Charlaine Harris who? You may not think you know her, but if it wasn’t for Charlaine Harris and her creation of Sookie Stackhouse, we wouldn’t have HBO’s True Blood. Charlaine sat down with us at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Georgia this past weekend to answer a few questions that we were dying to know.
“Well of course, Sookie is my favorite,” Charlaine told us when we asked her favorite character, but she quickly added, “I like writing all of them because they’re all part of me.”
When asked who her favorite character was other than Sookie, she replied gleefully that it was Amelia Broadway and Vampire Pam played by Kristin Bauer. Amelia Broadway is a novice witch in the Sookie Stackhouse novels that has yet to be introduced on True Blood. So when can viewers see this character on True Blood? Well, that’s not a definite yet.
As Charlaine explained, HBO’s Alan Ball is initially aiming to shoot one Sookie Stackhouse novel per HBO Season. “That was the basic plan,” she said. “But he has said that eventually the show will take on a life of its own.” Alan Ball explained to her that because Sookie wouldn’t be able to carry the entire series on her own, other characters would have to become more developed. Hence Lafayette not being killed in season one, even though he was killed in the first novel Dead Until Dark. This also explains why the character Jessica Hamby played by Deborah Ann Woll was created and why Tara Thorton played by Rutina Wesley has become a main character in the True Blood series.
When asked who her favorite character in True Blood was, Charlaine praised the entire cast. “I know all the actors, with a few exceptions,” she said. “It would be really hard to pick when you know them personally. It’s really hard to separate them from the characters.”
However, she eventually settled on Nelsan Ellis. “He’s just brilliant as Lafayatte,” she said. Charlaine went on to say that she felt Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin were a perfect fit for their characters William Compton and Sookie Stackhouse. Charlaine had mentioned in a panel earlier in the weekend that she couldn’t believe how tall Alexander Skarsgård was who plays Eric Northman. Alexander Skarsgård, who stood at 6’4”, towered over Charlaine Harris. She said that he was one of the nicest actors she’d met. Charlaine also went on to say that she didn’t think that Stephen and Anna’s relationship outside of True Blood would affect the characters storyline in the series.
Charlaine didn’t name or suggest anyone who should be cast as future characters on True Blood, but did say that she was very excited to see who would be cast as Debbie Pelt, a central character that is introduced in the third book, Club Dead. She also went on to say that she can’t wait to see what Alan Ball does with Club Dead and that the book was one of her favorites. When Charlaine was asked if the third season of True Blood would be closer to Club Dead than the second season had been to her books, she replied that she wasn’t sure.
“In the third season, we’ll see the introduction of the werewolves,” she said. “And I am looking forward to that very much.”
Unlike Stephenie Meyer with the Twilight series, Charlaine Harris and Alan Ball do not regularly consult with each other about the True Blood series. However, when asked if she and Alan Ball had a communication method available to them, she advised that they do communicate occasionally via email. Charlaine also went on to say that she is OK with the liberties that Alan Ball has taken with the True Blood series because she looks at True Blood as its own entity.
“I have been fascinated with what he’s done,” Charlaine said. “It’s like a separate experience, and that can be a lot of fun for everyone.”
The differences between the books and the series may explain any confusion that Charlaine’s fans are having with HBO’s True Blood. For example, when we asked Charlaine about what the “egg” was in True Blood, Charlaine said with a smile “I have no idea.”
One thing that fans of Charlaine Harris will be very excited to know about, is her upcoming appearance in a True Blood episode. Charlaine will appear in Season Two’s final episode on Sunday, September 13th as a patron in the bar Merlotte’s. Look for her talking to Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell).
Charlaine appeared at several other panels during the Dragon*Con weekend and we asked a question to Charlaine Harris for all of her avid fans of the Sookie Stackhouse series. Charlaine had mentioned on her website that Sookie would not become a vampire, so when we asked her which vampire she would end up with (implying Eric Northman or William Compton), Charlaine replied with a devilish smile “Who says it’s going to be a vampire?”
