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"Slobbering on the Coffin" - Oddball Interview With True Blood's Ginger, Tara Buck

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Everyone who has seen Sunday's episode of True Blood "Love is to Die" knows that Ginger scored a major victory this week. The result was one of the series' greatest-ever, and certainly one of its funniest scenes.

The strung-out, over-glamored, bar-slinging fangbanger we all know and love is played by the lovely and hysterical Tara Buck. After speaking with Carrie Preston (Arlene) last week, I jumped at the chance to chat with her this week, but, for fun, I wanted to ask her a few questions she's probably never been asked. The very questions I imagine Ginger asks when Fangtasia's hiring new staff.

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Hey Tara! So, before the oddball interview starts, one of my favorite scenes in the whole series is the one in which Ginger rides Pam's coffin to keep it closed and Pam inside safe from the witches. Can you tell me everything about that scene?

That scene definitely became one of my favorites as well! In the script it was just one line, no description, as kind of an after-thought after the preceding scene with dialogue. The witches are coming, Ginger tries to keep Pam in the coffin. That's all it said.

So, I didn't know what that looked like or even how the set would look or anything. I loved the scene right before right as well, where Pam has the skin-eating disease and she needs shots, and Ginger is giving her shots.

She's laying in that pink coffin, which I think is hilarious, and she kind of looks like Voldemort covered in that strange, weird see-through wonderful makeup, and you can see her veins and everything.

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So, we started there, then I shut the lid on the coffin and [Pam] screams ... I think she curses, in fact I think she says "Fuck me!" -- and Ginger had to jump. We spent the day doing that scene, and then we setup for the next shot and it was like, "OK, you're gonna come down the stairs and there's the coffin ... what would you do?" And then they showed me that it was actually shaking. They had it on a rig, so it was actually moving, and I thought "Oh, that's wonderful!" They had this gigantic airplane turbine-fan looking thing -- a big huge wall fan.

They just said, "So, you know whatever. It's just going to start shaking, rocking a little bit. Whatever you want to do to keep her in there. We think it'd be funny if you get on top ... or use your body to keep the door closed ..." and I was like "OK ... cool."

So I come down the stairs, and it starts to shake and -- I get on the coffin, and I swear it was one of those things where I felt like the crew was scheming, like, "This is so funny!" -- and so they ramped up the rocking, and [she laughs] so I started bucking more and the wind is really ripping through there, and I'm screaming

And you know we did it once and people were laughing, and they're "So, let's do it again! Just keep going -- just keep screaming!" and so we just did the extended version where it just kept bucking, and I was sliding all around, and the wind kept blowing, and I just kept screaming and screaming. And finally, drool started dripping down the side of my mouth -- and I was like "Oh my god! Time out! I'm slobbering on top of the coffin."

And that was it -- and I think they kept a cut from that. But they had a full extended version that -- whenever there was a long day on set or somebody needed a laugh, they would turn that on to the monitor and everybody would gather around and crack up - it was kind of a thing on set that season. It was really hilarious!

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My other favorite scene with you (before Sunday's episode) was, you just shot Lafayette. And then you start screaming. You scream at him. You scream at the gun. You scream at the door behind you when you accidentally fall into it. You put the gun on the bar and scream at it again. Where does this scream come from!?

That was really the first scene that the scream made its way into the character's profile. I screamed in the first scene of the season before, so season 1, but this was the first time Ginger had come back. I think it may have been written in the script that I screamed once, and I just thought it was funny. I thought it was funny she shoots him. She says she hates guns ... she comes out ... she's so tough -- trying to be so tough -- and then personally I thought it was hilarious. But then she picks up the towel and brings him a towel and screams and looks at towel and screams because it's so dirty. I just thought -- the more she can scream the funnier it is when he's the one who is shot and he's laying on the ground -- just ... "Jesus Christ who is this woman?!"


Does scream come from somewhere?

Ginger just is ... it's hard to tell exactly where those quirks of the character originate. But there's something very ... The first time Ginger screams, she screams and then she throws up. [I laugh] Eric and Pam make this comment like, "Oh jeez, humans!" There's just something about that that is hilarious that then she's the one that they choose to be with. She's like a guard do, the guard dog that won't stop barking. [she laughs]

They keep her but there's this one area where she's totally out of control, and I think that's funny. [she reminisces] I also think it's funny she's always dressed in these short dingy outfits and heels to the moon. In that particular scene, we were shooting behind the bar; at the time we were still shooting at Alex's Bar in Long Beach. So, it's a real bar that they would turn into Fangtasia.

