feeling it's not going to be so bad. [Pause] I don't know. OK, fine, I'm gonna be honest: Yeah, I am a little bit worried. [Laughs] But in the back of my mind, I'm like, "How could they not love Tommy? He's so awesome." He doesn't waver at all, and I think in the back of every woman's mind, they want a Tommy to come after them like they're the hottest thing on the planet. We'll see, I might turn a few fans.
By the way, how tall is Jim Parrack, who plays Hoyt? He looked huge in the last episode.
He's seven foot three. I want to make sure you get that accurate. He's seven foot three and I'm six foot two, and that's all you need to know. [Laughs]
How does it feel that there's not a corresponding character in the books?
It's so funny that you bring that up, because even though there's no "set arc" for Tommy, the actual arc for who Tommy is and what he does was so clear from the writing team. I felt so lucky to come in and every week, it was really solid writing that gave me a clear picture of where I was headed. It didn't feel like for any moment, they still had to figure out who Tommy was. I have to pinch myself that Alan came up with this part and thought I was right for it. It's like, "Man, I'm not even in the books and I'm on the freakin' show this much?" I'm very grateful.
Joe Manganiello said that the first thought that went through his mind when he booked this job was, "I'm gonna have to get naked." Was that the first thing you thought?
No, the first thing I thought was "Thank God I'm employed." The second thought was, "Thank God I'm employed on a show I actually like." And then the third thought was, "OK, I should probably work out, because I'm gonna have to show my ass."
Obviously, everyone has to go nude on True Blood at some point, but as a shape shifter, it's a little more common.
Oh man, dude. I'm freaking assin' around, dude.
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