Photo Courtesy of HBO
Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, poses with TruBlood beverage on the set while filming the season two finale of “True Blood.”
Q. How did you come up with the idea for the Sookie Stackhouse novels?
A. My other books had done well, but I wanted to broaden my readership base, I wanted to appeal to a broader audience. I decided to write about a young woman who was dating a vampire, rather than just writing about vampires. Obviously I am using vampires as a metaphor for other things, that’s what makes the books more interesting for me. It give the books more depth, though writing about vampires is fun!
Q. What do you think about the HBO series “True Blood”?
A. I love the series! I am very fond of Alan (Ball), he is a genius at casting. I’ve really enjoyed watching the series.
Q. What was it like meeting the cast members of the show, that play the characters you have created?
A. I had met them all (the cast) previously. Filming the finale was kind of like a reunion. When I first met them I was very nervous because I didn’t know too many actors. We got along great … we are all people that have the same goals.
Q. What was it like filming the finale and being on the set?
A. It was very interesting. I feel like I learned a lot about how much it takes to produce each minute of a TV show. I was really impressed with how hard people work and how many people are involved in the process.
Q. Is your cameo appearance in the finale an important scene?
A. I’m not important at all, but they did give me a line!
Q. Has Alan Ball stayed pretty true to the story lines in your books and how has he deviated?
A. He has had to elaborate on the secondary characters in the series because my books are written in first person, all told by Sookie. Alan has stuck to the outline of the books, with the first novel in the series corresponding with the first season of the series, same with the second.
Q. Do you have any favorite characters on the series?
A. I’m certainly enjoying all of it. … I’m really enjoying the character of Jessica who is not in the books. A brilliant addition, I wish I had thought of it.
Q. How long do you plan on writing the Sookie Stackhouse series?
A. I just turned the 10th book in the series in to my editor. I don’t believe in outstaying my welcome. But my publisher has signed me on for three more books.
Q. Fans are constantly discussing which vampire is the best or their favorite — Eric or Bill. Who do you like the best?
A. They both came from my brain, so I’m really fond of both of them.
Q. Regarding the main character of your books and “True Blood” — Sookie Stackhouse. What do you think of Anna Paquin’s performance?
A. I’ve lived with Sookie for so long … it took me a little while to get into Anna’s portrayal of Sookie because her physicality is different. Anna is doing a marvelous job and now, I can’t imagine anyone else as Sookie.
Q. What has been the best part about writing the series?
A. It has been wonderful to get in touch with fans through book tours and my Web site. It is good to see so many people excited about reading.
I have not been on in a while…. but, I saw these and I thought all you Eric <3′s would love them:
Enjoy my lovelies…
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Sure, vampires and weredogs have never gotten along in Bon Temps, La., the fictional setting of HBO’s hit series True Blood, but when Stephen Moyer marries Anna Paquin, those of the furry kind will be well-represented in the wedding party.
“Splash, my alpha, will be the ringbearer,” Moyer said at the L.A. Dogworks and Good Dog Animal Rescue fund raiser on Wednesday. “My son [Billy, born in 2000] might be unhappy about that.”
“We haven’t planned anything,” Moyer said. “People say, ‘You are engaged to be married,’ and I’m like, ‘Really? I thought we were just engaged.’ ”
At least there’s an engagement ring. Moyer’s friend Cathy Waterman, a California jewelry designer popular among celebrities, created Paquin’s ring, which includes what Moyer described as a dark-colored “rustic diamond.”
For now, Moyer, who plays vampire Bill Compton, and Paquin, who plays Bill’s telepathic girlfriend Sookie Stackhouse, would rather think about Halloween details than wedding details.
“Funny enough, a friend of ours wants to go as me. He’s about that big [waist high],” he said. “And we were talking about taking my daughter [Lila, born in 2002] as Sookie, but then we thought that would be really bad. Ha.”
