True Blood answered a major question last night -- Who is Warlow? -- by revealing mysterious faerie Ben was not only a vampire but also the masked man searching for Sookie. That answer, however, begat a million more questions, so I turned to Robert Kazinsky, the beguiling Brit who plays Ben/Warlow and has served as an adrenaline needle to True Blood's heart this season.
Kazinsky not only broke down how and when the Warlow news was revealed to him, but cautions that viewers haven't seen the depths of his depravity or the lengths he'll go to for love quite yet. Luckily for his ever-expanding fanbase, this break-out True Blood gig isn't the only reason 2013 is shaping up to be a stellar year for Kazinsky -- he also stars in the hotly anticipated Pacific Rim, a potential cinematic game-changer that he equates with Jurassic Park!
ETonline: Did you know from day one you'd be playing Warlow
Robert Kazinsky: No. I didn't audition to play Warlow, I auditioned to play Ben. I didn't know I was playing Warlow until about 3 weeks after I'd been cast when it said "Ben-low" on my costume. I was like, "Who's Ben-low?" And the costume people were like, "It's because you're Warlow..." I had no idea, so I called the producer and asked if I was Warlow, he said yep and I was like, "Oh, sh*t!" [laughs] It was a big adjustment, but it couldn't have worked out better for me because I get to play these two very different but amazing guys.
ETonline: He's been lying to Sookie from day one, but how duplicitous do you think he is?
Kazinsky: The point of the character is that nothing he said was a lie. Everything he said as Ben was the absolute truth. He is an honest, good, decent creature at heart. You can see by the simple fact he saved Jason's life. He's not a bad guy -- he put himself out there and took a risk. He's honest with his affections for Sookie; that's not a new thing, that's not going to change. In episode 5 you'll find out exactly how he came to be and why he is and what he is and what he's after. You'll understand his motivations much more. Warlow is an incredibly intriguing proposition. Not since Russell Edgington has there been a character of such age and power -- he's twice Russell’s age, he's five times the age of Eric, he's capable of truly being a monster if he chose to be. I mean, he killed Sookie's parents. But when you factor in what we've seen so far, there has to be another explanation other than him being a white faced guy wearing a hat who is killing everybody.
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ETonline: Sookie "has" Warlow, Bill wants Warlow. How long does it take for those worlds to converge?
Kazinsky: The Book of Lilith says Warlow will be the savior of all vampires, which is Bill's motivation all season long. So it doesn't really matter what Warlow does, his decisions forever affect all vampires and always will. There's no way of avoiding that Butterfly Effect. Warlow is kind of like the rock in the center of a rippling pool. But the thing is, he doesn't give a damn about vampires. He hates vampires. He hates what he is and always has. The idea of saving vampires is abhorrent to him. It's the last thing he wants to do. He's an incredibly selfish creature as a result of being ostracized by vampires and society, so he only looks out for himself -- and, now, Sookie.
ETonline: Did Warlow know that Sookie was setting him up at the end of Sunday's episode or did she catch him off guard?
Kazinsky: Oh, she caught him off guard. For all his power and all his strength, he hasn't survived by being smart. He survived by hiding. While he's incredibly powerful, he's also in love. Warlow's been waiting for Sookie for thousands of years, so he's befuddled and besotted and can easily be taken advantage of. Love can make fools of even the smartest of us.
ETonline: So you do consider it love?
Kazinsky: Absolutely. It's 100 percent love. Yes, he set that whole thing up where she found him by the side of the road after he attacked himself, but there was an instant attraction that wasn't fake. But, just because he feels it doesn't mean it's right. And when you have an 86,000 year old vampire faerie that wants to have babies with someone who doesn't want that, it can be a very tough situation. He's also a very old fashioned creature that's been in solitary confinement for years, so there are oddities she'll have to deal with, all of which make him not a straight-forward good guy or a straight-forward bad guy. Warlow is what True Blood does very well: a character who lives in the shades of grey.
ETonline: And if Sookie doesn't want him, Jason might after last night's memorable shaving scene!
Kazinsky: I am so proud of that scene [laughs]. I read "Jason and Ben are topless and naked" in the script and was like, "What?" I actually thought it was a joke; like a hazing of the new guy where they put a same-sex sex scene in the script, so I was reading it thinking they'd be like, "Kidding!" But it never happened. And Ryan [Kwanten] was like, "We're going to make this scene so great!" So I was game, but it was the hardest thing I'd ever filmed in my life simply because we couldn't keep a straight face. It's one of the most fun things I've ever filmed in my life. I said on Twitter that no matter what I achieve in my career, I'll be fine if I'm solely remembered as the guy who shaved Ryan Kwanten. It was a proud moment that played so well.
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ETonline: Did I read a quote from you where the costume department said you were the most naked character they'd ever had on the show?
Kazinsky: Yeah. I mean, Ryan is naked all the time over the course of forever. But in the course of one season, my level of nudity is certainly up there. I was very aware of only having two costumes the entire season.
ETonline: The shirt that doesn't button above the navel and...
Kazinsky: No shirt and no pants seem to be my main costume. You'll see a lot of it in episode 5.
ETonline: Looking ahead, what are you excited for fans to see?
Kazinsky: Since Denis O'Hare left the show, everyone's been waiting for the ultimate bad guy. Here is a character capable of being that. But what I think True Blood has done very, very well is create a creature with unparalleled abilities of destruction that's like a drug addict. Humans Anonymous, if you will. Yes he relapses and has his fix, but he's trying to stay clean. So watching the duality of this creature who belongs to the light and the dark fight against his inner self is amazing. Believe me, he does let go, and when he does it's a terrifying proposition to watch, but I'm excited for people to see how that develops.
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ETonline: Switching gears, you're also in Pacific Rim. I feel like that movie could have gone totally off the rails without the guiding hand of director Guillermo del Toro.
Kazinsky: Oh yeah, if it didn't have Guillermo's name on the script, I would have been terrified. The concept is so out there and wild, you think it wouldn't work, but Guillermo made it and it's amazingly grounded with humanity and a reality ... in terms of the characters at least. It's one hell of a film. I'm 29 and 21-ish years ago, Jurassic Park came out and it was such a life changing thing. It's not like it is now with a blockbuster every single week. There were less films and they were all Titanic in scope and stayed with you for years. This harks back to that time where a film is being the biggest, most in-your-face blockbuster it could be. I believe this film will affect kids the way Jurassic Park affected me.
ETonline: I heard it was a very physically grueling shoot.
Kazinsky: Look, we weren't down the mines chipping away at coal. We weren't in a war zone. We were working out a lot and filming in a heavy rig covered by water and surrounded by electricity ... that was scary, but not that difficult. And the truth is, no matter how painful it was, the discomfort lasts for an hour and the movie lasts forever. I was incredibly privileged to be asked to suffer in that way.
ETonline: You put on a lot of weight for the role. Chronologically, did that help or hurt with all the True Blood nudity?
Kazinsky: I was training 5 hours a day, eating a 1,200 calorie diet and it was all paid for by the studio. As soon as you've wrapped the movie, you realize you have no money and can't afford to train or eat in that way. I put on nearly 40 pounds of pure muscle for the role, and that muscle turned into 60 pounds of fat [laughs]. It's hard to shake off. I tried to get in the requisite shape for True Blood ... although it's not like I had to be at all worried or insecure about my body next to Joe Manganiello and Ryan Kwanten! [laughs]
True Blood airs Sundays at 9 p.m. and Pacific Rim hits theaters on July 12.