As the premiere of True Blood‘s final season approaches, HBO takes a retrospective look and sits down with creator Alan Ball, Executive Producer Brian Buckner and the cast of this incredibly popular ‘vampires-come-out-of-the-closet’ hit. And please check out Blogcritics’ True Blood DVD giveaway, ongoing until the end of the month!
A Hit Show Is Born
So how did Alan Ball come up with the idea to make True Blood? Who knew a dentist appointment in the Valley would spark the idea that launched thousands of fans to fall in love with Bon Temp? While waiting for his appointment, with time to kill, he went into ‘Barnes and Noble’ where he came across a paperback with the tagline, “Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn’t a very good idea.” Though he had never read a vampire book, he was intrigued. Ball read it and couldn’t put it down. Charlaine Harris’s novel was funny, smart and very southern, which being from the south, really resonated with Ball. He thought it would make a great show and when executives at HBO asked, he described it was about “The Horrors of Intimacy”, which just happened to roll out of his mouth! It worked and they gave Ball the green light! Sometimes it’s the unplanned moments that make the difference!
Casting A Hit Show
Ball talks about casting the two leads and was surprised to learn Anna Paquin was interested. One of the things I found endearing is that he said he was afraid to ask her to dye her hair blonde! Paquin laughs, surprised her boss was apprehensive!
Casting Bill Compton was a bit harder and took a long time before Stephen Moyer showed up. Moyer recalls he was in England and returned home after being fired from a pilot, with no interest in doing anything. Thanks to his agent who cajoled him into reading the True Blood script, he decided to audition. Incredibly, he had never done a southern accent before, nor had he practiced it. He went in and did it for the first time. When Ball saw the tape, he immediately knew he had found ‘Bill Compton’.
So how did our sexy, tall drink of water Alexander Skaarsgard get the role of Eric Northman? Though initially reading for the role of Bill Compton, after Ball saw Skaarsgard, he knew he was definitely the one to play bad boy vamp Northman. Ball adds with his longer hair he thought Skaarsgard looked like a Scandinavian farmer!
First Days On Set
Kristen Bauer van Straten recalls her first day on the set. She had just flown in from the Phillipines, went straight for her fang fitting, then to wardrobe, was strapped into the corset and met Anna and Stephen for their scene at Fangtasia. She was a bit out of it after her rush to the set and in the dialogue between Eric and Pam, they speak Swedish to each other. Straten asked Skaarsgard if it was Cambodian! Bauer says she was worried that Skaarsgard would be like, “Who is this chick I’m stuck with?” He just laughed it off!
Carrie Preston, who plays Merlotte’s waitress Arlene Bellefleur, recalls changing up the script a bit with Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette) during the scene in the pilot at the service window. She says it was like 4:00 in the morning and actually, Ellis started to ad lib, “A little coco” and Preston ran with it from there. The entire back and forth between Lafayette and the waitresses, “Peaches and cream” dialogue was completely made up! The Script Supervisor told Ball they had gone way off script but he didn’t mind! Just goes to show how much fun they were having.
Sam Trammel (Sam Merlotte) says his favorite scene is when Hoyt (Jim Parrack) meets Jessica. “That’s just stuck in my mind as one of the most beautiful, well-acted scenes of the show.”
Remember when Andy’s (Chris Bauer) one night stand drops her litter, then takes off? That is Lauren Bowles (Holly Clearly) favorite scene and her favorite line? Afterward she turns to Andy and says, “You’re a dick!”
Kevin Alejandro (Jesus) recalls filming the scene when Jesus and Lafayette trip out and are hallucinating. The actors were attached together, with a camera on a pole they were able to control themselves in front of them, that captured them as they spun around. Pretty clever!
One of the saddest scenes is Godric’s (Allan Hyde) death scene. Skaarsgard describes how they literally only had six minutes to film as the sun rose, and would only have three takes. They blocked it out, then waited for the sun to start rising. It was brilliantly filmed, but very sad moment of the series.
‘Trubies’- The Fans
What does Ball think of the fans? “I love that the show speaks to them the way that it does because I think the show is crazy, entertaining, it is a fun ride. This is the kind of thing you hope for, that people like a show as passionately and as deeply as they do.”
Our hottie werewolf Joe Manganiello talks about some of the crazy requests he’s had from fans. Believe it or not, some have gone up to him and asked him to lick them or bite them! It’s all in fun though and Manganiello says True Blood fans are the most passionate fans in the world.
In fact Alan Ball, along with the entire cast and crew agree that fans turned the show into the phenomena it became and they love each and every one of them! Ball shares a message he received on facebook from a fan that wrote, “I’m a vampire and I’m not happy with the way we’re portrayed on the show.” Too funny!
Moyer reports a fan literally tattooed Bill’s entire speech to Sookie about how vampires are magic, on her back! Now that’s Trubie dedication!
All That Hot Sex
True Blood definitely broke sexual boundaries and according to Ball, he feels the show addresses love and being in love. ‘Vampire’ is a metaphor for sex! I‘ll agree with that because who wouldn’t want to be with a sexy vampire? It appeals to so many. In my opinion, I think it’s because vampires seem to be so mysterious, emotionally tortured after living hundreds of years, watching and being a part of the world’s history. There is something about vampires that makes you want to lift the veil of secrecy and lust.
