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Vault Exclusive: Interview with Writer/Producer Alexander Woo

The six writers on True Blood are an ensemble group who create all we see in the show. The writers first block out what’s going to happen in each of the 12 episodes and then one writer is assigned to compose the final script.

Alexander Woo is one of the six writers who make up Alan Ball’s team and he was kind enough to grant an interview to the Vault to talk about his experiences. We spoke last week for about 1.5 hours where we discussed the writing process in depth and during our chat, I asked him lot of questions about True Blood. So, get ready . 

In the interview below you’ll not only learn a lot about Alex, but also about the process of creating True Blood and what it takes to come up with story lines or to write those famous scenes and dialogue.

Some highlights of our discussion include:

Regarding Season 5, Alex says,I feel more excited about this season than I am about any other season, including the first one.”  And, there’s more below about Season 5.

Alex is a fascinating person to talk with and, in my opinion, he has written some of the best scenes and story lines in the show.  He spoke about, for example:

  • In the very first True Blood episode that he ever wrote (Episode 5.01 – Sparks Fly Out), he had the daunting task of writing about Bill’s speech in the church to the DGD and his turning during the Civil War. 
  • Alex created the story that took us back to the Civil War when Bill, trying to get home, sought shelter and food at a lonely cabin in the woods.
  • Alex also has a reputation for coming up with some of the quirkiest aspects of True Blood like when he created the “wheel” in the basement of Fangtasia.
  • He has also written some of the funniest and most clever scenes, such as the now famous scene, known as the Aidsburger scene” where Lafayette says some of his greatest lines.
  • He also discusses the process of using a prop to help make seamless a transition of a scene from present to past. He illustrates by discussing his use of the antique “toaster” in Bill’s Civil War scene when he met his maker, Lorena.
  • When Denis O’Hare gave that great speech on National Television after killing the newscaster, that speech was written by Alex.

So sit back and get ready to learn more than you’ve ever known about the making of the show in this fascinating interview with the “Master Storyteller ” that is Alexander Woo:

STEPPING STONES TO TRUE BLOOD – Alex’s Bio

To learn more about Alex’s background and how he got his job writing and producing for True Blood, click on the link above.

 

WRITING TRUE BLOOD

Can you talk a little bit about the collaborative writing process on True Blood and how the “team” works together?
We plot out each story together and that takes days and weeks and then the writer who is assigned to that script goes off and writes it. The actual beats of the story are figured out as a team but how it’s done is often figured out by the individual writer when they’re under the hood of the car, in the privacy of their own office or home.

 

Has there ever been a time when a writer has changed a decision because it isn’t working.
A big decision such as killing a character is a big one, and requires everyone’s buy in. If it’s minor, we have the freedom to do it and bring it in when we’re all going over the script together. If it’s something larger that impacts future episodes then there will be communication and we tell each other and talk through it. And yes, it happens all the time. I analyze it as the difference between the outline and script. It is like the difference between the recipe and the cooking. As you’re working on it, there are things that change the plans and the writer is the one behind the stove so, if, for example something in the story is screaming to be told and and the writer feels, we’ve got to do this, it can be done. One of the aspects of Television, which is sometimes a little bit scary, is that it’s a living breathing story and sometimes the story wants to go a certain way and one of the great things about television is that you can honor that.

In season one for example we were telling a story that kind of screamed at us.

One was the character of Lafayette which Nelsan Ellis gave such a dimension to, we couldn’t kill him. The world we had created wanted Lafayette to be there. And even though he wasn’t much in the earlier episodes, you just couldn’t take your eyes off of him and that was the world that we created. It was born out of the novels, but it’s like planting two seedlings, they had grown in different directions and the strategy that Alan had applied from the beginning was that if our story goes in a different direction, we will let it. Now five years in we, in some ways, we are in very different paths.

