Unless you’ve been locked in a coffin lately, you know the hit HBO vampire drama True Blood helped ignite a true romance between stars Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer. As telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse and Civil War–era bloodsucker Bill Compton, their sizzle is undeniable. “Our characters have had f—ing lust, romantic sex, emotional sex…” Moyer says. But as the show returns for Season 2, “it’s more like a normal relationship. They argue. But there’s a yang to that yin. There’s makeup sex.” Phew. Who wants to see these hot supernaturals paying bills and shopping at Wal-Mart?
Steamy couplings are the heartbeat of the show this season, says creator Alan Ball, so fans can expect exponential amounts of romance along with the gore, dark humor and jugular-jolting twists that are the show’s staples. Ball developed the show—set in the sweltering dirty south of Bon Temps, Louisiana, in a near future when vampires have gone mainstream—from the Southern Vampire series of books by Charlaine Harris. The drama’s become HBO’s hottest property, sucking in 7.8 million weekly viewers and scoring the network’s highest audience since The Sopranos signed off. It also helped Paquin land a Golden Globe. Needless to say, expectations for its sophomore season are high. No worries, says Ball. “There are surprises, serious heat, fun new characters and adventure.”
Bill and Sookie’s first adventure: “They become sort of parents to this teenage nightmare,” Moyer says. That’s Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), the 17-year-old Bill sired as penance for killing a vampire who threatened Sookie. The tension is obvious in a scene being shot on a dimly lit soundstage where the trio is crammed into a car, bloody tears streaming down Jessica’s face. “Jessica convinces Sookie to take her back to her parents’ house just to look through the window,” explains Paquin. “But she doesn’t just look through the window, and things go horribly, horribly wrong.”
So wrong that Bill rages at Sookie like he never has before. Paquin and Moyer go at the quarrel intensely, but there’s no kiss-and-makeup for this real-life couple when the scene wraps. She makes some calls on her cell. He chats with the crew. “They keep to themselves,” says Ryan Kwanten, who plays Sookie’s brother, Jason. “They are superprofessional. It’s not like they’re having sex in front of you!”
But Moyer admits he uses his personal experiences with love to get at the core of Bill’s fury. “In a relationship, you only get really angry when you really care,” says Moyer. “There’s that moment in those arguments when you think, ‘I’m never coming back.’ Then you go, ‘I love this person, so I’m going to sort this out.’”
Unfortunately for Sookie, she ends this particular clash on a much less mature note: “I’d rather walk!” she screams after slamming the car door and stomping off.
If you’ve seen the HBO promos, you know she’s about to encounter a horned, taloned creature in the woods. And from the looks of what’s lurking in a dark corner of the soundstage—a gash-covered prosthetic torso wearing the same plaid Daisy Dukes as Paquin—it’s going to get bloody. “I’m constantly getting bashed about and running away from things or after things,” says Paquin, whose neck is made up with fang marks (this show’s version of a hickey).
She got an emotional sock in the gut in last season’s finale with the discovery of a dead body strongly implied to be her Merlotte’s coworker, short-order cook Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis). Quizzing Ball on the fate of Lafayette makes a set visitor wish for Sookie’s mind-reading skills. He’s not telling, but he does offer a clue about the backwoods monster. “People who’ve read the books know who that is.”
For more with Anna, Stephen and the rest of the cast, pick up the June 15 issue of TV Guide Magazine, on stands now!
Photograph by Eric Ogden