So it's a real bar, and it looks relatively similar to the original Fantasia -- it really looks like that! Behind the bar on the floor there is that thick rubber bar mat with holes in it to keep you from slipping. That was really in there, but Ginger is wearing these insanely high spike heels, so I kept sort of stumbling through that with the heel getting stuck as I walked along. And I've got a gun ... in other words it was ridiculous. There's no way that on set in the moment that you don't think this is ridiculous and you might as well just play it because obviously she doesn't think it's ridiculous. This is her world. So, you might as well just go as far as you can with it.

Last week I spoke with Carrie Preston (Arlene) about wrapping the show and striking the set. She was pretty openly pissed that the cast, even though they had filled out forms for cherished items, did not receive the props they'd hoped for when Screen Gems and Warner Bros. swooped in and "stole the set" as she claimed. I know you had a few items you were eyeing from Ginger's house -- did you get them?

No! So ... I'm actually happy to hear that that I'm not the only one! There were so many -- seven years! of amazing props. All kinds of wonderful pieces, so I wasn't sure what had happened to them. We had officially all filled out things, and thought we were going to get some treasures.

I did get a few of my costume pieces which were gems to me, but you know there were things in Ginger's house that I thought were hilarious. Everything looked like it had been stolen from Fangtasia .. which ... of course ... [thinks for a second, then laughs] Or! Maybe Ginger thinks she's borrowing them, and she brings them home and then of course she forgets. Oh, you know, stickin' stuff in her purse at the end of the night to bring it home

[I laugh] Oh, that's fantastic. OK, on to the Ginger Oddball Interview.

Have you ever seen a ghost?

[she hesitates] I have not SEEN a ghost. But I feel that I have experienced a ghost-like presence that felt 100 percent real to me. I didn't SEE something, but I felt it. I was getting ready to go to bed, and I was laying in bed, and I just felt hands on my shoulders, and I tried to get up, and I felt pushed down. There was a presence there, and I felt like maybe somebody was even sitting on top of me. It was not a good experience, it was terrifying, actually!

Tell me a pet peeve ...

Women that can't walk in high heels. If you can't walk in them don't wear them. And I MEAN it.

Tell me a bad habit you have ...

I drink way too much caffeine. Coffee. Starbucks

What's your drink of choice?

[she laughs] Just a tall coffee which is not that romantic, but I could just live on it! It's such a comfort, I'm not a big sugar person, but that to me ... coffee I just LOVE it!

Tell me about your worst job ...

Wow, I've had some REALLY bad ones ... where do I start. I handed out promos so I remember being downtown handing out yogurt samples to people. "HERE! Have a Dannon yogurt!"

Also, I am not a bartender in real life. At one point I needed a job, and a friend asked me if I could bar-tend. I said yes. So, at some point I ended up behind the bar at some event like at the Palladium, and it was a HUGE event and there were tons of people there all night long.

People were asking me to make drinks, and I didn't know what was even in them. So, I was just sort of throwing stuff together and people were complaining, and I was sort of zipping to the other end of the bar as soon as I would deliver it so somebody couldn't find me right afterward and they didn't get what they wanted. Needless to say, I was not invited back ...

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Tell me the strangest thing you've seen about you online ...

After that coffin scene, a friend of mine sent me me an text, "Do you know this is going around on the internet? And it is ... Ginger riding things!"

They cut out that picture and put it all over it. [she laughs] Ginger was riding Britney Spears' leg; Ginger was riding a train -- a unicorn -- hilarious -- and VERY strange.

Who is the most famous person you've ever met?

Elizabeth Taylor. I waited on Elizabeth Taylor! It was amazing ... I was so excited, and she was lovely, and she was there with somebody, and she was later in life, obviously. She was a sweet, sweet woman. She took my hand when I took her order and spoke very softly to me and looked right into my eyes, and I felt like it was an EPIC moment. And I just told her how fantastic I thought she was. Incredibly beautiful -- until the day she died I thought she was a very beautiful woman.

I have another!

I also waited on Dustin Hoffman one time, and he was with his family, and they had just gotten a brand new puppy. They brought the puppy in to the restaurant, and the puppy was underneath the table, and it was the cutest thing in the world. And they were all -- it was a nice restaurant -- so they were trying to hide the puppy but at the same time everybody was like "OH IT IS SO CUTE!" Again, he was a lovely, hilarious individual and so sweet. His family was really sweet. He's a sort of a wonderful, neurotically humorous human being.

How did you decide to be an actress?

I decided I wanted to be an actress shortly after a phase where I wanted to be in the circus. I wanted to be a ballerina. I had horses growing up, and I decided I wanted to do acrobats on horseback with my little dog (I had a rat terrier). I had worked out a routine, and I was going to take that to the circus.

