True Blood was an extraordinary roller coaster of emotions
You cannot interview Stephen Moyer and not talk about the show that has changed his life in so many ways: True Blood.
When I bring up the subject in my Skype interview with Stephen, he smiles and says: “True Blood? What’s that?” I reply: “That little show, you know, I used to watch it sometimes”.
Before I can ask my first question, he asks me in a sympathetic voice: “Are you missing it?” By saying that I don’t, I probably give him the answer he least expected from the co-admin of one of the most popular True Blood websites. He looks at me for a second and says: “That’s fair enough”, he flashes me a smile and listens to my explanation.
I tell Stephen that True Blood has been an amazing ride and a beautiful adventure that has given me opportunities that I had never even dared to dream of, like interviewing him and so many other cast and crew. But running The Vault – TrueBlood-Online.com (with my amazing co-admin Lynnpd) was a full time job that kept us busy 24/7. When I heard that season 7 would be the final season I was at peace with that: everything comes to an end and I was ready to start doing other things and pursue new horizons.
Stephen nods: “I understand completely. You’ve just voiced in a way what happened for us, I think, in some respects. It was such a dream and such an extraordinary roller coaster of emotions. Not least because of meeting Anna and having children and moving here. Meeting the person you want to spend the rest of your life with is major, but that’s all gravy on top of the chocolate coating on top of the bacon”, Stephen explains invigorating his words with wild hand gestures.
“So it’s all joyous”, he continues. “The actual show itself was just an incredible creative dream scenario. But like anything you get to a point where, not that it’s stale by any stretch of the imagination, but it get’s to a point where you want to stretch out and do other things. Everything that we have all expressed in all of our interviews and all the love but it’s time to do something different.”
“It is everything that I hoped it would be and a sh*t ton more”, Steve continues. “You can’t even begin to hope that it will become what it became. But at the same point that affords you to do things that you didn’t expect to be doing and that makes your life go in a different direction. Alex [Alexander Skarsgård] is a great example of that. He was thinking about moving back to Sweden before this job started, because he was sort of done with America, it wasn’t quite the way he wanted to live his life. And I was in a similar situation myself when it came along. We are eternally grateful for it, it changes your life and it makes you move in a different way. Joe Manganiello is a great example; True Blood is responsible for changing his life into this amazing, beautiful bird that is flying. But that doesn’t mean that you stay in the box, in the cage that was the thing that started it all.”
Coming to terms with Bill’s end
A lot was said about the series finale of True Blood. Since Anna and Stephen left the States before the final episode aired they didn’t get to watch it at the same time as the rest of us. The first time Stephen saw it was during the DVD commentary.
I ask Stephen how he feels about the finale in general and about the outcome of Bill’s storyline in particular. After giving it a few moments of thought Stephen says: “I am going to say something slightly controversial here, which I am sure having read most of my interviews over the years you’ve seen me do that a little bit. Everybody thinks that death is: A. The end and B. some kind of awful bad thing.”
Stephen adjusts his horn-rimmed glasses and continues: “When I knew that Bill was dying, because I knew back at the end of season 6 that that was what they were going to do, I came to terms with it in a way that the fans and everybody else didn’t. So, for me I was working towards this ending that I knew was going to happen and therefore, in my mind, whether I would have thought it was right when I was told about it, for me it was the closing of a chapter, of everything that he had been.”
Stephen continues:”What I tried to do was getting him to a point where he had experienced everything that there was to experience and that he didn’t need anything anymore. Whether I agreed or liked the Jessica storyline with Hoyt or any of that is by the by cause that’s what I had to do. So for me watching her get dressed and being able to see her get married, to see her have this light in her eyes and be happy, to know that I was setting Sookie free, to know that, in Bill’s mind, I was going to be with my children and my wife, all of that was a perfectly wrapped up little box in it’s own way”
“It is not necessarily how I would have done it, but given the parameters that I was given I had to make that work. So in my mind I got to a point where I could believe that Bill was doing all of this for the right reasons, in his head. Whether I, as an actor believe it or not; whether Steve thinks that’s what he would have done. I have to believe that Bill is doing what he needs to be doing.”
Having written The Bill Chronicles for all these years for AllStephenMoyer.com, I gave a lot of thought of course about the reasons behind Bill’s decision to die. I also wondered what could possibly had been the alternative if he hadn’t died, and in my mind I saw him in a similar setting as the final scene of Dexter; isolated from the world and his loved ones living alone in a cabin. Stephen admits that Dexter lost him a couple of years ago and he didn’t see the last seasons, but he did hear about the finale.
“One of the things I did hear in passing from people was that the True Blood finale was appalling, but it wasn’t as bad as Dexter”, Steve reacts with a big smile.
