True Blood Season 3 and 4 from Alan Ball

January 5, 2010 by  

Although Alan Ball remains tight-lipped about the specifics of what True Blood’s third season will bring, he sheds some light on what goes into producing the vampire show that has become a huge success for HBO. In addition to sharing interesting stories about the casting of some of the characters, he also describes the process of adapting Charlaine Harris‘ bestselling Sookie Stackhouse books and of keeping a supernatural series grounded in reality.

Coming from the award-winning HBO show Six Feet Under, Alan was probably used to fans appreciating the emotion and meaning of his work, but True Blood has brought a different kind of response. People are incredibly enthusiastic about the show, and their obsession has at times made Alan feel like a rock star. He says that having such passionate fans makes it really fun and exciting for those who work on the show.

HBO seems thrilled by the reaction towards the series and has already made a deal with Alan to be the showrunner for the next two years. That makes season four all but guaranteed. Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

It’s clear how much Alan loves Charlaine’s books, or he wouldn’t have wanted to make a television show out of them. There are inevitable deviations from the source material in order to develop supporting characters like Tara and Lafayette, but he always tries to stay true to the spirit of the books. As for Season three and fans who might be concerned that Eric won’t be featured as prominently on screen as he is on the page, Alan assures us that his role will increase because he is such a big part of Sookie‘s life in the next couple of books. Some things will definitely be different, though, especially given the way they have changed things in the first two seasons and how future storylines will build on those changes:

“I think we’re always going to use the books as sort of a foundation, but I just don’t see how, as time goes on, you can’t diverge from them a little bit more each season. I don’t know, though. We’re starting to work on Season Three and we actually are really, really sticking to the books, at the beginning at least.”

Some people who have read the series might have been initially shocked by the sex and violence shown on True Blood, but Alan notes that those things are present in the books–it’s just different to actually see them come to life, and it’s never been so graphic that HBO had to prevent them from showing something.

Working on a show that has a supernatural element, Alan knows that they will need to use special effects to achieve certain things, but he never wants to use those cliche CGI techniques seen in past vampire and monster stories. He also doesn’t want the effects to detract from the characters:

“The effects are just the shorthand to get us from one stage to another. But we will never be about the effects. I mean, it’s less interesting to me how [Bill’s] face might change or what exactly are the mechanics of the fangs coming down–although we have really thought about that–than the fact that he’s been alive for a hundred and seventy years, most of them as a vampire, and his wife and children, whom he loved deeply, he outlived them. He’s outlived everybody. He’s in a changing world and he’s given up on the idea of having any sort of love in his life until he meets this girl. That to me is way more interesting than what [growing fangs] looks like.”

Alan also discusses a few of the casting choices that were made and how perfectly the actors have worked as their characters. Anna Paquin put herself into consideration for the role of Sookie, which surprised Alan because he didn’t expect an established film actress and Academy-Award winner like her to be interested in working in television. Luckily, she was, and she has gone on to embody Sookie, winning a Golden Globe for her portrayal. Bill Compton was a difficult part to cast because there were a couple of guys that Alan thought might be good that HBO didn’t really agree with, and it wasn’t until a London casting director sent him the tape of Stephen Moyer that he knew he had found the right man to play the Southern gentleman vampire.

The character of flamboyant Merlotte’s cook Lafayette survived past his book life because of the extraordinary talent of Nelsan Ellis and the impression he made on Alan:

“[He] channeled something from somewhere that is kind of amazing. I definitely knew Jason had to be a great character actor [Ryan Kwanten plays the role]. I think all the major characters I knew were going to be really, really strong and really, really compelling, but I think Nelsan is the one [who was most surprising]–I had no idea that would happen.”

Alan also describes how excited he was about casting Lois Smith as Gran:

“I love Lois Smith. That’s one of those things where when I’m talking to the casting director, I say, ‘I’d like someone like Lois Smith.’ ‘Let’s get Lois Smith!’ ‘You think she’s do this, she’d be willing?’ ‘Yes.’ I was so happy to have her. Anna was, too–Anna was like,” Ball does an impression of Paquin bursting into song, ” ‘Lois Smith!’ “

Those are just a few examples of how great the casting has worked out on True Blood. It even won an Emmy for it. We fans have seen all the actors create very dynamic, engaging characters under Alan’s very capable leadership. We can’t wait to see how the new characters and stories will play out in Season three!

