P.S. Before you go insane and checkout the link… it leads to the HBO site. Thanks to J.J. for sending this to me.
We all know that vampires, and the people who love them, continue to be one of the hottest trends in entertainment. The undead have left their (fang) marks on TV, books and movies, proving that blood sells. Especially when it’s mixed in with a whole lot of sex. The second season of True Blood, the TV series based on Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels, is no exception.
Created by Alan Ball, and airing on HBO, True Blood  is violent, sexual and mysterious, especially with the eerie backdrop of the always-hazy Louisiana bayou. But the essence of the murderous series is a show about love and desire between those—human and otherwise—who are different. The characters all struggle with inner turmoil in their approach to relationships.
True Blood presents obvious metaphors for gays, minorities and anyone who has been hated for being different. The storyline present countless examples of people struggling with love and highlights the baggage that can abound when two people start a new relationship. For most, taking the intimate steps of revealing oneself and being vulnerable can be hard and often frightening.
Here is a breakdown of how three of the couples on True Blood illustrate common relationship fears and struggles.
Sookie and Bill: Sookie and Bill (played by Anna Paquin  and Stephen Moyer) may be in love, and have an irrestible attraction to each other, but Sookie knows that within her vampire exists a darkness that she can’t control. She wants him to tell her everything and fully open up, but what’s inside can be frightening. Bill is always trying to bury these violent urges in his quest to have a mainstream relationship with her, but his difficulty surfaces when faced with threatening situations.
Tara and Eggs: Both Tara and Eggs have questionable pasts that brought each of them to apparent savior Maryann’s home. Tara must accept the jail record that accompanies Eggs’ soft-voiced singing and guitar playing. Both are looking for someone to believe in them and thereby help give them the confidence to reach higher goals in life and in love.
Jessica and Hoyt: In a very touching love scene, new vampire Jessica embarks on the first sexual experience of her life, either alive or dead. Hoyt is shy with women but is intrigued by the stunning vampire he has met. But as their foreplay heats up, Jessica can’t help but bare her fangs. Watching her embarrassment and fear of rejection when opening up herself is something many people can relate to when first becoming intimate with someone. And when Hoyt embraces what makes her different, True Blood proves it’s about more than murders and mayhem (although we like those parts to). Love and vulnerability are the true heart of the series.
Okay…. Mmmmmmmmmm…. So what would you book fans write about the Sookie and Bill couple, the Sookie and Eric couple and the Sookie and Quinn couple? How do they compare? And for the TV show fans… do you see yourself in one of these listed couplings?
True Blood’s Scratches: Two Fangs Up
By Rob Vaux
Mania’s review of TRUE BLOOD: Scratches(2009).
One of True Blood‘s biggest curve balls came with the revelation that Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) periodically spends his nights as a mixed-breed collie. It established that vampires weren’t the only supernatural creatures in this particular universe, throwing open a Pandora’s box for all kinds of wackiness. If vampires aren’t alone in the night, then who knows what other monstrosities may be lurking in wait. One of them–a minotaur? a satyr?–comes barreling out of the woods this week to take a swipe out of Sookie (Anna Paquin) after another of her endless spats with Bill (Stephen Moyer). The incident ends up complicating a number of people’s lives… because when freaky things start digging into your spinal column, you apparently go straight to Fangtasia and let Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) find a solution to the problem.
Brooke Tarnoff, PopEater
Recently I got a chance to speak with RUTINA WESLEY who plays Tara on one of the best show on television, HBO’s True Blood.
Rutina Wesley is one of the Emmy hopefuls this year, and if you have seen then you know this is definitely an award-worthy show and Rutina Wesley is one of the people that help make it that way.
Rutina Wesley talked about what is coming up this second season for Tara, how she got into acting, and much more. So enjoy her interview below.
on getting such good ratings for season two. How does it feel?
Rutina Wesley: It feels really, really good, and I’m telling you, I’m sort of shocked at the ratings. I knew that we had a huge following, but the fact that so many more people are loving the show, it’s all great and positive.
