In the daytime, Ashley Jones plays doctor/fashion designer Bridget Forrester on The Bold & The Beautiful. After night falls, when the vampires are free to roam, she’s moonlighting as Merlottes’ mysterious new waitress Daphne on HBO’s hit True Blood. Her years on a soap have taught her to keep her mouth shut about spoilers, but she spilled a few details about the upcoming season of the sexy vampire drama, and what it’s like to work on two very different shows simultaneously.
Who is Daphne?
I don’t want to spoil too much for the fans, but she is just a simple sweet, country girl who finds a job waitressing with the other girls, Sookie and Tara. She takes a liking to Sam and Sam really responds to her carefree attitude and ends up liking her as well. She’s adorable without meaning to be or trying to be at all. She’s not a very good waitress and it takes a lot of patience to deal with her.
I’ve read that Daphne has a secret and a clue can be found on her skin.
I don’t know how that got leaked, but she does have a secret and it gets revealed a bit every episode. She ends up being a really huge part this year, especially with Sam Trammell’s storyline. There is a little something that if you’re really attentive you might be able to figure out early on, but I’m certainly not going to reveal it. But it doesn’t have much to do with who she is, especially in the first episode.
Can you comment on the rumor that Lafayette dies?
I probably would be smart to say no comment. I wasn’t a part of the first year so I don’t really know how they wrapped all of that up. I’m new, along with Anna Camp and a couple other people this year, so I really can’t comment on that.
Who were your closest friends on the True Blood set?
I worked so closely with Sam and Carrie Preston (Arlene) and Rutina [Wesley], who plays Tara. It’s weird because Sookie and Bill are in Dallas. There were two different storylines going on, kind of like in a soap opera, but when they do cross it’s really fun. Then you have the whole storyline of what’s going on with Jason. I got closer to Sam than anyone else.
You’re a native Southerner. Do you think True Blood does a good job of capturing the vibe of the South?
I do, especially the deep, deep South in Louisiana and the Eastern border of Texas. There’s a lot of crew people and people in the cast from Texas and Louisiana. Sam’s from Louisiana. A lot of the accents that we use are authentic. The air is just thicker there. I think they did a great job of making the environment a major character. You can feel the humidity and the heat which is a great way to set the scene for passion and horror. There are little lines all the time that make me think either someone’s from there, or they did a lot of research, things like my character worked at Cracker Barrel. When I was little my aunts and my parents would meet at Cracker Barrel. Most people in California don’t even know what that is. In the deep South people say Co-Cola for Coke. Alan [Ball] is from the South, so he really likes to capture the essence of it.
How did you end up being a series regular on two shows?
I had tested for HBO before. I got the part the same way anybody else would have, just going in the room and reading in front of Alan. I tested with Sam Trammell. I’ve been a huge fan of Alan’s and also of the casting directors. They cast really great projects. They’ve been very kind to me and I hope I get to work with them for a long time.
How did you manage to find the time to do both shows at once?
It was quite a challenge. I think when you really want something and you put your mind to it, it’s amazing what the human body can tolerate and what the human spirit can stretch to. There were a couple times I had to leave an all nighter — we’re working vampire hours on True Blood and Los Angeles daytime hours on Bold & The Beautiful — but the studios were really close. The hard part was when I was working on location on True Blood out in the swamp somewhere and I had a call time early in the morning on B&B and there was like an hour in between each one and I did not sleep at all. Sometimes you can do some of your best work when you get out of your head and you’re completely reacting and going off of your natural instinct. I found that I work quite well when I’m so tired that my brain almost shuts off.
How was it different shooting B&B, which can tape two episodes in a day, and the much slower primetime prestige cable show pacing?
It was very strange. It was hard to go back and forth, especially because there would be a couple of weeks where I was off on the Bold & The Beautiful and I would work just on True Blood. So I’m used to this certain pace and then I’d get back on the schedule at B&B and we work so much faster. But really, if you do your homework, you know where you’re character is coming from, what they’re doing, what their motivation is, and you know their lines, it’s virtually the same thing. You’re just going at a totally different pace. I had to constantly reprogram my brain.
Compare and contrast True Blood creator Alan Ball and B&B headwriter/Executive Producer Brad Bell.
They couldn’t be more different [as people]. But creatively they’re both writing serial drama with cliffhangers. Alan is amazing, amazing at the cliffhangers. I’ve had people tell me that they’d never actually yelled at the TV except when they’re watching the end of an Alan Ball show. Brad Bell has made an entire career out of having people tune in every day. My hat’s off to him because he has the number one show in the world and he’s had it for 22 years. What I find interesting is Alan has had B&B in the background on the TV in Six Feet Under. I took it as kind of a nod to the father of all serial drama, the format of the soap opera. Ultimately, when you really break it down, it’s virtually the same technique of drawing people in and get them to tune in the next episode, unlike a procedural drama that wraps everything up within an hour.
Who do you think is more hardcore about their shows: True Blood fans or B&B fans?
It’s a close tie because people that are really into True Blood know all the ins and outs of the vampire world and the supernatural world. I didn’t understand how there’s canon on ways that people get turned [into vampires.] If you’ve ever watched B&B before you know that there are different camps. The people who are totally into Nick and Bridget or Brooke and Ridge or Ridge and Taylor. I’m hoping to have a few overlaps and see if I can convert a few True Blood fans or a few B&B fans to tune into the other show.
The two prior Bridgets on B&B, Agnes Bruckner and Jennifer Finnigan have also moved into primetime and film. Do you think there’s something charmed about the role that leads to success?
It’s sheer coincidence really, but if you’ll take a little leap of faith with me, there’s something very special about the character. She is slightly the moral compass of the show. She generally does the right thing, but she’s a three dimensional character and she makes mistakes. On the surface she seems like a sweet girl, but there’s so many layers there. Right now it’s really fun to play her because she’s coming into her own in a lot of ways. She’s really in tune with her sexuality and knows what she wants. She was the one who branched away from the family business and did not want to be a designer. She wanted to be a doctor and make the world a better place. Now she knows she can do that and she wants to try her hand at designing. She’s a rennaissance woman.