 

The other example from season 1 was a character that didn’t exist at all in the books, [Jessica]. Bill has to answer for his crime of staking LongShadow by having to turn another vampire. That character, again this is a testament to the actress [Deborah Ann Woll] more than anything else, you suddenly want to know what it is like to be a baby vampire. In many ways, this is a great parallel to Sookie who in both the books and the novels is living in a very sheltered world and then the world just burst open with vampires and shape-shifters and werewolves and all sorts of stuff and Jessica feels very much the same way. Sookie is mourning her grandmother and Jessica is mourning her parents being cut off. There is a good scene that we did in the second season when Jessics tries to go back to her family and realizes she can’t. Emotionally for us, this is the vampire corollary to Sookie. Her life has been highly sheltered and in some ways to the fans of the series both book series and the television series, it seems very similar. You’re starting from a place of zero knowledge and suddenly all of these things burst forth and I think that Jessica is highly relatable because it’s analogous to a lot of the public’s viewing experience.

 

 

 

Are you and the writers’ team in touch with what happens in the fan community? Do you check online to see if a scene or storyline worked or not? Do the fans have an “influence” on the writers?
I think the entire experience of the show is a giant symbiotic one. This is one reason television is so exciting, unlike a movie or a play where it’s over and done with and you can wash your hands of it when you walk out. There’s nothing the fans can do to change the outcome of the Avengers, for example; the experience is locked in no matter what happens. Since its ongoing and everyone is experiencing it at once, and I feel that as writers, we’re the biggest fans of the show ourselves and we have many that are fans on our own crew, you hear what people are talking about even if you don’t really read every single fan site or every single message board, you feel what everyone is feeling and you feel it yourself. And we feel it ourselves. We feel it when Pam gets to say those terrific lines and wear those terrific outfits. And, if it was a movie and we were locked in we might say, OK, here’s a line Pam gets and that’s it, we’re done.

You feel this ground swell when the show goes to Comic Con or any other appearance and you feel this surge of popularity. People love these characters and love certain things about other characters, we feel it, too and we honor that in the show because we’re fans just like anyone else.


ALEX’S WRITING STYLE

Of all the episodes you wrote, which is your favorite?
It’s difficult for me to answer that because each episode I feel like is part of the longer narrative. I write episodes that kick off stories that then become much bigger things or other episodes that end stories that have been keyed up several episodes earlier, there are some things I pick up on in the middle. I do feel though that within an episode I’ve written there is something that I’ve really loved.

 

Can you give us an example of that?
In the first season I got to write Bill’s big Civil War speech which really introduced a human side of Bill to the town so that was a really great opportunity and was the first episode I did and started off my relationship with Stephen. Later on in that episode I had the opportunity to give Lafayette his first really big showcase scene. This is when Lafayette takes back a hamburger. That was such an opportunity to showcase the character of Lafayette and that was extraordinarily fun. The other thing that is extraordinarily memorable for me was that I had been a fan of Denis O’Hare’s for a very, very long time. I actually met him when I was a student in grad school and that was 1994 and it was much, much later that I got to work with him as a writer and by that point in Season 3 we had seen how he just sort of takes the stage with his presence. I got to write a monologue for him after he has just killed a newscaster on national television. It was a huge luxury to have an actor that gifted to deliver those lines. That also was such great fun to give to an actor. It’s like handing over a piece of sheet music to a master musician and watching them play it.

 


On Sparks Fly Out, what gave you the inspiration to have Bill smash the ‘toasting fork’ at the end of the scene of his turning and how much research did you do to even find / think of having Lorena use one?
I wanted a smooth transition into the flashback of how he was turned into a vampire because during the speech in front of everyone, you can tell there’s something darker and sadder there, so in the episode there needed to be some kind of transition in to the flashback. I thought there should be some sort of souvenir or item that is in this really old house that Bill has recently moved into that has stayed as the Compton Residence for 150 odd years. And, that antique toaster I think came from a bit of research (I didn’t spend terribly long on it). I was looking for some sort of implement that might seem very sinister but have a benign purpose. I believe I found it from some sort of dealer in reproductions of colonial cooking equipment. I saw that piece and I thought this would make a really nice transition because Andy can pick it up and he can have very, very dark thoughts about it and Bill can explain its really a very benign thing. Then we can transition into a flashback with it and discover that it was the thing that housed the last meal he ever ate. So, he has mixed thoughts about this item. And, it’s one of those things that when you’re under the hood of the car you think, we’re going to this flashback, how am I going to get there. So, with a little bit of digging, a little bit of homework I found that one strange item, an old toaster, which I never would have otherwise known about, and it seemed right.

