Six episodes into Season 4 of True Blood, things are definitely heating up in the small, sexy town of Bon Temps, where vampires, werewolves, witches and all things supernatural are becoming more commonplace than the humans. Although everyone with the show is always very tight-lipped, when it comes to plot reveals, during the HBO portion of the TCA Press Tour, co-stars and real-life husband and wife, Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer, talked about Sookie’s stubborn streak, how they enjoys the tension in the relationship between Bill and Sookie because it makes for interesting television, the ability to pitch possible storylines, how the cast is always trying to get tidbits about the story and their characters out of the writers, and how incredibly talented the entire cast is. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
Question: Anna, why do you think Sookie has such a stubborn nature, when it comes to friends and family trying to warn her?
ANNA PAQUIN: Well, I think stubborn people get themselves in a lot of trouble, but they also get things done. I think she’s a pretty good person to have in your corner. She’s willing to put herself out there. Plus, if Sookie wasn’t so stubborn, our show would be a hell of a lot less exciting because there would be a lot less danger for her to be rescued from. But, what’s interesting about her, at the beginning of this season, is that she has made the decision to be on her own and to tell both the gentlemen callers to get lost. In a way, that almost makes her more open to interesting things happening because she’s operating from the position of not being as needy.
Stephen, when did you find out that Bill was going to be the new king of Louisiana, and what did you think of that?
STEPHEN MOYER: The way that Alan has the show set up is that, whoever has written an episode is the producer of that episode, and they sit on set the entire time. But, we’ve got six writers, so that means they’re going to be on for two episodes. And, every single one of us hits those writers up for information, without any of the others knowing that we’re doing it, and then we all pool that information and try to find out what’s going on. I shouldn’t have said that out loud. That’s exactly what we do.
PAQUIN: Alan knows we do that.
MOYER: So, I did find out that that was the idea that was being pitched. towards the end of Season 3. I feel really lucky because I’ve gotten to play a really interesting arc, just as an actor, from the first season. In the first season, he was this enigmatic voyeur, watching everything. In Season 2, he was worried that he was going to lose Sookie, and he held on really tight. Then, he realized that he can’t hold on. He has to push her away, in order to save her, and he’s quite nasty in the way he does it. Then this season, what I’ve gotten to play is that I’ve got to let her go. If you love somebody, you have to set them free. So, whilst doing all of that, I get to be the king. He’s having to make very powerful choices whilst letting go of the thing that he loves. It’s been a really interesting dynamic for me to play. Bill gets to perhaps become somebody that Sookie can respect again because of the choices that he makes as king.
Anna, do you think it’s fair that Sookie has so many horrible things to deal with?
PAQUIN: I’m having the best time of my life. Are you kidding me? And, I’m not just a little thing, thank you very much. I can hold my own. I dare Alan Ball to come up with something I’ll say no to.
Do you get invested and start rooting for Sookie to end up with one character over the other, or do you just go with it?
PAQUIN: I feel like it would be weird to decide what I want to happen to her ‘cause it probably won’t ever match up with what I envisage, and then I’d be disappointed. We’re just all going with the flow.
What’s more important for a guy to have, good oral hygiene like a vampire, or good grooming like a werewolf?
PAQUIN: Do you think the werewolves have good grooming? Did you see the boys at Lou Pines? Blech! More importantly, if you’d been there, you could have smelled the boys at Lou Pines. Alcide is a unique and rare werewolf, in that he seems to play close attention to his grooming. The others were more like cool biker dudes that don’t know about deodorant.
What’s it been like to go from Sookie and Bill having this undying love for each other, but now they have this tense relationship?
PAQUIN: Just speaking for me, our love in real life is fine, so I’m totally happy for our characters to be as sad, distraught, messed up and hating each other as they like. We don’t really have everything be perfect for too long, or happy for too long. It’s not interesting television, if everything works out for Bill and Sookie, and then they adopt five babies and live happily ever after.
MOYER: I actually pitched to Alan that I was getting a bit bored with our life and asked if he add somebody else to the mix.
PAQUIN: Thanks, babe. But, no, we want the show to be as dynamic and interesting as possible.
MOYER: It’s also about Sookie growing up and making decisions for herself, rather than being the innocent that she began as. She starts as this innocent virgin, in the first season, and she’s changed from there. She’s starting to choose what she wants, instead of being preyed upon by these vampires. I think it’s really important for the story that she and all the characters move through these arcs, and maybe find their way back to each other, or maybe not.
Do you two miss working together as much?
MOYER: It can be one of those things where you get home and the other one’s at work. Truthfully, we got to know each other on set, and all the crew and everybody knows us together, so they tell us they miss it. They’re probably lying, but they tell us they miss seeing us together.
Now that you’re in Season 4 of the show, have you reached a point where you give more input for your characters, and do you discuss things that you might like to do, further down the road, with your characters?
MOYER: Alan is very open. Immediately after the pilot, we had a three-month wait until we found out about the pick-up, and then we had the writers’ strike back then, but even then, Alan dais, “If there’s anything that I’m missing, or if there’s anything that you feel I could bring to it or that would help us, then please talk to us and give us the idea.” When we were down in Comic-Con, just recently, we were pitching ideas of Bill taking over the world, and that kind of thing. But, what’s amazing about the show is that they write for us now. They go, “Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Steve, Alex, Nelsan or Ryan, do this?” They know who we are and what we can do. So, I do feel like we get written for and that our ideas are taken.
