After waiting in line for hours or, perhaps, waiting in Ballroom 20 all day at Comic-Con International, fans of HBO’s Sunday-night sensation "True Blood" were treated to tidbits about the characters and plotlines from the hit supernatural drama.
Moderated by Tim Stack of Entertainment Weekly, the panel included Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse), Stephen Moyer (vampire Bill Compton), Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette Reynolds), Sam Trammell (shapeshifter Sam Merlotte), Rutina Wesley (Tara Thornton), Deborah Ann Woll (young vampire Jessica Hamby), Kristin Bauer van Straten (vampire Pam), Denis O'Hare (Russell Edgington, the vampire king of Mississippi), Joe Manganiello (werewolf Alcide Herveaux), executive producer Alan Ball, and author Charlaine Harris, who wrote the "Sookie Stackhouse" series of novels.
Ball kicked off the panel by showing a compilation of as-yet-unaired scenes from the second half of the current season. From the trailer, it looks as if Sookie is turning to Alcide for comfort after Bill apparently dumped her, Eric is looking for revenge against Russell, and Russell is looking to unite the supernatural world against humans. The clip ends with Sookie in a hospital bed. You can check it out for yourself below.
Stack asked Paquin about Sookie’s “microwave fingers,” wondering if fans would see her exercise her powers again this season. “Obviously we’re gonna figure out what they really are, besides microwave fingers,” Paquin said. Stack pointed out that Sookie has been both more bad-ass and funnier this season, and asked her to do her impression of Bill when he says “Sookie,” much to the audience’s delight.
Stack asked Moyer about a recent “grotesque” scene where Bill twisted the head of Lorena, the vampire who created him, 180 degrees while they had sex.
“I think one of the most amazing things about our show and everything in it is that Alan very rarely gets you to do the same thing twice, so you always get to … do something different,” Moyer said. “It’s such a joy to get to work on a job like this.”
Stack wanted to know how they actually did the scene.
“Basically it’s me on a bed with the torso strapped to me, so that when I move in it, it moves, and the neck itself was articulated, so when you turn the neck it ratcheted, like a ratchet, then it got to a point where it stopped,” Moyer said. They then filmed actress Mariana Klaveno both laying on her stomach and on her back, then “married the two images together.”
The subject of the show’s graphic sex and violence came up again during the audience Q&A session. A fan asked which was harder to film, graphic sex or graphic violence.
“I was just thinking it’s all good,” Bauer van Straten said. “A good day at work.”
“I prefer to get naked earlier in the day, and kill people in the later part of the day,” Paquin said, noting she didn’t like to have blood and guts “stuck all over you at lunch.”
Stack also wanted to know how the Snoop Dogg "Oh Sookie" music video came together.
“I knew Snoop was a fan of the show and that he wanted to be on it from the first season,” Ball said. He added that there is porn parody of True Blood, and the dancing Sookies from "Oh Sookie" wore the same wig as “porn Eric.” The cast also mentioned other celebrities who were fans of the show, including Elizabeth Taylor and Anne Rice.
During the session, Ball, Harris and the cast answered questions about the future of the show, from the last few episodes of the current season to season four and beyond.
Stack asked Harris which character she was looking forward to seeing being introduced from the books. “I’m looking forward to meeting Sookie’s great-grandfather,” Harris said.
Elvis, who appears as a vampire in the novels, also came up. Ball said he wasn’t sure they could find the right person to play the role, and the audience suggested Bruce Campbell.
In terms of season four, Ball told a fan that Hallow, a witch from the books, would play a large role. He also said a character who “doesn’t know who he or she is” will find out and become a different person as a result. “And maybe someone who has hated this person doesn’t hate them as much anymore,” Ball said.
Touching on one of the biggest differences between the books and the show, a fan asked if Ball thought Bill and Sookie were soul mates and would eventually find their way back to each other on the show – something that hasn’t happened in the books.
“I think I know what you’re talking about, and I believe that you will definitely need to keep watching to see exactly what happens between them,” Ball said. “I do believe that Bill and Sookie are soul mates. I think the Bill and Sookie of the show have become slightly different than the Bill and Sookie from the books just because of the way the show has evolved, and I think I personally root for things to work out between them. I don’t know if it will, but I do believe their love is genuine, and it really is true.”
Stack asked Harris what she thought, and she noted she was many books ahead of the show. “Things are evolving differently in my world. I think you need to regard this in terms of what relationships will last as two separate entertainment experiences,” she said. “Things may not end up in Alan’s world the same way they’re going to end up in my world, an ending I’ve known for all of eight or nine years.”
During the panel, Manganiello announced he became a series regular last week, something he was excited about. Stack asked him about a campaign on Facebook for him to play Superman. “I’ve heard of it,” Manganiello said. “I was a big fan of Superman Underoos when I was a kid, so I’d be happy to bring them back in fashion.”