by CBS NEWS
With new season of the hit HBO vampire series True Blood premiering this Sunday, it seems like a lot will be at stake -- pun intended.
For starters, season five ended in a cliffhanger when vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) appeared to have died in front of his human/telepath lover Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and rival Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) after drinking the blood of the vampire goddess Lilith -- only to be reincarnated as an all-powerful being. The finale left questions not only about the relationship between Bill and Sookie, but also for other characters such as shape-shifters Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) and Luna (Janina Gavankar); Sheriff Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer), who is left raising four baby girls by himself after being birthed by their faerie mother; and werewolf Alcide (Joe Manganiello), who now becomes the leader of his own pack.
Meanwhile, in upcoming season six, there's trouble looming on the horizon as Louisiana Gov. Truman Burrell (Arliss Howard) launches war on the vampires, declaring that "it's time for humans to bite back" - leaving the vampires' survival in the fictitious town of Bon Temps in question.
PICS: Stars on Set
One of the main characters back for season six is 17-year-old vampire Jessica Hamby, played by actress Deborah Ann Woll. Since being turned by Bill into a vampire in the first season, Jessica has definitely gone through some growing pains in adjusting to her vampire powers and especially in the romance department -- first with Hoyt Fortenberry (Jim Parrack), and then with Hoyt's best friend/Sookie's brother -- Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) -- a relationship that had its ups and downs. In last season's finale, after being rescued at the Vampire Authority compound, Jessica tells Jason she loves him; but Jason, traumatized by the discovery of who killed his and Sookie's parents, coldly rejects her.
Woll, who hails from Brooklyn, N.Y, spoke to CBSNews.com about what's in store on the show this season; her character Jessica's evolution in the series; and a special project she worked on recently outside of her normal vampire duties.
How would you compare this upcoming season compared to past seasons?
I would say for me the big difference I've noticed this season is we're kind of gathering into our story lines. I would say that circumstances have pulled a lot of people together. I work with a lot more people this year. The story lines are a little bigger, more focused, where more people are focused on the same plot.
That last scene in the season five finale, where Bill comes back to life as this powerful figure after it looked like he died, was pretty incredible. Will there be a resolution to that in the new season?
Definitely something happened to Bill. We're not sure yet, we'll find out as the season goes on. I think even Bill's not quite sure what's happened to Bill, so there'll be some searching for him as well.
What will happen to Jessica in season six for her? It seems like she's gone through some maturity in the last couple of seasons.
Even though she'll be 17 forever, time is what matures us. She certainly has a lifetime of experience in the last season. Yes, I think that she's evolving. I think that this season -- while there's definitely still that youthful -- I like to think of Jessica as irrepressible, that you can't really get her down. These terrible things happen, she does terrible things, she feels horrible about them, but somehow she's able to rally her spirits and start again. I find that to be a really admirable quality. I think [in] this season that comes off in a big way. She's gonna be really tested to see if she is mature enough to pick up the pieces and start again because every season she seems to be alone and looking for someone to be there for her and we'll see who it is.
There was obviously a romantic chemistry between Jessica and Jason. But then in the season five finale, he treated her pretty cold.
He's also brain-damaged at the time, too. We got to give him that. Hoyt's gone for good now and Jason's not giving her the time of day, and even though she may not know it yet at the end of season five, her maker [Bill] has been completely transformed in some way. She's really on her own and I think she's gonna cling to whatever she can find.
By the way, the scene in which Jessica glamours (hypnotizes) Hoyt into forgetting about her so he could move on with his life was one of the most poignant moments of last season.
I think it's one of the most beautiful ways we've had a send-off. [Actor] Jim Parrack was really dear, -- certainly to me personally -- but I think to all of us. I think it meant a lot to everyone that he got such a beautiful send-off, we all really wanted to do right by him.
How is it like working with Ryan Kwanten, who really made the character of Jason Stackhouse as his own?
Ryan is awesome. He really is. I have to say I hit the jackpot when it comes to the people I get to work with on the show. I mostly work with Steve and then Jim previously and Ryan and all of them are just the kindest, most respectful and most talented. Ryan is just to watch him on set -- sometimes I forget I'm doing a scene and I'm just observing -- because he's so excellent and he's fun to hang out with as well. These are long days and 40 percent of them is just waiting around and it's nice to have someone who is interesting and fun to talk to. He's a smart, kind man.
You have also participated in the True Blood vlogs, which gives your character added dimension outside of the confines of the series. Are you going to be doing those again?
Yes, we are. We will continue the vlogs into season six. Those are really crazy shoots because we shoot them all in one day, so I do ten costume changes and 15 pages of words, so we shoot them all in that one day. But they will be airing.
When you signed on to join the series from the very beginning, did you have any inkling that it was going to be a hit?
You never know. Certainly, as an actor, you don't want to tempt fate by believing that it is going to do too well. I came on as a regular for season two so I knew we were getting a second season, and I was excited about that. While that first season was airing, we found out how much people were responding and how much they liked the series.
How do you attribute to the success of the series: the cast, the writing, or both those things and more?
I would love to say all of it. One thing that I do really love about this whole group -- our crew, our pre-production, our post-production, cast, writers, directors -- everybody really does put in a 100 percent. And it's a really, really tough show to shoot. I don't know how to emphasize that more. Our crew are heroes, just the amount of hours and the amount of time that they put in. It would be so easy to just say, You know what? I'm gonna phone it in today, I'm exhausted. But they don't. They come in every day and give it everything. I think it shows how much we all love it, how much we all care about it, and at the end of the day, everybody is really trying to do the best job they can.
Outside of True Blood, you served as an executive producer of a new documentary called Running Blind, which tells the story of EJ Scott, who has a degenerative eye disease called Choroideremia -- and yet ran in 12 marathons in 12 states in one year while blindfolded. How did you get involved with that?
[EJ] is my boyfriend. This was a charity event, a fundraiser he was doing last year. We are trying to raise awareness and fund for a cure. But also this is a great story about people who face challenges and rise above them. We ended up making this short doc and we had a premiere at the Telluride Mountain Film Festival a couple of weekends ago. We're very excited. It was really hard for him, but he did a great job.
From what you did on Running Blind, do you foresee yourself doing more behind-the-scenes work as your career progresses in addition to acting?
Not really. I think I did this because it was really close to my heart. It was very personal and I wanted to support EJ in what he was doing. I'm a bit of a writer -- I've done a little bit of that. But mostly acting is really where my heart is and that's what I really want to do.