PAQUIN: I certainly feel like they write to our strengths, or maybe that’s a giant coincidence. I don’t think I’ve ever really gone in with, “I think this should definitely happen.” Sometimes I pitch things that are a joke. There was a scene in Episode 9 with me, Steve and Alex, that I pitched, which I can’t tell you about, but that was sort of a joke, but not really. Sometimes I wonder if I say things that are really outlandish and, because of the nature of our show, maybe they actually might end up in the show.
Do you enjoy getting to say some of the great lines you’ve both had in the show?
PAQUIN: I love my messed-up mixed with my funny, as much as the next gal. In real life, one of the things I always find is that, if you can laugh through a situation, even if it’s incredibly sad or really hard, it’s the way through, and our show uses that in a really great way. Also it’s just really fun for someone to write you in a way that makes you sound incredibly funny.
MOYER: My character isn’t one of the ones who gets many of those lines because he’s more melancholic and introverted. But, I was very pleased in Episode 5, where Pam comes on with a huge hat because she’s covering her screwed-up face, and Bill says, “Oh, good, the world needs more beekeepers.” When you get those lines, you’re like, “Yes!” We all get them, and we all look forward to hearing the other people read them in the table read.
PAQUIN: Kristin [Bauer] gets a lot.
MOYER: Kristin’s got one coming up that is possibly one of the great lines of all time.
PAQUIN: She does them so beautifully.
What other actors do you always enjoy watching, on the show?
PAQUIN: I think everyone on our show is incredibly talented. I think Todd Lowe and Carrie Preston are outstanding actors. I think they get given such a short amount of screen time, and they do so much with it.
MOYER: There’s Chris Bauer, who plays Andy. There’s always a lot of talk about the weres and the vampires, but Ryan Kwanten and Sam Trammell are unbelievable. They are consistently amazing.
PAQUIN: And they get so little credit for how incredibly they are, so a big shout-out for them.
MOYER: I love watching them. Sam’s got some great stuff coming up, where he gets to do something new. He’s an extremely good actor.
Anna, with the wardrobe that Sookie has, what do you do to stay in shape?
PAQUIN: I work out like a crazy person. I do everything. I box. Literally, I do everything. If it’s grueling and the sort of thing where, half-way through you want to die, then I do it.
MOYER: It is utterly insane. I have never seen anybody do what she does, and with so much gusto, and happily.
PAQUIN: I enjoy a challenge.
What’s it like to get the reaction you do from fans at Comic-Con? Does it continue to be overwhelming, after four years now?
MOYER: It’s extraordinary. When we go to San Diego for Comic-Con, we are playing, very much, to a specific audience who eats this stuff up, if you’ll excuse the pun. It’s massive. But, what’s extraordinary about this show is that the demographic isn’t just that demographic. We find that wherever we go. I think everybody’s got stories of being on all four corners of the earth and having that reaction, from 80-year-olds down to children who shouldn’t be watching it.
PAQUIN: What was even more shocking was the enormous reaction to our show in the first year. Our show hadn’t even aired yet, so that was a lot to do with Alan and (book author) Charlaine [Harris], and the anticipation for the show. It was mind-blowing that there was this enthusiasm before the show had even come out.
What do you guys do, when you have downtime on set?
PAQUIN: If it’s the middle of the night, I try to take a nap. If it’s the middle of the day, we usually sit around and chat.
MOYER: It can be a fun place to be. There’s a bit of [internet] surfing going on. HBO GO is a fantastic way to spend your time.
What do you guys like to do together, when you’re not working?
MOYER: We drink blood together.
PAQUIN: We do ritualistic animal sacrifice. We host orgies on our trampoline, every other Sunday. You didn’t get our Twitter feed on that? I’m really sorry! And then, every once in awhile, we run through the city and drain people and drink their blood. It’s really very romantic.
MOYER: It’s just your average, regular Sunday.
PAQUIN: We’re just your average Westside couple. The blood puts a nice glow on your skin.
When you get time off, what is your ideal getaway?
MOYER: A quick 10 minutes in the trailer.
PAQUIN: We love to go away.
MOYER: Getting away is one of our indulgences. We absolutely love it, so if there’s any possibility, we’ll take it. If we see a three-day window coming up in our schedule, we are off.
Do you have any guilty TV pleasures?
PAQUIN: I don’t feel guilty about anything. Breaking Bad, we love.
MOYER: We are absolutely and utterly obsessed.
Anna, how have you managed to sustain the success of your career?
PAQUIN: I’m just living my life. I’m incredibly disciplined and I work incredibly hard. I show up for things on time, I do my homework, and I work my ass off. I’ve had a lot of luck, but I work really, really hard.
Was there an instant attraction between you, when you met?
MOYER: I waited for her to tell me that she really fancied me, before I admitted anything.
PAQUIN: He’s such a liar!
What would most surprise fans about you?
PAQUIN: We really have orgies, every other Sunday!