At this year’s True Blood panel at the San Diego Comic-Con, the cast that were present appeared to be a lot more comfortable on stage than last year. Besides Alan Ball and Charlaine Harris, those gathered included newcomers Joe Manganiello (Alcide Herveaux) and Denis O’Hare (the King of Mississippi– Russell Edgington), Kristin Bauer van Straten (Pam), Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica Hamby), Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette Reynolds), Sam Trammell (Sam Merlotte), Rutina Ellis (Tara Thornton), Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse) and Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton). The only two missing were Ryan Kwanten (Jason Stackhouse) and Alexander Skarsgård (Eric Northman) who were away working on filming other projects. Not to disappoint the crowd, Anna and Stephen went backstage and returned with a cardboard cutout of Alexander, which they placed on an empty chair and proceeded to molest.
Before the questions and answers, Alan Ball gave us hardcore fans a special treat, with a compilation of clips from the last half of the season. I won’t spoil our readers, but I will say that what was shown was explosive and that you should be really excited for the rest of the season.
On to the Q&A portion, it was discussed how much more badass Sookie is this season. Anna Paquin explained that her life has beaten her up so much that she’s starting to fight back. For those who were intrigued by her “lightning fingers” which were used so effectively on Maryann in Season 2, and most recently on a couple of werewolves, we can expect to see more of that fascinating development. It was also pointed out how we were given a nice glimpse into Sookie’s sense of humor, specifically her impression of Bill using her name– “Sookeh”. Much to my delight (and the delight of everyone around me), she did that impression twice. Stephen (who is her fiancée in real life) was clearly amused.
When asked about this new darker side of Bill that appears to be emerging, Stephen remarked what a “delicious” joy it is to work on a job like this: “The crazier, the better.” He carefully recalled the recent neck twisting scene between Bill and Lorena, describing how a full-body cast was created from the actress’s figure, and he was strapped to it. The neck was even ratcheted as they first filmed her on her back, and then facing downward, merging the two images perfectly to create the cringe-worthy neck twist.
As anyone who watches the show knows, poor Tara has had a rough time of it. A fan asked if Tara would ever get a break, and Alan Ball replied that she’ll have a brief one by the end of the season… but not for long. Rutina Ellis explained that she hopes Tara doesn’t get too much of a break because her character’s instability is what makes for good drama, allowing her to make good use of the skills she learned in school. Why is Tara so drawn to crazy people? She attracts the kind of people that like to see someone play the victim.
A few other points were touched on, related to the current season. Why is Sam so intent on helping his family? He wants to help his brother, but the rest of the family comes with him, so it’s an unfortunate package deal. Is there more to Jesús than meets the eye? Nelsan tells us to wait and see, adding that it’s nice to see the softer side of Lafayette. Are Hoyt & Jessica ever going to happen? Alan Ball says we have to wait for Jessica to love herself first, which is going to be hard for a baby vamp who doesn’t even know how to deal with being a proper vamp yet. Joe Manganiello also made the exciting announcement that, as of this new season, he has been made a series regular as Alcide, and has been inducted into the “Brotherhood of the Sock”, or one of the many attractive males on the show that has to wear the infamous “man-panty” during nude scenes (of which there are quite a few, especially for the werewolves).
On the subject of werewolves, the cast spoke on working with real wolves and “hybrid” wolves on set. Denis O’Hare remarked that the wolves are very intelligent and observant, and advised, “Don’t let them smell your fear.” For the parts in which they actually act alongside the animals, the “hybrids” are used: half wolf, half dog.
Fans asked a few fantastic questions, which I hadn’t thought of, but was interested to hear the answers. What other celebrities do the cast know are fans of the show? Snoop Dogg (find his video with the “Sookettes” on YouTube), Elizabeth Taylor, and interestingly enough Anne Rice (who has actually communicated with Charlaine Harris through Facebook message to compliment her books)! If both Pam and Sookie were in danger at the same time, who would Eric choose? Alan couldn’t really answer the question clearly– Pam is his progeny and Sookie is his love interest. He would find a way to choose all of the above. Where does Nelsan get his inspiration for Lafayette? –He takes his mother and other women in his family and stuffs all of their behaviors into his portrayal of Lafayette. What other vampires do Alan and the cast like besides those in True Blood? Alan enjoys the vampires in Near Dark and Let the Right One In (as does Nelsan), Denis enjoys Thirst, and Joe likes Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys. The audience noticed the perceptible lack of mention of Edward Cullen: True Blood vampires are decidedly different.
Alan could not reveal too much about Season 4, but he did say that he would love to see the show run as long as it possibly can, without having to explain why the vampires appear to be aging. For those of you that have read the fourth book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead to the World, I think you will agree with me in understanding what Alan meant when he said that Season 4 will include a character who doesn’t know who they are, and that maybe a person who hated them doesn’t hate them so much anymore. One character that the fans would love to see is Bubba, and although Alan stated that he isn’t sure how they could pull it off without it looking cheesy, the crowd rallied with cries of “Bruce Campbell!” This is how casting rumors start.
By now, it is clear that the entire cast and the show’s creators are fans of each other’s work. They consider it a great privilege to be able to come to set every day. Charlaine appreciates getting to see the care that goes into filming, has felt well-treated on the set, and even has a few favorite episodes herself (“I Will Rise Up” is one that she mentioned). This camaraderie, the amazing (not to mention extremely attractive) actors, and the show’s respect for its fans and source material are just a few reasons this show is sure to keep on going for a long, long time. See you in Bon Temps.