Had you originally read all the books, or have you read them since doing the show?
Rutina Wesley: Well, I read the first book. Tara is very different in the books than they’ve decided to take her in the show. So after the first book I sort of didn’t read anymore so that I could then create my own character along with the rest of the creative team since they had taken her in a different direction. But my mother has read all nine [laughs].
Did she like them?
Rutina Wesley: Yes, she loved them.
Do you think you’ll eventually read them, maybe at the end of the show?
Rutina Wesley: Maybe at the end because if I read them I’m going to know what happens. So I want to sort of wait for it to be over and then go back and read them and see some of the things that they took out and all of that.
What was your process in creating Tara since you didn’t have more than
the script to go on?
Rutina Wesley: Right. Well, I mean, I would say that gave me a lot of life and then my own life experience, friends that I know, also living life and also knowing people like Tara who have this wall up, but if you look closely they’re just this little flower inside that needs to be taken care of. I think we can recognize that in a lot of people. A lot of people have defenses that are earned. I do think that Tara’s defenses are earned, but as goes along, and as you saw in season one, she’s just never learned to be a child. She never got to be a child. She never got to be taken care of and so that’s why she sort of walks around like a brick wall, so to speak.
We’re seeing a lot more of her vulnerable side this season, especially with Maryann. Do you think that’ll be a good thing for her or will it smack her in the face?
Rutina Wesley: Right. Well, it is drama. It is ‘True Blood’. There has to be some sort of chaos of course. But I do think that Maryann is definitely taking on that motherly role that Adina Porter who plays Lettie Mae didn’t necessarily give to Tara. So we’re going to see her getting taken under someone’s wing. Then of course a little bit of romance hopefully with Eggs. Tara has never really been good at romance. Maybe she’ll have some luck. Fingers crossed.
Can you talk a bit then how Tara evolves throughout
Rutina Wesley: Like I said, we’re going to see Tara getting taken care of. There’s going to be some romance and then there’s chaos of course, but without giving too much away I do think that just generally it’ll be a softer side of Tara that we’ll see this season. I mean, her edge is still there, but she’s not as edgy as she was last season. She’s definitely a lot more vulnerable and I think it’s very beautiful to see a Black character on TV that the writers have given so many levels to and so much complexity. She’s not just the angry woman. She’s got so much more to her and that’s why I enjoy and love playing her.
A lot of the storylines are pretty separate. Tara hasn’t been as involved in the whole vampire environment like Sookie and Bill. Will she eventually have a storyline with them or does she remain separate?
Rutina Wesley: That’s a good question. I want to ask Alan [Ball] that question, too. No. Actually, I think ultimately she is involved because her best friend is dating . So she is ultimately involved in that. I can foresee her getting more involved in that because they live in the town and also there are so many supernatural creatures and other things that are obviously in the book that will be coming into our world. So I know that something will cross our path in the future, but nothing of course has been said to me. They keep everything top secret.
There might be a new housing arrangement for Tara. Is that going to be a positive thing or will Maryann reel her back towards her?
Rutina Wesley: I think it’s time for Tara…in the back of her head Tara knows that something just isn’t right. She doesn’t trust it and yet things are going so well. I think that when Sookie gives her this amazing opportunity, and it’s an amazing opportunity because it’s like, ‘This is my best friend. Oh, my God, yes. We’re for life. Yes. We should be .’ Also, it’s a chance for Tara to be on her own again and just sort of regroup. I think, without giving it away, Tara might move in and see how it is to be on her own so that she can try to figure Maryann out because things are just so weird at that house [laughs].
What’s your favorite episode this season, towards the beginning or towards the end?
Rutina Wesley: I would say that it’s going to be towards the end because the chaos hits. That’s all I’ll say.
Who’s your favorite character, apart from Tara?
