True Blood PaleyFest’09: Interviews With the Men of True Blood

April 15, 2009 by  

Matt Fowler from IGN.com had the opportunity to interview the men of True Blood during the True Blood PaleyFest’09 panel discussion held at the Arclight Hollywood Cinerama Dome on Monday, April 13, 2009. Many thanks to Mr. Fowler for giving TrueBloodNet.com permission to post his interview in its entirety here for you. The following report has several season 2 spoilers so do not read any further if you do not want to be spoiled.

April 14, 2009 – Waiting in the press line at The Paley Festival’s True Blood night, one could still see the line of fans outside the interview tent. They were a mix of local hardcore fans and people from all over the world who had flown in to see the stars of their favorite bawdy vampire soap – and most of them had been waiting there since the morning.

I got a chance to have some few choice words with some of the featured players on the show. Nelsan Ellis, who played the fan favorite character of Lafayette, in Season 1, was in attendance. There are a ton of people that hope that one of the ways that the writers of the show will deviate from the books is by keeping his character alive – even though the last scene in Season 1 played out just like it did in the first book, with the discovery of his dead body. Still, he was there so I decided to ask him what his, hands down, favorite scene was as Lafayette. “AIDS burger. I loved loved loved that scene,” Said Ellis. “We did five takes and for all five I just loved doing it. You know, it’s always fun to beat someone’s ass.”

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Up next was one of the stand outs of Season 1, despite his small amount of screen time, Alexander Skarsgard (a name that’s hard to say out loud without the female fans squealing with glee). Skarsgard plays Eric, the Nordic hunk of a Vampire leader, who gets to boss the character of Bill around. For fans of the Charlaine Harris books, Eric winds up becoming a way more interesting enticing character than Bill. It’s clear that that design might not hold up on the TV show however. How does Skarsgard feel about being on a show like True Blood? “It’s a lot of fun,” said Skarsgard. “It’s a tremendous character to play, and it’s also kind of scary, because when you’re on stage or shooting a movie you have the whole arc. You see the beginning, the middle and the end of the character so you know where you’re going. On a TV show, I don’t know what we’ll be shooting two weeks from now. It’s kind of scary, but it’s also very exciting.”

As Season 2 plays out, there are rumors that Skarsgard’s Eric might make a play for Sookie herself. “I just think that, in general, he’s not very interested in humans,” Skarsgard smiled. “In the beginning of this, it’s a very professional relationship. He’s an entrepreneur. He’s a business man. He thinks “alright, I can use this girl.” But as it goes on then…you know, of course he’s interested. There’s something about this girl. There’s something kind of intriguing about her. And, to tell you the truth, I don’t know where it’s going to take us. I don’t know what Alan and the other writers are up to.”

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Next up was the very prim, polite and Australian Ryan Kwanten, who is absolutely nothing like the character of Jason Stackhouse that he plays. This is being said, of course, to the actor’s credit as a thespian. How did Kwanten go about making such a flawed character into someone actually lovable?

“That was sort of a concern for me that there people might not see any redeeming qualities in him at all,” said Kwanten. “I felt that it was important that I give him a certain vulnerability. So that even when he is, you know, backhanding Sookie or letting his nether regions lead him astray and into bad situations, there’s always a truth behind him. Everyone, in some bizarre shape or form, knows someone like him.”

Coming up in Season 2, Jason will actually be off on his own, in his own story with the Fellowship of the Sun. Was it hard for Kwanten to not be acting with the regular cast he’d grown accustomed to? “Because we sort of bonded so strongly in the first season, it was a little sad to leave them – consistently now,” remarked Kwanten. “It was also nice to know that the writer’s trust me enough to sort of have my own little side storyline going on.”

Next we got to talk to the very English Stephen Moyer, who plays Brooding Bill Compton. It might be interesting to see a ladies “cheer off” between Moyer and Skarsgard one, day. And then again, it might not. Skarsgard might have a bit of an international advantage, but there were a ton of ladies in the crowd wearing “Bill Sired Me” shirts – which is something I shared with Moyer in order to make him blush. What’s in store for Bill in Season 2? “We’ve already got three characters that aren’t really in the books,” Moyer revealed. “And I’m not even talking about Jessica. We go back again, as we did in the first season, and see a bit of Bill in the past. We pursue the Dallas element of the book, but there’s also a lot of other stuff going on. Crazy other stuff.”

