Jamie Gray Hyder is fairly new on the scene, but that doesn't figure to last long. She made quite an impression the last two seasons of "True Blood" as wolf-pack member Danielle, who engaged in a rather memorable threesome scene with co-stars Joe Manganiello and Kelly Overton. Now she co-stars on USA's hit drama "Graceland" as Lucia Solano, the sister of a volatile crime lord who must weigh walking the straight path against sticking with her family.
I spoke to Jamie recently about her new role, as well as that sexy threesome scene on "True Blood", her turn as a video game character, being a "weirdo," and her newfound love for David Lynch.
How is everything going?
Everything is good. Every week when we have a new episode I just try to track everybody's feelings on it, so it's been fun reading everyone's reactions today.
What's it like reading what people have to say about you online?
It's really interesting, especially seeing how the character develops. Generally people are very positive. If anything is negative, you know, there are so many different kinds of people in this world there are going to be a lot of opinions. You can't take any of it personally.
I guess those are the pitfalls of googling yourself.
Yeah, sometimes you can't help it, but at some point you have to realize it's not really productive.
What can you tell me about your character in Graceland?
Lucia is the daughter in the Solano cartel family, but unlike her brother and father she wants nothing to do with what's happening. She's in the United States trying to go to grad school, trying to lead a normal life, but she's constantly being dragged into all of her brother's messes. She spends her whole life cleaning up after him, which can eventually build up inside of you and make you explode. She's a very dynamic character, and you'll see her go through many changes throughout the season, which is a great opportunity for an actor.
Might she go to the dark side?
She's constantly trying to do the right thing for herself, but she's also trying to do right by her family; she doesn't want to see them dead or in jail. She'll be torn throughout the season.
Were you a fan of the show before you joined it?
I had watched a few episodes and I loved the style of it, and all of the actors were so great. Once I got the role I watched the entire season in one afternoon and I was so thrilled, I was going to be a part of a great show with great production value.
How long have you known acting was what you wanted to do with your life?
I feel fortunate to have always known what I wanted to do with my life, although I probably could have picked an easier field. [Laughs] Ever since I could walk or talk, I was performing in one way or another. I started off as a classically trained singer, then moved to the stage, and now television. It's been an evolving process.
Were you a little diva when you were younger?
No, I wasn't a diva, I was more of a weirdo. [Laughs] I would always be putting together productions of things, whether it was in our basement or community theater. I couldn't sit still in the classroom for more than five minutes, but I could stand on stage for two hours no problem. Seeing that, my parents realized that it should probably be encouraged.
If you weren't acting, what would you be doing?
I think I'd either be a chef or a lawyer. I've always been fascinated by the law, and I know that a lot of strengths actors have are good for lawyers as well. Also, I love to eat and I love to cook, so something food-related or law-related.
What's your favorite food, and what's your signature dish when you're cooking?
Oh, that's a tough one. I love all asian food. Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, those are all my favorites. I grew up eating Middle Eastern food, which is also a favorite. As far as what I make, I would say I love making a big breakfast for a group of friends.
You're also the voice in the video game Killzone - how did you get into that? Was that a fun experience?
I got the video game the same way I get everything for film and television; I went in and read some sides and they called me back and said they wanted me to do it. I spent the better part of a year doing it, from being cast to the game being released. Everything is broken up; I did a few weeks of motion capture, a few weeks of voice over, I did some weapon training before we began for the motion capture. The whole process was amazing, and I feel as strongly about my character in that as I have for any character in a TV show or movie I've done.
Are you a gamer?
I haven't played one of these complicated first-person shooters in a while, but I've been playing "Killzone" for about a month now. Slowly getting through it and seeing all my scenes; I've never had to work so hard to watch my own work.
Is it surreal?
It is; all of a sudden my voice will come up over the radio telling me to do something. It's a little triply.
What are some of your hobbies?
Like I said, I love to cook. I just love spending time with my friends, and eating and drinking probably takes up the majority of my time. [Laughs] I love watching documentaries, I'm a huge fan of any documentary you put my in front of.
Are you a stay in at home kind of girl or go out to the club and party type?
I go through phases. I definitely love to go out and party, not really clubs, but I'll go to a bar and hang out. Anything with a good atmosphere and music. I'll be grandma for like two weeks straight and then I'll be social for four days in a row, then back to being a grandma.
You were in True Blood last year and "revealed all," shall we say, in a threesome scene - was that a nerve-racking experience?
[Laughs] It was nerve-racking, but it was also very liberating. I really tried to get myself to a place physically and mentally beforehand so that I'd be comfortable, being naked first of all, but also so I could focus on what was going on in the context of the scene. I wanted to be able to put any self-conscious thing that I had in my mind and body behind me so I could actually do a good job as an actor. It definitely produced a little anxiety, but everyone was very kind and I don't regret it for a second. I had the option to say no, but I decided it was the right move. I also had so much respect for Kelly [Overton] and Joe [Manganiello], because they made me super comfortable.
You were very close to them in every way.
Yeah. [Laughs] We had already worked together for an entire season at that point, so it was our second season together. We all agreed we were just going to go for it.
Did you have to prepare your family and friends for that scene?
I talked to my parents about it before we started filming to gauge their opinion. And then I put out a little notice right before it aired on my Facebook that said, "You're going to see a lot of my character tonight, just letting everybody know. If you've ever seen me at church with my parents, you probably shouldn't watch this episode." [Laughs] Everybody was so gracious and respectful. My dad said that prior to that episode, everyone at his work would always talk about how excited they were about seeing me in it, but after that episode aired, not a single person said a word to him.
What TV shows do you watch?
I recently binge-watched "Orange is the New Black," which I loved. As soon as the second season of "House of Cards" came out, I binge-watched that immediately. I can't wait for the new season of "True Detective." I love "Game of Thrones."
What's the biggest career goal you have that you hope to obtain?
Generally, my goal is to make a living doing what I do. That is the overarching goal. Beyond that, there are tons of esteemed directors and actors that I'd love to work with. I'm just excited to see where it goes.
And who is the actor or director you most want to work with?
I think working with David Lynch would be super cool. I just recently watched "Twin Peaks" for the first time, and I got so wrapped up in the whole thing that I've just been a nut about David Lynch.
Who is your celebrity crush?
Hmm. You know, I think Jason Momoa is pretty darn attractive.
You're not the first to say that.
I would hope not! [Laughs] He deserves to be appreciated.
Well, thank you for your time. Good luck on the show!
Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.