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True Blood’s Todd Lowe on Terry Bellefleur’s Fate

Todd Lowe==SKATELAND Los Angeles Premiere==Arclight Theater, Hollywood, CA==May 11, 2011.
Todd Lowe. Photo: DAvid Crotty/

If you didn’t watch last night’s episode of True Blood, turn back now. Fans were warned in advance that a big death was coming on the show, and when Terry Bellefleur asked an old buddy from the Marines to kill him a week ago, some people thought, That can’t be it. “It almost seemed like a red herring,” actor Todd Lowe chuckled. “I looked at the message boards, and they were like, ‘It can’t be Terry. They wouldn’t be that direct about it.’” But sure enough, the short-order cook was putting his affairs in order, which tipped off his wife Arlene, and with the help of Holly and a vampire friend of a friend, they arranged for Terry to be glamoured to forget the pain of his past. Trouble was, they did so without giving him any say-so in the matter, because otherwise he could have called off his sharp-shooting friend first. Lowe chatted with Vulture about finding out he was being killed off, self-medicating, and his good-bye armadillo cake.

I heard that during one of the table reads, someone started to cry and it created a domino effect, and everyone started crying. Was that for your scene?
Yeah. We were on location on this ranch in Malibu, and we were all crammed in this lunch truck, and we got to that scene, and we played it out, and there was about five minutes of applause afterwards. It was the biggest ovation I’d ever gotten in my life. Even thinking about it now, it tears me up.

How did you first find out that this was coming?
I got a phone call at the beginning of the year from my reps, “Terry’s going to die this season.” It stung. And then we got a new showrunner, Brian Buckner, and he took me out for a drink and told me, “The reason why we’re killing Terry has nothing to do with your performance, but you’re the character who carries a lot of sympathy, and to lose you, we can get a lot of emotional mileage out of it.” And I said, “Great. Write me an aria.” And they did.

It’s one thing to be told your character is going to die. It’s another to be told it’s suicide.
It took a toll out of me, emotionally, too. I’ve spent the last seven months planning my suicide. I’m coming out of a depression now that this episode has aired. I’m completing this catharsis, this healing process. I’m not that big of a big Method actor where I’m going to take care of my own affairs because of the part I’m playing, but it was tough. I felt like a Make-A-Wish kid — not to compare it to someone who has far more difficult problems than an actor going out on a TV show. Everyone was so kind to me, and it got to be a little unsettling. I appreciate the love, but it felt like a real death of a loved one, and I went through the whole grieving process, from denial — “Oh, they’re not going to kill me!” — and I’ve finally come around to acceptance. I’m out of the dark cloud I was in. But it took a toll on my well-being.

What did you do to help yourself with that?
Self-medicating? [Laughs.]

When the vampire glamoured Terry, and helped him forget the war, I kept thinking, Why didn’t they do this sooner?
Right? I know! I wish I could have had a little more time as happy Terry. I really only got one scene playing new, happy, well-adjusted Terry.

Do you think vampires would make great therapists? Since they could help people forget their troubles?
It’s a philosophical discussion. It seems kind of unethical, because if they erase part of your brain, it takes away a bit of your personality.

Well, in Terry’s case, yes, because he didn’t consent. But if you went and asked for their help, like undergoing hypnotherapy?
Like going to a vampire to stop smoking? Yeah. [Laughs.] But then you’re still going to have to deal with them needing to feed. So that’s why we leave them on television shows and in literature.

Terry’s suicide is going to have ripple effects on a lot of characters — his wife Arlene, his cousin* Andy, his cousin Portia, his boss Sam …
I think that’s not accidental. I think it’s planned as a plot device by the writers. I’m happy to go for the good of the many.

Did they have a going-away party for you? Did you get any souvenirs?
They give you the back of your cast chair on the last day. And the props guy kept trying to give it to me, and I kept saying, “No! I’m coming back! There will be a flashback. I want that chair still here with my name on it.” So on my last day, I was surprised by a cake, and it was a red velvet armadillo cake, because my character had a pet armadillo. I don’t know who thought that up. That filled my heart with love and warmth. We started at the tail, carving pieces from the tail, and finally I was like, “I got to get the head!” It looked very real.

Okay. So if they realize they need you next season for a flashback, what would you like to do? Something you never got to do as Terry before?
You know, I never got a chance to work with Kristin Bauer, who plays Pam, which would have been interesting, to see Terry have to go to Fangtasia for some reason, some restaurant errand. Maybe to pick up some stemware? That would be an interesting interaction.

Chris Bauer said that sometimes when he was doing his scenes with you, he’d pretend that he was speaking to Waylon Jennings.
[Laughs.] Well, that’s a huge compliment. I’m not Waylon Jennings, but I do a fair imitation of him, and a few other country greats, like Willie Nelson. It would be great to sink my teeth into a project where I could play a country singer. I’m like an old cowboy.

Imitate one for me!
[Sings.] “To all the girls I’ve loved before, who traveled in and out my door … ” I need a guitar.

True Blood’s Todd Lowe on His Character’s Fate