 

 

You have a reputation for writing a lot of the twisted stuff on True Blood, where does that come from and what is your favorite? You were the one who came up with the “wheel” in Fangtasia’s basement, right?
This came about purely out of practical necessity and whether or not that’s a deserved reputation or not, I don’t know, but I’m not actually like that.

The wheel in that room underneath Fangtasia came about because of one small problem. I couldn’t quite figure out if you had a whole bunch of prisoners in a room together how they could go to the bathroom without killing each other. It was that simple, and I couldn’t figure it out.

I suppose that they could all have buckets, but then I thought wouldn’t it be more fun if they just had one bucket and in order to get to the bucket, anyone that had to use it would have to inconvenience everyone else, which was hilarious to me. That’s the sort of thing that makes me laugh. So, you had all these people tied to a giant wheel and in order to use the bucket they had to go move and make everyone else rotate so they could relieve themselves. It felt to me that if you had a whole bunch of prisoners and you were Eric that you didn’t want to clean out seven or eight buckets, you’d want the minimum of buckets. You’d much rather build this elaborate contraption so you only had to clean out one bucket. That’s the answer to how that came about.

 

It’s nice of you to be considerate of Eric, I must say.
I feel like Eric, certainly at that point in his evolution, was not going to be one that was going to provide creature comforts.

 

Shadaliza interviewed True Blood’s Production Designer Suzuki Ingerslev about the Fangtasia dungeon and you can read more about it and see photos by clicking here.

And watch below a video of the scene of the wheel that Alex talks about above.

 

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT TRUE BLOOD

Why do you think True Blood took off and became such a huge hit?
The cop out answer is, “I don’t know.” It was a delightful surprise to all of us. I don’t think any of us could have hoped for it to be as popular and successful as it’s been. None of us would have told you that it would have been this popular. Looking back on it, in retrospect, I think the heart of it is that it’s a character show. We’re writing characters that people care about. They are in highly unusual circumstances, there’s no question about that, but I think what makes the show compelling and for the fans of the show, addictive and the characters make you come back again and again and again. Though we do a lot of special effects and crazy stunts, the things that people talk about from week to week are “can you believe what happened to Sookie, etc.” It’s not “can you believe that giant explosion.” It’s all about these characters that you’ve grown to love or hate and now you’ve known them for five years and that’s a long time to be friends with anyone.

 

The books and the show – it’s pretty evident that the show and the books are completely different animals, what was behind the decision to make it so different, especially the last two seasons?
I think it started at the very beginning that we would honor the story wherever it wanted to go as a series. The first season runs pretty closely to the books, but for practical reasons, it would be born from the same seed, with the same characters and the same world, but as we we’re going was to make the show be a big ensemble it became an issue of practicality. If Sookie was in every single scene, we would wear Anna Paquin into the ground. It’s impractical to have a show where one person is in everything. And for a show that’s more visual, it’s just more fun to show this world.

Because the novel really tracks only Sookie we had to build a Bill story, an Eric story, a Tara story, a Jason story and those things had to be created based on some of the things suggested in the books. Once those were created, we found branches sprouting in all sorts of directions, so inevitably we found ourselves going in very different directions now in seasons 4 and 5.

 

One of the fans wanted me to ask you if Quinn was going to make an appearance on the show.
I can’t say for certain. Quinn is, I know, a very popular character and we still want to save some surprises.

 

Is ad-libbing permitted by the actors or are they required to stick to the script. I heard that Lafayette came up with something once that wasn’t in the script.
After we’ve spent so much time together often you know exactly how these lines are going to sound from these actors mouths, so at this point, when we write lines for the various characters, it’s pretty close to how those characters should sound.

