by Jeremy Grossman
Despite appearing on a show about vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts and people who magically turn into dogs, Aaron Christian Howles is a shockingly down-to-earth young Hollywood actor.
On June 10, when HBO’s fan favorite “True Blood” debuts its fifth season, the 19-year-old will make his face known to millions of viewers who don’t already know him from roles on shows like Showtime’s cult series “United States of Tara” and CBS’ short-lived “Swingtown.” But despite an already impressive resume for someone of his age, “True Blood” will give Howles a unique type of exposure on a show that already has a huge, deeply devoted fan base.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Howles said. “It doesn’t even feel real. It kind of feels like I’m in a dream. But I definitely feel very honored, because I got to audition for [series creator] Alan Ball. I had the audition, and I was just like, ‘Oh my god, this isn’t real.'”
Although Howles normally dresses in character when going in for auditions, for “True Blood” he decided to dress as himself–converse shoes, jeans and a sweater vest–but at the audition, found that “everyone else was wearing a wife-beater.” And yet, Howles’ ability to stand out from the rest of the crowd is what he believes helped land him the role, both in style and performance.
“I remember I could hear other people auditioning through the wall, and I thought ‘Well, I want to do something different,'” Howles recalled. “So I just went in and I deadpanned the entire scene, and apparently that’s what they were looking for.”
Though he may have been perfect for the role, Howles himself couldn’t be more different from his character. Howles plays Rocky Cleary, the son of Wiccan waitress Holly Cleary (played by Lauren Bowles). Rocky is a “macho guy,” a “redneck scary dude,” who likes to hunt and kill animals, and Howles was in fact shocked and repulsed by a scene where he had to drive a pick-up truck with an actual dead deer in the back.
In real life, Howles is a much more harmless guy, who enjoys watching television with his mom, and filming and editing videos of his two cats, Perry and Whisper. He has been acting since he was 11, when he appeared in a community production of “Winnie the Pooh.” His favorite movie is the science fiction mind-bender “Donnie Darko,” and hopes to someday star in a remake of the film.
While Howles loves acting, he admitted that his first love is music. Howles is a member of several different bands where he plays the drums, including a thrash metal band called “Smoking Sons” and a punk band called “The Surgery.” He also plays guitar and sings in his indie rock band, “Protect the Mona Lisa,” although he confessed, “I can’t really sing.”
“The way I see it is, acting is the way I want to be able to pay for the things that I want to do musically,” Howles explained. “Because music is definitely my passion, and it’s sort of where my heart lies. But acting seems like it will give me a secure future, as long as I keep plugging away at it.
“But music is definitely ‘what I want to be when I grow up,’ as they say.”
Howles is also interested in screenwriting, and in fact stars in his own web show “Wild Cards,” which he writes, directs and creates alongside fellow actor, Evan Gamble. In “Wild Cards,” Howles plays Tai, an aspiring actor whose chances at stardom are consistently ruined by his mischievous roommate, Del.
“It’s really interesting to be on the creative side for once,” Howles said. “Writing the scripts, and then working the camera sometimes, and producing and editing. It gives me a lot more respect for the people that have to do that.”
Howles, in fact, “[doesn’t] really like other actors,” and would much rather hang out with the crew of a television set instead of the cast.
“There’s always this ‘I’m better than you’ attitude,” Howles said. “But the crew has always been more accepting and they don’t really care who you are or what you’re like.”
At auditions, Howles actually makes an effort to avoid any contact with other actors, preferring to grab his headphones and listen to his iPod until it’s time for his audition. Before doing this, Howles recalled how actors would try to intimidate him so that he would mess up.
“I don’t think it should be like that,” Howles said. “It should just go to whoever deserves it.”
Howles’ respectable and honorable outlook on Hollywood is rare in a city that preys on the weak and the desperate. But Howles is just happy doing what he’s doing.
“Every day that comes up brings a new adventure,” Howles said. “I mean, I’m hoping one of my bands will start to take off, because that’s what I really want to do. But for now, I’m just gonna keep auditioning.”
Jeremy Grossman is entertainment editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.