Rutina Wesley: Oh, everyone. I’m being totally honest here. It’s really hard to have a favorite because especially this season the creative team has given everyone something so meaty and juicy to work on and everyone is playing it so well. I think that all of us have been cast right on and so everyone is playing their part brilliantly and there’s no one person that I lean more towards. I mean, I love Nelsan Ellis. We went to school together. I’ve always loved him, since we were in school. I enjoy working with Anna Paquin and Adina Porter who plays my mother and of course who is amazingly…her and Adina are two of the most amazingly grounded women and actresses that I’ve worked with in my life. They’re just there. I’ve learned so much from working with them. It’s been a real treat.
Can you talk about when you knew you wanted to be an actress and how it all happened for you?
Rutina Wesley: Well, I mean, my parents were dancers and so dance was . I wanted to be a dancer and I went to a where I majored in both theater and dance. Then I decided that you can’t really focus on both. You have to focus on one and just kind of keep up with the other. I just kind of enjoyed musicals. I love to sing, too. I just thought that with theater you could do it all. I could dance, sing and act. Those were all the passions that I loved. I decided to go to college and just focus on acting. My dad who’s a tap dancer was like, ‘Well, what about your feet? Don’t forget about your feet.’ I said, ‘I won’t, daddy. I’ll keep on tapping until the day that I die.’ But I love telling stories and I love being a vessel for these wonderful characters that get written and I’m able to play them. For me the biggest reward is when an audience member or a fan comes up to me crying or just , like, ‘Oh my God, Tara, you’re my best friend –’ or ‘I get your story and that’s my life.’ That’s a big reward for me, that I’m portraying it in a way that I move someone because that’s what I’m here for, to tell the story. Hopefully the audience will get something out of it. It’s been that. It’s the storytelling. It’s the creation of characters. It’s the anything goes and that I can use my entire body as an instrument to play these characters. That was a lot.
Do you think we might see you in a musical soon?
Rutina Wesley: I would love to. I keep auditioning and hopefully if a job comes my way and it’s meant to be it’ll happen. I did do the Broadway workshop of ‘The Color Purple’ with one of the Idols. That was a treat and also working with Julianne Moore and Bill Nighy in ‘Vertical Hour’ was…Nighy was one of the most amazing actors that I’ve ever worked with in my entire life. I’ve been, I would say, considerably lucky since I’ve been out of school that I’ve had the sort of career thus far that I’ve had. I take each blessing with great appreciation because with where we are right now with the recession there aren’t a lot of films and jobs going on out there. So I’m just so thankful that I’m on a hit show and that they gave me the opportunity, and that it’s my first show. That I have a first show that just happens to be a hit, I feel like that’s so rare and I kind of hit the gold there. So everyday I’m just kind of like, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’ [laughs]
Is there an actor that you would love to work with that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
Rutina Wesley: Angela Basset.
If could guest star on any other TV show which one would it be?
Rutina Wesley: It’s off the air now but I was dying to get on ‘The L Word’. I know that’s a Showtime show, but I loved that show. Also, I think if I could, ’24′. It’s just quick and fast and maybe I could be some villain or something like that. I’ve always secretly wanted to do like Angelina Jolie action films. Like, give me a cat suit and some boots and lets do some ‘Tomb Raider 12′. Lets just rock it out.
You can’t really do that in ‘True Blood’.
Rutina Wesley: [laughs] No. Wouldn’t work.
Any upcoming projects that we can look for you in?
Rutina Wesley: No. No upcoming projects. Just ‘True Blood’ which is, you know what, enough. The fact that I have that is amazing. Hopefully some other things will come up soon.
Charleston Daily Mail posted the following interview.
Modern gothic literature played out on television and the silver screen often includes a familiar scenario where the heroine is torn between a vampire and a human. Or a werewolf. Or a shape-shifter.
On HBO’s True Blood, former Charleston resident Sam Trammell plays Sam Merlotte, a shape-shifting bar owner who often turns into a collie dog. And Trammell is fairly certain who has the upper hand in the romance department.
“Of course the heroine should choose the shape-shifter, for sure,” Trammell said in a recent telephone interview.
