Southern Charm. Jim Parrack, who is known to True Blood fans the world over as Hoyt Fortenberry has also starred in the film Battle: Los Angeles. In addition to being a talented actor, he is also dabbling in directing and producing. Here, he gives us a glimpse of his casual style in this DA MAN exclusive shoot.
With Season 4 of True Blood underway, his character, the lovable former momma’s boy Hoyt Fortenberry could be in for some exciting twists, but nobody is giving further details. Before securing his regular role on True Blood, Parrack was in the film Annapolis and made appearances on TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Monk, Criminal Minds, Supernatural, ER and CSI. As True Blood fans know, Hoyt is in a steamy relationship with the sexy vampire Jessica Hamby, much to the chagrin of Hoyt’s controlling mother.
DA MAN: Tell us about True Blood, how you came to be on the show?
Jim Parrack: True Blood is a total blessing. I went in for the part of Hoyt, which was very small at the time and the character description was literally ‘the most nondescript human being ever’ and I thought, ‘Well, that’s either an insult or an opportunity.’ Then, I sat and talked with [True Blood Executive Producer] Alan Ball for nearly an hour and he made me feel very comfortable and we talked about Texas and growing up in a small town. The next day, I got the call that they wanted me and wanted to make the part [Hoyt Fortenberry] a regular. It was such a blessing. It has added a lot of public credibility to my career because when you cast an actor, you are in essence vouching for them. To have Alan and HBO vouch for me opened a ton of doors and to be able to act the great scenarios that our writers come up with, gives me the opportunity to put rare work out there. I say rare because an actor can’t ever be any better than the situation he gets to act and they give me extraordinary situations to act.
DA MAN: Hoyt’s relationship with Jessica involves a lot of, often racy, on-screen intimacy, what does your wife think about that?
Jim Parrack: Gracefully. She is terrific. My wife is an extraordinary and exciting actress, so she knows the dream of getting to act a story as great as the one Deb [Deborah Ann Woll] and I have been given. She is supportive and she and I are open and talk about anything that may come up. When we all started, I reached out to Deb’s boyfriend, EJ, who has now become a good friend and just made my intentions clear to him and told him if he ever wanted to talk I’d be happy to. If you go about it with patience and respect, it really is possible to not get tangled up in hurt feelings and suspicions. But, it probably costs Ciera more than I know to handle it all so well.
DA MAN: It sounds like there will definitely be a Season 5 of True Blood, how many more?
Jim Parrack: I try not to…I would hate to be wrong. There is a world that exists within the show now. It’s not just a story but a world. So, the room to explore that world is enormous and our writers don’t seem to bore easily, so I think it could go and go.
DA MAN: As an actor, is it more important for you to entertain moviegoers/TV viewers or impress the critics?
Jim Parrack: Everyone, on some level, is a critic. The audience makes its judgments. I make mine. So, to try to meet their needs seems like a tricky game to me. But I do want people to get something from whatever I am in, be it a movie or a TV show or a play. I love the audience because they are human beings seeking something and they have trusted us for a slice of time to offer up what they may need. By this I mean, they are hungering for meaning and fellowship and love and good movies and television and theater.
DA MAN: You are producing and directing, including a film that recently wrapped called Post. What can you tell us about that film?
Jim Parrack: I wish I had all day to tell you! I am most proud of Post. It is right out of the hearts of my wife and our friends and our artistic family and my real family. It is so personal to me. I treasure it and want the world to see it.
DA MAN: Which do you prefer: acting, directing writing or producing?
Jim Parrack: I am a producer least of all. Don’t like it. But writing is the one I feel terribly insecure and insufficient at—so far. It’s in me someplace, but I don’t know how to get at it with any kind of regularity. But directing feels like a calling—a calling and a purpose. Acting is my passion. I love it. I love our tradition of it. I love the courage and the toughness of it. I teach at our school now, and I love actors! Once you get over the idea that the other guy is going to take up all your parts, you can let your guard down and love actors for being in the same insane, blessed, raggedy, blazing vessel that you’re in and that creates brotherhood. I’m part of that and I want to help actors and build them up. This world needs actors badly; that is, if they are generous and honest actors, who respect acting and not pigs trying to steal some life out of what they think acting will hand over to them.
DA MAN: You were influenced at a very young age by Robert Duvall and later early Marlon Brando films. When did you actually decide to fully go for it in terms of a career as an actor?
Jim Parrack: After reading [Marlon Brando’s 1995 autobiography] Songs My Mother Taught Me in one sitting in Texas in 2000. You could stop and start with Brando and have almost everything you need; partly because he made way for Bobby Duvall and all the other great Americans since then. I saw On The Waterfront recently at a theater in Hollywood on the big screen. The audience was enraptured. They don’t make them like that now. It is such a generous movie.
DA MAN: Did you ever have to take any of those typical ‘starving-actor’ jobs?
Jim Parrack: I did. I worked at a pasta factory. I worked at Magic Mountain [theme park]. My parents were very, very generous and gave me much. I was unemployed and dreaming a lot, which I would not recommend. Your dreams can only take shape when they can rest on something other than chaos. Being poor and desperate is nothing to rest a dream on.
DA MAN: Outside of Duvall and Brando, have you admired the arc of anyone else’s career?
Jim Parrack: Sure! I love Al Pacino, his love for acting is so evident and inspiring. Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara and John Cassavetes—especially when they made their own movies. Gena Rowlands and Mickey Rourke.
DA MAN: Who are your dream co-workers, both actors and directors?
Jim Parrack: My dream directors are mostly dead now that Sidney Lumet passed away. [Elia] Kazan and [John] Cassavetes are my heroes. I like what James [Franco] is doing; he made a movie entitled The Broken Tower that excited me because there is this sense that he is fearless—and I think that’s about 80 percent of being a director. I want to work with Al Pacino. Badly. And Duvall. Anyone who cares, beyond what they get out of the job, I usually fall in love with.
DA MAN: What can you tell us about your production company 120 Productions?
Jim Parrack: It’s very humble and small and we are hungry and devout. We will make movies that will have something to do with you [fans] and that you won’t forget. We won’t take your money and laugh about our numbers after. We want to give something to mankind by way of giving something to you as a person first. That ought to be a mission statement!
DA MAN: What ambition would you like to achieve?
Jim Parrack: Torchbearer. Truth-teller. That means I have to develop more and more of a kind of integrity that doesn’t always come easy. I want to be a man and an artist and a child of God with real love and integrity to give to everyone.
DA MAN: What is it that you find makes you craziest?
Jim Parrack: Good Crazy: My wife, when we connect, and human expression, when it is high and white-hot with truth. Bad Crazy: Bullies and diminishers of hope and love and the human spirit.
DA MAN: Who is the sexiest, most alluring person you’ve ever worked with?
Jim Parrack: Ciera. The proof is I bound myself to her. We did a scene together for a class before we were a couple and I wanted her. All of her. I couldn’t sleep. She had this perfume and she would leave rehearsal and the couch would smell like her and I would go nuts. James [Franco] is alluring and maybe the most interesting person doing what we are doing these days. He and I have some stuff coming up. [We’re] going to Detroit to do some bizarre Tennessee Williams stuff, with him directing, and then some movies. He is fascinating.
Photographs: Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Interview: Malcolm Exeter
UPDATE August 8, 2011: Web exclusive images, shot by Yann Bean
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