On Monday I had the chance to catch up and interview my beautiful friend Dale Raoul, who famously portrays Bon Temps resident Maxine Fortenberry on the hit HBO series “True Blood.” However, it’s her debut as Andrea Grinnell on the upcoming CBS summer series “Under the Dome,” which was taken from the bestselling Stephen King book by the same name. “Andrea Grinnell in the book is a city councilperson, Tommy. But, as you know she’s far from that on the show. She’s definitely living on the margins,” said Dale Raoul in an exclusive interview with Highlight Hollywood.
CBS brings Stephen King‘s Under the Dome to life on Monday, launching what it hopes will be the event of the summer with the first of its 13-episode adaptation of the prolific author’s bestseller. “Yes, we are doing 13-episodes, but hopefully we’ll get some good news soon. The critics seem to be enjoying it,” said the beautiful actress. Yes, enjoying we certainly do. It’s definitely a must-see on Monday nights this summer, as CBS has launched this series with lots of promotion, but more importantly, brilliant scripts. The story is very intriguing, and so far the production, which is being done in sweltering North Carolina heat seems to be getting some great stars to appear on the series. “Heat? It was definitely hot there in Wilmington, North Carolina. But everyone on the crew was so professional, giving us that good old Southern hospitality,” said Raoul.
Dale most certainly knows how hard the production team and crew of any TV series works. Aside from having nothing but praise for her own shows’ productions, both “True Blood” and “Under the Dome,” her husband, Ray Thompson just picked up his fifth Emmy Award for his work on CBS’s “The Young and the Restless,” where he and his brilliant crew were hired by Bill Bell, and we all know, Bill hired the very best. “Y&R” is perhaps the most posh production of any daytime TV show in history.
Dale is busy all the time in L.A. with her involvement in many charities that benefit AIDS victims and also children. But it’s definitely “Under the Dome” that everyone is buzzing about today, with tonight’s highly anticipated debut. It most certainly is being touted as the dramatic TV event for the summer of 2013, and for good reason.
We all know about Maxine in Bon Temps, so what about this new character of Andrea, I asked the talented actress. “Well, I can’t really tell you too much, but I can say that she is very different, she like Maxine is out there, and I love being able to play such characters, they are so much more fun and interesting at this point in my career,” said Dale.
Interesting characters indeed, what about Maxine Fortenberry? “Oh, I love her. And yes, you do get to see her again this season, sort of closer to the end of the season, and I had the joy of sitting next to that handsome Joe Manganiello [Werewolf Alcide].” So, I teased Dale, that she was probably busy helping Joe complete his much anticipated fitness book. “It’s definitely a fun scene. Everything on ‘True Blood’ has been wonderful to play. One day, a few seasons back when Maxine and half of Bon Temps was under the spell of that evil Maenad MaryAnn, I had a scene where the baby vamp Jessica, played by Deborah Ann Woll, jumped on top of me and bit me in the neck. Alan (Ball) was on set, and he asked me, ‘Dale, did you ever think you’d be doing this on a television show?’ I told him, no, but I am sure enjoying this, and having a good time,” said Raoul.
The actress is beloved in Tinseltown, along with her handsome and talented husband, Ray, and not only beloved by all, she’s known as one of the most diverse actresses in the industry. She’s worked in film, on TV and on stage. Plus most recently Dale has gotten involved with a local production at the esteemed Skylight Theatre Company in Los Angeles. “We have been doing some readings, and I’m really excited about working with them. I admire their work, and am honored to be on their Board of Directors,” Dale added.
Locals know Dale and Ray also from their enjoyment and interest in the Los Angeles Opera. Dale however admits that Ray has now began attending church all the time. “We have a friend who encouraged Ray to attend the All Saints Church, and now Ray is in the choir, Tommy, so he is always in church now.” Wouldn’t Maxine be happy with Ray, I asked? “I’m not sure. Maxine has her own ideas about church and which church is acceptable, but I’m happy with him,” the actress enthused.
When asked if filming “Under the Dome” was as hot as it seemed? She laughed, “Yeah, the last time I was in North Carolina filming, it was about 95 degrees and 98 percent humidity,” the actress admitted. “But the crew and the wonderful cast and producers made up for it. You are Southern, you know that humidity there. As Andrea I don’t get to wear a lot of makeup, so it wasn’t too bad,” Dale admitted. “But, by the end of the day, I was still a mess!”
As iconic as “The Dome” is expected to be, and Highlight Hollywood calls the show, “Magnificent,” “True Blood is very iconic in its own right, and Maxine is beloved, yes, she’s a bigot, she’s obnoxious and bossy, all the things gorgeous Dale Raoul certainly would never be. So, I asked Dale what reactions fans have had when meeting her. “Well, the past few months I’ve been in North Carolina as I said, filming the show [Under the Dome], and people have come up to me and laughed and said, ‘You know, Maxine’s just like my aunt, or grandmother or someone they know.’ And I long ago figured out, that Maxine was a wonderful person, with a lot of issues, she would call you a name, but if you were hungry, she’d be the first to bring you a casserole. I’m glad that I had the opportunity over these years to play her. Alan Ball is a genius, and Charlaine Harris told him, that she trusted him to do whatever he wanted with his characters, and I have truly loved what the writers have given me,” said Dale.
I could talk to Dale for hours, she is so brilliant, so loving and so very fascinating to speak with. But as time was coming to an end, I wanted to ask her about two other productions she is a part of, and “The Pretty One” opened last month at the Tribeca Film Festival. Jenée LaMarque was the filmmaker, and she had such an incredible cast, as Dale also described her costars. She admitted that hasn’t had a chance to see the finished product, but, “I hope we’ll be having a show here in L.A. soon.” Hopefully so, and when it does, I suggest everyone go to see it. It is a tremendous film.
And what about “Untold,” another highly anticipated film to be released later this year? “Gina M. Garcia is the Director, filmmaker and writer. She is incredible. The story is her true story. She had a very horrible thing happen to her when she was young, and the authorities and her parents agreed to tell her, that it didn’t happen to her, that it was all a dream. And later in life she could not understand why her life was off the rails and she was so unhappy. Anyhow, I’m excited about my role in this, but even more excited about Gina’s story being told.”
The tag for the film says in part, “When a successful entrepreneur wakes up to being a victim of a hate crime, she begins to have startling recollection of her childhood stranger abduction, which her family denies.” This is being talked about around Hollywood as one of the most gripping stories and best films in a long time. So glad Dale is a part of it, she adds such class with every project she is connected with.
So, even though she’s not playing Maxine from Bon Temps tonight, Dale hopes her fans will still watch. “I’ve been so lucky in this town, and so lucky to have been a part of so many wonderful shows and productions. I do hope fans will tune it, the show is really good, and I’m not just saying that because I’m in it.”
Dale Raoul is one of the most talented women in Hollywood, and Highlight Hollywood was honored to spend the morning with the superstar.
“Under the Dome,” is magnificent, mesmerizing and enthralling, watch it tonight at 10 p.m. EST on CBS.
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: Profile of Dale Raoul by HandelandTesoro, Under the Dome by CBS, all True Blood (Maxine) images by John P. Johnson/HBO, Dale and husband Ray Thompson by AP and Under the Dome by CBS
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