At the very beginning of the series since none of us had known Nelsan or what Lafayette was going to sound like we saw Nelsan playing around with the character and with the language. We saw something that was so distinctly Lafayette that we let him play for a while and now we know that patois that he speaks with so we write to it. The cast is very, very diligent about saying the lines as written, but we are always open, because the writers are onstage and on set for all of the shooting. If something feels better to an actor, if they have a suggestion we are always open to it. These actors know their characters so well, if they have a suggestion often it’s better than what you had written, so there’s always a discussion; it’s never a surprise, we come to that agreement

 

What true blood scene looked great on paper, but turned out to be a different story on set?
That hasn’t happened very much. Certainly we’ve never had to “change things on the fly” because usually things are planned out in advance and there isn’t much of an opportunity to change things on the fly. You can maybe change a tiny bit of dialogue here and there but because the cameras are positioned so specifically, the blocking is locked in, the props and special effects and everything else, you can’t really change something drastically. We can try to help things along in post production by editing something. Something that may have felt slow when we were shooting you can pull all sorts magic in post and make it feel faster. Score helps a great deal and there are opportunities sometimes where you can add in tiny bits of dialogue in post, but we don’t really have the ability to change something radically on set. Usually if something isn’t working we will get to it long before it’s there. By then it’s almost too late.

 

Who is your favorite True Blood character? Which character do you love to write for?
My favorite True Blood characters are the ones that make me laugh. To me they are the most fun, so they are Jason, Andy, Lafayette and Russell and Steve Newlin. It’s a combination of characters and the actors to embody those characters; you kind of know how it’s going to sound already. I’m just lobbing you to hit one out of the park because I know you’re going to hit it out of the park. Pam, for the same reason because you know the kinds of things she is going to say and how Kristin is going to do it and it’s going to be terrific. And even with some of our characters who go through highly emotional things, and get a chance to be funny, I love that, too. Eric often does and those are my favorite moments. My favorite characters are the ones who can surprise you with something funny because they’re suffering a lot and when we can bring in those brighter colors and that’s when the show is at its best.

 

One of the criticisms about True Blood is that there are too many characters and storylines. How do you see that and do you agree with them?
From a creative standpoint, I do feel like boy, I only have one hour to tell all these stories, but it’s a challenge. On the other side of the coin, part of the show is this sort of breathless feeling. I just saw episode 1 of Season 5 and it has this feeling, this breathless feeling of “oh my goodness, we’re going here and then we’re going all way over here and this thing is happening. Part of the fun of True Blood is its bigness and that there are so many different things going on with so many different characters at once.

I don’t disagree that it’s difficult at times to best service everybody and we do our best to try to keep it as contained as possible. I hope we’re more successful than not. It’s about a world where so much is going on and the emotional feeling of the show is watching it where you’re immersed in the density of the story.

 

What do you think of Alan Ball leaving the show and Mark Hudis taking on the reigns?
I feel great about it. This is the most seamless way. If we brought in someone from the outside, it would be a very, very difficult change. This is the family that has sort of been with the show since the beginning. I love Mark. Of all the choices, he is far and away the best choice for this because he is an experienced guy with experience of running a show. He is someone that everyone likes and he has been a show runner of “That 70’s Show” in the last couple of seasons and a short lived show called “Misguided.”

 

I started watching the show because of Alan Ball but it’s so obvious that the writers are such a team and work so well that even with Alan leaving I feel pretty confident that all will be well.
Thanks, we feel the same way. Alan has always, from the very beginning, put a great deal of trust in his writers. It also puts a great deal of pressure to deliver as well when the creator of the show says here ya go, go ahead, you write it, you produce it. It’s a wonderful feeling to have but it’s also a great deal of responsibility as well. Because we’ve been given this much trust so far, we feel confident in our ability to run the show day to day. He’ll still be there, his office is right there, and he’ll be there to give notes on scripts, but he just won’t be doing the minutia of running the show day to day.

 

How much story is there still to tell? How many more season of True Blood do you think there will be or could be?
I do think there is certainly more story to tell. I think it’s a question of whether or not the viewership vs. the cost of making the show which is a science I know nothing about. I think we’ve seen the life of most shows on HBO, and most serialized shows are between 5 and 10 years. And vampires’ don’t age, but people do, but it’s OK because they’re all in great shape. The show is more like humans than it is like vampires.

