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In episode six of the Mayfair Witches, we see Tessa being trapped by the witch hunters and the Mayfairs trying to find her. I talked to New Orleans native Madison Wolfe, who plays Tessa, about what it was like to shoot those grueling scenes, why Tessa is underestimated, why she looks up to Rowan, and if she and Interview with the Vampire’s Claudia would be friends.
What initially attracted you to the role of Tessa?
I think you know, being that I’m from New Orleans and Anne Rice’s stories are so legendary here so I was super familiar with them before I even got the audition before I even heard the news that you know her novels were being adopted by AMC. So when I got the audition I was just super excited to hear that they were creating this Anne Rice Universe. I just think Tess is a really cool character and I was just super stoked to even be a part of the show.
You’re a bit of a Scream Queen a lot of your projects have been oriented toward horror. What drives you to those sorts of projects and characters?
You know I think it’s just like the emotional challenge that I really enjoy. I love the drama, what can I say I love the drama. I think a lot of times with those sorts of projects whether it be horror or a drama like anything supernatural. There comes a lot of emotional challenges and a lot of cool physical stuff whether it be stunts or special effects. I think they’re just cool.
So you mentioned you’re from New Orleans and unlike a lot of the shows that are based in different cities, the show is based in New Orleans and filmed in New Orleans. What was that like as a native and just as an actor for the show to be such a central character in the show?
Yeah, definitely I think that, I mean I don’t know maybe I’m biased because I’m from New Orleans, but I truly think that it’s such a special city you know there’s so much history here and so many amazing aspects to the city and honestly I think that it was only right to be filmed here and have as much of that be grounded in reality as possible. You know there is a definite sort of atmosphere that New Orleans offers and I think that Anne Rice’s stories are so legendary here and it was only right to be filmed in New Orleans.
Tessa her gift is being able to compel people with her beauty and we learned in the show that not every witch actually has a gift. If you were a witch would you actually want to have a gift and if so what would be your gift?
I think I would want to have a gift and I think that I would want Tessa’s gift. I think the power of glamour is a pretty cool gift. It’s not over the top to where people would be super suspicious all the time but you can also kind of just get whatever you want which is awesome.
Tessa actually doesn’t really love her gift and she’s often underestimated by her family. Why do you think that is?
That’s a good question. I think that they maybe underestimate her power and wish that she had more of a monumental power like Rowan. She feels such a responsibility to kind of defend herself and protect her family and I think that she feels with a different power that might be easier. I actually don’t think that her power has a lot to do with how her family views her or like treats her. I guess I think that you know she’s just a young girl that voices her opinions and that’s super normal that sometimes young girls aren’t heard out in the way that they want to be so I think that it’s just part of Tessa being boisterous and young that her family just overlooks it and doesn’t take her super seriously.
We see when Rowan comes into town Tessa very much looks up to her. Why do you think that is?
I think you know Rowan is like Tessa’s ultimate role model in a way because she feels like Rowan really has such a special power and is in a special position to do so much good for the Mayfairs. Tessa looks up to that and wishes that she may make the same impact as Rowan which is why she’s so desperate for her help.
Do you think that kind of level of desperation and wanting to make an impact is why she wanted to be the designee for Asher?
Yeah definitely. I think that by being the designee her kind of desire to be an advocate for her family was just like affirmed. In a way that decision, in her head it would make everyone be like, “okay she’s for real. She’s serious about this she can really do this.”
We see in the episode named after your character Tessa that when so she’s she gets caught by the witch hunters she’s trapped in the cage. What was it like to be like literally in a cage and blindfolded and what was it like to film that?
Yeah I mean it was really tough it was it was you know we filmed that whole sequence over a couple of days and it was super high energy and super grueling physically. It was super grueling mentally and physically to keep that level of emotional stakes throughout three days of filming while being tied up and trapped in a cage and still having to hit all this physical activity as well it was pretty tough but also one of my favorite parts of shooting the show because it was such a challenge and that’s just my favorite.
How did you onset get in the mindset of playing Tessa and being able to handle those grueling scenes for three days?
I think that it’s hard because I don’t have like a specific way that I approach every single scene or role. I don’t really have a specific process but typically I just do all the homework that I can like I go comb through the script multiple times and go look at the details of kind of Tessa’s emotions and put myself in her position as much as possible and think about how that would really be. Then on the day, I think I just allow myself to go there and kind of just keep all of that in my back pocket. I just mentally prepare, showing up to set just mentally preparing that okay, it’s gonna be a big day it’s gonna be emotional so sort of keeping that low energy throughout the day I find helps me a little bit to prepare mentally for it.
We see being a designee for Asher isn’t it all that is cracked up to me and at least my point of view of Asher he and Tessa don’t have that connection. He doesn’t really show up for Tessa at all. Why do you think it is that they just don’t have that connection and that she kind of isn’t truly the designee?
I think that it has everything to do with the fact that he is ultimately connected to Rowan and Rowan sort of consciously gets rid of him so he has no choice but to choose someone else but it’s always going to be Rowan because she is just the designee. She’s the person that he has that connection with so there is no way to force that.
We see at the end of the episode that after you take off the necklace you’re shot and very badly wounded or perhaps dead. Then we see that Rowan puts on the necklace. Obviously, you probably know what happens next but you can’t give that away. Do you think Rowan will do anything in order to protect Tessa?
I think she’ll go to great lengths to protect her because I think that Rowan feels a sense of guilt and responsibility because of the fact that she did push off Tessa last episode and kind of brushed Tessa off a little bit at first when Tessa voiced her concerns about these people online and what they were doing to witches all over. So that being said I think that Rowan feels a little bit of guilt she doesn’t want this girl to die and she feels like it’s because of her. Family or not it’s just kind of a tragic thing to have on your shoulders.
In the Immortal Universe first, we got Interview with the Vampire and now we have Mayfair Witches. I’ve seen for covering the shows that the Immortal Universe has such a huge fan base. What has it been like to get all that feedback and attention for portraying Tessa who was originally a book character?
It’s just been so fun. The shows in the Anne Rice Universe have been so like well received and it’s just been a blast. I think that something that’s so unique and so cool about these shows is that they have that built-in fan base. They have those people who love Anne Rice and love her writing and now are getting to experience new interpretations of it in a way like new twists and turns and unexpected things. Even if they are fans of the book which I think is just so special.
Speaking of the Immortal Universe another character who’s about your age at least physically is Claudia. Claudia is often underestimated as well. Do you think Claudia and Tessa would get along or they would just be too strong-willed for each other?
No, I think they could get along. Just because you know two people are strong-willed doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll butt heads. Maybe sometimes but maybe they could work together they’d be a powerful duo you know for sure.
Watch Mayfair Witches on AMC.
You can read my interview with Mayfair Witches Tongayi Chirisa & Harry Hamlin here.
You can read my interviews with Jacob Anderson, Sam Reid, and Bailey Bass here and Assad Zaman and Eric Bogosian here.
The Mayfair Witches Books
The Witching Hour (Lives of Mayfair Witches) at Amazon
Lasher (Lives of Mayfair Witches) at Amazon
Taltos (Lives of Mayfair Witches) at Amazon
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