Interview with ‘Ballers’ Arielle Kebbel
She’s played a vampire, a reality show contestant, she’s hosted her fair share of shows, and now she’s back on screen as Tracy Leggett on HBO’s latest hit, Ballers. Arielle Kebbel is no stranger to television having landed recurring roles on popular shows such as The Vampire Diaries, Gilmore Girls, and 90210, but what some aren’t aware of is her range of hosting experience. The actress hosted the web series The Vampire Diaries Re#ash, where she interacted with fans and rehashed the show’s episodes, instantly making her a fan favorite. I had the pleasure of chatting with the actress about her time working on UnREAL and her most recent project, Ballers.
The season finale of Ballers is coming up, what can audiences expect from that?
“That a lot will be revealed and I mean that in more ways than one.”
Can you tell us more about character? We see her really early on and she already has great relationships with the players. Do you think somewhere down the line we might see her in a compromising position because of those relationships?
“I think that’s definitely a possibility, you know, clearly a lot can happen when you’re living in this world and the stakes are so high and money’s on the table and people’s careers are on the line. People act differently when they have to make decisions but I know that Tracy really does care about her job, doing it, and being a professional from start to finish. My hope for her would be, yes we can’t control the outside circumstances and sometimes maybe in season two there will be some compromising situations but I would like to see that the way she handles them is with integrity and actually pave the way for new opportunities, which is her standing for something grayer than putting herself in a compromising position.”
So far we’ve only seen with interact with Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) and Ricky (John David Washington), who would you like to see Tracy interact more with?
“I think it’d be fun, Omar’s character (Charles Greane) is determined to make a comeback and I think that’s a really great story tell. So I think from a reporting standpoint she would have a great time with that. I think there’s a great story to tell there and she could do a good job telling it.”
I know that you’ve hosted a few shows before, did that help your prep work for your role?
“Absolutely, I love hosting when I’m not acting, for me it exercises a completely different skillset. It was exciting for me when I got this role that I knew I could take my hosting skills and use them for Tracy. What was fun about this job was not only did I do my character research with Tracy and who she was and who she’s going to be as a character but then I also got to do my research with different players, actually in real life and real situations that were happening during football last season. I knew that if I was prepared with names to throw out, situations that were going on, I knew that if I had a rolodex of improv under my belt that it was going to help Tracy in those scenes where she is reporting or talking football with the guys.
The great thing about our producers is they want it to be real and casual so they really welcome improv. So I enjoyed all the research I got to do, kind of using my hosting background, and with being prepared with what I could throw in and bring to the table. Had I not had that hosting background, I’m not sure I would have been so comfortable doing that.”
You guest starred on UnREAL would you say that, that’s an accurate portrayal of what goes on behind-the-scenes?
“I can’t say 100% yes, but I know that when I was filming I definitely felt like I was in a reality show. There were hidden cameras everywhere. So as an actress on a quote-on-quote, regular scripted show, we know where the camera is at all times. We know when it’s a master, a close-up, we know exactly what’s going on. With UnREAL there were hidden cameras everywhere and the real cameras and there was no time to stop and ask, “Okay, what are you getting from this camera or this camera, or what angle is here?” there was no time, so I just had to be prepared and stay in character 24/7 now knowing what they were filming and if they were catching any of it! [laughs] So it could either be a waste or the take that they use. I wasn’t going to be the actress that ruined a take, so I just stayed in character full time and I’ll definitely tell you that at the end of each day I was like, “Holy crap, [laughs] I feel like I’m on a reality show.”
What was it like working with Dwayne?
“He’s incredible to work with. I see why he has his nickname, “The Machine,” he is absolutely one of the busiest men in Hollywood. He’s just a machine, he is so busy and so dedicated to his work. What I loved most about working with him was when we were on set, no matter how busy he was doing other projects, when we were on set it was about our work. It was about Tracy and Spencer. There wasn’t a whole lot of time, we had to make every minute count, but I appreciated that when it was time for our scenes, that’s what it was about and I felt like I had his full attention and working opposite someone who gives it that only makes the scene better, so I’m excited to see where we go in season 2!”
I know you mentioned a season 2, so does that mean we’ll get to see Tracy again?
“Yes. I’m very excited to be coming back for season 2.”
Other than your storyline and Spencer’s storyline, what other character’s story do you enjoy?
“I really like JD’s story line because he’s lost. He’s lost but he has a chance, he’s got a big heart and he’s just really lost. And I think that is so relatable for any career. Where someone’s at the top and they’re young and it’s all being thrown at them and it’s like, “How do I do this?” I think that he might have to crash and burn a few more times [laughs] before he finds his way but I think that he’s doing it with such heart. You know he’s a bit of a hot mess but he’s a hot mess with a heart. I want to see him pull through it. I know that he’s not making good choices at the moment but I want to see him pull through.”
Besides season 2, any upcoming projects we can share?
“There are a few big things in the works that I can’t share yet, but stay tuned!”
After our interview it was announced that Arielle has been promoted to a series regular on Ballers but in addition to that she will also have a recurring role on the final season of FXX’s The League.
You can catch the season finale of Ballers tonight on HBO at 10PM ET.
Be sure to tweet along with Arielle @ArielleKebbel using the hashtag #BallersFinale.