“I’m not dead,” Trammell added with a laugh, “which is an advantage, you know. I’m not cold to the touch. So I’d have to say I think I’m a better match for Sookie.”
Sookie, of course, is waitress Sookie Stackhouse, the central character in Charlaine Harris’ novels set in Bon Temps, La. Sookie, played by Golden Globe-winner Anna Paquin, is dating vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and also is loved by Sam.
Trammell, who grew up in Charleston, is in Los Angeles while the show shoots its last couple episodes for the second season, which now airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.
“This season is really crazy and really fun,” Trammell said. “Everything is just amped up and kind of scarier, sexier. The dial is just turned way up this year.”
True Blood’s main characters are somewhat split up this season, with various interweaving storylines. Sookie and Bill have some vampire business in Dallas and Sookie’s brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten) is becoming involved with the anti-vampire church, the Fellowship of the Sun.
More will be revealed about Trammell’s character and his relationship with the mysterious Maryann (Michelle Forbes).
“Her whole character is really intense and very dangerous, and my character is very much wrapped up with hers this year,” Trammell said. “He kind of understands Maryann in a way that other people don’t in town.
“He’s really a magnet for punishment and abuse this year, Sam – the writers were very sadistic,” he joked.
But Sam also will show more of a vulnerable side and open up to people more, Trammell said.
“They really just wrote great stuff for all the characters,” Trammell said.
While True Blood follows Harris’ books, the show’s creator and producer, Alan Ball, takes some liberties with the storyline, Trammell said. Ball, who created HBO’s Six Feet Under and wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for American Beauty, was a big reason Trammell wanted to do the show.
“I really do like good horror and good fantasy,” Trammell said. “A lot of times it can be cheesy if it’s not done well, and I think I’m really lucky to have ended up in Alan Ball’s hands because our show is very much a character-driven drama.
“Really the show is about relationships and people in this town,” Trammell said. “It’s not writing built around the fantastical, it’s writing built around characters.”
Another draw was that True Blood takes place in the South.
Trammell is originally from Louisiana and grew up in West Virginia.
“I sort of have that southern blood in me,” Trammell said. “I love playing country people, and it’s great to be in a world that I kind of grew up in. So I was excited about it.”
Trammell went to Overbrook Elementary, John Adams Junior High and George Washington High schools. His parents still live in Charleston; his father, Willis, is a surgeon and his mother, Betsy, is an artist.
“Charleston’s where I grew up and I think it’s a great place,” Trammell said. “It’s such a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful town, which you really realize once you get out and see the rest of the country.
“It’s just so green, and you have the river – I loved growing up there.”
Some of Trammell’s favorite memories include making ski jumps in South Hills with his brother during the winter and catching a view of Charleston from his favorite rock on a neighborhood cliff.
“We’d sneak up there during high school and sit up there and just look at the city,” Trammell recalled.
Trammell makes it back home about once a year, sometimes longer. His brother, Paul, and sister, Elizabeth, live in different states and so family get-togethers are sometimes outside of West Virginia.
“I don’t get back as much as I’d like to,” Trammell said.
But he still keeps in touch with several high school friends – Andy Cooke, Spencer Elliot and Rod Smith, all attorneys in Charleston.
Cooke remembers spending weekends with Trammell and other friends at a farm in Putnam County, riding horses and helping a friend’s grandfather put up hay.
“Sam was just a very earnest and nice and good friend,” Cooke said.
Cooke said he enjoys catching Trammell in movies and on TV.
“It’s an interesting series,” Cooke said of True Blood. “I never ever would have predicted that he would be a changeling. It’s ironic because he knows who he is. He’s a very sincere person.”
Cooke said he was not surprised Trammell went into acting, but it was not something he talked much about growing up.
But before he was an actor himself Trammell got to know actor Nick Nolte, who had a home in Charleston in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“It looked like he had a pretty fun life,” Trammell said.
Trammell also knew Jennifer Garner back when they both went to George Washington. The two later paired up in Harvest of Fire, a 1996 Hallmark Hall of Fame movie.