 

With shows always being cancelled left and right, fans fear a cancellation of True Blood in the future without a proper ending. Will True Blood have a real final season with closure for the characters and the fans (as for example Six Feet Under did)?
Emotionally, as a fan of the show I think it would be a shame if we did not land the plane. We have told really sort of an epic story over a huge period of time and to stop it in mid air would be, as a story teller, very unsatisfying to me. Unfortunately, I don’t get to make these decisions; there’s an entire corporation that makes these decisions that’s far above my level. Certainly from the people I know at HBO, I feel that they understand that; the value of telling a complete coherent story and the importance to satisfy an extremely loyal audience to the show. That’s the one thing that the writers have talked about as wanting more than anything else to be able to tell an ending to the story. Everyone one associated with the show wants that and I do believe that everyone’s intentions are for that to happen.

SEASON 5

Is there anything you can say about Season 5?
Yes. We’ve really only edited and finished the beginning, the first several episodes, but I will say that I feel more excited about this season than I am about any other season, including the first one. The first one was apprehension, is anyone going to watch it?  There is seriousness to this season that I think we have earned over the past several years and a substance to what the characters are going through. When you watch the first episode, I think you’ll feel it. From what we’ve seen so far, I’m more excited than I ever have been.

 

From my perspective, the authority seems really interesting and to learn more about the vampires and their world is exciting. And the new hires, Christopher Meloni, Christopher Heyerdahl, etc. are awesome.
They’re terrific and it gives a great feel of the past, real gravitas to what is supposed to be the nerve center of the vampire world and, you want it to feel big and impressive. The set design is incredibly impressive; all of this is hugely impressive.

 

Thank you for bringing Denis O’Hare back.
Denis is just such a joy and he is a delightful person to be around and he is an extraordinary master of his craft. We’re not doing anyone any favors; it’s great for the show.

 

AFTER TRUE BLOOD

What’s next after True Blood?  Will you continue writing or are you interested in producing, directing, etc.
I would just love to continue telling great stories. The title of writer producer just means that I write episodes and have a supervisory role as they are being made. I’m not someone who knows how to schedule and budget. Whether I’m writing for a show that someone else has created or if I’m lucky enough to create my own, I just want to continue to tell great stories. I think television is a writer’s medium. I get to be on set and supervise the production of my episode. If I were a writer on a feature film, I would be lucky to be invited to the set, let alone speak.  That is a director’s medium and traditionally has been. So, I think writer’s have migrated to television for that reason and television has taken advantage of that and it’s taken advantage of being in many ways a better medium for telling character stories, giving an intimate experience where these people come into the privacy of your home week after week and go on journeys that are open ended and go in directions that you might not expect. A feature film is another story. At a film, it’s you and a bunch of other people at this event to witness something, a spectacle if you will, and at the end of it you wash your hands of it, you’re done with it; they don’t live with you any longer after that. So the great advantage of film is that you can have your mind blown for 2.5 hours, like Exception for example, and I loved that film, but I have to tell you that I can’t remember any character names in that film. And it wasn’t what matters, what mattered was that crazy hotel room, that cave of ice and all that other stuff, and you get your mind blown for 2.5 hours and then it’s over.

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STEPPING STONES TO TRUE BLOOD – Alex’s Bio 

Alexander Woo was raised in NJ and went to Jr. High and high school in New York. He went to undergraduate school at Princeton for creative writing and then received his graduate degree from Yale Drama School where he wemt to become a playwright.

When talking about his schooling he said:

I had some extraordinary mentors there [Princeton] and I was planning on being a fiction writer, short story writer or novelist, but it’s very lonely doing that and also at the age of 17, 18, 19, it’s very hard to focus on something as big as a novel. I also had been doing some theater, both acting and directing and I thought that in my naivety, I could combine the two and try my hand at being a playwright. It certainly didn’t happen very quickly and wasn’t easy but I went to Yale Drama School (spent three years there) and that was sort of my training in play-writing.

