True Blood At Paley Fest: Photos & Scoop on Season 4
True Blood was invited back to PaleyFest just 2 years after their first appearance, an honor we believe has never before been bestowed. Last night, in front of a sold-out venue, sixteen cast members and “keeper of secrets” Alan Ball answered questions about their characters’ growth and teased more about what’s coming up in season 4. (We’ll save the spoilers for the end in case you’re avoiding them.)
The event opened with a “relevant highlight” selected from the Paley Center vault: a scene from the pilot episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Good choice! Following a brief introduction by a Paley Center official, Alan Ball took the stage to introduce a compilation reel from True Blood seasons 1-3, promising a “special bonus scene from season 4” at the end. We expected it to be the glee-inducing clip of Eric posted online earlier in the evening, but no, we were treated to yet another fresh clip, which will be discussed under the Spoilers header below. The compilation video featured humans and supernaturals and some witty comments. For example, Sookie was described as: “She screams a lot…She gets into trouble a lot…” with the appropriate visuals. Funny stuff.
Finally it was time for the cast to come on stage. Moderator Debra Birnbaum, TV Guide‘s editor-in-chief, introduced each one to plenty of applause. Our hands were sore by the time Alan returned to the stage. I mean, seventeen people – that’s a lot of clapping!
The first question was for each cast member: “Who on True Blood haven’t you worked with at all, or much, that you’d like to work with?” Kristin Bauer thinks Pam and Jason would be “hysterical” together while Deborah Ann Woll thinks “Lafayette and Jessica would have a lot to talk about.” Nelsan Ellis said he’d like to work with Todd Lowe, until Todd reminded him that they had worked together, or at least in the same vicinity. Todd then teased that he’d like to work with Nelsan, “AGAIN.”
Jim Parrack got a big laugh when he said he’d like to work with Alexander Skarsgard, “so I can seen why everyone screams so much.” Carrie Preston was thinking along the same lines, saying, “I think Arlene should go head-to-head with Eric. She might win.” Chris Bauer would like to work with “the other Kris Bauer” (Kristin Bauer), which earned some chuckles. Rutina Wesley also wants to see some “Tara and Pam action”, to which Alan replied, “You will.” Oooh!
Ryan Kwanten acknowledged that his character has “gotten around”, but he would like to have Jason interact with Arlene, although Carrie remind him that “you did have a nail gun to my head” in season 2. Ryan clarified that he’d like to have scenes where one of them wasn’t under an evil spell. Marshall Allman is ready to have Tommy put the moves on Sookie while Sam Trammell thinks Sam Merlotte and Jesus Velazquez need some face time. Stephen Moyer thinks it would be a hoot to have Bill sit down and play Trivial Pursuit with Arlene and Terry at their kitchen table, and we agree. Alexander Skarsgard also wants some scenes with Terry, pulling a sad face and telling Todd, “I miss you.” Anna Paquin said she’s blessed to be able to “play with everyone” before coyly noting that she hasn’t “played with Kevin and Marshall yet.”
Throughout all of this, Alan Ball appeared to be listening closely, and with the moderator asked him which characters he’d like to put together, he said “Tonight gave me some ideas. I’m already writing that Trivial Pursuit scene.”
The most asked fan question on Twitter and the Paley Center website, according to the moderator, was how Pam ends up with such great lines. Kristin Bauer deadpanned, “I stay up late writing them, then in the morning I call the writers and fax them over.” But seriously folks, she reads the scripts and is amazed at what she gets to say, hoping she can “do it justice.” Working in a vacuum of sorts, because the season is almost entirely shot before it premieres, she has to wait 6-9 months for feedback from the fans to know if she “did OK.” Kristin, wearing a lovely black and red floral sundress and curly locks, also expressed glee that her character dresses “for every occasion”, teasing that we are going to love what she’s doing now (filming episode 4.05, I believe) and that she’s actually dressed appropriately for it. Looking forward to that!
