Riley Smith Talks 'True Blood' and 'Deliverance Creek'

Shannon O’Connor ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor-in-Chief
riley smith
Riley Smith is heating up the small screen.
After sweeping Arlene Fowler off her feet as sexy rock n’ roll vampire Keith in the final season of True Blood, Smith is venturing into new territory as rugged 1800s cowboy Toby Harper in Lifetime’s film adaptation/backdoor pilot of Nicholas SparksDeliverance Creek.
Emertainment Monthly had the opportunity to talk with Smith about joining the cast of True Blood and working on Deliverance Creek.
What was it like joining a cast of a long running TV show for its final season?
It was a really great experience. Everybody was really welcoming and open to the idea of me coming onto the show. They are really one big family, so it was a little bit daunting at first, to come in on the last season and try to join such a tight knit crew; but they were nothing short of just the most welcoming crew that I could have been a part of.
A majority of your True Blood scenes were with Carrie Preston, what was it like working with her?
Carrie Preston is a phenomenal actress, so I was excited to work with her and I was really lucky that most of my [scenes] were with her. Off set she is the sweetest girl, we got along really well. We bonded over the fact that her husband in real life [Michael Emerson] is from my area in Iowa, I was really excited about that. It was a lot of fun.
There are so many characters in True Blood, how did you make you character Keith stand out during the final episodes?
Really it was in the writing, I was just lucky enough to have [that] kind of character written for me. Everybody really loves Arlene [Carrie Preston] and they really want to see her end on a high note with someone that she loves. So, the role was really written for me to come in and as long as I did my job, I felt like he was going to be a likable character. When I got the scene for episode 7, the dance scene at Belleflours, I just knew this is a very sweet moment [and] if I only had this moment in the entire TV show that is the only moment I would need.

Carrie Preston and Riley Smith in True Blood. Photo Credit: HBO.
Carrie Preston and Riley Smith in True Blood. Photo Credit: HBO.
Were you a fan of the show leading up to your role on it, or did you catch up on the show once you got cast?
A little bit of both. I already had a lot of friends on the show throughout the years so I had watched over the years an episode here or there, enough to know what was going on. But once I got the show I really went back and locked myself inside and caught up on all the episodes so I knew where we were. It was a big help; it was also one of those things where I had spent an entire weekend just watching these people for hours and then that Monday was my first day on set, I was sitting in Bill’s living room with all the vampires as we were plotting to go fight the H-Vamps. I spent so many hours watching all their faces that it was pretty surreal to be sitting next to them; so trying to catch up on the show almost made me nervous for the show.
Did you find it ironic that Arlene ended up with a vampire?
Yes and no. I think that was a nice little curveball that they threw the audience, but yet they chose a vampire [that was] a likable trustworthy guy, so it made it easy for the audience to accept and for Arlene to accept.
How did you prepare for your role as Toby Harper in Deliverance Creek?
I rode a lot of horse and I didn’t take a lot of showers. We were down in Austin, Texas so we went down quite a while before we started filming just to do a lot of rehearsals and horse riding. I grew up on a horse ranch, so it came second nature to me but I still enjoy the opportunity to get out there and sit on a horse all day.
What was it like working with Lauren Ambrose?
Lauren is a phenomenal actress; I cannot wait for people to see her in this role. She is such a strong character, a single mother on a farm in the 1800s, it is like the most empowering character you could have and she does a great job with it. Again, I was very lucky [the cast of Deliverance Creek] they are like my family. I have been very lucky, I have had great casts this last year.
What should fans of the Nicholas Spark’s book expect to see in the film adaptation?
I think everybody is going to see what they love about The Notebook and all Nicholas Sparks books. It’s got really rich characters, a lot of spider-webs of entanglements of love triangles, arch-rivals, enemies and revenge; it’s got everything you would expect in a Nicholas Sparks novel. I have actually seen it and I was floored. I think I have done 14 pilots in my time out here and it is the best pilot I have done.
Riley Smith in Deliverance Creek. Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal/Lifetime.
Riley Smith in Deliverance Creek. Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal/Lifetime.
Is the Deliverance Creek a TV movie or a pilot for a TV show?
It is a pilot for a TV show. I wasn’t sure [with] the way they were promoting it so far if people understood that. We shot two episodes as a pilot; they call it a backdoor pilot, so two episodes is kind of a movie. But, I hope the audience doesn’t expect things to be tied up at the end of the movie, because there are more unanswered questions than there were going into it by the end. It is a very open-ended and fun pilot, but it’s definitely going to leave people on the edge of their seat wanting to know what is next.
What other projects do you have coming up?
I have been non-stop the last between Deliverance Creek and then I went straight from that to True Blood. We just ended True Blood like a month ago, so I went on a vacation to Europe for three weeks to decompress and I kind of needed a break.
Deliverance Creek premieres Saturday, Sept. 13 at 8/7c on Lifetime.

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