Stephen Moyer is the latest British actor to become a sex symbol in America, playing a 173-year-old vampire in True Blood, the year’s most talked-about new drama series.
Those with a taste for quality US drama may already have been feasting on the strange pleasures of True Blood, the new series from the Oscar-winning writer of American Beauty and Six Feet Under, Alan Ball. It has been showing here on the FX channel and is soon to arrive on Channel 4. In the States it is HBO’s most watched show since The Sopranos, and audiences are growing, recently topping five million viewers. For the British actor Stephen Moyer, who plays its romantic hero, Bill Compton, a 173-year-old vampire, the series has turned him into a star and, at 39, a late-blooming sex symbol.
Moyer’s vampire is a tragic hero in the Heathcliff mould. The first time he appears on screen he is ordering a bottle of synthetic blood (O-neg, his favourite flavour) in a Louisiana bar. Dark-haired and deathly pale, he exudes a stillness and controlled intensity. His eyes lock with those of waitress Sookie (Anna Paquin), who informs him that they did have some, but no one ordered it, so it went off. ‘You’re our first… vampire,’ she says.
True Blood is based on the Sookie Stackhouse series of novels by Charlaine Harris – ‘a rollicking read,’ Moyer says. They are the source of some distinctive vocabulary – vampire groupies are called ‘fang-bangers’, the vampires’ hypnotising of humans is known as ‘glamouring’. The first novel, Dead Until Dark, was published in 2001, but last month all nine titles in the series appeared simultaneously on the New York Times bestseller list.
The show (a third series has just been commissioned), set in the fictional small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, imagines a world where vampires have ‘come out of the coffin’ for the first time and are struggling to be accepted by mainstream society (despite the campaigning efforts of the American Vampire League). ‘It starts off odd, and gets odder,’ Moyer says. It is very sexy, very violent, very smart and easily transcends the cliche-ridden vampire genre. It can be very funny: angelina adopts vampire baby reads a newspaper headline in the first episode; god hates fangs announces a sign in the title sequence. ‘There are obvious parallels in the storytelling for homosexuality,’ says Moyer – Ball is gay – ‘or for the end of segregation in the 1960s. It’s there if you want to see it.’
In becoming more visible, the vampires are more vulnerable. Their blood – known as ‘V’ – has become a popular illegal drug among humans, mainly due to its effect on the libido, and criminals are killing vampires to supply the trade. ‘It isn’t the vampire, certainly in those first few episodes, who is malevolent, it’s the human characters that have the flaws,’ Moyer says. ‘The town sees Bill as the pariah, but Alan doesn’t set him up that way. Yes, he’s a vampire and, yes, he could tear your throat out, but he’s old-fashioned and romantic, so the sexual tension between Bill and Sookie is something that’s very romantic and courtly. Apart from the biting, their relationship is one of great love.’
He is glad to be in England. ‘I still think of home as here, and the Heath is my place, my quiet place. On Saturday the first thing that we did, me and my boy, was jump in the men’s pond. I loved it.’ Moyer has two children from former relationships who live in England with their mothers: Billy, nine, whose mother is a classroom assistant, and Lilac, seven, from his seven-year relationship with a journalist, Lorien Haynes. He also has a dog that lives in LA. ‘He’s 10, so it didn’t seem fair to bring him back. I do miss him. I went for a walk on the Heath without my dog and it was weird.’ He has a house in nearby Highgate, but grew up in a village near Brentwood in Essex. It shaped his early taste in clothes and music. ‘I was a Mod, a Paul Weller fanatic. We all were.’
