From our special reporter Jason.
This was the second True Blood convention organised by Massive Events. I went to the first one the previous year and had a great time so was really looking forward to this one. The big name guest this year was Joe Manganiello who plays the werewolf Alcide along with Grant Bowler who plays the werewolf Cooter and Marshall Allman who plays Sam Merlotte’s shapeshifting brother Tommy. There was a bit of disappointment at the late cancel of Mehcad Brooks who plays Eggs and Mariana Klaveno who plays Lorena. The three guests had really great rapport and that more than made up for the cancellations. Massive Events also offered extra free autographs and photo shoots to attendees to make up for it. I was also looking forward to the parties as much as seeing the guests as I had a great time doing cosplay at Bitten the previous year.
I arrived at the Park Inn in Northampton where the convention takes place shortly before the Friday night opening ceremony and got changed into my new Sheriff Bellefleur costume and made my way down to the convention hall. The crowd was really excited as the guests were announced and invited onto the stage. Joe had flown into the UK earlier in the week and had appeared on the ITV “This Morning” show mid week. He said he had spent the week being a tourist in London and recommend we saw Richard III with Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic. Marshall had flown straight in from LA and had tried a cure for yet lag that didn’t work.
As a gold ticket holder, I got to go to a wine reception that followed with the three guests. We stood in circles of about ten and the guests came round and joined our circle to say hello and have a chat. All with wine being served in copious quantities. I find it is the best perk of being a gold ticket holder. All three guests spend a lot of their shoots naked in Season 3 so there were quite a lot of questions about that from the ladies all weekend! Grant told us that his opening filing shot was in a forest naked with him being separated by three wolves by a three foot electric fence. He said he was a little worried! Joe told us about hanging out in London all week, going to the Tower of London, Buckingham Place and eating fish and chips. He also said he originally auditioned for the part of Cooter before getting the part of Alcide! And Marshall said he would not do a nude scene with Alexander Skarsgard because he refused to wear a sock, which is normal for actors who do nude scenes! I enjoyed the wine reception but may have drunk a bit too much wine. Several ladies said the same thing the next morning.
Following the wine reception was the first party theme, which was Faery land. Most people (ladies) came in faery costumes or white dresses. I had prepared Bon Temps Sheriff’s Department fairy wing licenses to hand out as Sheriff Bellefleur which seemed to go down well. Sheriff Andy was much more popular than the down and out Andy I played at Bitten the previous year. Must be the uniform! The party went on quite late and there were a lot of people nursing hangovers the following day, me included!
The following Saturday morning was the usual run for autographs and photo shoots. I kept my Sherif Bellefleur costume on for the photo shoots and had my fake arm cast from the previous Bitten signed by the new guests. I now have eight signatures on the cast! One of the extras was group photo shoot with all three guests which I did with Katie, my fiancé. My hangover got the better of me at this point so I went for a sleep before the first of the three afternoon talks with each of the guests individually.
There were some Interesting facts from the afternoon talks. Joe talked about his prep work for appearing on True Blood. He got tips from Hugh Jackman’s X-men trainer and watched a lot of wolf documentaries. The wolf he turns into is called Thunder in real life and they feed him a lot of raw meat on set to stop him biting the actors! He told us that he would be allowed to take Thunder for walks if the wolf liked him. Thunder did and they got to the point where Joe was able to stroke Thunder under the chin! He told us about some running practical jokes he had with Marshall and how he ran Marshall’s head through a bush while carrying him in retaliation for a joke Marshall played on him. More on Marshall’s side of this later! He also told us how being a regular on True Blood has opened up acting opportunities that conflict with his seven month filming schedule for the show. He was unable to screen for the new Superman film because of this!
Grant told us how he thought he was tall until he met Joe! He told us about the differences in being in an Australian TV show, which is where he is from and being in a US TV show. In Australia the budgets are small so the actors will talk about the car chase rather than it actually being filmed. In the US the budgets are larger so they shoot it. Grant’s banter was really good and he was turned out to be the most entertaining of the three guests! Commenting on his apparent lack of height he said he would run a washing line between Eric and Alcide to do his washing! On the subject of being nude on set, he said he preferred an open set as this might be the last time anyone asks him to do a scene nude!
Next there was a True Blood quiz with Grant and Marshall on two opposing teams. Each side of the hall was on a different team with two lucky attendees from each side being asked on stage to make up a three person quiz team. The quiz team names were quite rude so I shan’t mention them here! There were some question and answers, Pictionary and acting out of True Blood scenes with the audience guessing which episode they came from. This was the first year Massive Events had done a quiz this year and I think it went really well!
Marshall’s talk came next. He said it was easier to prepare for his character as Tommy does not feature in any of the books so there is no role he needed to play to. He said if he could shape shift into any animal, it would be Felix, Terry Bellefleur’s pet armadillo! He told us about the practical joke he had played on Joe which got his head ran through a bush in retaliation. In a shoot inside a car, Joe had belched loudly in Marshall’s face before exiting the car. Marshall had then mooned out the car window and farted, or pretend to fart as Marshall claims, when Joe had turned round to the car window to continue to shoot the scene! He told us about his infamous method shape shifting video on Funny or Die, and how it had originally started out as a rap video. The intro to the rap video then turned into method shape shifting video. Watch it at your peril!
Then there was an auction for various photographs and True Blood memorabilia signed by the guests and guests at the previous Bitten. The big auction prize was a Chinese meal with all three guests that evening that went for £320. The ladies next to me won that. I had won that in the auction the previous year so it was nice to see them win and tell them what a great time they would have.
The evening beckoned and the Fangtasia party was upon us. This was the big party of the weekend with lots of the ladies vamping it up with some great sexy costumes. The three guests made a brief appearance for the evening. My cosplay revolved round Talbot, the vampire who’s remains Russell Edgington carries a round in a large crystal jar in Season 3. After months of searching I found the exact same jar from the show which I filled with vodka jelly. I look nothing like Russell in build so came as a confused Fellowship of the Sun worshipper who worshipped Talbot rather the sun. Talbot proved to be a big hit with the ladies. I took him dancing and got some great photos of him enjoying the party though out the evening. The party went on hard and late into the night!
Sunday morning saw extra free autographs and photo shoots with the three guests. I decided to do an extra photo shoot with all three guests with Talbot, which turned out some great photos! The afternoon saw all three guests do individual talks again. The quality of the banter was getting funnier and ruder as the weekend drew on. Then at the closing ceremony all three guests appeared on stage again and the banter between them was hilarious, some of the best I’ve seen. Most of it was too rude to mention here!
In the evening there was a Lou Pines party in the lobby area of the hotel outside the main hall. I had a bikers outfit for this one and brought Talbot along so we could eat him. It was a really relaxed evening and a great laugh with everyone winding down after a busy weekend. Grant came along and stayed most of the night. What a trooper! All in, another great weekend organised by some great guys. And gals. Thanks again Massive Events!
Details for Bitten 3 were announced earlier in the weekend. 17th to 19th August 2012 Park Inn, Northampton. Gold tickets are now on sale on the Massive Events website for £210.
Jason aka Andy Bellfleur