“We ended up getting married; I forget about that,” Trammell said of their movie characters. “We were married in an Amish ceremony.”
Trammell did theater work as well, earning a Tony nomination for Ah, Wilderness!, a 1998 play by Eugene O’Neill in New York. He won an Outer Critics Circle award for the play.
“That was just an amazing part to do,” Trammell said.
Trammell also did a Showtime series called Going to California.
“That was sort of under the radar, but that was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had,” Trammell said. “That was just a really fun job where we got to travel across the country.”
Nowadays – or nights – Trammell spends much of his time filming in and around Los Angeles and at some locations in Louisiana and a canyon in Malibu.
“Believe it or not during the winter in that canyon it gets down into the 30s.
And a lot of time we’ll have our shirts off or we’ll be in short-sleeve shirts or we’ll be, uh, naked,” Trammell said. “It’s so cold and you’re trying to pretend like it’s the summer in Louisiana.”
Trammell describes the supernatural series’ set as fun and relaxed and considers several of his cast members good friends, including Chris Bauer, who plays Detective Andy Bellefleur, and Carrie Preston, who plays the red-headed waitress Arlene.
And although their onscreen relationship is a bit prickly, Trammell is close with Forbes, whom he calls Mishka.
“I really love her even though we’re head to head and she tortures me in the show,” Trammell said. “She’s really, really a fun person to work with.”
When not working, Trammell spends time with his serious girlfriend, actress Missy Yager, who recently portrayed Sarah Beth Carson on the TV series “Mad Men.” He met Yager in New York when she also was doing theater work.
“She’s a really talented actress,” Trammell said.
He also enjoys one of California’s well-known pastimes – surfing.
“That’s sort of my sport, that’s the thing I love to do most,” Trammell said. “I go surfing up and down the coast, all the way as far north as Ventura, all the way as far south as San Clemente.
“It’s a lot of fun and exciting.”
This is from The Guardian.
It’s six years since the final episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was first transmitted. That, you might have thought, was that. After seven seasons, we’d surely had enough of bloodsuckers.
Except it hasn’t turned out that way. It’s not just that, in 2007, Dark Horse Comics unleashed “season eight” of Buffy, a direct continuation from the series, partly written by Buffy’s creator, Joss Whedon. Now vamps, vamp companions and eldritch folk in general are suddenly everywhere.
In July, F/X will screen True Blood, an HBO series produced by Alan Ball. Instead of residing Six Feet Under, this time a sizeable percentage of its characters are the walking undead, vampires who have revealed themselves to humans and apparently want to join our wider community. Anna Paquin stars as Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress attracted to bloodsucker Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) in part because she can’t hear his thoughts.
It’s appropriate the show is based on a series of novels, the Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris. Even as Buffy ended, writers and publishers had already spotted an opportunity.
Welcome to the world of urban fantasy. This description covers a slew of supernatural-themed books – many of which, it’s worth emphasising, pre-dated Buffy’s demise. Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series focuses on a reanimator who wakes the dead. Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden novels feature a wizard-cum-PI. Then there’s Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series, Mike Carey’s Felix Castor novels, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books … the list goes on.
The new wave of eldritch has subsequently migrated to TV and the movies. As well as True Blood, we’ve recently had Toby Whithouse’s Being Human in which a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf share a house in Bristol. In Sweden, John Ajvide Lindqvist adapted his own novel, Let the Right One in, to create an acclaimed cult vampire horror. Meyer’s Twilight books have made it to the big screen.
So what’s going on? Why has this collective obsession gone so far? Is it really just about missing the presence of a certain Sunnydale resident?
For one possible answer to these questions, consider a supernatural-themed show that didn’t make it past a single series. ITV’s Demons starred the admirable Philip Glenister, and there lay its biggest problem. Supposedly, Glenister’s Rupert Galvin was an advisor to young Luke Rutherford. But Glenister dominated the series. It was if someone had reimagined Buffy with Anthony Head’s Giles at its core.