A lot of his old friends gravitated towards jobs in the City, but Moyer’s dream was to be a stage actor. ‘I chose to go to drama school, which was an odd choice for somebody from where I was from.’ He appeared in school and local theatre productions, and at 17 set up his own company, the Reject Society, regularly directing as well as acting. He won a place at the London Academy for Music and the Dramatic Arts, got his first professional job, in a production of Oliver! with the National Theatre of Wales, then auditioned for the Royal Shakespeare Company, working there for 18 months, before touring as Romeo with the Oxford Stage Company. Eventually he made the shift to tele-vision, and found himself cast in various sexy roles. ‘Whenever people ask me if it feels weird doing all those sex scenes [in True Blood], well, look at my back catalogue, my little cantaloup arse has been up and down in many, many things before.’
Was there ever a time when he thought, yes, this is it, the big breakthrough? ‘Loads of times, but I never believed it. I did a movie called Prince Valiant [he played the title role, alongside Edward Fox and Joanna Lumley] and some people said, “This time next year, man, you are going to be huge.” But I’d read the script, I knew I wasn’t going to be.’
That was in 1997. Since then, he has more than paid his dues, with parts in Casualty, Cold Feet, Midsomer Murders, Peak Practice and Waking the Dead. He had a lead role in Channel 4’s NY-LON in 2004, playing a City trader, but despite some fizzing dialogue, it never really hit.
When he read the script for True Blood, he had just finished an American television series called The Starter Wife. ‘I didn’t want to do anything that would take me away again for a long period but my agent said, “Well there’s one thing…” ’ She emailed him the script and Moyer was blown away. ‘Vampires were never my genre – I’d read Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire but that was about it – but I felt that what Alan had managed to put into a 55-minute pilot was so deep and dense, I loved it.’
He had to do a taped audition the next morning in London. Ball has noted that he stood out because he wasn’t wearing black, but Moyer says he didn’t really have time to think about it. ‘Afterwards I picked my kids up from school, got home and found we had been burgled. My daughter went into her bedroom and said, “They haven’t stolen my teddy bear,” and Billy said, “They haven’t stolen my pillow or my duvet!” Hearing them I broke down, then half an hour later HBO rang saying they wanted to fly me over. It was an interesting day.’
He met Paquin, 12 years his junior, when he flew over for the screen test. (Many will remember her as the serious little girl in Jane Campion’s The Piano, although she is perhaps now better known as Rogue in the X-Men franchise.) ‘I was tanned and blond after The Starter Wife, and when I met Anna she was very pale and dark, as she is in real life. I’d read the pilot, which had this tanned, blond Sookie, so she wasn’t what I’d imagined.’
There was an instant spark. ‘Immediately Alan and Anna and I were all taking the piss out of each other, which was very refreshing and doesn’t happen very often. Then after we made the pilot, it became quite clear that I – well, both of us – wanted to take things further.’ They didn’t go public with the relationship until after the first series had finished in the US. ‘We didn’t tell anybody for about 10 months,’ Moyer says. ‘Neither of us wanted our relationship to be the story. It was very nice to be able to play our lives out without any attention. And it was funny, really, because we were living in Venice [a beachfront neighbourhood in LA] and everybody in Venice knew. We’ve got loads of cafes and restaurants that we go to, so it wasn’t like we weren’t being seen together.’
These days they can’t even go to get their hair cut without being photographed together. ‘I was shocked the first time the paps got me in America – when a videocamera is put in your face and you’re asked questions and 15 people are walking backwards taking your picture. I was coming out of a pizza shop and had my daughter with me. Your parental bond comes out at times like that, because they haven’t chosen to be an actor’s child – and I suddenly realised why actors have hit out before.’
Moyer and Paquin are now engaged, but he is not being drawn on a wedding date. ‘We haven’t thought about it,’ he says, ‘but we’re really happy.’
Is it strange, having dual identities, being Bill and Sookie as well as Stephen and Anna? ‘Well, we grew up as a couple in front of our crew, so we’re all like a family. They’ve seen every aspect of our relationship, they’ve seen us have sex together, and then we go home and it’s just the two of us in bed. I kind of miss them.’ He’s joking. ‘Our lives are very different from the characters,’ he says.