BUT. Then I saw Back to the Future, and I fell madly in love with Michael J. Fox, and I decided that the only way I could meet him was to become an actress.

And did you ... meet him?

No! [she's sad] I've never met him. I sure hope he reads The Huffington Post! Tell him I'm waiting! [Tweet him, folks!]

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What's your first memory?

I remember nursing on my mother's breast, and my brother who is two years older than me, pushing down on my head. He was very upset, trying to get into the action, and my mom was telling him that it was ... not his ... zone ... anymore [I laugh, then she does] He had to give it up! So I had to have been REALLY young ...

Tara, what's your most unusual talent?

[long pause, then with complete sincerity] I can groom an Angora rabbit. [embarrassed but laughs] I can also sheer a lamb!

[I make impressed, vocalized noises.]

Mmhmm! I love you, you're so funny, you're acting like that's so impressive!

I'm getting you work, Tara! [imitates casting director] "And she can groom an Angora rabbit ..." "Oh!! Well ... then ..."

[she laughs] "Let's bring her on!"

Tell me something that embarrassed you ...

When I just saw myself on TV ....

Also, I have a dream that I am going to be a break-dancer at some point in my life. I do have a dream that someday I'm going to get good, but right now, it's pretty embarrassing.

And do you try it out?

Oh yes [she says very seriously]. Occasionally, I try it out at a party. But at some point ... It's the same concept at being really great at pool but you don't really tell people so at the right time you just bust out your really bad-ass game of pool. I have this same idea about break dancing -- only I've tried it a few times and it's ... not so great.

Well -- you can always just scream to distract them.

[she laughs]Yes, the scream is the ultimate divergent tactic. You just scream and point to the left!

You must have so many people ask you to do the scream.

So many ...

You'll be asked to do it for the rest of your life. You know Lucy Lawless who played Xena? She gets asked to do the Xena war cry at every kind of convention there is.

I'm glad I'm not the only one -- does she do it?

She will sometimes, but it seems like it embarrasses her ...

I get embarrassed too! Because I think it's got to be the most annoying thing in the world, I mean right? You honestly want me to sit here and scream in your face?! That's so weird. It's an annoying scream! I mean ... if you ask me to scream, and I was to scream at you, it's ... really awkward for everyone. But I've had a few of those moments, by the way. [she laughs]

[Hours later, I deeply, deeply regret not asking her to scream for the recording ...]

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Are you ever recognized?

People frequently say to me, "I think I recognize you, have we met before?" And I'll say, "Oh, maybe you've seen me on True Blood?" and they're always like, "Oh no, I don't have cable, I've never watched it ... You're the spitting image of my friend's cousin!"

So one day, there were these two guys who said, "This is the weirdest thing, but, does anybody ever tell you that there's an actress you look like?"

And I said, "I've heard a few [she sighs], who is it?"

"I'm hesitant to say it, I don't want you to take this the wrong way. I mean you're the younger, prettier version of ... you know that girl ... that bartender on True Blood, she works at the vampire bar?" And I was like, "I don't know how to tell you this ..."

[laughs] You didn't immediately just go [imitates Ginger's scream at a polite decibel level]

That's what I should have done! Just started screaming and ran away.

Tell me about Sunday's episode "Love is to Die" and your hilarious sex scene ...

It is definitely one of my personal favorite episodes of all seven seasons. You know, you go to bat for your character and for me personally, I do take her very seriously even though she's very funny. But, I feel like I am rooting for her! Ginger finally gets what she ... Ginger gets a victory ... Ginger is going to go out on top!

She definitely gets what she wants!

How do you feel about Ginger's story?

What I think is so cool is -- Ginger really got developed over the full series, and only because it turned out to be fun, and the fans responded to her. But otherwise, you know in the book, Ginger is mentioned a few times, and then gets her head turned around by the witches, and is toast. So, as a magical twist of fate in life, Ginger actually ended up with a wonderful story, and I LOVE that she came up with the idea of Fangtasia. I think it was really sweet.

Part of my favorite thing about what happened with Ginger was that she turned into this funny character, and I love doing comedy, and I love that there's a show like True Blood that has so many different qualities to it that you can't quite put it in a box. And there's this broad humor in sometimes Ginger seeing something that I just love.

Do you have any final thoughts to impart to the fans?

Truly I feel like Ginger kind of got to be the fan on set in the world of True Blood, and so I'm happy to say that ladies and gentleman, don't be too mad, but I'm happy I got to take one for the team!

Special thanks to Lynsay Montour and Connie Soendker Anderson!