Exclusive: Todd Lowe Talks with us about Terry Bellefleur, his Band and that “Creepy Baby”By Lividity on Aug 18 2009 | 21 Comments »
One of our favorite characters on True Blood is Terry Bellefleur (marvelously portrayed by Todd Lowe), the PTSD plagued Iraqi War veteran who works as a short order cook at Merlotte’s Bar & Grill. Whether he’s “feeling the pressure” or chastising Sam Merlotte for his cowardice, the man’s got serious stage presence. We recently had a chance to talk with Todd Lowe about True Blood, and his band, the Pilbilly Knights…
TB-N: Congratulations Todd on True Blood being picked up for a third season, and thank you for spending the time with us today to ask you several questions. Let’s go.
You seem like multifaceted guy, can you tell us how you got into acting in the first place?
TL: Well, I started in high school and then continued on into college. I went to college and initially majored in Radio/TV/Film first and then got into theater. I have a BFA in Acting from UT Austin. I stayed in Texas for ten years before I came to Los Angeles.
TB-N: Can you tell us how you got the role of Terry Bellefleur in True Blood and what you knew about the role before you auditioned for it?
TL: I initially read for the role of Hoyt Fortenberry but Jim Parrick got that role. I’m happy he did as he’s much better in that role than I could ever be. Then they told me that there was another role that might work, so a couple months later I read for Terry Bellefleur. They had me do the whole “I like your clavicles” bit. I read once for that then my agent called later and told me I got the role.
TB-N: Well, we’re glad you did; we think Terry might be a shifter.
TL: Heh, well I can’t talk about that…
TB-N: I’m not sure you’re aware of this, but there is a pretty large Terry Bellefleur fan base on the internet.
TL: I’ve been on the boards and have seen a little bit about what people were saying, but while I’m working on the show I go out of my way to avoid them. A bad comment can ruin your day.
TB-N: Did you have any idea that True Blood would be so popular?
TL: Yeah, I thought that the show would do well because of the Alan Ball’s history and reputation.
TB-N: Terry is a somewhat damaged human being on True Blood and you do one hell of a job portraying that, did you do any research on PTSD?
TL: I really didn’t, and I have no military training, but I’ve been around some of these folks… You know in the Charlaine Harris books, Terry is a Vietnam Vet. And I’m not old enough to have been in the Vietnam War. So he’s an Iraq War veteran. Which is a little different. But when I was in high school a few of us would go to this glorious VFW hall and play Bingo. As we were exiting one night, my friends and I got cornered by this intense Vietnam tunnel rat; you know, the guys that go into tunnels searching out bombs? He literally had four big ol’ high school boys pinned to the trunk of my car without ever touching us, he was that intense. After we left in my ’72 Buick Skylark we were messing around and joking that we could have taken him. But there was really no way, man. So I always think of that guy. I feel like I have to do it right because of the responsibility to the veterans and someone could have a problem with how I play the role, so I try to be careful.
TB-N: Does your Texas heritage help you in defining how you play Terry?
TL: I use my Texas accent which is pretty close to the Louisiana accent. I come from Southeast Texas which is near the Louisiana border. And I haven’t heard any complaints about that so far.
TB-N: No, we haven’t heard any complaints on the Wiki. People on the boards just love Terry and they actually want to protect him from Arlene this year!
Can you tell us a little about working on the set?
TL: It’s really been a lot of fun. I’ve been working a lot with Chris Bauer and Carrie Preston. Carrie and I, we spent a lot of time shooting the orgy scenes in Calabasas, where ya know, it was like 40 degrees, and here we are sitting around in our underwear. And then they call us to dry hump in all different positions with these crazy black contacts that we had to wear for 12 hours sometimes. I don’t wear contacts, and I wound up getting styes in my eyes. You know about styes? They sound like some ancient disease right?
TB-N: You’re always “feeling the pressure” while cooking this year, can you tell us what happened to Big John?
TL: No, he’s there, haven’t you seen him? He’s been on set, maybe you’ll see him later in the season.*
*We did finally see Big John in episode 2.09.
TB-N: One of our favorite scenes is when Terry is in front of Merlotte’s and hides the cigarette from Sam when he comes outside. Was that your idea or was it in the script?
TL: That was actually my idea to hide the cigarette behind my back. I thought that Terry would be the guy that might want to hide something like that from his employer, he wants to be a good employee, even though Sam wouldn’t care. You know, there’s a no smoking sign in Merlotte’s, have you seen that?
TB-N: Now, we know that you have a band called the Pilbilly Knights and that you use a pseudonym, Randy Buth. Can you tell us about Randy Buth and how you named the Pilbilly Knights?
TL: I started using the name Randy Buth as a strange take on B-U-S-H back in 2000. I had the idea that he’d be an ill-informed right wing troubadour – but I kinda dropped that. I might pick it back up again. Then we dubbed our sound “Pilbilly” and we took Knights from the “Knights of Columbus.” I’ve been affected by “cultural Catholics” and all that. We’re thinking about dropping the ‘K’ though. It reminds us too much of that baby in the True Blood credits. We’re always joking that as people are added to the cast, our names are inserted on the various pages on the credits and we fight for the better images. When Mariana Klaveno was added, Michael McMillian (Rev. Newlin) told me, “Damn! You took my rattlesnake!” Hunh? Oh yeah. I had the hot girl in her underwear, but alphabetical order pushed me back to the slow motion snake strike! Nobody wants that creepy baby.
TB-N: How long has the band been together?
TL: We’ve been together for six years now.
TB-N: One of your fellow band mates is a childhood friend of yours right – James Ellis Lane?
TL: Yes, James and I went to high school and college together, then separated for a bit and came back together. He plays the drums.
TB-N: Did you have any formal musical education or are you a self-taught musician?
TL: I picked up the guitar in high school and I can play chords and do pretty well. I play all types of music but realized at a certain point that country was easier.
TB-N: We’ve seen that you’ve played a few Los Angeles clubs over the past year, how often do you guys have gigs?
TL: We now have a standing gig over at Territory BBQ. We’re good enough to play there every Thursday – it’s casual and we have a good time.
TB-N: One of the songs on your album (wait, do we still say albums?) Is a little risque. Do people actually do the “Line Dance” at clubs?
TL: [Laughing] They do, we don’t play that song too much anymore but sometimes we play it at the close of the evening. We have some girl singers for that song and my girlfriend choreographs the dance.
TB-N: In addition to the Pilbilly Knights, we hear that you’ve done some Justin Tanner plays in the past. Can you tell us a little about your experience with the theatre and what it was like to work with Justin Tanner?
TL: He’s a very talented playwright. We’re just closing “Wife Swappers” at the Zephyr Theatre.
TB-N: You obviously have love for both music and acting; which do you prefer?
TL: I’m an actor first, but the music is fun.
TB-N: Your role as Terry Bellefleur is surely getting noticed in the industry, do you have any other projects on the horizon?
TL: I’m about to do NCIS with Mark Harmon where I play a special agent in North Africa. They told me that I couldn’t shave, so I have this Terry Bellefleur beard still.
TB-N: Well, thank you very much Todd for talking with us today. It’s been a pleasure.
TL: Thank you!
After this interview, we here at TB-N really just want to tell y’all that Todd Lowe is one really charming down-to-earth guy that these interviewers wouldn’t mind having a few beers or maybe even some white Russians with anytime.
For those of you in the Los Angeles area, you can see the Pilbilly Knights perform at Territory Barbecue every Thursday Night at 8:00p.m.