PaleyFest 2011: The 'True Blood' Cast Talk Demon Babies, Witches and Season 4
by Laura Prudom, posted Mar 6th 2011 10:30AM
'True Blood' took a super-sized bite out of PaleyFest 2011 on Saturday night, as 16 members of the ensemble cast joined creator Alan Ball on stage at the Saban Theatre to celebrate the show's success and drop a few hints about what's in store for season 4.
As well as sitting in on the sold-out panel, TV Squad was on the bustling press line for the event, where we managed to grab a few moments with cast-members such as Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer (Sookie and Bill), Rutina Wesley (Tara), Todd Lowe (Terry), Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica) and Kristin Bauer van Straten (Pam). The 'True Blood' team is notoriously stingy with spoilers thanks to a comprehensive confidentiality agreement, but we did manage to unearth a few hints in regards to next season's storylines.
Join us after the jump for highlights from the press line and panel. Spoilers ahead.
With 17 stars on the press line, things were certainly hectic and we unfortunately didn't get a chance to talk to everyone, but check out our brief chat with some of the actors on what's coming up for their characters in season four:
Since we still have more than three months to wait for the season 4 premiere, creator Alan Ball wasn't about to bring a rough cut of the first episode to PaleyFest -- instead, he did what the 'True Blood' team does best and offered us a tasty teaser from 401. In it, we see Pam, Jessica and Hoyt (Jim Parrack) emerge from Fangtasia to face a crowd of fundamentalist Christian protestors bearing signs proclaiming the nutty Reverend Newlin's anti-vampire rhetoric. Hoyt points out that real Christians wouldn't spread messages of hate, but it only takes one picketer tossing an insult at Jessica to send Hoyt into a rage, and a nasty brawl soon breaks out.
Ball revealed that we're introduced to the concept of witchcraft through a circle of Wiccans, but was careful to clarify that the witches of 'True Blood' are "not the bringers of evil," and that there's "another, older entity" at work behind the scenes. "We've done a lot of research and we've tried to be as true to the traditions of Wicca as we possibly can," he promised.
Fans of the books are well aware that the fourth installment of Charlaine Harris' series is very important for everyone's favorite Nordic hunk of vampire, Eric Northman. As Bauer van Straten confirmed in our interview, Eric will be suffering from amnesia this season after a run in with a coven of spiteful witches, and Alexander Skarsgard was enthusiastic about the challenge of playing a completely unfamiliar character.
"He doesn't know who he is, so a thousand years of resentment for humanity is gone," Skarsgard explained. "He's very innocent ... Eric needs help. There are a lot of friendly people in Bon Temps who would love to help Eric." Did we detect a lecherous note in his voice? Still, Skarsgard soon sobered up as he explained his character's motivation this season.
"What we're doing now is so different. This powerful character is just gone; what we've built up over the last three years is just gone, and it's a lot of fun doing this because it's just the polar opposite of who Eric really is. This is just a blast, because he is lost and he discovers a lot; he doesn't know who he is -- he knows he's a vampire, but then slowly finds out stuff, like 'oh, I killed those people?' It's not easy to hear. And not knowing who he can trust or who's a friend or an enemy ... he's very vulnerable."
As Todd Lowe noted in our video interview, all is not quite right with Arlene's still-gestating baby, since it was supposedly fathered by creepy Cajun serial killer Rene Lenier (Michael Raymond-James) before he died.
Carrie Preston noted that her character still has her suspicions about the soul of her unborn child: "In Arlene's mind, there's good and there's evil -- and if you are a serial killer, you are evil!"
Lowe, on the other hand, thinks that the child's latent evilness can be "parented out," and is, as he told us, prepared to love the baby unconditionally. We're just intrigued to see how far into 'Rosemary's Baby' territory this story goes ...
Guest stars and recurring characters
Joe Manganiello (Alcide) pointed out that his character's "crazy" ex-girlfriend Debbie is still "alive and at large, so you never know ..." while Ball was quick to remind us that Russell Edgington, the vampire king of Mississippi, is still alive. "I don't know when he'll be back, but there are definitely plans to bring him back," he confirmed. "And he is gonna be pissed!"
Ball also shared that Gary Cole would be guest-starring this season in an unspecified role, while Irish actress Fiona Shaw would join the cast as a regular in the role of Marnie, one of the new witches. He confirmed a return for Eric's sire Godric (Allan Hyde) in some capacity, hinting that one of the joys of having characters who are thousands of years old is the potential for flashbacks to different time periods, if not an appearance in a dream or vision.
