When Stephen was approached to play the part of Bill Compton in True Blood, he’d recently wrapped up the USA miniseries ‘The Starter Wife’ – and had just returned to England with no intentions of coming back to LA.

Stephen as Bill Compton in Season 1 of True Blood

After several months working away, there had been two possible new series that hadn’t come to fruition, a lost tax rebate from a project in Australia (worth what he described as “a nice chuck of change”), and within days of getting home to London had had his home burgled; losing irreplaceable photographs, writing and recordings, so when it was initially mentioned he wasn’t interested. At the time, he was unfamiliar with Charlaine Harris’s books, The Southern Vampire Mysteries.

“I wanted to be back in London.” he says, “I wanted to be with my kids, and so I turned down a few scripts. I didn’t want to come to America straight away, but then they sent this and I found out it was by Alan [Ball], I read it, and put myself on tape the next day. Alan saw it that afternoon and I flew [to the States] the next morning. As soon as I got the job, I started doing the research and reading the books. My character’s from the American Civil War, so I started reading about that. I could totally understand what Alan saw in [the books]. Sookie’s amazing, Bill’s a fantastic character and the world that Charlaine sets up is just unbelievable.

Krizia Bajos, wrote about this in her report of Stephen’s appearance at the Screen Actors Guild True Blood Screening in June 2009 and is quoted as responding in her report, “young grasshopper, whenever you think ‘it can’t get any worse’, you may have just hit the jackpot. Stay the course.” I’m sure Stephen would agree with those words because he has learned how to cope with the unknown and it’s paid off.

He has been quoted, when answering a question in an interview “what makes you fearless?” by answering,

Someone close to me said to “embrace the fear” and I try to do that. I think sometimes people hide behind fear and use it as a reason not to move forward.

Stephen says about deciding on the part:

When you read something you know it has the ability to run as a series. You read it and you have to make a decision. Is this something that could become a series? Is this something that is going to be intriguing to the public? When I read that first episode I thought ‘Oh my fucking God. Where on earth? This could go anywhere. Alan could do anything with this.’ I just thought ‘This is something that I would love to be a part of.’ That’s what I thought. It was something intriguing and fascinating. This could be a huge hit.

And about Bill Compton he says:

He is obviously dark, but he’s also always trying to be a good man, so the tussle of decency is what appeals.

Stephen is similar, but also very different from Bill Compton. Stephen shares Bill’s good manners and his taste in women, but not much else. Bill’s eyes don’t twinkle with constant merriment. Bill did not grow up in Essex, trying to tread the line between choirboy and footballer. Bill is not cheeky, and not nearly as much fun.

Stephen’s thoughts on True Blood’s storylines:

It’s like one of those diagrams that you do in mathematics when you’re a kid. Those circular diagrams where somebody is a right-wing and somebody is a left-wing, but they all like porridge. The thing that they all like is the thing that connects them. The thing that I thought about this show is that it had the opportunity to be lots of different things to lots of different people. People who like vampires will like it. People who like Alan Ball will like it. People who like really great drama will like it. People who subscribe to HBO will hopefully like it. There are also other aspects, the Sci-Fi element. It’s a love story. I think that a lot of people think or try to find the romance in it and that aspect of it. I think that a lot of people were very taken by the love story by Bill and Sookie. And then you have these crazed Eric fans. What I’m saying is that there are an awful lot of people that are affected by it. I just think it’s going to grow and grow. I’m really pleased that it has become successful. But ultimately I was kind of not surprised that people were watching it. If I weren’t in it I would be watching it. That’s a dream. The interesting thing about ‘True Blood’ is that its appeal is not contained to teenage girls. I get stopped in the street and questioned by 70-year-old men whose wives and daughters are making Bloody Marys and throwing True Blood parties.”

Stephen’s character of Bill Compton has probably gone through the most transformatoins on the show than any other character. He started out loving Sookie and brooding about being a vampire, then we learned he was someone of importance working for Queen Sophie Ann in Season 3 and therefore had a secret. Then, he became King of Louisiana in Season 4 and at the end of Season 5 became a Vampire God and was feared by vampire and humans alike. However, in Season 6 although he had special powers, he was not happy and found a way to redeem himself by saving the vampire population. Stephen played all of these emotional transformations to perfection.

Bill Compton saves the vampires in Season 6 , episode 10 of True Blood
Bill Compton’s death in the very last episode of True Blood Season 7.10

Learn all about Bill in the “Bill Compton” section.

Directing True Blood

Stephen is the ambassador for True Blood these days, conducting tours for set visits, and promoting the show.  He has also already directed two episodes of the show in Season 5 and 6, and is set to direct the first episode of the final Season 7. Stephen seems to have quite a career ahead of him as a director and most of the cast have commented on what a great job he did with directing the two episodes that are already “in the can.”

Read the other sections of the biography by clicking on the links below:

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