SOURCE: blog.buzzymultimedia.com

(Photo credit: life.com)

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  • eric forever

    I have watched all series 3, part from the finale obviously and read all the books, including the most recent no.10. I like how they are different, the books to the show. It not only keeps things different but you feel as though you are still learning something new about the characters and it doesn’t feel like your just watching the book youy read, your watching something similar but in so many ways completley different. I love how lala is still in the show, and jessicas character is very entertaining, specifically the story with the trucker and hoyt. I must admit though the 4th book was my favourite and i hope the story line in huge with eric and sookie!! But i like the show so far and how it has loosely held the book with keeping things still really fresh and interesting. Eric just better be naked for a large part of season 4 is all i can say lol.
    True blood fan forever..

  • v rad

    can any one tell me when season 4 will release

    • B. Kent

      Season 4 probaby won’t be aired until next June or July…AHHH, can we wait another year????

  • buddabar

    THANK YOU HBO!!!!! I am a disabled veteran and you have for one hour brightened my mind and life with the magical world of True Blood. I love Eric, LaLa, Pam and definetly Jessica. Such wonderful actors that take you away. It is a shame that one of the best performances “Russel” will take the path he appers to be heading for, since I believe he is “BIG SCREEN” material, I would not loose that actor. I admit I am not previ to the books, however this leads me to an open mind when viewing the show. From what I have read here Eric’s role will expand. YAHOOOO! I would to see Sookie with him. Sad to see Godric go. But, what do I know?

    Mr. Alan Ball thank you for giving me light for one hour every week to my tormented mind. You have/are/will continue to engage/enlighten/entertain ALL True Blood related fans. You come into our homes an touch us. This is your legacy, congradulations!

  • Valerie Boyd

    I have read all of the books including the most recent book Dead in the Family. I was bored with two thirds of the book but it finally picked up in the end. I’m not sure Ms Harris found her pace until the last third of the book. The show is one of my favorites although last season was disappointing. I would have liked to see less of the MaryAnn character and much more of the
    Godric storyline. I was also deeply disappointed with the Yahtzee playing queen. The music leading up to her was real New Orleans and instead of a queen who represented the area we got hollywood starlett. I hope they do a better job with characters this time around. They had a problem with character development and consistency. I hope the writing for season 3 will return to the quality of season 1. I am hopeful and excited for the show to start.

  • pbt

    79 more days until the V-ddiction continues! Go True Blood!

  • D. Reilly

    To AB @ HBO:I am very Lucky to have seasons 1 & 2 on tape.Watching all re-runs , has me “primed” for season 3..If anyone didn’t catch it the first or second time..watching third time ** screams out this fact: Though they may be a “real life” couple, Anna/Stephen do not have the “on screen chemistry” that we see with Anna/Alexander!! Building up that “tension” is great t.v…throw in some other “interests”…jealousy…etc. Harris had Sookie “thinking about the viking,much more than is healthy ” etc. On her mission to “rescue” Bill; Sookie gets STAKED @ Club Dead. ( Eric gives her his blood to heal, & continue on to get Bill back.) This was a very “erotic” blood bonding…Eric didn’t forget even when he lost memory…Sookie never “forgets” time spent with Eric:even when he re-gains memory. Later they blood bond again @ conference: Sookie “saves ” Eric & Pam …Eric “saved” sookie from Andre.(Queen was on trial)..ALL TOGETHER DEAD Later they fight the Fairy War..( Book 4 it’s “war with witches”…)PLEASE, Mr. Ball.. read those novels again…ONLY TO GET THE ‘nature” of these characters RIGHT. there is a “theme” going…Bill lets Sookie “go without”…she struggles,..Eric “pays” for his rescue @ Sookies…repairs her driveway, fixes her door, buys her cell phone w.”paid service”, sends a beautiful coat, erotic flowers. ,..ALL VERY LOW KEY…but he”s “INTERESTED” & “ATTRACTED” Sookie ..RESPONDS (in novels, accepts gifts..)
    SO HERE IT IS: I LOVE your show !!! GREAT actors..I’m asking WHY you change “personality” of characters ?? I mean…BILL goes back w’ Lorena, then “leaves” Sookie hanging..he’s a lover for sure BUT cold !! Sookie & Bill don’t “laugh” and “joke” like Eric does..I DON’T “recognize” Eric’s character ;”THROUGH SOOKIES EYES” on True Blood. Harris has them “dancing” & “flying” through the air…
    Is this BECAUSE Anna & Stephen are a “couple”, engaged, etc.??
    THAT”S ALWAYS THE PROBLEM with “NOVELS”..going “on screen”…
    THANKYOU FOR YOUR TIME HERE…..AND PLEASE PLEASE make SEASON #3 and #4…G R E A T…always a fan, D. Reilly