Love triangle (square?)
With Bill and Sookie officially "off again," many fans are curious to know whether our waitress/psychic/fairy will hook up with one of her other hunky protectors -- and Team Eric and Team Alcide were definitely out in full force at PaleyFest last night.
"There's certain things going for the different men in Sookie's life," Paquin conceded. "Alcide doesn't turn into a ball of charred fire during the day, which is a plus; Alcide has that nice, warm thing going for him, but Alcide comes with some baggage which is less of a plus -- namely an ex-girlfriend that wants to kick the everloving whatever out of Sookie ... that's a minus!"
And what about the other object of her affection? "Eric is a little problematic for Sookie; he's caused her some trouble," Paquin mused, ignoring Skarsgard's playful nods and shakes of his head whenever she said something complimentary or less so about his character. "He seems to be looking out for himself a lot of the time, but once in a while he proves himself to be disarmingly on her side, so it's a bit confusing. And he has consistently shown interest, which might get acted upon ..."
Bauer van Straten would love to see more flashbacks -- she noted that she was impressed that Pam manages to dress for every occasion, and that she can't wait to see fans' reactions to a scene they're currently shooting, because her costume is entirely appropriate for the situation.
Speaking of flashbacks, Skarsgard mentioned an "amazing" flashback concerning Eric and Bill early on in the season, but wouldn't give us any further information except that we needed to wait and see if for ourselves.
Can Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) be trusted? Nelsan Ellis admitted that "Jesus has got [Lafayette] under his spell -- so I have no choice but to trust him." Alejandro played innocent, roguishly insisting, "I think Jesus is a pretty good guy; what, you wouldn't trust this face?"
When quizzed about Jessica and Hoyt's longevity, Woll reflected that "the fairytale can't go on forever ..." The observation drew a disappointed "aww" from the crowd, at which point Woll gamely amended, "Maybe the reality is better than the fairytale?"
Noble but misguided sheriff Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) seemed to be nursing a growing fixation with V at the end of last season, a problem that will certainly get worse before it gets better. "V has a lot of properties that Andy didn't know about -- the one that stuck in my mind more than any was the three or four hour erections ... " he quipped. "Besides being obsessed with sex and nudity, [Andy's] doing his best. A lot of V came into the station towards the end of last season, and that's where he works!"
Ryan Kwanten (Jason) enthralled the crowd with his lilting Australian accent (he didn't even have to take his shirt off) and observed that he found it utterly hilarious that Jason, who's not exactly "the sharpest tool in the shed," has now, after being made deputy sheriff, "been bestowed with this sense of authority. If anyone should not have a sense of authority; should not be wielding a gun; should not be looking after an entire village of meth addicts, it's Jason Stackhouse," he laughed, before promising that "lots of good things, lots of intriguing things, and hopefully lots of watchable things happen" in season four.
Though Rutina Wesley couldn't confirm that Tara and Sam would rekindle their on-again-off-again relationship in season four, Sam Trammell did reveal that his lovelorn character "gets another shot" at romance this year, though he admitted that given his track record, the chances of finding love were "slim" for our shapeshifter.
As well as expressing an interest in directing an episode of the show somewhere down the line, Moyer also reminded us that Bill and Sophie-Ann (Evan Rachel Wood) were embroiled in a "bite-off" when we last saw them, before Ball teased that "it's not just the two of them involved in this fight." He wouldn't clarify further, but it sounds juicy.
On the subject of new characters, Ball was happy to speak in broad terms: "There are some witches, there are some vampires, there's a handful more shifters, there's a few werewolves, there's a couple of humans, there's a child."
Though Ball admitted that it's "hard not to think of [Sookie and Bill] as soulmates when [married couple Paquin and Moyer] are soulmates in real life," (cue an "aww" and a few jealous sighs from the audience) the executive producer did acknowledge that for now, Bill's betrayal is "so deep" that it seems hard for Sookie to see a way back to reconciliation for the pair. Team Eric might be in for a treat this season ...
What are you looking forward to seeing most in season four? Are you rooting for Eric, Alcide or Bill to end up with Sookie? Share your thoughts and predictions below!
More PaleyFest coverage:
PaleyFest 2011: 'The Walking Dead' Cast Talk Love Triangles, Action Figures and Season 2