Kevin Alejandro, looking bad boy gorgeous in all black, insisted that Jesus “is a pretty good guy” and can be trusted, “as much as you can trust anybody,” which doesn’t really tell us much. The always dapper, even in semi-casual dress, Nelsan Ellis said that Lafayette does trust Jesus, but qualified that with, “He has me under his spell, so I have no choice but to trust him.”
Deborah Ann Woll, whom we wouldn’t ask to remove her glasses or pull back her hair for a fan photo, has fans groaning when she said of Jessica’s relationship with Hoyt, “The fairytale can’t go on forever.” She then earned cheers by following that statement with, “but maybe the reality is better than the fairytale.” Well said! Jim Parrack, casually hot in jeans, button down and blazer, made us a little melty by saying that for Hoyt, as soon as he saw Jessica, he knew that “she’s the one”.
For some reason the moderator asked Carrie Preston – ravishing in blue – and Todd Lowe – still adorably scruffy, even in a suit – if they were going to be on-screen parents of a vampire baby. Todd quickly shut down that suggestion, while Carrie said that in Arlene’s mind it’s clear what is good and what is evil. “If you are a serial killer, then you are evil.” Sounds clear cut to us!
Marshall Allman didn’t take the bait when asked if Tommy was back to “cause trouble” this season, simply saying that “Tommy doesn’t know how to do anything the right way.” Musing about this, he suggested that perhaps Tommy should babysit Arlene’s baby. “I understand evil.” Also, since Alan was taking (pretend) notes for story ideas, Marshall mentioned that he’s always wanted to see Tommy as a talking parrot, following Lafayette around. This got a good laugh from Nelsan and the audience.
Stephen Moyer, wearing a sharply tailored suit and some scruff, was tight-lipped on the outcome of the Bill vs. Sophie-Anne fight in the finale, simply stating that “There’s a bite-off.” The fact that Evan Rachel Wood wasn’t present at the event was because “she’s very busy,” Stephen and Anna said in unison. Stephen also talked about the head-turning sex scene with Lorena, in particular recounting his interest in the technical aspects of creating the scene. A fan later asked if he’d be directing any episodes, given his interest in the behind-the-scenes aspect of the show. Stephen said that he’s very interested in doing so, but it won’t happen this season.
Asked about the weirdest thing fans have asked them to do, several of the cast members had some funny and, yes, weird anecdotes to share. Joe Manganiello shared his story of the woman at Comic Con who wanted him to “lick her wound” because werewolf saliva is supposed to have healing properties. Gross! Todd Lowe had a friend who asked him to help with a move, because Terry drives a pickup truck. Sam Trammell and Rutina Wesley had a pair of fans, dressed as vampires, ask to bite them (Sam & Rutina) at EyeCon last year. Alexander Skarsgard recalls receiving a letter from a woman in Ohio who offered to fly him out there to marry her daughter. And pay him. “It was a lot of money, so I did it of course,” he joked. Stephen Moyer has had a few guys ask him to talk to their wives on their cell phones, in character as Bill, so they can get laid. “I’ve done it a few times,” he revealed sheepishly. Anna Paquin said she doesn’t get weird requests, really, but finds it vastly amusing when fans approach her and husband Stephen “and pretend they want my autograph, too, when really they just want Steve’s attention.”
True Blood Season 4 Spoilers
The sneak peek that we were given after the compilation video involved Pam, Jessica and Hoyt coming out of Fangtasia to confront a small crowd of Fellowship of the Sun protesters, chanting and waving signs. Hoyt tries to reason with their leader, saying that he loves “this woman, not this vampire, this woman”, referring to Jessica, and that the protesters are full of hate, which is un-Christian. The leader is unmoved and draws their attention to his friend, who is filming the whole thing with his phone, “in 720dp so it we don’t miss anything”. The guy then calls Jessica a “vampire whore”, which prompts her to rush him and dare him to say it again. He does, Hoyt promptly punches him, and a scuffle ensues. Pam holds Jessica back from assisting and comments that technology makes it less fun to be a vampire. We end the scene with Hoyt still locked in a brawl with the protesters.