Did Moyer think that the show was going to be such a sensation? “One always hopes, you know,” laughed Moyer. “When I read this I though “this was the one.” When I read it, I was in England at the time, and I wasn’t ready to head back to America for a job at that time. But then I read it and had to come. It was so amazing. I personally am not surprised, because I think it’s incredible.”

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And finally, I had a chance to talk to Sam Trammell, who plays, well…Sam. I asked him a few questions with regards to how the series was going to treat Bill, since in the book series Bill kind of gets sidelined a bit and Sam almost takes off as the one to root for. “I think they’re jimmying it a little bit and that Bill is going to be more of a character than he is in the books,” said Trammell. “Alan tries to respect the books as well as he can, but I know that those two are a great element on the show and they play off well with one another to a great degree. I think Bill is going to be around more on the show than what happens to him in the books. He’ll be more present.”

What was Sam‘s favorite moment coming out of Season 1? “There was that fun and poignant moment at the end, when Sam got to see Maryanne,” said Trammell. “Just because it was so titillating and intriguing. There’s so much great stuff to mine with Sam because Sam was abandoned when he was a very young guy and there’s a bunch of questions. How did he become who he is? How did he get all that money? How did he start Merlotte’s? Where was he that whole time? He’s a shapeshifter, so what has he done to survive, leading such a hard life as a kid to an adult. There is a lot of good stuff that we bring out in the second season. That’s really fun. It’s fun to read and see what they come up with.”

SOURCE: IGN.com: True Blood Cast Q & A

(Photo credit: Kevin Parry/The Paley Center for Media)

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  • Nia

    I agree with AdoreBill, I am a big Bill fan. I beleive that the love between Sookie and Bill is deep and true. Eric was fun and a fling. There was lust not real love there. Remeber, Bill did not willingly betray Sookie. But having her believe so allowed the story to develop in a different way, with Eric. So that when she does realize that Bill is the one, that realization is all the more sweeter. I would say more about the books but it would spoil it any more for those who are still reading them. I still would like to see a lot of friction between Eric and Bill. Would make for a great season.

  • andrea

    I believe even in the books there is an underlying unconditional love that Bill has for Sookie it’s just that she felt betrayed…Eric also cares for her in a more selfish way only when he is not himself and fans of the book will no what I am referencing, he shows more emotion .I really enjoy both I do not want the books to be a script I want to follow a story that uses the book as a basis but fleshes out the other characters. I want to enjoy them independently a movie would most likely need to follow the books more closely, but deny the relationships the show creates . I think the benefit of it being a series should let us enjoy both, for the creative addicting world that Alan Ball and Charlaine Harris have created for us

  • callonmebill

    I totally agree with AdoreBill and hope AB does too that Sookie and Eric are just a hot, fun and sexy fling, but in the end Bill’s her true love.

  • SELENE

    this is my opinion about true blood and the vision of alan ball: the most of the true blood fans are people who have read the books, and the people who had not read books, have read after the first season, all these people or the vast majority want to see the relationship of eric and sookie in true blood like in the books…I’m not interested so much to be done in the series apart from the history of sookie and eric, because for me they are the best of this story, they are “the soul of the books” and whether Alan Ball changes or eliminates the love story of eric and sookie in true blood,better then would not have done the series, because definitely, if this part of history is changed, we are not talking about of charlaine harris books

    • I understand what you are saying SELENE I have read all 8 books and I have always loved Bill but I have seen the love between Sookie and Bill as stronger then the fling she had with Eric. Therefore the series can be interpreted in different ways and if Alan Ball feels to go in the direction of developing the Bill and Sookie love story it is not necessarily wrong because it is based on one’s interpretation and True Blood is an adaptation of the novels. We will just have to wait and see.

  • rainlily

    Love the interviews! Where’s the ladies? LOL Thanks for posting. 🙂