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'True Blood's' Deborah Ann Woll on Series Finale: "It Was Not What I Expected"

The actress thought her character's romantic life would turn out differently

True Blood Finale - Deborah Ann Woll - H 2014
HBO
Deborah Ann Woll

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from this week's series finale of True Blood, "Thank You."]

The last taste of True Blood is over, and the commitment ceremony between Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Hoyt (Jim Parrack) in Sunday's series finale tied up a relationship seven seasons in the making.

It comes at the request of a dying Bill (Stephen Moyer). Jessica is "mortified" at the thought of a father figure deciding when and whom she'll marry, Woll tells The Hollywood Reporter, until "she realizes that the greatest gift she can give him is to show that she'll be fine, that she'll be taken care of." The ending surprised Woll for a different reason, she says — Jessica's deep connection to Jason (Ryan Kwanten).

"If I'm really honest, I thought she'd end up with Jason. It seemed the way it was going, and I also was so fond of that storyline and so fond of Ryan," she tells THR. "This took me a little by surprise. I'd been trotting down one path, and I had to make a change."

She gained a new understanding of her character, she says. "I had to give into this idea that [Jessica] just loves. In a way, it didn't matter who she ended up with because she's an independent woman, and she didn't have to end up with anyone. It's just about her capacity to give herself. This storyline forced me to come to that realization, which I think is really beautiful," Woll says.

The actress tells THR what the finale means for Jessica.

What was the most powerful scene in this finale for you?

I would definitely say my favorite scene of the finale is the one with Bill upstairs. When I think about Jessica's arc and the kind of domineering father she grew up with, it was very important to me that her story be about becoming an independent woman who didn't need a man or a woman making decisions for her. I spoke to the writers, and we agreed we liked this idea of her saying, "I know you're from a different time where marriages were arranged, but when I get proposed to, I want it to be because the guy really loves me, not my father telling me." It's a really lovely scene with just the two of them, and it was my last scene with Stephen. I will miss him, and do. I'll miss Bill as well.

What do you think brought Hoyt and Jessica back together?

I was actually quite surprised by the direction of that storyline when I read it. It was not what I expected and not what I was imagining would happen. It took a quick turnaround to figure out how to make that organic for myself. I don't know that I personally believe in a soul mate, a one person for everyone. What I believe is everyone has limitless capacity for love and that if you allow yourself to be open to that, you can love so many people. At a certain point, when we choose a spouse, it's just about choosing, a commitment.

Where she was in that moment with Bill dying and her feelings with Adilyn [Bailey Noble] and Andy [Chris Bauer], I think Hoyt represents a simpler time for her. I think it represents a time before the vamp camps, the Authority, very complicated adult things. He was a much more innocent love, and at that point in time, she needed that. That's what drew her back to him. If things were different, if circumstances were different, maybe she would have been drawn somewhere else. That's what makes that work for her in that moment. Obviously it escalates very quickly with this idea of a wedding. They're doing it for Bill — there's love there, but the motivation is a gift for him. I think that we're meant to believe it does last for them. But it's about choice more than it's about fate. That's my personal reading of it.

Then does she still love Jason in some way?

Absolutely. I think that she loves him quite deeply. If I don't believe in a single soul mate, I definitely believe in kindred spirits. There are people you just sort of click with, and I believe that Jason is one of those people for her. They just understand each other in a really clear way. I think of all the girlfriends Jason has had. Every one of them has condescended to him, and Jessica never has. She's always really seen just the charm, the good guy trying to do right, and similarly he's never judged her for all the darker impulses she's had. He has because of jealousy, but after she killed what she thought were four young girls, the first place she went was Jason. I think that's why they can be lovers, they can be friends, they can be anything. They just need to be in each other's lives.

When did you find out Jessica and Hoyt would end up together, and did it change how you played the character?

They had mentioned to me they were planning on bringing him back before the season started, and there would be romantic ties. I assumed that it would be a triangle ending in a different way.

It was happening sort of quickly, and I had to give in to it. I think that's really where I cemented this idea of Jessica just having a very open heart, a very big heart that was capable of so much love that it could not be contained to James [Nathan Parsons] or Jason or Bill or Sookie [Anna Paquin] or Adilyn or all these people who I really think she loves, who I genuinely think she could say that about.

In what ways has Jessica grown or changed in seven seasons?

Maturity. She was a girl who lived mostly on impulse when she was younger and let her feelings have her do whatever she needed to do in the moment. She had very little control. Certainly now, I think, she thinks before she leaps, and she understands when something is a vampire impulse that might not work in the modern world. That's why this first episode was so interesting for her. It put her up against the one thing she couldn't resist. In the end, I wanted her to be victorious. I wanted her to come up against it and discover that she had the strength. She could hold Adilyn in her arms and have nothing between her and draining this girl, and I think that's a long way for Jessica to go.

This is an HBO show. Did you ever worry you would be killed off?

Especially when you're playing a character who makes some really big mistakes but is primarily a good person, you worry a lot because it would be very heart-wrenching to many characters if Jessica died. Imagine the storyline for Bill if Jessica died. They could kill me off and have a field day with the results of that. I was always very nervous because it seems like such an emotionally powerful storyline.

What was your favorite moment or scene for Jessica?

I always like it when characters make mistakes. That's the most fun to play. It's no fun to be good all the time and right all the time. You want your character to struggle and suffer and learn. To me, the killing of the fairy girls was a remarkable step to take. You're not going to kill off Jessica without having her kill some teenagers, and that was also a very important moment for her and Jason. I like that she went to him afterward. That allowed them to take another step in their relationship. That would definitely be a move I thought was really courageous. I was daunted by it but also enjoyed exploring the deeper recesses of her character.

Email: Austin.Siegemund-Broka@THR.com
Twitter: @Asiegemundbroka