Dishing with Jim Parrack

We chatted with the True Blood actor about Texas, superpowers, and Indian summers. 

Story by Lacy Morris
Jim Parrack at Hill Country Barbecue Market
Photo: Miller Mobley/Redux

Hometown: Allen, Texas | Occupation: Actor | What's on his plate: The late-June premiere of the final season of HBO's True Blood, the closing night (July 27) of his Broadway performance in Of Mice and Men, and the August 1 release of Child of God | His sweet tooth: "I'm a big cobbler guy—peach is the best."

If I had a superpower, like on True Blood, I'd want the ability to speed-read a thousand pages per second and retain whatever I read. I don't know if that would really get me anywhere, but I could read more.

I got kicked out of my college dorm in Austin, Texas, because the RA thought I was a real vampire. I may have encouraged that line of thinking a bit with my behavior. My mom got a call saying, "Mrs. Parrack, we're going to ask your son to leave the building. A lot of the staff and residents believe he's a vampire." My mom thought she was being pranked.

I shot As I Lay Dying in Mississippi during an Indian summer. There was a 10-acre stocked bass pond and a little johnboat and dock [where I was staying]. I would get up a little early before work and go out and fish for an hour or so and catch six or seven bass.

Faulkner is one of the greatest Southern writers. With his writing, there's a conversation left open about a place. Before he did much else, he created a fictitious setting in Mississippi [Yoknapatawpha County] for everything to occur. It was clear this guy would be writing about a place, its people, and the way they strive to survive.

There's something mystical about all of Faulkner's stories. There's always something that feels beyond day-to-day life—that interesting blend of nature existing right in front of you and a strange certainty that there's [something] supernatural.

We all sit around and tell stories when my family gets together at my grandparents' ranch in College Station. I think if I had any head start in acting at all, it's that I come from a culture where if they tell a story and they've had a few beers, they end up getting up and doing their story. I can feel that in my acting roots.

I'm a collector of firearms. I have a Colt 1911 government model with my initials engraved above the handle. The craftsmanship is so incredible that it feels a bit like a piece of art to me. I also started teaching other actors how to shoot, so if they ever need to shoot in a movie, they don't look like phony actors.

I've been best friends with [actor] Scott Haze since we were 10 years old. One time, when I was 13, we got into a little bit of white lightning. We hijacked a go-kart and went around shooting people's windows with pellet guns. It was a one-sheriff town, and he chased us in a real car. We had a full-out pellet gun shoot-out with the sheriff until we flipped the go-kart and he took us home.

There's a patriotism in Texas that not many other places can lay claim to. It's a giant, tough, beautiful, nasty place. You could take 8 or 10 different pictures in Texas and show them to people and they'd think you were in 8 or 10 different countries. It's cool that in all those places, what unites everybody is this strange pride in being a Texan.