Yale drama school had an extracurricular theater called the Yale Cabaret where everyone gets to do a little bit of everything, so you get to direct a little, act a little, etc., which gives everyone a chance to do a little bit of everything, but within the school I was strictly a playwright. It was a wonderful incubator because we did 60 new plays a year at the school. I don’t think I’d been to 60 plays even in my life. New plays are always a risk in this economic climate and theaters tend toward more classics. Doing this was probably the most valuable part of going to drama school. You got to see the inner workings of a play in process. Being with a large group of your peers who were at roughly the same stage of development as you and creating theater that starts from the moment of inspiration and is developed over time. Between the creative writing workshops in my undergraduate and the play-writing workshops in my grad school experience I had spent 7 years doing nothing but sitting in writing workshops talking about and analyzing other peoples work n process. That has turned out to be one of the most useful tools to develop, to analyze and be able to give feedback in a way that is constructive and encouraging.

He moved out to LA because he had only experienced his little corner of the world on the East coast and he wanted to experience something else. He had friends in Los Angeles, so he moved here. His plan was still to be a playwright, but even with a good year working as a playwright, it’s very hard to make a living, so to supplement his income he started writing trivia questions. He first wrote for Trivial Pursuit and then went on to write for Jeopardy. Alex is a big sports fan (his favorite teams are Boston Red Sox, and for Football, New Orleans Saints) so his focus was sports questions. That led to a job in the SF bay area working for electronic arts producing and designing video games. He said that he was so far afield from what he wanted to do, and was so bad at it that he was laid off very quickly and had to move back to LA.

At that point he was working for the syndicated version of the game show, “The Weakest Link” as a researcher and when that show went away, he had nothing going on. However, he did have a play that ran off Broadway at the time and received a very nice review in the New York Times.

With that experience, and the help of some friends he had gone to school with who had worked their way up within the entertainment business, he was recommended to give a shot at Television.

He wasn’t a fan of TV at the time:

I had kind of ignored TV for a while because I had grown up in the 70’s and 80’s when TV was still the “idiot box” and had avoided it. I didn’t think I would get any joy out of writing purely for hire, but there was a real change in the late 90’s early 2000’s like The Sopranos and The Wire, The West Wing that really changed the landscape. I’ve just mentioned several shows that were written by playwrights. Playwrights that had come to television whether or not for economic reasons I don’t know, but suddenly, the work for television got much, much better and I attributed it entirely to serialization.It’s something we take so much for granted now, but it’s not that long ago that the norm on TV was that the episodes were interchangeable, there was no real character journey from one episode to the other and there was no real reason to come back the next week other than to have the exact same experience you had this week. I think in the hands of some of the real pioneers of the craft TV found it’s great strength which was giving its audience an ongoing relationship of living with a set of characters which they live with for, in some cases, years.  And that’s what I think is the great strength of TV.

 

Alex is a fan of films that tell good stories above all. 

Things I like to watch on TV are the shows that get under your skin. The ones that really emotionally feel like these are your friends that are coming to visit you every week and you are excited for them when good happens to them, you get upset when they do things that upset you, you fear for them when they are in danger. And, even though you know they are characters who are speaking lines, you feel they are people and you talk about these people with your friends, spouse and co-workers as if they are real people. For me, those shows are “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones,” and “Mad Men,” and previously, “The Wire,” “Six Feet Under,” “The Sopranos.,” “Dexter,” and “Homeland” currently. These are shows where you want to know how your friends are doing and that became very attractive to me and really to a large number of writers who are sensing that’s the real power of television. You can really get under someone’s skin and develop an ongoing long term, open ended relationship between a show and its audience.

 

His first TV show was a show called “Wonderfalls” which aired in 2004, it was on Fox.

It was a show created by Brian Fuller who did “Pushing Daisies” and he is a wonderful mad genius. That show was so whimsical, theatrical and wonderful, I honestly think if the Internet was a little more developed then, it was in 2004, it probably would have had a ground swell of support because it had a cult following. But, there was no Facebook and Twitter to tell everyone about the show and it only lasted about 4 episodes. It was a great experience because I was working on something that was so inventive and playful and original. It was a great first step into Television because all my fears about it being soul sucking and formulaic were quashed by that first experience.