    • Again at the end you say Bill leaves Sookie for Lorena. Ummm that did not happen on True Blood. Bill proposed at the end of Season 2. Yes I have read ALL the books and as you can tell by my name I love Bill both in the books (yes all the way through the books)and on TV.

      Alan said in a very old interview what attracted him to the books was not the Sookie adventures but the character Bill and the themes that the books dealt with (the loss of something that you treasure, redemption, acceptance etc.).

      Personally I and many others have said that the Bill and Sookie scene are extremely hot (hello graveyard sex and scenes in the hotel)and I agree. In the show Sookie is not interested in Eric and in some scene states her disgust for him. Due to the ingestion of Eric’s blood she is having these vivid sexual dreams no different to what Lafayette is due to drinking Eric’s blood as well.

      I love what Alan is doing in the show and support him. Of course I admit that I am NOT looking forward to seeing any Eric and Sookie scenes but that does not mean I will stop loving it or supporting it. True Blood is an amazing show that knows how to pull on people’s heartstrings and to make them sit on the edge of their seats.

      It is a wonderful way to escape reality for one hour a week into the magical world of True Blood and dream. 🙂

      • Antonio

        D Reilly I have not read Any of Ms. Harris’s books because I did not want to become confused about what was going on. I trust Mr.Ball to define My experience of the show…He Does own the rights to it. Did he and the writers overdo it with the whole Maryann storyline in S2? Yes But I kept watching nonetheless!
        It is a good show and it keeps folks on the edge of their seat!
        At the end of season 1, people wanted to know 2 things: 1. Who Was That in Andy’s car?? and How did Sam know Maryann? and where did that money come from? Ok maybe 3 things! LOL
        At the end of S2, the big question Was Who abducted Bill and Why?? Thats good Tv! As for the books vs. the show? just sit back and enjoy the ride that AB and the writers are taking us on. It Was 1 heck of a ride last season, Maryann feeding Tara and Eggs that “souffle” Gross! But never a dull moment right? He’s bound to take us somewhere else! Just enjoy it!

        • pbt

          Personally I enjoy both of them; show and books. They both have their positive and negative points. I would amend Antonio your post to include: Where and Why did Eric not return to Bon Temps to help with the maenand??? Yes, Bill’s disappearance is perplexing but I would also like to know what happened to the Viking.

          LOL.

          77 more days!!

          • Antonio

            Why didn’t Eric go back to help vanquish the maenad? I really dont think that he cared! Why would i say this? 2 things come to mind 1. Sam went to Fangtasia to ask Eric for help with this and not Only did he Not want to get involved but he also insulted Sam,Too referring to him as “that shifter”
            2. Eric is self-centered and apathetic
            I really dont think that Eric would care enough to even bother!
            I thought it was kind of mean for Bill to go get Sam and then throw him before Maryann and Eggs…I know it was all part of the plot to bring about her demise but sheesh!

          • jaxx

            I agree PBT, I enjoy both books and show in their own right.

            I think we will find out in epi. 1 why Eric wasn’t there helping with the maenad. I think we will find out he was otherwise detained, but with who????

          • pbt

            Hey Jaxx. I think we will find out that the Viking had intentions of going and helping with the maenand even if it was for selfish purposes. To look good in Sookie’s eyes, perhaps. Eric Northman has been interested in Sookie since they first met. He made that quite known to Bill upon meeting the telepath at Fangtasia.

