Stephen Moyer Talks About Bill Compton With The UK Mirror

October 25, 2009 by  

stephen-moyer-2True Blood is picking up momentum with viewers in the UK as Season one continues to air on Channel 4. The Brits seem to be very proud of the show’s success because of the rise to stardom of their countryman, Stephen Moyer. It is only with his subtle but powerful portrayal of 173-year old vampire Bill Compton that fans across the world have fallen in love with Stephen. It is perhaps an understatement to say that his life has changed as a result of True Blood!

In an interview with the UK Mirror, Stephen discusses how Bill came to life. Going back to his childhood, he remembers being drawn to the art of performing:

“My aunt and uncle were holiday camp entertainers and one of my earliest memories is going to the Isle of Wight every summer and watching them perform. My uncle Tony was my absolute idol and he used to do these fantastic impressions – I can remember him doing Elvis. And they also did magic. I think a little bit of that stayed with me. And then I started doing plays at school and loved it.”

The role on True Blood happened after some disappointment for Stephen in his television work, which made him determined to stay in England. Luckily, he listened to his agent and read Alan Ball’s script for the pilot episode. Taping an audition, meeting with Alan and Anna, and being confirmed by HBO to play Vampire Bill all happened in the span of two days. The chemistry between him and Anna was instant. Professionally, he loved working with her, and that energy between them translated into the sizzling Sookie-Bill relationship onscreen, and romance with Anna off-screen:

“From the first moment I met her, the moment we sat together on the sofa doing a scene for Alan, I knew we’d get along brilliantly. I used to teach kids drama and I used to say, ‘There’s no failure, it doesn’t exist. You can do whatever you want and if it doesn’t work it doesn’t matter because you’ll be able to use something from it.’ And with Anna we both sat there and said, ‘Let’s play with this.’ So on the first day we met each other we were walking around working the scenes together. ‘What if I do this? Or how about this?’ It’s an absolute dream to work with someone like that.”

Stephen is so invested in the character of Bill because of his emotional back story and his complicated moral struggle:

“You’ve got this romantic, old-fashioned gentleman who also happens to be a vampire. And the audience has to wonder about that conflict within him and wonder what he is capable of.”

The existence of all of those qualities within Bill is also reflected in his appearance. Stephen appreciates the attention to detail on the show, like in the meaning behind his wardrobe:

“When you first see him he looks like your classic vampire – he’s dark, he’s moody, and he’s brooding. But in episode 2 (of Season one) we tried to show that he smartened himself up a bit – he changed his hair, the way he dresses – because he’s trying to make Sookie and her family feel more at ease with him. Actually, one of the reasons I love this job so much is because we are playing with so many ideas. Like his costumes–the costume designer will come to me and say, ‘How about we try this?’ And it will be a little thing like having his collars turned up on a certain jacket that gives a hint of the Confederate soldier, just a little echo of part of his past.”

And, of course, given that he is portraying a vampire, fangs are a staple of his job description. Stephen says that he has three sets of fangs. They shoot the scenes twice, once normally and once with the teeth in. The moment that the fangs pop out or retract is a CGI effect. They are, as one would expect, quite sharp, and awkward at first:

“There were times especially early on when we were still getting used to them, when the guys playing vampires would sit around between takes and we’d be talking about football and they’d say, ‘OK, camera’s rolling, everyone put your teeth in…’ “

After being asked the question so many times, Stephen laughs about the appeal of vampires to pop culture:

“You’ve got immortality, you’ve got blood and you’ve got sharp, pointed teeth making a hole and sucking from it–that’s sexy, man.”

Nobody really knows what it is about vampires that fans love so much, but whenever the trend starts to fade, I doubt that True Blood will lose its popularity. The story offers so much more meaningful stuff to care about. But the hot vampires certainly help!


(Photo credit: HBO Inc.)