His next jobs were on a show called LAX and then Sleeper Cell.

LAX was a difficult experience because that was on NBC and at a time when NBC was struggling. I learned how a show can be pulled in many directions at once and that lasted 5 episodes. So, luckily that made me available when Sleeper Cell was hiring.

Sleeper Cell: It’s dark and about terrorists so it’s difficult material, but it felt really worthwhile doing that. But it was one of those quirks of fate that if Sleeper Cell had done just a little bit better and had a third season, I never would have been available when True Blood was hiring and if it had been cancelled after one season I could have been on another show.  So, I happened to have been unemployed when Alan was looking for writers and there were many other shows that I interviewed for and met with, but True Blood was clearly the best opportunity.

 

GETTING THE JOB ON TRUE BLOOD

Did Alan Ball interview you himself and what was the interview like?
Yes Alan interviewed me. They read a number of scripts before the interview so they have already responded to the writing, but I believe that Alan had read one of my stage plays. It was a play I had written that was set in the south, in the 19th century, but I’ve never asked him, so I don’t know the for certain, but maybe he responded to the southern dialect in that play or maybe he responded to the fact that I was a playwright which he was and is and he wanted a playwrights sensibility. Whatever it was, he responded positively enough that I was able to meet with him and that meeting was as much as a “get to know you meeting” and certainly not an audition. We talked about the show; we talked about the script and the pilot. At the time nothing had been shot yet, he had written the pilot and most of the parts had been cast; and we knew that Anna was going to play Sookie. We talked about the places where the show could go. I had read the books because you certainly want to come prepared abd I had not read the books before. We talked very generally and what I had responded to in both the novels and the pilot script.

 

And it went well?

Yes. Attached to all of these interviews is “can I stand being around you for what may end up being years.” because the writers are going to be in a room for long, long hours almost like being sequestered for a jury. And there’s a certain alchemy that the show runner has to put together to get a team of people that can play along well. I think that involves not just a bunch of people who are all the same exact types, but also people who can work together well. So, for whatever reason he thought that I would be a good fit for the team of people he was putting together and I don’t know why, but I’m glad he did.

 

If you found this interesting you might want to read Inside the Writer’s Room.

And, please tell us what you think of this interview by leaving a comment below.
 
 

Lynnpd
Lynnpd has an avid interest in the entertainment industry from classic movies to all things True Blood. With a background in art, she enjoys creating in Photoshop, running web sites and finds the internet an exciting place to be. Lynn lives in the LA area and attends as many Hollywood related events as she can. She has covered events for the both websites in the LA area; read all about it at http://lynnpdexclusives.com.
Lynnpd
Lynnpd

17 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    June 03, 2012

    Big thank you to Alex Woo for talking to The Vault, a very proud moment for us.

    Lynn, for me personally this is one of the most interesting interviews you have done and I am very happy with the answers Alex gave to the questions that I contributed to this interview.

    I really hope that when the time comes True Blood will have the grant series finale that it deserves. I enjoyed reading about the writing process and who would have thought that such a simple question about a toaster would lead to such an interesting answer.

    Reply

  2. Avatar
    June 03, 2012

    Fangtastic interview with Alex, Lynn – brava! He gave such thoughtful answers and I never tire of hearing behind-the-scenes info on my favorite show. Even with Alan Ball stepping down from the day-to-day showrunning it sounds like TB will be in good hands.

    Reply

  3. Avatar
    June 03, 2012

    Fabulous interview. I love that you (and he) went into depth and detail. I especially enjoyed reading about how the writers function as a team, and how some of the characters evolved. Also it was extremely interesting to read about how Alex used the toaster. Very neat bit of transitioning logic there! Thanks for this very interesting and insightful read!

    Reply

  4. Avatar
    June 03, 2012

    Once again, an excellent interview Lynn.
    Mr. Woo has been quite forthcoming with you.