            Alan Ball has certainly kept episode one a very well kept secret for sure. Nothing has leaked out about his episode yet. I hope we will get a lengthier teaser and perhaps a little snippet from episode one will be leaked. Judging from the end of Season One, QSA and Eric is one of the cliffhangers at the end of the season.

            As far as who is Eric being detained by? The best answer I still have is with Queen Sophie Anne. Whether it QSA herself or some other scenario that she put into play. Just my opinion here.

          • jaxx

            I agree PBT, I think QSA has him engaged in either the nasty or another game of Yatzhee (lol). There will be a good explanation for his absence. You are right, he wants to look good in Sookie’s eyes, it was beyond his control. IMO.

          • pbt

            Oh god. Let’s hope its not Yahtzee still. W

          • pbt

            OK that was weird. I was typing it posted before I hit submit comment. Anyways, yes my hope is that QSA has the Viking doing his own pole dance of some sort. LOL

    • jaxx

      D. Reilly, I struggled with separating the books from the tv show for a loooong time. I think I have finally succeeded in separating them. I, like you, love the books and how CH has built up the Eric/Sookie story and hope it will continue in Book 10, but we’ll have to wait and see. Actually, Club Dead, Dead to the World and Altogether Dead were my favorite Eric/Sookie tales, especially the vampire summit and the dancing scene. Just fell in love with him. So I hear you and understand your frustration at not seeing on tv what you have read, BUT …

      AB has bought the rights to the CH books. He is telling the story his way using the same characters from not just Sookie’s point of view but Bill’s, Eric’s, Sam’s, Jason’s, etc. I do like most of his version and am very much looking forward to Season 3, jumping out of my skin actually in anticipation. As long as we don’t have anymore maenads, that’s a good thing. lol

      I just try to think of it as 2 separate things. We’ll always have the books as reference points, but I do like his spin on most things. We’ll just have to wait and see. A lot happened in Club Dead which looks like, from the spoilers, we are headed that way this season. Am very much looking forward to it.

      I agree Ollie that we should support this show. If there are too many arguments, the show will be cancelled and then we won’t get to watch our favorite characters at all anymore which would be devestating for us all.

      Counting down the days…….

  • Antonio

    With the next season coming up soon We fans have a few things to speculate about namely: Who abducted Bill and Why? What will Sam find out about his real family? How will this affect him? Will Tara and Jason finally get together? What will we learn about Eric’s past? How will Sookie deal with Bill’s disappearance? However, I could not imagine what would happen in S4? Would Sookie and Bill Still be together? I’m glad it may be around for at least a couple more years I guess we will have to wait to see what develops. The Sopranos was on for almost 7 years..Will TB be on for almost as long?
    Will people and or the network still be interested after Season 4? Guess we will just have to see

  • Isabela

    I have read the books and I love see True Blood the show.
    I accept that the show is different, and I believe the show works because it’s different. If the show was exactly like the books it wouldn’t be so interesting to those of us that have read the books.
    True Blood is an adaptation of Charlaine’s story and offering us suspense, stronger plots and very surprises. Alan tries to stay true to the spirit of the books, but sometimes It is almost a new story:
    – In True Blood Bill ask Sam to watch over Sookie. In the books, it’s Bubba that acts as a bodyguard to Sookie.
    – In the books Eric kill the bartender from Fangtasia, in True Blood it is Bill.
    – In True Blood we have Jessica (who does not appear in the books) and the girl is really perfect on the show.
    – In True Blood Eric’s maker is Godric and it is obvious for all of us that Godric is the most important person in Eric’s life. Eric loves him so much that he wants to die with him.
    In the books Eric’s maker it was a Roman named Appius Livious Ocella, and he forced Eric to be his lover, and Eric doesn’t like that and don’t like Appius.
    – Lafyette dies in the books, but Alan Ball decided to keep him in the show. Like Jessica Lafyette is perfect on the show.
    – In the books Bill is Sookie first love but Eric is probably her true love. In the show Sookie love Bill and don’t like Eric. Sookie says to Eric “I’d prefer Cancer”.
    In the show Sookie beginnings is attraction to Eric when he tricked her into drinking is blood in the explosion at Godric’s home.

