Published: Thursday July 17, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday July 17, 2014 MYT 10:42:23 AM

The new blood of 'True Blood'

Riley Smith joins 'True Blood' in its final season as a vampire recruited to help the gang.

Riley Smith joins 'True Blood' in its final season as a vampire recruited to help the gang.

Riley Smith arrives in True Blood as an undead, sparking some romance and action.

In the seventh and final season of HBO’s True Blood, a couple of new people and vampires have surfaced in the seemingly-popular town of Bon Temps.

Say hello to Riley Smith, who plays a vampire recruited to fight the Hep-V-infected vampires who are hell-bent on consuming everyone in town.

In an e-mail interview with the 36-year-old American actor, he describes his character Keith as “a vampire who, on the outside, has a bit of an edge and, on the inside, is a hopeless romantic.”

Apparently, somewhere along the way, Keith becomes a little smitten with Bellefleur’s red-haired waitress Arlene (Carrie Preston).

Smith, who started out as a model after high school, has been working steadily in Hollywood since 1998, appearing in series like Freaks And Geeks, Raising Dad, 24, Joan Of Arcadia, 90210 and Beauty And The Beast, as well as the upcoming TV movie Deliverance Creek, which is based on Nicholas Sparks’ book.

It was actually his involvement in Deliverance Creek that landed him his job in True Blood as both projects share the same casting directors.

A meeting was set up and he went in to read for the producers; Smith learned he got the job “before I even made it back home from the meeting.”

Keith is described as a smouldering vampire. What sets him apart from so many others on TV right now?

Who doesn’t want another smouldering vampire?! It’s an easy explanation, but I think we all have our own things that separate us as characters and vamps.

Your character is also a rock ’n’ roll drummer. Can you play drums for real?

I never had to play the drums on camera. I wanted to! I play guitar in real life so I wanted a good excuse to learn the drums. But Keith and his band is kind of a backstory, it’s never really seen, unfortunately.

Is it true that you learned to play the guitar on a film set?

I was doing a movie in Vancouver, Canada and a few kids on set played. It was fun sitting around on set singing along.

It brought people together and put smiles on faces. I wanted to be able to do that, so I picked up a vintage guitar and had them teach me a few chords. I took that and just ran with it.

What was it like to be a newcomer on a set like True Blood where everybody knows everybody?

I’ve been doing this a long time, so I wasn’t too intimidated, but with a group this tight-knit, how can you not be a little nervous?

It was the new-kid-at-the-popular-lunch-table type feeling. But they are all such great people that it was easy to fit in. Just a really humble down-to-earth group.

Were you already a fan of the show?

I’ve had a lot of friends on the show, so I would watch it for them. But I lost track of a couple of seasons. So once I got the job, I went back and caught up on the episodes I had missed.

OK, be honest: Team Bill or Team Eric?

I’m team BOTH. How can I pick between two friends. (Stephen Moyer plays Bill Compton, while Alexander Skarsgard portrays Eric Northam). I have some good scenes with both characters this season and had a blast working with both of them.

Your biography says you were into horse riding in your younger days. Are you still an active rider?

I don’t get to ride as much as I would like because my schedule has just been too busy. But I do get to ride in my new show Deliverance Creek, because it’s a western set in the 1800s. It’s always fun when my past experiences help in the roles I get.

You released an album in 2010. Anything new in the works?

Music has been a hobby for me. Something I do when I have time. Lately, I haven’t had much time. There is a cool format called stageit.com that allows us to play anywhere with an Internet connection and my laptop. People all across the world can watch and join me in a chat room.

That has made it a lot easier to keep in touch with the fans. I think I’m going to try a show from my trailer on set sometime! It would be cool to merge my two worlds.

You were in the TV series 24 back in 2003. Are you watching the latest season?

I have them all on my DVR, but haven’t had time to watch yet.

I’m really excited to sit down and have a Jack Bauer marathon as soon as we wrap True Blood and I get some free time.

I’ve always been a fan of 24, and was lucky enough to have a great role on one of the best seasons. I can’t believe it’s been that long ago. Time flies when you’re having fun.

Catch True Blood every Sunday at 10pm on HBO (Astro Ch 411).

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment, TV, Riley Smith, True Blood, HBO, Bon Temps, Sookie Stackhouse, Alan Ball, Beauty and the Beast

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