But how many great series finales have we seen?
“One” replies Stephen without hesitation. Ignoring him for the moment I say that I could live with the ‘Breaking Bad’ finale and he agrees.
“But there is one…”, he calls me back raising his finger like a professor and simultaneously I say: “Six Feet Under”.
“There you go”, he nods when I give him the answer he was looking for. “Six Feet Under is one of the greatest episodes of all time”.
I tell Stephen that the only reason I checked out True Blood was because Alan Ball was connected to it, because I don’t even like vampires. “No, me neither”, confesses Stephen. “But that was the beauty of this show, because what it did make me do is appreciate the genres, sci-fi, vampirism and the whole zombie element. I have only ever been interested in what we in England call “kitchen sink drama”, which is people sitting around a table talking; real life. So when I read the pilot of True Blood I was just blown away by how f*cking phenomenal it was…. and Alan’s writing… and this world…. I just fell in love with it. And I fell in love with Sookie and with Sam’s bar and Lafayette and all of that in a way that I couldn’t wait to see where he took that world.”
“When people ask me what my favorite season was I always say season 1 because it was just magical.”
Stephen’s vision of the final scene
Most of the Bill fans did make peace with his death, although it took some longer than others [Stephen chuckles], but we all feel that he deserved a better send off. After the final dying scene Bill was never mentioned again, it would have been nice if during the Thanksgiving dinner they could at least have raised a glass to him since they were all there thanks to the sacrifices he made [Stephen nods throughout my whole speech].
“Absolutely”, Stephen says and gives his next words some careful thought before proceeding. “There is a lot that can be said for the benefit of hindsight and I pitched one thing that was chosen not to be done. One of the things that I thought that would be an interesting beat, would be as the camera is panning out the table and seeing everybody with their thanksgivings and their drinks, they’re saying hello to each other and there is this beautiful kind of camaraderie; I thought it would be an interesting beat that just as Sookie turns to the new dude there is a small breeze that makes her hair move and she stops and looks. Then we cut to a POV [point of view] looking back at the table at everybody being happy, she looks and it goes back to the shot that it was before and it pans out.”
Stephen continues his vision: “All that would have done is make everybody talk about who that was. Because in my mind it was Eric, but it could have been anybody, it could have been Niall, or her fairy godmother, Russell Edgington or it could have been Bill’s ghost. It doesn’t matter; you don’t even need to know who it is. I wanted to see something ethereal, something from another plane. But that was just a pitch that I put forward and they didn’t think it was what they were trying to do. Which is fair enough because I am not the guy making the show, but I think you have to put in the audience’s heads that there is still something else out there. That was my thought; a touch of magic.”
Stephen’s daughter Lilac’s debut
During our chat I frequently heard Stephen’s phone chiming, he did a good job ignoring the messages that came in, but when his eldest daughter Lilac called him he had to interrupt our conversation for a moment to pass his phone to his assistant Mark. When Stephen puts his earpiece back in I tell him how surprised we all were to see Lilac in True Blood as a young Sookie.
Does Lilac wants to be an actress?
“Oh God, she would love to be an actress, but it’s not something that we are pursuing necessarily. I am a big believer in childhood and Anna having had the childhood she’s had is also a big believer in childhood. That scene with young Sookie and Tara was actually in the first episode of season 7. What happened was that we auditioned 8 or 9 Sookies and we found a fantastic Tara, she was just Rutina, but we didn’t find a Sookie that day. Also in the meeting that day was Howard Deutch [True Blood director] who is a very close friend of mine, Buckie [Showrunner Brian Buckner], a couple of the other writers and the casting. Howie, who adores Lil and is very close to her, said: “What about Lilac?” He had seen her in a school play, but I wasn’t sure about it and wanted to talk to her mom and Anna first. Because it was me directing and it was one scene she would be missing only one day from school, so we decided to possibly let her do it. I let her read the scene and videoed it on my iPhone and sent it to them. I left it up to them to decide, I didn’t want to be part of that process, I was not going to cast her. They all loved her and thought that the audition was great, so we decided to include that scene in the first episode. It was supposed to be the bridging moment between the morning Sookie wakes up after sleeping with Alcide and before going to church. But somehow it didn’t feel right, tonally it felt wrong and since the episode was running long we removed the scene.”
Stephen continues: “Bucky had always loved the idea of the scene so what happened was that they reshot it for episode 10, which I did not direct of course. They wanted to add some bits to the scene but the girl who played Tara wasn’t available that day so they recast Tara but they kept Lil and that’s how she ended up in it. I thought she was great, but I am bias”, daddy concludes with a proud smile.