    What I am saying is that Alan Ball can change it if he real wants. I know that I love Godric because he is so well written and act. He was there for two episodes and he made the whole season. I love Lafyette and Jessica in the show. And I love to see more of Pam also.
    I know I want to see where they go with this great story and amazing characters.

  • Isabela

    I have read the books and I love see True Blood the show.
    I accept that the show is different, and I believe the show works because it’s different. If the show was exactly like the books it wouldn’t be so interesting to those of us that have read the books.
    True Blood is an adaptation of Charlaine’s story and offering us suspense, stronger plots and very surprises. Alan tries to stay true to the spirit of the books, but sometimes It is almost a new story:
    – In True Blood Bill ask Sam to watch over Sookie. In the books, it’s Bubba that acts as a bodyguard to Sookie.
    – In the books Eric kill the bartender from Fangtasia, in True Blood it is Bill.
    – In True Blood we have Jessica (who does not appear in the books) and the girl is really perfect on the show.
    – In True Blood Eric’s maker is Godric and it is obvious for all of us that Godric is the most important person in Eric’s life. Eric loves him so much that he wants to die with him.
    In the books Eric’s maker it was a Roman named Appius Livious Ocella, and he forced Eric to be his lover, and Eric doesn’t like that and don’t like Appius.
    – Lafyette dies in the books, but Alan Ball decided to keep him in the show. Like Jessica Lafyette is perfect on the show.
    – In the books Bill is Sookie first love but Eric is probably her true love. In the show Sookie love Bill and don’t like Eric. Sookie says to Eric “I’d prefer Cancer”.
    In the show Sookie beginnings is attraction to Eric when he tricked her into drinking is blood in the explosion at Godric’s home.

    What I am saying is that Alan Ball can change it if he real wants. So, I don’t know if Sookie and Eric get together in True Blood, like in the books. I don’t know if Bill working for the Queen, like in the books.
    I know that I love Godric because he is so well written and act. He was there for two episodes and he made the whole season. I love Lafyette and Jessica in the show. And I love to see more of Pam also.
    I know I want to see where they go with this great story and amazing characters.

  • Mony

    I always wanted to know where all tha charatcters where whwn they were not with Sookie and even Bill as well becouse he has not much scene from book 4 so i’m really excited about that…I know however that this would be a Ball’s idea of the plot and not Harris’s but i’m fine and really interested to find out the backstory of him and others….
    I mean he did a great job with Sam, not like to much Tata but defenitly with sam, Lafa and Jason he didi a excellent job…
    Pleas Alan Bal…MORE MORE MORE PAM!!!!!!!

  • wiwa

    While I admit that I’m not looking forward to Sookie with Eric, I trust that Alan Ball will make the show fun and interesting enough that I’ll be able to cope 🙂
    I am pleased that he has respect for Bill and what he’s been through, I hope that means he’ll manufacture a good story for him, like he did for Jason & Tara.

  • Thanks for posting this article. It seems we have a wild ride ahead! I am glad he is going away from the books a bit – as I have said before, we don’t want a documentary!

  • jaxx

    Thank you Jane. Loved the article. I keep saying this, but I really have a good feeling for S3 and now S4. These 2 seasons should really open up the Sookie universe for us with the addition of different types of supes and continuing saga of our beloved vamps. I really loved the book S3 will be based on and trusting AB to stick to books 3 and 4 as much as he can, this should be a really good season!!! New characters and exciting new storylines as well as old friends in interesting situations. Any small deviations will just become pleasant surprises.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you AB for making us bookies happy, while putting your own remarkable spin on the series. The perfect balance!!! 🙂

    • Loleaf

      Jaxx I agree with you 100%!! Books 3 and 4 were two of my favorites out of the series. Can’t wait to see what compromising positions AB and staff put Eric and Sookie in!! YUM!! Still wondering if the scene after Godric meeting the sun was just a dream of Sookies or if some(not all because we know she didn’t let him bite her) of the more tender moments really happened or not. Bring on Season 3, all this anticipation is killing me.. lol

  • jay

    I would just like to say this fansite is the most objective and non-biast I have visited. Its great to be in an environment of fans that are all passionate about the show, and although we all have our own opinions. Everyone seems incredible open, and this is the only fansite I feel comfortable enough to share my views on. However silly or unconsciously biast my comment maybe. I have always felt this site is well balanced based on my experience on other sites. Keep it up all those who are involved, you do a wonderful job!! Happy 2010 is prosperous for all!!
    ohh yeah and now something more relevant… I cant wait for more development of all characters in the show in season 3 and 4! Cant wait to see who will play debbie pelt, she is a pretty prominent character in the books!

