By now, you’ve binge-watched First Kill on Netflix.
The show features two families — vampires and hunters, and at least one character is living their best life and enjoying their plight.
Gracie Dzienny stars as Elinor, a rambunctious vampire, who is also a treasured sister and daughter. We had the chance to catch up with Gracie to talk about the show and hope you enjoy the conversation.
Before we get started on the fun stuff, what’s the most important thing I should know about you right now?
Oh, that’s a big question.
It is, isn’t it?
I’m sitting at the beach right now, so I’m in a lovely place to just look out at the ocean and chat with you. And so I can’t really complain.
Oh, that sounds like a great place to be.
Yeah. I’ve been trying to fall back in love with LA. I’ve been here for 10 years, so I’ve been trying to spend more time at the beach to love LA again.
You fell out of love?
The city can be hard. It’s a lot of people doing a lot of things, so it can be hard. But I’m falling back in love with it, for sure.
Well, that’s good. That seems like a good thing to know. You’re falling in love with LA again.
So when I spoke with Elizabeth Mitchell a while back about something else, we also talked about First Kill, and she was so excited to play a vampire.
Oh, my gosh. Talk about love. I love her so much. One of the best things that come out of this job is my friendship with Elizabeth Mitchell, and just the whole cast.
But Elizabeth and I just have a really special bond. We love to craft together, and we talk probably twice a week still. And we wrapped the show nine months ago.
So I just think she has the most amazing energy, and she was always there if I ever needed advice. And she just is so positive and loving and fun, and we just had the best time.
What did you learn from her?
One of the greatest things that I learned from Elizabeth was she finds a way to make each person shine. She finds what people love most about themselves, and compliments that. And I think she’s really good at reading people and showing them her love and care, which is really cool.
How do you think you’ll incorporate that into your life?
I just think on set, you’re there for long hours, and you’re making quick relationships with people that you have never met before, and you have to seem like you’re family.
So I think it’s always great to get down to the nitty-gritty really fast and get to know each other quickly. And the best way to do that usually is through a compliment and through understanding someone on a deeper level.
So what excited you about playing a vampire? It’s a kind of a family show, but a family of vampires. That’s a little different.
Oh, it was so fun. I mean, Elinor is so unapologetically driven, and she is so confident and sure of herself. So I think I was just so excited to play Elinor.
Of course, it was funny because it was my first job back after COVID, so I went from wearing a mask all day, every day to biting people’s necks, and being all up in their business, which was really funny. But yeah, that was probably the funniest thing of it to go straight into that.
I grew up in the Twilight era, so I was always obsessed with Edward. And that was definitely my teen years, so the idea of living in the Twilight world was pretty exciting.
Did any other vampires that you loved, including those on Twilight, influence how you played Elinor?
Well, I watched Vampire Diaries as well, but I actually watched a lot of femme fatales.
I watched a lot of Sharon Stone, and a lot of really powerful, confident women to get my inner Elinor. She’s a little wicked. She’s a little wicked, Elinor.
She is, but I love her so much. It’s so bad. I’ve been seeing these posts online and everyone’s like, “I support women’s rights, but I also support Elinor’s wrongs.”
That’s a good one.
I wanted to try my best to make her really likable because I just think she’s fun. I mean, obviously, she has her faults, but it’s so fun to dive to those places and to just go for it.
Yeah. I think that she was the most fun character on the show, without a doubt. Every time I got a new episode, I was like, “Oh, I’m getting married. Ooh, I’m doing what now?” I was constantly thanking Felicia.
Just from my very first audition, she has been so helpful and she’s just trusted me a lot with Elinor and given me some really amazing storylines to work with, so I am forever grateful to her.
So if I consider her wicked, how do you portray Elinor? Okay, so she’s definitely fun, and she’s kind of a hot mess and wicked, but what do you infuse into her?
I never think badly about a character, especially if you’re playing them. So I just see her as driven and confident. I think she’s a really good sister.
She’s not afraid to go for what she wants. She understands how her family works. She understands how amazing a matriarchy is and she just fully embraces it.
Somebody asked me yesterday, they were watching First Kill and they asked me, do they… Do your vampires age? They’re a born family, right? Aren’t the daughters born?
Well, it’s confusing because… Yes. So we age, but I’m pretty sure you would have to get confirmation on this because when Polly came in to be our grandmother, I was like, “How is Polly my grandma?” And they said, “We stop aging at 50,” is apparently how it goes.
Oh, that’s a good deal.
That’s what I’ve been told. But that was one of my favorite things with Elinor’s fashion. We tried to make her timeless; she could exist in any era. So we tried. Mercedes, the costume designer, and I had a lot of fun playing up all the different eras and all of Elinor’s looks.
Was there any particular look that you liked the best?
Oh, I mean that red Valentino dress was pretty iconic for her engagement party. I had that cape, and I would just run around set like a vampire with my cape. Elinor’s so sleek and confident, and I was running around like a child, like, “Look at my cape.”
You know what? That’s fun. I think it’s probably you showing through that makes her so fun, even though she can be a little much.
I know. I definitely am a goofy person. I wanted to make sure she was likable, so I was excited to put a little bit of goofiness and wit in there, for sure.
So what scenes do you think were the most fun to film?
I had so much fun with Sarah Catherine and all of our Juliette scenes. I have a big sister, and I’m the baby of the family. And me and my sister are really, really close. And it was my very first time ever playing a TV sister, and Sarah Catherine and I got really close.
So all of those scenes, we just really would sit down and talk about them for hours and would be so excited as soon as we got a script that we got a sister scene. And I felt like I got to put a lot of my own relationship with my sister into those moments.
