Stephen Moyer: A British Vampire in True Blood

December 15, 2009 by  

Stephen MoyerStephen Moyer, who plays a Southern gentleman, former American Civil War soldier and a 173-year-old vampire in the hit HBO series True Blood, is another British actor in the US currently setting female hearts a-fluttering.

Hailing from his hometown Brentwood, Essex, his native accent can be detected in several interviews he gave recently in the UK. His pedigree as a thoroughbred thespian is unmistakable too. He graduated from the highly regarded LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art), has worked in the theatre for several years, for example, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Oxford Stage Company and the National Theatre of Wales, before making the transition to television and film. He has appeared with Trevor Eve in Waking the Dead, a BBC police procedural crime drama; Casualty, Cold Feet, Peak Practice and before True Blood, he also played a vampire in Ultraviolet.

In his latest incarnation as vampire Bill Compton in True Blood, Stephen now finds himself in the position as a late-blooming star. Stephen starts off the interview singing in the bathroom and when he emerges he has a smile so wide and charismatic that, according to the reporter could “charm doors off their hinges” which may account for Stephen‘s legion of female fans who find him irresistible. Joining the ranks of other British actors such as, for example, Dominic West, Daniel Craig and Robert Pattinson, who have become heartthrobs, Moyer is asked if he knows the reason why the US has developed a fondness for British actors, Moyer replies,

“We’re fresh faces. You can be someone with a pedigree, technique, training, who no one has seen before. It’s not Anglophilia either, because True Blood also has Australians, Swedes, New Zealanders […]. But isn’t it sad that British actors have to go abroad to find work? I’ve been going to the States for nearly a decade because that’s where the work is, and that still makes me angry.”

When asked about his thoughts on why True Blood is a hit, Moyer explains,

“People love big, bold shows, but they want them to have something to do with their lives […] We all have sex, don’t we? We all live in tight communities of friends and families that get tangled and messy, don’t we? Our lives have moments of drama and comedy. That’s what True Blood is about. It’s not really about vampires and werewolves – it’s about relationships.”

At the same time, Moyer explains that True Blood is aired on cable, which makes a vast difference with regard to how drama is constructed. He clarifies further,

“In Britain, we have auteur culture. Jimmy McGovern, Alan Bleasdale or Paul Abbott comes up with a great idea, and then takes six months to write six episodes. In America, someone of equal stature like Alan Ball […] comes up with an idea, writes a pilot, then gets six writers he respects to do an episode each. This happens in a month, the process is fresh and thorough, and it pushes everyone to be adventurous with heavy subjects […] When I look at Channel 4 taking on True Blood without changing a frame […] there is no reason why British TV couldn’t work the same way.”

Moyer also believes that True Blood also reflects bigger themes and that there is more to this vampire series. He reflects,

“Modern America wants popular television that explores big subjects […] It’s about issues that boom right back through history – segregation, the battles between blacks and whites, homophobia, the place of the religious right […] there’s an awful lot going on in our show behind the frothy romp, and you can take what you want from them. The show also reminds viewers what has changed in America, and what hasn’t. It’s the country in a nutshell.”

At the same time, Stephen Moyer also acknowledges the eternal appeal of vampires. When asked as to why we seem to be currently surrounded by vampires in film and fiction, Moyer suggests that,

“[Vampires] never really went away. The Sookie Stackhouse Chronicles […] and the Twilight books have been bestsellers for years. The stigma about them is disappearing, though. Maybe people want escapist drama in times of recession, maybe vampires represent sexual repression that we want to be freed from. Most vampires come from a courtly, historical place too – they’re lovely and charming, but they could suddenly take you, in a very atavistic, primal way […] There’s an appeal there! […]”

Moyer also gives us his views as to what makes a good TV vampire,

“Well, there are two kinds: the vampire who revels in the idea of living forever, like mine did in Ultraviolet, or the vampire who want to have human form, like Bill. We can understand his desire better: to be like our old selves, to mourn what could have been, to stop feeling like an outsider. I’d say try and conjure that up. I’d also say, try to be sexy, dark and brooding, of course […] but also try to hold a mirror up to what people really are. That is why True Blood does, and that’s why it works.”

UK fans of HBO’s True Blood will be thrilled to learn that FX has picked up Season 2 of the hit HBO vampire series.

Season 2 of True Blood will premiere on FX in February 2010, following on from the current terrestrial screening of Season 1 on Channel 4.

Meanwhile, Alan Ball has commenced shooting and casting for Season 3 of True Blood. The Third Season of True Blood is set to debut in June 2010 in the US.

SOURCE: The Word Magazine via Thellou and The Vault

Picture credit: Albert L. Ortega via