Wrong. Urban fantasy, at least when it makes the leap from the genre ghetto to the mainstream, finds its audience because it places late teenage and twentysomething angst at its epicentre. It’s no coincidence that vampires are so often its staple, rather than werewolves or witches, because the dangerous sexuality of bloodsuckers fits so snugly with the bedroom confusions of young adulthood.
It’s for this reason that many are suspicious of Stephenie Meyer. With 42m books already sold worldwide, you can’t argue with the scale of Meyer’s success, but the conservative, just-say-no dynamic between Bella and her bloodsucking squeeze, Edward, deliberately desexualises urban fantasy.
There’s no such squeamishness in True Blood. Just the opposite judging by the amount of flesh on show in the first episode. That doesn’t mean the series is all about titillation. Rather, like Buffy, it’s about a strong central character who’s often underestimated: Buffy because she’s a bouncy cheerleader type, Sookie because she’s a kooky waitress.
There’s another unavoidable comparison between Sookie and Buffy: both fancy a fella with fangs. For Sookie and Compton, think Buffy and Angel. Without wishing to suggest that True Blood doesn’t stand up in its own right – the season two opener was the highest-rated show on HBO since the finale of The Sopranos – or that either character can’t get by without a male presence around, some stories are just too good to drive a stake through.
From Entertainment Weekly:
This week’s True Blood picked up exactly where last week’s left off: Sookie, Bill, and Jessica in car, squabbling. Then: Sookie leaves car, is chased by what Eric will later refer to as “this bull-man,” is attacked and left with supernatually poisonous, bleeding scars on her back. That shut up Jessica for a few minutes, didn’t it? (“Petulant, dangerous, afraid,” Bill describes Jessica, as who among us is not?)
Loved Dr. Ludwig and her grumpy ministrations. Loved Sookie going to Fangtasia, reading Ginger’s mind, and finding Lafayette. (In fact, it was good in general to have a Sookie-centric episode this week, wasn’t it?)
Did not understand why Sookie now owes Eric a favor for helping save her and Lafayette. I mean, going to Dallas to hunt wayard vampires? Who does Eric think Sookie is, Buffy Summers? All suggestions/obvious reasons I’m missing in this regard are most welcome. (Seems like she should have prevailed favor-free, given the righteousness of her argument plus the back-up strength of Bill, who really should have stepped up and supported her, but was curiously, wimpily passive in this scene with Eric. What’s up with that?) But, but: best exchange of the night: Eric to Sookie, “Perhaps I will grow on you.” Sookie to Eric, “I’d prefer cancer.”
Meanwhile, Jason got a revealing earful from Light of Day boss Steve: “Hate is good” when it comes to vampires, he asserted. I haven’t read beyond the first Charlaine Harris novel, but this season’s religious-camp scenes are very much in keeping with series mastermind Alan Ball’s view of organized religion as we know it from Six Feet Under.
I suspect EW readers who’ve complained about the unbelievability of usually skeptical Tara falling for Maryann’s blandishments did not find comfort in the way Maryann soothed Tara with more positive-life-coaching (“Value yourself”). Me, I think Tara has struggled to overcome her usual dubiousness because, after all she’s been through with her mother, she wants Maryann’s affection and interest in her to be good and real. Poor Tara, eh? Besides, by the end, when she witnessed yet another near-orgy at Maryann’s place, the seeds of doubt have definitely been planted in her.
And finally (oh, hell: spoiler alert!) we got a literal glimpse of what’s behind the heretofore-just-silly Daphne: the final shot of the hour was of the scars on her back. Looks as though she is truly poisoned/possessed by “this bull-man,” whatever that means. What do you think it means? Where are things headed?
Hey True Bites!
Tamara is on sick leave, so it’s up to Maria and Pamela to go over Southern Speak, Fan Mail, News Bites, and True Blood Episode 3 of Season 2!
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See you in two weeks and for those of you in the U.S. — have a happy 4th,