Mayfair Witches Star Madison Wolfe On Tessa’s Twisted Fate

Tessa Mayfair may have met her untimely demise in Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches episode 7, but her role in the series was pivotal to Rowan’s development. After a season spent spurning the power of the designee at every turn, Rowan (played by The White Lotus’ Alexandra Daddario) chose to resign as host of the spirit Lasher and transfer ownership to her cousin. But when Tessa was most in need, he did not come to her aid, revealing that the transference failed and only Rowan could call him back.

Though not one of the designated thirteen sorceresses in Mayfair Witches’ history, Tessa (portrayed with passion by Madison Wolfe, known for The Conjuring and Malignant) was nevertheless a strong-willed young woman in her own right. Her power to glamor others did not save her life in the end, but her desire to rescue Deirdre’s heart from the hateful witch hunters showed a true commitment to her family. And if her death leads to the fulfillment of the long-awaited prophecy about Rowan, she will have been even more important to the story than anyone expected.

Screen Rant spoke to Wolfe about crafting such a complex character in such a short span of time, her own experience with Mayfair Witches prior to joining the project, and what she thinks Tessa would have done with the power of Lasher.

Madison Wolfe on Mayfair Witches

Screen Rant: What was your way into Tessa Mayfair? Because if I’m not mistaken, she is not in the books. Did you do any background research on Anne Rice, or were you already a fan?

Madison Wolfe: Yeah, I was super familiar with Mayfair Witches and other stuff in the Anne Rice universe, like Interview with the Vampire. But I think for Tessa, I just really went off what the creators of our show wrote and the information that they gave me. It was a really great fountain of information, and I felt really satisfied with the prep that I did for her backstory. I knew who she was enough that I could then make her my own in a way, and doing that prep meant allowing myself to bring her to life.

So far in the show, we’ve really only seen designees who either literally can’t use Lasher, like Deirdre, or who don’t want to use him, like Rowan. Tessa has obviously grown up with full knowledge of Lasher and clearly had a plan for him. What do you think she would do if she was in fact the designee, and how would that affect the Mayfair clan?

Madison Wolfe: I think Tessa would make a really good designee. We can see in these past few episodes that she’s super brave and super determined. At the end of the day, she wants to stand up for what she thinks is right and protect her family. I think that’s obviously such an important part of being a designee and having such a huge responsibility.

But I do think that her downfall happens when she maybe overestimates herself a little bit, and or rather underestimates the rest of the world. Who knows what would have happened if Lasher helped her out, and she did become the full-time designee? I don’t know. But I think she would have made a good one.

I think so too. You had several difficult scenes to shoot in this episode. You’re alone a lot of time, chained up and locked in. What was that experience like, and what do you actually have to go through as a performer?

Madison Wolfe: Yeah, it was super grueling. Pretty much everything in the show is relatively real. We were safe and responsible, of course, but I really was locked in a cage; I really did hang by my wrist from the ceiling; I really did fall to the ground when I got shot. To do all of that while shooting over three days, and be doing it over and over again, is challenging when you’re just talking about the physicality alone.

Add in the emotional weight of the scene, and it’s even more grueling and draining. But it was super fun, and I liked the challenge of it. It was one of my favorite parts of shooting the show.

It was obviously not fun for Tessa when she realizes that Lasher is not under her control. What was that emotional switch for you to play? Was that the end of her rope, or did she have another plan?

Madison Wolfe: No, I don’t think she does have a plan B. When she calls out for him, and he doesn’t come, I think that’s the reason why she gets so emotional. In that moment, she’s really desperate. She doesn’t have a plan B; she doesn’t have any other hope. She knows that.

In this situation, it really does just take you on a roller coaster. Because at the moment, you think all hope is lost, and then you think she’s safe and has got it all figured out because Rowan saved the day. And then at the last second, she’s shot… And she feels all that just like an audience member watching. It’s similar to her own experience, just going through those highs and lows of not knowing what’s going to happen.

Speaking of that last moment, what is a death scene like to film?

Madison Wolfe: I was oddly really excited when I found out. Obviously, I was heartbroken because I love filming the show, but I was secretly excited because I had never died on camera before. I’d never done an onscreen death, and I especially hadn’t gotten shot before.

In the moment, it’s challenging to film. Emotionally, as an actress, you have to let yourself go there and imagine that you actually are in that situation to reach that performance. In that way, it was hard but still fun. Still cool.

You got to have a lot of scenes with Alexandra Daddario in the last couple of episodes, and you have to quickly build that familial bond with her. What was she like to work with, and how did you grow as Tessa and Rowan respectively?

Madison Wolfe: I didn’t come on until episode 4, so we kind of grew with our characters. We shot the episodes chronologically, so I was meeting Alex and the rest of the cast and the crew in episode 4. We were all strangers, and then as time went on, we got to know each other a little bit better. By the time episode 7 rolled around, our connection did grow and paralleled our characters’ connection, which was really cool. Alex is just so incredibly talented and awesome. She’s cool to work with, so it was just a blast.

We have not gotten to see all thirteen designees yet in Mayfair Witches. Do you have a favorite from the books, or is there any Mayfair family member you’d like to see more of?

Madison Wolfe: That’s such a good question. I would say Rowan, but that’s such a basic answer. [Laughs] But I think she is a really special designee because obviously she’s unaware of her whole family history, and that’s why it gives the show such a compelling storyline. So, I’m gonna just stick with Rowan as my favorite designee. I’m gonna stand by that.

We know that AMC has established the Immortal Universe, so we can have a crossover. What kind of crossover would you like to see between Mayfair Witches and Interview with the Vampire? Is there any vampire you would love to see interact with a witch?

Madison Wolfe: I guess all of them. I think that would be such a cool crossover. And who knows if that’s really a possibility? Ultimately, it’s up to AMC. But I think a crossover would be so sick, and it would definitely be a fan favorite. I know that when other shows have done crossovers, as an audience member, it’s always one of my favorites.

Aside from casting spells and calling for Lasher, where else can we see you in the near future? What are you working on?

Madison Wolfe: I have a movie, The Man in the White Van [with Brec Bassinger and Ali Larter], coming out relatively soon. It doesn’t have a release date yet, but it should have a date soon. There’s not too much else I can speak about at the moment, but I’m always working on stuff and looking for future projects.

About Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches

The series will focus on an intuitive young neurosurgeon who discovers that she is the unlikely heir to a family of witches. As she grapples with her newfound powers, she must contend with a sinister presence that has haunted her family for generations.

Check out our other Mayfair Witches interviews here:

Alexandra Daddario, Harry Hamlin & Tongayi Chirisa Annabeth Gish on Episode 2 Tongayi Chirisa on Episode 3 Beth Grant on Episode 4 Jack Huston on Episode 5

Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches airs new episodes on Sundays at 9pm on AMC, though they are available a week early on AMC+.