    • Hi Jay!

      Thank you so much for the wonderful words! We do try our very best to be objective and neutral as there are millions of True Blood fans out there that have their favorites and want them to be presented in the best light. Of course there are times when emotions get heated and discussions get very passionate about a character. At those times I try my best to quell the flames down and wish no one’s feelings get hurt or feel that their opinions don’t matter.

      Everyone feels so passionate about the show because it has touched all our hearts in different ways and for different reasons. That is why I like to say that no matter how passionate we are about a character, in the end it is the series, True Blood that allows to escape for a hour during the week into the magical world of Bon Temps.

      That is why I am excited to hear Alan talk about season 3 and to know that there will be a season 4. That the incredible stories and themes that Alan and his creative team of writers develop will continue and having the opportunity to watch the drama unfold with the superb acting from all the actors is enough for me. Regardless of where Alan will take the stories should not really matter, just the fact that he is able to continue to do so should be the basis of our excitement. That is why I am so excited for season 3 and 4 to see where Alan is going to take us. 🙂

      • jay

        its only natural we will all come across another true blood fan that has a different opinion to our own. I always expect this, and also expect that there will always be passionate debate. But at the end of the day, I am happy to know I am not the only passionate fan in the world. I am from NZ at the bottom of the world! 🙂 If I was to admit my favourite character, it would be eric. But this is opinion based on the books. But when it comes to the show, I genuinely cant make up my mind who I love the most because what I like about the show is we get see the lives of all the characters not just sookie. I am happy that eric will be more prominent in season 3 and 4, not for the sookie/eric relationship. (Although that is a contributing factor :)) But more so for the opportunity to explore erics past more, in the hope he developes into a much more interesting and complex character. (1000 years is just to good an opportunity to explore stories and develope eric that the show I’m sure must feel they cannot ignore). In which case I should also mention, I would love to see more of Pams past also. Bill is so interesting and mysterious. I have always wondered what he does when he is not with sookie? what did he do before he was with her? I would love to see this side of him.
        Heck, I would love to see more of andy bellefleur too! He is just too awesome! And terry has always been so mysteriously off to me. I would love to see his life when he was in vietnam. Why is he the way he is? kinda of odd…what happened to him?
        I just want more from everyone, I am itching for season 3 its ridiculous 🙂

  • noclue

    So glad that Ball will make some changes rather than follow closely to the book. Cant wait to see his version.

  • Antonio

    Great article Janie Thanks
    Its just an incredible show! The acting and writing are astonishing!

  • Mony

    Wooooow wooooow wooooooow…
    I mean i already knew all of this things becouse he already said them…but i’m still happy to read them again……
    Not only season 3 and 4 will be very important for Eric but also Season 5 or 6 (finger crossed about have them)……
    Never had a doubt he would follow the books, not becouse i love Eric just becouse Ball loved reading them and he was addicted to book 3 and 4 which are very important for Sookie /Eric and Bill…..
    So I hope to see a a lot s of new things too and i guess ball will surprise us as well as he alreadu did with these 2 great Seasons^^

  • Loleaf

    Woo Hoo Woo Hoo!!! Doing the happy dance!!! Not only do we have Season 3 but to now look forward to the 4th also…. THANK YOU Alan(and crew), and HBO for bringing these books to screen for all of us to enjoy! Can’t wait for the season to begin!!!

    Also, a big “THANK YOU” Janie for always knowing what keeps our TRUE BLOOD pumping!!! LOL

    • Janie Logan

      Haha, you’re welcome! I’m always glad to bring wonderful news. Alan Ball has made us all very happy this week!!!

  • Great article and I love the quotes you use! Go True Blood, to Season 4 and beyond!