The most startling difference is the voice. In America, people stop him and ask him to ‘do the voice’, the slow Southern drawl that already has its own internet parodies (on funnyordie.com). ‘At the screen test, I’d wondered about doing this generic American accent I’d done before, but when I got in there the casting director said, “You do realise it’s Southern?” And I said, “Well, we’ll try it; if it’s dreadful we’ll go back to the other accent.” ‘And she said “Action” and out came… [he drawls]… kaahnd of Bill’s thing. Once I got the part, I did some work with a coach. Everybody else in the show is doing a modern Southern accent and I wanted something old-fashioned. There are no contractions. Bill never says can’t or won’t. It’s always, “I did not want you to do that,” which is funny because you then find yourself doing it in everyday life, saying things like, “I cannot stand pains aux raisins”.’
In everyday life, he is very handsome – more so than in True Blood – though he claims to be ‘as insecure as the next person’. And he is not the first British actor to become a sex symbol playing a vampire. I ask him about fellow Brit Robert Pattinson, the teen star of the hit film Twilight. Does he see Pattinson, 23, as competition? ‘No!’ he says emphatically, ‘I could be his dad. I’d have had to have started young but…’ Bill Compton is certainly a very different creature to Pattinson’s chaste Edward Cullen, and Moyer got into trouble for calling him a ‘pussy – the SlimFast, Diet Coke of vampires’. He is more careful today. ‘I think there are worse things for a teen to be enraptured with than Twilight,’ he says. ‘I can understand why you would give someone that book [by Stephanie Meyer] and say, this is good, it’s about a chaste love affair, please fall in love with Robert Pattinson.
‘Our show’s very different, of course, and has its place. Although sometimes I’ll get 10- or 11-year-olds coming up and asking for my autograph, and I say, “Have you seen that show?” and they go, “Yeah, love it.” I couldn’t sit in the same room as my mother and watch that show. I mean, it’s seriously racy.’
Radar Online – True Blood true loves, Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer, turned out Wednesday night to support some very special fans—of the four legged persuasion!
The newly engaged couple hit the red carpet at A Night of Emotion Benefiting Good Dog Animal Rescue at L.A. Dogworks in Hollywood. Dressed in a demure navy Tracy Reese dress, Paquin shyly showed RadarOnline.com her diamond engagement ring. Moyer, who recently revealed he helped picked the ring himself, told us how he came up with the perfect design.
“Cathy Waterman is a very good friend of mine and she had this amazing rustic diamond. It’s a dark diamond that sort of isn’t clear,” Moyer told RadarOnline.com. “So we decided to make it into a ring.”
Moyer says his favorite thing about Anna is that she “doesn’t take any of my crap.”
The couple, along with the entire cast of True Blood, are on hiatus until November, when shooting resumes for Season 3. With Halloween just around the corner, the actor admits he’s got a few costume ideas up his sleeve.
“Funny enough, a friend of ours who’s about that big (gestures to his knee) wants to go as me—as Bill and then I thought about taking my daughter as Sookie, but the we thought that might be really bad,” he laughed, before adding, “We don’t do this in England, I don’t know! I’ll think about it in two weeks!”
So, Adrienne C. emailed us to tell us that we were voted one of the top 100 book blogs by Online Accredited PhD Universities.
“Whether reading for fun, education, action, or business, books can help with anything. Even in an age where talking pictures dominate, it is still not difficult to find book lovers. To further your reading even more, check out these 100 awesome blogs for every kind of book lover. They will tell you what to buy, sell, read, trade, and much more.”
We were listed at #62. The Last Bite: Fans of the Sookie Stackhouse books and “True Blood” will enjoy this podcast. Hosts Maria, Pamela and Tamara discuss the latest news, reviews, opinions, and analysis.
This made our day…