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'True Blood's' Jim Parrack on Hoyt and Jessica: "I Don't Think They're Meant for Each Other"

The actor tells THR his character's relationship will have a "hopeful" ending

Jim Parrack True Blood - H 2014
HBO
Jim Parrack and Ashley Hinshaw

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from this week's episode of True Blood, "Love Is to Die."]

The romance between Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Hoyt (Jim Parrack) was rekindled in this week's episode of True Blood. It was a long time coming — well, sort of.

Hoyt returned to Bon Temps two episodes ago with "a different kind of confidence," Parrack tells The Hollywood Reporter, after spending two seasons working on an oil rig in Alaska. His reunion with Jessica when he saves her from Violet's (Karolina Wydra) torture chamber established an immediate attraction between the former lovers. In this week's episode — the penultimate of the HBO drama's final season — their connection led to a sex scene and a surprisingly touching monologue from Jason (Ryan Kwanten). Parrack explains what draws them together.

"I don't think they're meant for each other," he tells THR. "In the beginning, what maybe Hoyt had to offer Jessica was acceptance, to look at her when she felt freakish and say, 'You're beautiful.' That would help, and then beyond that, there's no indication that these two are wired to do well together."

"The only thing that proves they're good for one another is how they feel," he says. "It might be purely romantic. It's purely some fantastical idea about seeing someone and feeling a certain way about it and knowing."

The actor tells THR about where the relationship will end in the series finale and what it was like returning to the show.

How has Hoyt changed since viewers last saw him?

In the beginning, I had a lot of fun — when the show started, I played the role as it if were somebody that was much younger, a child. I just didn't want there to be any trace of that anymore. This was somebody that did hard work, did it well, made new friends and had a girlfriend, had a different kind of confidence. That's a lot of what it was. It was a different kind of confidence. I tried to incorporate that into what was written.

What was it like returning to this character?

It was easy enough. The thing I gave some thought to is what happened in those two years. Starting with his reason for leaving — it was more than to get out from under an ugly situation. It was a situation where I couldn't find out who I was as a man, with the trappings of an overbearing mother and a community that had come to expect me to be whatever they'd decided I was. I thought about what it would be like to be on your own, carving out an identity for yourself. There were some clues. You're surrounded by a certain kind of man, the kind of workers I was around.

Were there other aspects of the character you wanted to learn more about?

No, not really. They really did a good job of fleshing things out. My questions, they had answers, but mostly I would just make something up that would make sense. I'd write about it in a way that would support what they had on the page.

You kept a journal for the role?

With that particular part, I knew I'd be playing it for a long time. I wanted to be able to keep track of the choices and little ideas I'd had. Maybe with a movie you don't need to keep an ongoing journal. I'd never played a part for so long. I'd just write my ideas down, kind of a journal of what life in Hoyt's shoes would be like.

What were some of the big insights from that process?

The idea that I had seen a glimpse of belief in a god beyond religion. There's a little thing in the scene where [Hoyt and Jessica] meet. I improvised it, where in the script I think he takes a slug of beer to steel his nerves to talk to this girl. I had it instead that I was at the table feeling low, and I was praying to God, saying, "If you give me a girl like my heart desires, I'll be the best man I could possibly be, but I want some answers." You'll see me muttering to myself — I just made that up. That's not on the page.

Then that girl walks in, and for the rest of the series it's a different relationship than a single guy who walks up to some cute redhead in a bar: "That's the girl I'm positive God want me to have," and that unlocked a lot of meaning for me. That touched on a nerve later. He has this feeling of "how could this go so wrong; that's what I was certain of." And I think the rest of the town of Bon Temps, they have a religious outlook on God, a very gospel-driven sense of God, and Hoyt has a different kind of religion. That allowed me to accept vampires, not being gospel-like, but accepting everybody.

Hoyt returns because of his mother's death. What does that relationship mean to him?

I have wonderful parents, so I didn't have anything to use for that. What's funny is early on I decided the dad had bounced because the mom was so crazy, and without me ever sharing that with the writers, they gave me that. I came up with that myself, and then they gave me that. In a situation like that where you're a son and an only child, you bear the burden of being their significant other as well. Maybe that's OK when you're a child and it's all fun and games. Later, as a man, when you want to break away and find a woman for yourself or start a life, it's an added pressure of almost leaving a spouse behind, because in her mind that's the man in her life. You can get possessive people keeping grown-ups stuck in a state of childhood or a state of adolescence where they think they depend upon their parent.

That's what I found myself in with the Hoyt situation — it wasn't out of respect [that the character stayed at home]; it was out of habit and feeling pressure, being told there are no other options. The Jessica relationship showed me there was other stuff, that your mother would guilt you into staying a child and there are people who will let you be who you are. The way that came full circle is to come back to the small town and have carved out a place for myself in the world, have a profession and girlfriend. That was to me a nice arc. That's the kind of thing I like to act.

What's your favorite of Hoyt's scenes?

When Hoyt and Jessica meet — that was the first time I ever felt comfortable as an actor. I don't know. I'd done good acting in tiny theaters, but nobody had ever seen it. It's a common thing, I guess — I just put an extraneous amount of pressure on myself to be good [on set], and I wasn't doing that in theaters and in class, and so real spontaneous work would happen. Then I'd go to set and feel stifled and trapped and ridiculous. That scene where we met at Merlotte's, I decided to fully let myself go and just trust the process I had learned, and that was a piece of acting where I thought, "Hey, that looks like the kind of actor I want to be."

In what kind of place will the series leave Hoyt and Jessica's relationship?

A hopeful one.

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