7:20pm PT by Austin Siegemund-Broka
'True Blood's' Karolina Wydra on Backlash and Her Character's Motives: 'Violet Is Not Evil'
[Warning: this story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of True Blood, "Almost Home."]
It wasn't going to end well for Violet (Karolina Wydra) after she took hostages to get revenge on Jason (Ryan Kwanten) in last week's True Blood episode.
But the actress is happy with her character's death in Sunday’s episode, the shooting by a recently returned Hoyt (Jim Parrack) that ended her two-season run on the show, she tells The Hollywood Reporter.
"I think she gets honored with that. They honor Violet with a nice death," Wydra says. "It's definitely a painful death for her. She's been around for 800 years."
The sex-torture sanctum where she threatens Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), Adilyn (Bailey Noble) and Wade (Noah Matthews) with unambiguously named devices (the "breast-ripper") was designed using her own research on medieval torture instruments. She and writer Kate Barnow traded photos and information, and the result was one of her favorite of Violet's scenes. "They were like, 'Wait till you see it.' I could only see photos. Then when I saw it I was like, 'Ok this is amazing,'" she says. "It's so dark, it's so terrible to say, but they're great."
Violet is the episode’s villain and has been "aggressive" for two seasons, Wydra says, but there’s more to the character.
"I think there's a reason for everything she does. She comes off as very fiery and intense, but I think that intensity comes from her strong belief systems," she says. "She protects Sookie [Anna Paquin] and Jason. She's very protective—even with Jessica, somebody hurts her, and Violet’s like, ‘You don’t do this to my tribe.'"
The actress tells THR about why fans might dislike Violet and why she had to die.
Violet has been an aggressive, vengeful character this season. Where did you find sympathy in her?
Violet is not evil—I think the whole thing with this season is Violet is trying to fit into Jason's world, and she’s so wrong in that world. You see her make such mistakes even though she's trying to be helpful. Like when Alcide (Joe Manganiello) dies and she tells Sookie she's lost hundreds of boyfriends, it's so wrong what’s coming out of her mouth, but she's trying. She's trying to fit into this world. You see it when you finally see her house there in episode eight, her speech about where she comes from, and you realize she's been with the most powerful men in history, and now she's with a regular dude. She's trying something different, she's trying to walk away from what she knows, but she's too worldly and been around for too long. When he’s asking about having kids, it's like, to her, "When there's war we fight." It doesn't fit into that world for her.
One of her most surprising moments this season is letting Jason comfort Jessica upstairs in episode five. Is that her protectiveness?
She sees the heartbroken Jessica, and that's the thing about Violet, she gets it. Infidelity is a no-no in her book. [James (Nathan Parsons)] betrayed her, she knows that Jessica and Jason have this bond and [Jessica] would appreciate Jason being there, so at the moment Violet's like "Go, she's experiencing this terrible feeling." Violet is understanding of things—"Yeah, go help her out, be where you need to be." She doesn't have time for bullshit, but at that moment she can see how devastated Jessica is. She’s very much there to do what needs to be done. That backfires on her. That's such a deep betrayal, what Jessica does to her.
How did you react to finding out you would be killed?
I found out pretty soon when we started filming. Bucky [showrunner Brian Buckner] told me that Violet is going to meet her true death, and it was like with anything, first you’re like, "Oh my god, this is going to happen." But at the same time I totally understood because I don't think Violet and Jason were a couple that could stay together forever. I think they both realized she's something different than what Jason wants, and she thinks Jason can be the man that she needs and he's not that. They're very drawn to each other but there's a big conflict between them. So, it makes sense. Jason can't get rid of Violet. You don't get rid of Violet. You don't break up with Violet. I don't think she wouldn't just walk away. She has to die.
How would you describe their relationship?
The relationship with Violet and Jason cracks me up. I found it really funny. Like with the ring [Andy (Chris Bauer) gives Holly (Lauren Bowles) in episode five], she's like, “I don’t need any ring.” but deep down inside she’s dying for a ring. I think in [episode] three, what happens in that speech they give to each other, when I talked to Brian about it, it’s almost that at the end if we weren’t interrupted, it would have been like, "Oh shit, we are so wrong for each other," but we get interrupted and we've got to go fight. Alcide dies and there's a party, and there are these moments where for Jason and Violet, she would want [a proposal], but at the same time, things are not right for them. And of course, there's some jealousy. She's trying to cover it up, but she responds to it.
What got you into character?
I do visual collages that help me maintain the deep core of what's going on with her, and I [visualized] an animal for her. She's a black panther—the way they move, their eyes, and how they take their time with stuff. They're very protective of their families, their little ones, and they're nocturnal. The collages have to do with images of inspiration of who she would have been in the past, actresses that bring out her sexuality. There are many different things, images that I see that are like, that's so Violet. Sophia Loren—her sexuality is very luscious, and with a lot of the makeup I'd ask for a cat-eye eyeliner—or a panther would be on there, and old Catholic symbolism. I had Anna Magnani. If you ever watch her work, when she got passionate, she was very passionate. She had a lot of intensity when she performed. It's fun to do that, [the collages] are very inspiring.
There's been some fan backlash against Violet. Why do you think that is?
It's hard to get behind someone when you don't know their background. When somebody comes in in a powerful manner, you're going to be like, "I'm sorry, who are you? Excuse me?" When she first comes in with Jason, she just claims him and tells him how it’s going to go down, and she’s very aggressive. She’s not anybody’s friend. It’s hard at first to understand that, to go behind that and get to know someone, know their reasons. [Fans] might have not really known who she is, why she's there, what's her reasoning. She's just claiming somebody.
And then she tortures Jason—not exactly tortures, but as a woman, I found [their relationship] to be such a powerful thing. If you see Jason, he's such a womanizer. Women fall for Jason easily, and so does Violet. She's completely taken with him, but I think she knows the kind of man he is. She's been around for so many years, and she's like, "You're going to have to earn it, you're going to have to work really hard to get a taste of me in that way." It's a powerful thing for a woman to be like, "Go down on me for six months,"—I mean, what woman wouldn't want that. "Please me for six months while I do nothing." It goes to show Violet has really strong belief systems. If she wants you, you'll have her, but you have to earn her. You have to take your time. And when it's the right moment, you'll have her.