Critics' Picks: "True Blood's" queen of chaos

Michelle Forbes was born to play this vampire drama's menacing Marianne

By Laura Miller

Published July 31, 2009 10:21AM (EDT)

Michelle Forbes (foreground) in "True Blood."
Michelle Forbes (foreground) in "True Blood."

 Michelle Forbes in "True Blood": Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO

It may well be that Michelle Forbes, like grappa, is an intoxicating substance best enjoyed in moderate portions lest you wake up 48 hours later with no idea where (or even who) you are. She's one of the few actors who's managed to make a name for herself via guest-star runs in TV series ("24," "Battlestar Galactica," "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "In Treatment" among them), the latest being HBO's southern vampire gothic, "True Blood." Although the exact nature of her character, Marianne, has yet to be fully explained, her cultic jones for chaos, lust and aggression suggests much to the attentive student of classical literature.

The part provides Forbes with an excellent showcase for her silken menace, and it's when she's plying Rutina Wesley's impressionable Tara with self-actualization nostrums and pyramids of tropical fruit that she attains the optimal pitch of blended threat and seduction. Forbes was born to play beautiful, evil queens; imagine the film version of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" with her -- instead of that popsicle, Tilda Swinton -- as the White Witch.

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Laura Miller

Laura Miller is the author of "The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia."

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