Carrie Preston confirmed that there’s definitely a baby on board and that “the problem grows exponentially bigger.” Whatever is growing in there, it doesn’t sound normal.
Chris Bauer strongly suggested that Sheriff Andy Bellefleur becomes a V addict this season. “V has a lot of properties that Andy didn’t know about. The 3 or 4 hours erections, as a law enforcement guy, I was intrigued.” Chris went on to say that Andy is doing his best to cope, but that lots of V ended up in the station at the end of last season, “and that’s where he works…”
Ryan Kwanten confirmed, again, that Jason is a cop this season. “If anyone should not be given authority, should not be wielding a gun, should not be watching over a village of meth addicts, it’s Jason Stackhouse.”
Sam Trammell thinks Sam Merlotte is over “the bad day…no, the tough week” he had last season and has calmed down and sobered up. He has another shot at love this season, which we assumed was a reference to Luna, but when asked if the love interest was someone on stage, Sam hemmed and hawed and referred the question to Alan, leading us to wonder if Sam and Tara are giving it another go.
Rutina Wesley again said that Tara will have some happiness this season, as well as stability. She thinks the audience will be surprised to find out where she’s been and what’s she’s been doing, but refused to divulge anything beyond, “it’s kinda cool.” Alex suggested that she’s been hanging out at Fangtasia, which certainly would be surprising, but were 99% sure he was joking.
The night’s big reveals came from Alexander Skarsgard. Following the release of that teaser scene with Eric, Alex was surprisingly forthcoming about what’s happening to Eric this season, revealing straight up that, “Eric doesn’t know who he is.” He needs help, and finds it in Bon Temps – of course we’re all assuming that the help comes from Sookie, but it sounds like he may get assistance from others as well, including “his darling daughter”, Pam. “Eric is vulnerable,” Alex revealed. He knows that he is a vampire, but finding out about all the terrible things he has done upsets him. We’ll be seeing an Eric who is “pretty much the polar opposite of the Eric who has developed in the first three seasons.” We got a glimpse of that Eric with Godric, Alex said, which led to a question of flashbacks with Eric and Godric or Eric and Pam. Alex would like to see both, but wouldn’t confirm either. Alan then interjected that “vampires dream.” A clue that Godric’s announced return comes in the form of a dream?
Anna Paquin revealed that Sookie does return from dimension she went to with Claudine at the end of season 3, of course, and that “some things are different.” She’s learning more about her fairy powers, and Anna mentioned that the “microwave fingers” (aka that blinding flash of light Sookie can produce) make an appearance in the first half of the season. We will see a more independent Sookie this season, including how what she’s learned and experienced are impacting her. But how independent can she be with three gorgeous guys attracted to her? “Eric and Bill move in together and live happily ever after. Sookie moves to New York,” she teases.
But seriously, what is ahead for Sookie romantically? At this point she doesn’t know how she can trust Bill again. Alcide “doesn’t turn into a ball of charred fire in the daylight, which is a plus for Sookie. But he does come with a lot of baggage, namely in Debbie Pelt who would like to kick the whatever out of Sookie.” And what about Eric? “Eric’s a little problematic for Sookie.” Ah, to have those man troubles.
Alan Ball revealed that Gary Cole will be a guest star this season, but didn’t reveal in which role he’d been cast. We’ll also see more animals, in particular horses, a ‘gator, a rattlesnake, a “falcon kind of thing”, and “an attack owl.” Asked if True Blood will add new characters this season, Alan answered, “Yes.” Stephen elaborated a bit, saying that there are so many that by next year, the original cast will be sitting out in the audience while the rest sit on the stage. One of those new characters will be Sookie’s great-great-great-etc.-grandfather Niall, Alan confirmed, although he likely won’t appear this season.
Speaking of new characters, whither Russell Edgington? “We specifically chose not to kill Russell,” Alan said. “We definitely plan to have him back. He’s gonna be pisssssed!” Alex then leaned over and said, “Don’t bring him back!”
Attached: photos from the PaleyFest red carpet. See the full collection in the Gallery.