If you haven’t watched last night’s True Blood be warned there are some spoilers ahead—mostly relating to Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and James (Nathan Parsons). In “Lost Cause,” vamp waitress Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) walks in on the guys having sex and dumps James, rushing into Jason Stackhouse’s arms out of spite.
Oh honey, we’d do the same thing. Both Parsons and Ellis, who hasn’t had a True Blood love interest since Jesús (Kevin Alejandro) was cruelly killed, spoke to the press recently about the gay storyline—a rarity even for the sex-heavy True Blood.
Vulture got Ellis to go on the record about Luke Grimes, who was originally cast as James but quit the show because he didn’t want to play a gay character.
Did you ever get a chance to talk to or bond with Luke Grimes when he was playing James, before they switched off?
Ellis: I didn’t, but I’m completely… I mean, I can say I’m not going to make a comment, but I just think that, you’re an actor, you’re an actor on a show that’s True Blood, we’re all sitting there going, “You quit your job because … really?” I’m just… I’m over him.
You quit your job because you don’t want to play a gay part? As if it’s—you know what? I’m going to stop talking.
That’s okay. I get what you’re saying. If you’re going to be on True Blood, you have to be open to a lot of experiences.
Ellis: You have to be open. But more importantly, you make a statement when you do something like that. I did a documentary called Damn Wonderful, about gay suicide, and you make a statement, a big statement, when you go, “I don’t want to play this part because it’s gay.”
If you have a child, if you have a son, and he comes out as gay, what are you going to do? If you have a daughter who comes out gay…? You just made a statement, and it has ripple effects.
First of all, this show, it’s True Blood, and shit, we get scared when we read scripts! Excuse my language. When scripts come, we’re like, “What are they going to have us do this week?” But when you make a statement that is a judgment… I was kind of like, “Have you met Alan Ball?” I’m supposed to do what my boss tells me to do, as an actor. I can’t approach a character with judgment. I certainly can’t tell my boss, “I can act what I want to act, but not what you tell me to act,” especially on a show where you come in, knowing what it is.
… I didn’t like what he did because he made a statement, and sometimes you have to take responsibility.
Is it safe to say he won’t be invited back for the True Blood musical?
Ellis: [Laughs.] I don’t think he’ll be invited back to HBO.
But Ellis had nothing but praise for Parsons, even if smooching him wasn’t on his bucket list. “Kissing him was weird at first, but then I went, “Okay!” says Ellis. “Same with Kevin [Alejandro]— I can close my eyes, and you can be the girlfriend. It’s not really a big deal. It’s easy breezy. I mean, he’s a wonderful actor. I love watching him work. Love watching him work. Our first scene together, I just listened to him talk most of the time. And we have good chemistry, and it worked.”
Parsons was similarly effusive about Ellis to The Hollywood Reporter, and gives some insight into Lafayette and James’ relationship.
What attracts James and Lafayette to each other?
I think they’re kind of of similar minds. James is a flower child himself. He’s a hippie, he’s free love. The trick with James is, though he’s a pacifist, he’s still a vampire, which is not a peaceful thing to be…
Lafayette’s the only one who has the interest and takes the time to say, “What’s wrong, what’s going on with you?” There’s a mutual connection where they both just want to have fun and be easy, love each other, take care of each other.
How did you approach shooting their sex scene?
It was a full-night shoot, and we had a bunch of group stuff to do earlier that day. There were 20 actors there and we shot all their stuff, and then for the last four or five hours it was just me and Nelsan. I think once we got over the craziness of organizing the extras, and doing the group shots and the Steadicam work, we were able to focus in on the intimate moments without the distractions.
Once you break the ice physically, then it all becomes easier, and you realize it is just two people. There’s another 200 people in the crew, of course. But in that moment, it’s really just about two people and a shared connection. That right there made the whole thing work out—that we’ll get to the physical stuff, that’s a given, but before that and after that, there are little moments of true connection that happen, and they just escalate and escalate.
Parsons says the hardest part of the sex scene was making it seem natural. “We didn’t want it to be uncomfortable to watch or over the top,” he says. “It has to be something that is seemingly organic and loving, instead of just having sex for the sake of having sex… I think it turned out really well.”