Carrie Preston believes the show is about Sookie’s sexual awakening and I’d have to agree with her! Although Bill was her first, he certainly wasn’t her last as she has been with almost every hot guy in Bon Temp!
Villains We Love
Of course there have been plenty of dastardly villains throughout the past six seasons; serial killers, religious nuts, faerie hybrids, witches, warlocks, Maynards, Authority vamps, I could go on and on.
Skaarsgard talks about how initially Eric was considered a bad guy; however, once Godric is introduced the audience is able to see him in a different light. I feel that since Eric is a thousand years old, there are many layers within the character that we’ve seen peeled back throughout the series. To me, Eric is a bad boy but is capable of having a good heart when he allows it to be seen.
I think Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) is one of the most ruthless, and certainly fun to watch, thanks to the incredibly talented O’Hare, who gave a performance worthy of an Emmy. The cast reminisces how great he is in that role and according to Stephen Moyer, the day after the episode airs where Russell rips out the newscaster’s spine on live television, the first thing Obama says during a press briefing is, “Did anyone see True Blood last night?” You know you’re making an impact when even the President of the United States is watching!
Special Effects and Lots of Blood
So how do they do those cool special effects with all that blood? Paquin spoke about the scene with Longshadow at Fangtasia, when Bill kills him and he bursts all over her. She asked Executive Producer Buckner if she should have her mouth open and he said yes! But how did they get all that blood on her? It was like a scene right out of Carrie! Bauer explains there was a hose up the side of Longshadow that went to a ladder where two construction workers poured gallons of blood into a funnel to spray all over her! Paquin adds it was the first time the fire hydrant sprayer was used!
Skaarsgard spoke about the scene when his sister dies in season six and she literally evaporates in his arms. He explains they switched the actress out so he was holding a huge blood bag that exploded! Ah television, don’t ya just love it?
As the show comes to its conclusion, for Executive Producer Buckner, it’s been a huge undertaking. “The finale is daunting. As the person tasked with taking this home, I’m very conscious of bringing it back to a center. I think we had a lot of wild sex, we really let go of convention. I think people will feel like it was a love story at the end of the day.”
In my series recap, I too feel ultimately True Blood is about a love story- Bill and Sookie’s love story. The show began with them and I think fittingly, it will end with them. Question is, how will Bill regain that trust he initially had with Sookie? Over the past six seasons they’ve gone through their share of heartaches and the relationship is so broken down, it’ll be interesting to see how they make it back to each other.
The True Death
For What do they want True Blood to be remembered, and how do they feel about their experience, now that it’s ending?
Alan Ball: “To me, it’s most fun thing I’ve worked on. That’s not to say all the other things weren’t fun, but this one [was] the most fun.”
Brian Buckner: “I hope that it is thought of more as not another supernatural show. I hope people go, ‘it said something’.”
Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton): “Obviously I met Anna the first day and you don’t expect to meet the person you’re going to get to married to on the job that you’re doing and have as much fun on the job as well.”
Rutina Wesley (Tara Thornton): “The first season I was like this is so great, everyone is so nice. Alan says [to me], “This doesn’t happen, this is special, this is rare.” And all the time I’ve just treasured that, the whole seven years. It’s been, being on the show has meant everything to me.”
Ryan Kwanten (Jason Stackhouse): “I felt like I was nostalgic in the 2nd season. I was already dreading the end then.”
Alexander Skaarsgard (Eric Northman): “It’s going to be very emotional I’m sure, now towards the end of this final season. It’ll be a real goodbye.”
Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette Reynolds): It’s gonna be hard walking away from Lafayette’s shoes. I’m gonna miss the makup. I love, love, love, loved playing Lafayette.”
Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica Hanby): “It’ll be really hard to say goodbye. Even when a character dies or leaves the show you know, a little piece of you goes, oh God, I’ll never see that character again. A piece of that will also be sad for me.”
Todd Lowe (Terry Bellfleur): “It been the best job I’ve ever had in my life”
Chris Bauer ( Andy Bellfleur): “This was a situation of extraordinary sublime talent.”
Kristen Van Straten Bauer (Pam Swynford De Beaufort): “It’s changed my life. It’s actually hard to copulate what being part of a show like this means to me. I’ll cry.”
Joe Manganiello (Alcide Heveraux): “It was a childhood dream for me, as a kid growing up watching horror movies, to get to play a monster.”
Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse): “This show has changed my life. I will miss that terribly.” (blows a kiss)
It’s safe to say that Trubies around the world will have a tough time saying goodbye, but what fun it’s been! Special thanks to the cast and crew for giving us such a kick ass, spine-tingling, haunting, supernaturally-charged, sexy drama we could really sink our teeth into (pun intended). True Blood will always hold a special place in my heart.
Don’t miss ‘Team Trubie’ as we launch our new radio show on Blogcritics Radio! Join Blogcritics writers Jerome Wetzel and myself, RHeart Chrissy, every Monday at 8:00 pm ET, as we bring you the latest True Blood news, interviews and dissect the final season! Also be sure to enter our True Blood giveaway for your chance to win a season six DVD set! Tune in for our first broadcast to find out how to enter on June 23 at 8:00 pm (ET). To listen, call: (646) 595-3195; or via link: Let’s Talk True Blood[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B009NY43NY,B000OCXHRW,B00EIL7IKW,B009NY43NY,B00EIL7IKW]