Acting is Sam Trammell’s Second Choice

June 17, 2010 by  

Sam Trammell said he became an actor after he realized he was not a genius.  He was attending Brown University studying to be a theoretical physicist.  Looking for another career, Sam told Reuters that he wanted to stop thinking.

In his interview, Sam revealed that early in his acting career he didn’t have much respect for television.  He preferred New York’s theatre and attended as many open calls as was possible.  Busy with personally delivering his resume and head shots to various casting offices and agencies, he was eventually signed for the movie Scent of a Woman with Al Pacino.

Sam took whatever acting opportunities came his way, stating “These were low-budget films but really good experience, and I got better each time.”  He also realized that to be a good actor, you have to be smart.  Following up on his statement that he moved into acting because he wanted to stop thinking, Sam explained that “acting took me out of my head and back into my body”.

It was 7 years ago that Sam decided to relocate to Los Angeles.  “L.A. helped my career,” he says.  “L.A. is a one-horse town.  It’s all about the TV and movie business.  That’s good because it keeps you focused.  It’s bad because there’s no outside energy coming in.  In New York, there is more stimulation.  It’s a whole different vibe.  There’s a street life.  Also, there’s more respect for theater.”

Having since changed his mind about auditioning for TV, Sam now believes that writing for the small screen is far superior to most film writing, especially writing for cable.  And after Alan Ball saw his audition tape for the HBO series, True Blood, Sam was called in to read with the casting director.  Within 4 hours (as opposed to several days), Sam was informed he had the role.  “I was in my car and I literally screamed”, he said.

Now in its 3rd season, True Blood has been a turning point in Sam‘s career.  Playing shape-shifter and bar owner Sam Merlotte, Sam finds the show challenging in two ways.  In addition to the complexity of the writing, Sam had to re-discover his southern accent.  Born in New Orleans and growing up in many southern locales, Sam said it had been 25 years since he’d spoken with a southern accent.  It was a challenge to go back to it and keep it up.

Talking about True Blood, Sam said, “It’s a totally original show, a character drama set in a fantastical world.  Usually genre dramas focus on genre, but Alan Ball is a genius and he writes about character.  He is wired into the Zeitgeist [spirit of the times] and bridges genres.  The show is campy, funny, serious, sexy, bloody, and it’s a gothic romance.  And Alan casts really well.  With the exception of Anna Paquin, the cast is largely an eclectic group of unknowns, which makes it easier for the audience to buy into this world.”

While he acknowledges that vampires are having their moment of glory, Sam is still fascinated by the huge response of the show’s audience.  He does not agree that the phenomenon is simply escapism from the current tough economy.  “Perhaps fantasy is just the antidote to the 24-hour news show.”

Enjoying his luck with True Blood, Sam is hoping this exposure will bring forth high quality movie roles.  Eventually, he’d like to do more stage work and try his hand at directing.  But for now, he’s Sam Merlotte to a huge world-wide audience.


(Photo credit – Lucas Jackson for Reuters)