Article on Out.com by Parker Anderson
This article doesn’t contain spoilers.
Bleeding into a highly anticipated second season, True Blood, Alan Ball’s dark and drawling Southern vamp drama returns, riddled with thinly veiled metaphors for LGBT rights. On and off-screen the show’s lead vampire lover, Sookie Stackhouse, played by X-Men’s Anna Paquin, aches for the bite of her vampire lover, solves mysteries telepathically…and waits tables.
The Canadian-born, New Zealand raised Oscar winner (she won Best Supporting Actress at the ripe age of 11 for The Piano), recently chatted with Out about the new season, her uncanny ability to play metaphorically gay roles, her off-screen romance with co-star Stephen Moyer, and sweet Sookie’s newfound love of S&M.
Out: How did you get involved with True Blood?
Anna Paquin: Well, I read the pilot script and completely fell in love with it and then pursued it incredibly hard, auditioned 100 times — I mean four or five times — until they said yes.
Sookie initially comes across as a innocent and incredibly virtuous girl. What drew you to the role: was it that sweet nature or was it her darker moments?
Well, it’s the fact that she’s all of it [rolled into] one, because I feel like that’s real. You can be someone who’s gone through a lot of crap in your life and who has survived a lot of ups and downs and whatevers and still be someone with a positive outlook. You can be sweet and kind and treat people the way you want to be treated even if that’s not the way you’ve been treated. She’s not a victim. I love that about her, and she’s really tough — mostly she just kicks ass.
Both of your recent roles in X-Men and True Blood, have centered around storylines involving metaphors for minority rights. Is that a coincidence?
It is a coincidence, but kind of a nice coincidence. Cause when is it not a good time for those sorts of messages to be put out there into the world in a sort of non-threatening, non-beat-you-over-the-head with it kind of way?
In the last episode of the first season there is a scene featuring a state legalizing vampire-human marriages. Have you noticed Alan Ball pushing the current LGBT struggle through the show?
I mean pushed sort of sounds like it’s being forced. I think those ideas were in the books already. The metaphor that is used is coming out of the coffin; I don’t think it takes a genius to turn that into a pretty good metaphor for gay rights. Obviously the big issue now is legalizing marriages, that’s been in the works for a very long time. Yeah, I think it was a very good way to put it in there.
I think a major indicator of that is the character Lafayette who, obviously, is pretty interesting as an LGBT character.
Of course, does anyone not find him interesting?
That’s true, I think it’s also fascinating because there’s that overlying metaphor for vampire rights, and then there’s Lafayette who’s the literal interpretation of all that. What exactly would Sookie’s opinion of Lafayette be?
Sookie’s a little more prim when we first meet her so she’s more easily shocked but he’s family, you know, as Tara’s cousin and someone she’s brought up with — he’s an important part of her life. I don’t think it would occur to her to be in any way judgy — it’s just not in her nature. She really doesn’t judge. And, frankly, he’s the first person she goes to when she has crazy, kinky, vampire-biting sex. He’s the person she goes to and is like, “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah — I did this.” Finally she cannot be the big old prude in his eyes, which I find very sweet.
Speaking of kinky sex, the first episode definitely heated up for Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Sookie. There’s been talk about the second season’s focus on their S & M. Does it feel like a major shift?
Well, part of vampire-human sex is biting, I mean that’s part of how they express their desire and it’s just part of the relationship. And, it’s exciting and dangerous and sort of scary at first for Sookie, but you know it’s part of how they make love. It becomes her normal. And, she likes it.
It doesn’t seem like she’s in any sort of pain at all.
Yes. Well — not any bad pain.
You and Stephen are in a relationship off-camera as well. The passion you have on the show is palpable — did it transition from on-screen to off-screen or vise-versa?
We met at his screen test when they were doing, essentially, a chemistry read to make sure the Sookie they had cast was going to click with the Bill they wanted to cast, and shockingly enough we ended up liking each other. But, it kind of all happened at the same time — it’s kind of hard to say which came first because when you click with someone and you have that sort of – vibe — that’s just how we’ve always been around each other. Nothing’s really changed except we live together now.
Was your first kiss then on-screen or off-screen?
Ha. I’m not telling you that.
Oh come on, it’s nothing lewd.
Yeah – No – I — why would I want to ruin the whole mystery and allure of “did they or didn’t they?” But also it’s the fact that if you work an eighteen-hour day job six-months out of the year where else are you going to meet people?
Whether it’s the power to touch someone and almost kill them or read their minds and invade their privacy, in your largest roles you’ve been an outcast. Is this outsider theme something you are personally invested in or drawn to for a particular reason?
I don’t know — it’s kind of hard to say. My life has been very blessed and I’m very lucky, and things have been, by most standards, incredibly easy for me as far as what I’ve been allowed to do with my life. I guess maybe it’s not as interesting to tell stories about people who have perfect lives and for whom things have always been easy. The stories that I think are interesting and that are important to tell are the people who have to struggle to get to where they want to be, and to be allowed to live their own lives the way they want to live them.
Have you noticed a larger gay following because of this?
Well, apparently there were a lot of boys in New York dressed as Sookie for Halloween last year. And, I’ve got to say that’s the highest compliment there is, you know, whether or not I like that some of them had better legs than me and were prettier. I will get over that.
Well, you know, we can’t resist those short shorts.
I mean come on. I think when you have boys dressing as you for Halloween that’s pretty cool.
It’s a good diva moment. Other than the obvious choice, who do you think is your sexiest cast member?
That’s a completely unfair question. We have some pretty sexy ladies on our show; let’s not leave out the girls and their amazing and gorgeous ways. I mean Tina and Terry and Mishka and all the unfortunately dead girls from last season, those were some pretty hot ladies. That’s other than the obvious guys who never keep their shirts on. Our show does not want for eye candy, no matter what you’re into.
Are you saying that you are into your brother a little bit then?
No, I’m just saying that objectively he has a very nice physical situation going on. I mean he never wears a shirt on our show so we’ve all seen it a lot.