Interview With Deborah Ann Woll
HBO: This year has been a rollercoaster for Jessica: making up with Adilyn and Andy, breaking up with James, reconnecting with Hoyt. As an actor, what was it like for you to approach this season?
Deborah Ann Woll: Some of it was surprising, which is part of what’s fun about our show. I can never quite predict where the storyline is going to go. After six, seven years of working on a character, I start to feel for her the way that I would feel for myself. I have very deep affection for Jessica and what happens to her is very important to me. I think a big moment like killing the faerie girls last year, to have her receive forgiveness for that, almost meant as much to me as it did to the character.
HBO: A happy ending in Bon Temps is a rarity. How did you react when you learned that Jessica and Hoyt would end up getting married?
Deborah Ann Woll: I was surprised, honestly. I had really thought that Jessica and Hoyt’s story was over.
HBO: It’s such a risk for Jessica to go to Hoyt and reveal their entire past because he could have rejected her. What do you think prompted her to come clean with him?
Deborah Ann Woll: My feeling was that her father was dying, and Hoyt was part of a simpler time for her. With Hoyt, her struggles were less complex, and ever since he left she’s been facing more adult struggles. It was an incredible thing for him to ask her to remove those memories, but Jessica couldn’t do that for herself. She was going to have to live with them forever, and that’s a very lonely existence. With Bill dying, she wanted someone who could share that loss with her.
HBO: Do you think that Jessica could ever be a maker? Or turn Hoyt some day?
Deborah Ann Woll: I don’t think she’d ever turn Hoyt. But I do think that she’d be a maker. She’s a loving, affectionate person who has a lot to give, and I think down the line she’d want to have that kind of relationship, especially because her relationship with Bill was so important and so deep. I could even see her adopting human children, if that was something allowed in their world eventually.
HBO: Why did Jessica want to be released? Did she hope that it would change Bill’s mind about dying? Do you think she regrets it at all?
Deborah Ann Woll: We talked a lot about that. Stephen [Moyer, who plays Bill] had suggested that in a way, Bill’s deciding to let himself die hurt Jessica so much that she wanted to hurt him right back. The strongest way that I can hurt you is by saying that I don’t want to be connected to you anymore. It’s an interesting idea, and I think that there’s a piece of that in there. But also, his journey of dying was going to be so painful that I think a part of her was scared of going down that road with him. In the same way that someone in your life is sick or dying, and the amount of courage it takes to go and see them in that state and acknowledge that they’re going to be leaving soon. She didn’t want to see him like that, didn’t want him to be able to call her to his side and witness his death.
HBO: We don’t see Jessica’s reaction to Sookie helping end Bill’s life. Have you thought about Jessica’s reaction to that?
Deborah Ann Woll: I have. Sookie has always been very honest and straightforward, and especially this season, she and Jessica have been closer than ever. They’ve been allies trying to save Bill. My feeling is that although she didn’t want to ruin some of the happiness of Jessica’s wedding day, at some point Sookie had a conversation with her about what Bill wanted. In a way, Sookie did Bill a great favor. She saved him some of the pain and turmoil that he would have gone through. I think she and Jessica came to terms with the decision together.
HBO: In the finale, Bill sort of arranges Jessica’s marriage to Hoyt, which she understandably doesn’t react well to at first. What makes her go from “No way” to “Let’s do it today”?
Deborah Ann Woll: Bill comes from another era, where marriages were arranged. You saw how he was paired with his wife, and it turned out very well for him because Caroline turned out to be the love of his life. But Jessica is a modern girl, and here are these two men making this enormous decision for her. For the young girl who was subjected to the tyranny of her father so often in her human life, I wanted to show how she became an independent woman who didn’t have to rely on anyone -- man or woman -- to make her decisions for her.
That’s what was great about the scene upstairs with Bill in Jessica’s bedroom, and it’s probably my favorite scene of the finale. What was wonderful about that was that she had a moment to hear Bill explain himself and how he never got to see his daughter get married or have the family moments he wanted to so much. Jessica heard his sorrow and regret and realized, “If there’s any gift that I can give that will mean something to him, it’s letting him be part of my marriage.” Even though it’s way too soon and maybe this isn’t the right person for me. It doesn’t have to be legal, it doesn’t have to be anything except a moment where I can assure him that I’m going to be fine and he can feel comfortable leaving.
HBO: Have you thought at all about the complications of a human-vampire marriage? Somebody lives forever, somebody doesn’t, you turn them, you don’t turn them…it seems like a real existential can of worms.
Deborah Ann Woll: [Laughs.] It is, but Jessica loves very easily -- I don’t mean that in a flippant way. She has a huge heart and she loves many people very deeply. In some ways, when you’re choosing a mate, it’s really just that -- choosing. I don’t know that I necessarily believe in a soul mate, that there’s one person for everybody. I believe that we all have the capacity for great love, and it’s just about what compromises you’re willing to make. In a way, we love many people and at a certain point of our loves we choose one person and make a commitment to them, and at this point in her life, she chooses Hoyt. If they last, great, and if not she’ll find someone else to love. And should he die and she lives centuries longer, she’ll find other people to love. I think there’s an important message there about commitment and having an open heart.
HBO: Are there particular storylines from the seven seasons that you especially cherish?
Deborah Ann Woll: I’ll go to my grave saying that I just love the Jason-Jessica storyline. I will always remember those scenes with a lot of nostalgia. But also my time with Bill. If I look at the arc of Jessica and Bill over the years, it was just a really great story. To end where we did -- how the parent becomes the child and vice versa – it became a nice, full story of Jessica’s going from infant to adult.
HBO: Speaking of Jason and Jessica, do you think they would have stayed together if Hoyt hadn’t come back to town?
Deborah Ann Woll: I would have loved that. I would have loved to have seen what Jessica and Jason could have been. When I look at all of Jason’s other girlfriends, they all condescended to him and Jessica never did. She never rolled her eyes at him, and similarly, when most of the people in Jessica’s life would judge her for her darker, more animal impulses, he never did. She went to him right after she killed the faerie girls, and that’s very telling. She went to the one person who would understand her and not cast her aside. She asked him, “If you really loved me, what was it that you loved?” Because in that moment, she’s thinking “What’s loveable about me? Who could ever possibly love me?” And he tells her, “Everything I guess, but especially your heart.” And I just remember reading that and going “Oh my god! What an amazing moment!” I think they will always be in each other’s lives. Maybe there’s a point after Hoyt and Brigette have lived long and happy lives with them, Jessica turns Jason and they live together forever. Who knows?