So what do you think that Elinor was thinking when she was bested in the end by Juliette?
I think she’s a bit impressed. I mean, the whole time I’m trying to get her to be more like me. And what’s more like Elinor than turning on your own family?
I think it’s the student has become the master in that moment. So I think she’s a bit impressed that she actually had the guts to do it. And I think that’s why she was screaming. Like, this happened far too fast. I thought she still had a way to go.
She’s so calculated. And I feel like Elinor’s always five steps ahead, so for her to be caught off guard was definitely surprising.
Have they talked at all about a second season?
We haven’t heard anything yet, but I just hope so. I mean, the fans have been so kind and so lovely. And I got a message today that was like, “I’m watching it for the fourth time.”
Oh my goodness.
So, I hope. I’m just so surprised. I’m glad people are loving it, and I hope we can expand the story more because we had so much fun filming it, and it would be great to continue on. So, fingers crossed.
So as the person who breathes life into her, how do you imagine Elinor emerges from her current situation?
Oh, I don’t know. I haven’t even thought of it. Felicia told me she’s like, “I have so many ideas for season two for Elinor.” And I was like, “Oh…”
I know she has her little bit of mind control situation, where she can erase people’s memory. So I feel like that might come in handy in jail and getting out of jail.
But I feel like Elinor could pull off orange. I kind of would love if she took over the jail and was the head honcho at the jail for a minute, but I don’t know.
One of my favorite things is her wardrobe, so it would be a little sad if I was in a jumpsuit the whole season.
Well, she might have to get crafty.
She might have to make some looks.
Get some bling going on there so that she’s not just in orange drab.
Yeah, yeah. But I don’t see her sticking around in jail too long; she’s too smart to stay there. Yeah. When she gets over her surprise. Hopefully, it’s a short stint, After the shock value.
But with Oliver, she definitely has a big competition that she hasn’t had to deal with for a while.
That’s true. So what do you say to the fans?
Oh, I’m just so grateful. They have been so overwhelmingly kind, and they’re so creative and talented.
They’re putting together these edits and doing these drawings that are just really unbelievable.
And I think it’s so cool to see people take our artistry and turn it into their own art. And I love seeing all the fan art and fan edits.
So I’m kind of swirling around to our initial question with something similar. What’s the most important thing I should know about you? What absolutely excites you right now?
I think just opportunity. I’m excited. I think for the last two years, we all have been stuck at home, and it’s been hard, and it’s exciting to be out.
It’s exciting to be connecting with new people. It’s exciting to have new opportunities. And I’m just pretty jazzed on life in general. I can’t complain. I feel really blessed.
I have been doing this for over 10 years, and the fact that I get to play make-believe for a living, and I get to create these fun worlds to live in with amazing people, I don’t know. I feel really lucky.
That’s good. We watched you on Chasing Life and on Zoo. I had a particular soft spot for Zoo because I just thought it was just this kind of balls-out fun. I loved it. I loved your character.
I’ve been very lucky that I’m always in these wild worlds, all these crazy genres. I mean, Greer was her own thing, and she was so much fun. And I’m still really close with Haley Ramm. And we actually got dinner last week. And we were talking about Brenna. We’ve stayed really close friends, which is cool.
It was my first adult role, so I felt like Haley really took me under her wing. I feel like every job I’ve been on, I’ve had all these amazing female actresses lead the way for me.
And my favorite thing about this job is I got to kind of do that for Sarah Catherine, and I got to be there for her the way Elizabeth Mitchell and Kristen Connolly from Zoo, and Leslie Bibb from Jupiter’s Legacy have always been there for me.
And you make these sisterhoods and these relationships from these shows. And I think because First Kill is so female-centered with our matriarchy, and with our producers, and our directors, and our showrunner. I love the female energy in my life, and it’s exciting to do a project that really celebrates that.
Are there some females in the industry right now that you would love the opportunity to work with?
Oh, my goodness. I mean, I love Greta Gerwig. I think everything she does is incredible. And I think Margot Robbie is telling really cool stories.
Charlize Theron is such a badass, and I love doing stunts, so an opportunity to do something in a world that she’s in would be really cool.
I don’t know. I’m so surprised on every job by these amazing women I meet and get to connect with.
Well, thank you so much for chatting with me today. Sounds like you’re living your best life right now, Gracie.
I am. Thank you.
I hope it continues for you.
Thank you so much. And thank you so much for watching all these shows over the years. It really means a lot to me.
Well, you pick good shows. What can I say?
They’re pretty fun. It’s a fun, crazy world. So I appreciate you watching all of them.
I remember on Zoo, we were shooting a scene and they were like, “Okay, outside the window are dive-bombing turkeys causing earthquakes. React.”
And we were like, “I’m sorry, I don’t know how to react to that.” [laughs]
Happy Thanksgiving! [laughs]
The turkeys cause earthquakes? [laughs]
Yeah. I just loved every crazy thing about that show. I just loved it.
It was so crazy and fun. We were like, “All right. We’re going to make it believable. Let’s go for it.” We still have a group text when crazy animal things happen in the news. Someone will just send one in the group text, like, “Should have been on Zoo!”
Oh, that’s awesome. Maybe they’ll bring it back as some kind of a streaming movie, with all the new CGI, can you imagine?
Oh, my God. I could. It would be so fun.
And even in just, what, six years or something, CGI has changed so dramatically.
I know. It would be wild.
Well, thank you so much, Gracie. It was lovely chatting with you.
Thank you so much.
First Kill is streaming on Netflix
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.