Q&A with Stephen Moyer on Pop Candy USA Today By Whitney Matheson
We chatted last week when Moyer had a rare free moment and I was a bit under the weather. If one voice could heal me, though, it might be his: You wouldn’t believe it from watching the show, but Moyer speaks with a sweet British accent that sounds absolutely nothing like Bill. He discussed dating Anna Paquin, tasting TruBlood and other topics during our conversation:
Hi, Stephen. How are you?
Fine — thank you, darling. How are you?
Good. It sounds like you’re pretty busy today.
I am. And because we didn’t get a chance to speak earlier, you’re now getting me in Los Angeles traffic, which is marvelous.
Oh, no! Now that True Blood has returned to the air, what sort of reactions have you been hearing?
People seem genuinely excited by it. I think that our first two episodes are very much about setting up new ideas for the season, and episode three is when it really starts to show something completely new. I’ve only seen up until episode three, but I was blown away by it. I think it’s really interesting television and it breaks new ground.
Are you guys still shooting?
We are. We’re just finishing episode 10, we’re in the middle of episode 11 and we start episode 12 tomorrow. We’re doubling up and doing six-day weeks at the moment, so our poor crew are completely on their knees.
One thing we’re seeing is that Eric has a larger presence this season. What is that relationship between Bill and Eric going to be like?
Well, it starts off as one that is respectful, because he is Bill’s elder and because he’s a sheriff. Bill has to kowtow to him in many ways, which he doesn’t like. What’s really interesting, I think, is that Alan (Ball, the executive producer) and the writers have set up a modern-day feudal system, like a hierarchical kind of system where you’re not allowed to speak down to your elders or the person above you. It’s very old-fashioned, and I really like that. So even when Bill is incredibly p–sed off with Eric’s behavior, he has to be very careful with how he voices that.
Several readers sent questions for you as well. Annie M. asks, “I was wondering if Stephen’s life has gotten any crazier since becoming a vampire, like how Robert Pattinson’s life has gotten insane.”
I mean yeah, it’s changed an awful lot. I don’t think it’s quite up to Pattinsonian standards, but it is lovely. (Laughs) One thing about living in L.A. whilst I film this is that I think Los Angelenos have a very comfortable way, because they’re so used to being around people from the business. They’re very comfortable just coming up and saying, “Hey, man. I love your work.” And then they leave you alone. It’s really quite refreshing. You get the odd one who comes up and says “Bite me,” and I’ve literally met three people who’ve named their dog Sookie, and they’d like me to call after Sookie as Bill. But on the whole, it’s pretty much the same.
It’s exciting to me to watch it all happening, but I’m not somebody who’s going to the opening of an envelope at every single premiere, because it’s not what I’m interested in. But that said, I do get invivted to a hell of a lot more. I just don’t say yes.
What is really in the TruBlood bottles? — ksulycos
Last season, our set dresser and prop maker came up with a really fantastic blend. It took awhile to get there, because obviously it had to be the deepest red. But what it ended up being is kind of like a raspberry puree. It’s like V8, but they put like 1,000 raspberries in a sieve, and they crush them and blend them. So it tastes pretty darn good, and it leaves a really great stain on your lips.
But the actual blood I have to drink when I’m drinking from somebody’s neck is a very different proposition: It’s corn syrup and then, like, some stuff to make it shiny so it’s luminescent in the mouth. That ain’t so much fun, let me tell ya.
Have you read the books and, if so, how do you feel about the way the show is vastly different from the books? — Ashleigh P.
I have read the books, and I think Charlaine (Harris, the author) has done an amazing job of creating this world. Obviously, the books are told very much from Sookie’s point of view, but I think Alan has made a brilliant choice to extend Jason’s character, to create the Tara character. Also, I think the relationship between Bill and Sookie is more loving than it is in the books, which I think is going to make it much more interesting when events occur that change that.
Personally, I’m a big reader, and I’ve never wanted any of my favorite novels to be made into movies. I’ve got in my head a bunch of certain people playing (the characters), and I don’t want Bruce Willis to suddenly be playing Heathcliff, do you know what I mean? So to make it different in the way Alan has, I think, is a really good thing. Also, 75% of the people who watch the show will never read the books, so I think that’s also something that has to be taken into consideration by the readers.
Have you met Charlaine Harris? Has she given you any insight into your portrayal of Bill? — Bill B.
I have met Charlaine a number of times, and she’s fantastic. But no, she said early on, “I love what you’re doing, I’m not going to say anything, I just want you to do what you do.” And so she very sweetly has stayed out of it. But I actually asked her a couple times, “What do you think?” and she just doesn’t go there, because I think she recognizes that it’s a completely different medium, one she doesn’t know much about in terms of the mechanics of it.
Do you feel your real-life relationship with Anna (Paquin) helps or hinders your performance on the set? — Celia P.
We have now been together for nearly two years, and the crew and everybody we work with … Our relationship has grown with everybody watching us and knowing us, so we’re incredibly comfortable in front of them. I actually think that it helps, because we are able to try things in the sex scenes and in the intimate scenes together — I think we’re able to do things that perhaps a couple that weren’t together would never dare try. It certainly makes those moments much easier on the crew knowing that we feel comfortable. I’m so used to having them on set when Anna and I are having a love scene that when we get home and we’re in bed by ourselves, I kind of miss them.
I’ve read a lot of criticism of how Southern culture and people are portrayed on the show. How did you prepare to portray a Southern character? What, if any, is your response to such criticism? — Bill B.
I haven’t had any criticism at all of my stuff — I’ve been very lucky, I think. I love the South, I love Bill. I love the way he sounds, I love doing the accent. I prepared for it quite meticulously, and I work hard on making it correct, and we did try to make him very different-sounding from all the other characters, in that he’s 173 years old. We wanted to make a very marked sound change in as many areas as we could, and that’s really good fun to do. I did go to the South, I met a couple people. When me and the accent coach were putting the accent together, we listened to people and she had tapes of people speaking in the accent, etc. So it’s a very meticulous thing and one I have to say makes it all the more enjoyable for me, because playing somebody with an accent is difficult but very rewarding.
I read recently that you liked to sing as a child. Do you still sing and was that you playing the piano in the first season finale? — Doyle T.
Yes and yes, and we see Bill playing the piano again and singing a little bit this season. I did a lot of musicals when I was young and finally went to drama school to try and get away from doing musicals … and of course the first thing that happened when I got out is I got offered a musical. And then when I got to the Royal Shakespeare Company, which was my next job, I ended up doing a bloody musical! And then I did a musical for Pete Townshend. It’s been something I haven’t been able to avoid. So I did a lot of that and I love it, but it’s really not where I see myself going now.
Well, it sounds like you’re out of traffic and have reached your destination, so I’ll let you go. Thank you for chatting.
Thank you, darling. You’ve got a very beautiful speaking voice. Where are you from?
I’m from Virginia.
It’s really stunning.
Well, thank you. Have a good day.
Thank you. Bye, darling.