Dave Walker of Nola.com was on the True Blood set in Clinton, Louisiana in July where he interviewed several of the True Blood actors, including Ryan Kwanten.
A knock came on Ryan Kwanten’s dressing-room trailer door.
The people of Clinton enjoyed intimate access to the stars of “True Blood,” currently cable TV’s hottest series, for the duration of its July location shoot here, but this was one brave “True Blood” fan.
“Oh my god,” she said, when Kwanten, who plays hot-blooded Jason Stackhouse in the series, answered the knock. “Hey, can I get an autograph from you? Oh my god. Oh my god. I’m just like a huge fan, and my friends love you to death.”
Kwanten graciously signed. The “True Blood” actors had been working in wilting summertime conditions to capture location footage to be inserted in several different episodes.
The bulk of the Clinton footage, for which the small Louisiana town stands in for the fictional Bon Temps, airs this Sunday (August 23).
For the episode, the streets and trees around the East Feliciana Parish Courthouse in the center of Clinton had been decorated with wantonly abandoned clothing, all the doing of spell-casting character Maryann Forrester.
Sunday, Jason and sister Sookie (Anna Paquin) return to Bon Temps to witness the lascivious havoc wrought by Forrester (Michelle Forbes).
Waiting in his trailer between takes, Kwanten would soon return to the streets of Clinton as Jason to survey the laundry-bombed Bon Temps landscape.
But first, there was a fan to meet and greet.
The young woman asked for a picture. Holding the camera herself, she snuggled up to Kwanten and snapped.
“That’s devilishly close,” Kwanten said. “That’ll look like we’re long lost friends, yeah?”
“They’re very easy to get on with, very laid back,” Kwanten later said of the Louisiana “True Blood” fans he met. “And the heat doesn’t’ bother me at all. Kind of reminds me of home.”
A native of Australia, Kwanten would depart for home immediately after the location shoot wrapped, to begin work on a film role.
The project is a contemporary Western, “Red Hill.”
“Australia is similar to the American terrain,” he said. “We have the best cowboys, still, in the world. There’s an abundance of parallels.”
The film will be shot “very minimalistic in terms of dialogue,” he added. “The tone of it is going to be very gritty, very dark.”
He’s used to it. “True Blood” has become a premium cable sensation by living almost entirely outside of the light. In the “True Blood” universe, vampires are “out” and openly living among mortals thanks to the availability of synthetic blood, which is not to say they’re universally beloved by mortals.
This season, Kwanten’s character was aligned for several episodes with an anti-vampire group – all while sister Sookie got ever closer to her vampire boyfriend, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer).
The series started as a cult hit but has exploded in its second season, racking up ever-larger ratings and moving mounds of first-season DVDs.
The entire first season was shot before the series premiered, so the cast couldn’t know how the characters and super-sexy premise would be received.
“I’ve never raised a child, but it felt like we were there for the birth of it, raising the child,” Kwanten said, of producing the first season of episodes without any audience feedback. “Once we finished rearing the child, doing everything we could, it was now 18 and we released it to the world. At that point, it was up to him or her to find its own life. And fortunately, it found an audience, a place where it was happy, and we’re back for more.
“Even now — it’s not that I’m a pessimist, but just very practical – in my thinking I just play it day-by-day, because it’s such a fickle industry, and there’s no such thing as a sure thing. So I’m really just blessed to get the call every day to turn up on the set.”
Trailer-doorway snapshots aside, Kwanten said the success of the series hasn’t radically changed his life. The cast was greeted like rock stars at the July Comic-Con fantasy and science-fiction festival in San Diego, but Kwanten said he’s otherwise little-bothered by fans.
“I’m very much a private type of person anyway,” he said. “I’m not sort of out there seeking the limelight at the latest parties or the greatest events or anything like that. The little I do go out, it’s easy to deal with. Most people are really respectful. A little interruption is fine. It’s so much easier to say hi to someone than ignore them.”
And he’s delighted to be working on a show that’s so daringly composed. Creator Alan Ball and the show’s writers, working with characters and stories created by novelist Charlaine Harris, have put their actors in some audacious situations – all while managing to conjure (mostly on Los Angeles soundstages and back lots) an acceptably swampy vibe.
“Every script I get never ceases to amaze me,” Kwanten said. “(The writers) never cease to outdo the one before. I’m kind of just flying by the seat of my pants.
“As superficial as it may sound, it’s the details that can separate a good show from a great show, and this show really strives to give audiences the feeling that they are in Louisiana. You must want to be sweating, watching the show.”
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