    Reply

  5. Avatar
    June 03, 2012

    Excellent work, Lynn … a wonderful interview, delving into the writing process, Mr. Woo’s background, how the show is put together by this talented team of writers. Mr. Woo is responsible for some of my favorite scenes: Aidsburger, Bill’s DGD speech and his turning by Lorena, and Russell’s on air vampire rant after he kills the newscaster. Great stuff!

    I care about these characters, what happens to them, their next steps, their trials and tribulations, how they interact with one another. The special effects are wonderful, but without character development and superb writing the show would not be the success that it is. The writers get that and so does Mr. Ball.

    Kudos to everyone involved with True Blood!

    Reply

  6. Avatar
    June 03, 2012

    That was very interesting! He really gave thoughtful answers about the show. I would love to be a fly on the wall when the writers get together to talk about how its all going to go down. Great job!

    Reply

  7. Avatar
    June 03, 2012

    How wonderful to have Alexander answer your questions and provide so much insight into the making of the show. He is a very talented man who clearly has a passion for his craft. Excellent job, Lynn! You hit another one out of the park!

    Reply

  8. Avatar
    June 03, 2012

    A huge thank you to Alex for the insightful interview.

    And thank you Lynn for asking my little toaster question.

    I am totally blown away with Alex’s response.

    As I have said previously ‘Sparks Fly Out’ for me was the first real indication we had of the tragedy of Bill’s turning. I have always felt the depth of emotion we experience in the episode was our first glimpse into the real Bill Compton, the human behind the Vampire and set the benchmark for the journey we are travelling through with this wonderful character – all bought about by a simple cooking implement. Pure genius.

    This is just a must read for all Trewbies and for anyone aspiring to a career in writing.

    Again many thanks to Alex for sharing. Bring on Season 5 and although I dread the day True Blood mets the sun, I am now more confident it will provide us the fans with the closure the show, actors, characters, writers and the fans deserve.

    Reply

  9. Avatar
    June 03, 2012

    Quite honestly, this is one of, if not the best interviews The Vault has had. Alex’s responses were insightful, intelligent, and a real treat for us viewers. The great questions surely made it a truly a great interview as well. I love to learn about the writing process and any inner-workings of the show. So much goes into making this a great tv show. And this interview gives us that in spades.

    Thank you Alex and Lynn for taking time out to share this with us.

    Reply

  10. Avatar
    June 03, 2012

    This is a FANTASTIC interview and a well-written and edited article, probably the best I’ve seen about the True Blood cast and creative staff.

    Reply

  11. Avatar
    June 03, 2012

    Thank you so much for the terrific interview and the article. Love Alexander Woo.

    Reply

  12. Avatar
    June 04, 2012

    Wow, wow, wow .. I do not even know where to start … Excellent interview. Very good and thoughtful questions and Aelx’s response … what can I say … I am totally .. it’s almost like getting a brain orgasm .. lol .. Much appreciated to se behind the scenes how a show is created .. This is perhaps something we will see more of .. open doors and show the fans what’s behind. I think it would be appreciated.
    Do you hear me, HBO???
    As someone wrote before me. one of the best interview about True Blood .. Lynn, HBO would pay you and The Vault for all the work you do to promote True Blood. And you do it with bravure. If you read this interview .. you become so curious about what kind of show they’re talking about that you just have to see it. One more time thank you, Alex and Lynn.
    I would LOVE read more of such intelligent and welldone and written interviews.

    Reply

  13. Avatar
    June 04, 2012

    Thanks to everyone for the kind words about the interview. The quality of it is due to Alex’s wonderful in-depth answers and some of the excellent questions provided by the fans. We had a wonderful discussion and I was grateful that he allowed so much time. Behind the scenes information is just the sort of thing I want to learn all about.

    Reply

  14. Avatar
    June 04, 2012

    I FINALLY got a chance to read this enjoyable interview. Great job Lynn & many thanks to Alex for letting you pick his brain. I am even more excited now about season 5!

    Reply

  15. Avatar
    June 04, 2012

    Such a pleasure to read this indepth and most informative interview of Alexander Woo. Lynn thank you for bringing your lengthy excellent piece to the Vault and Alexander thanks for your honest answers to so much of the process that makes TB. I too am hoping in the end there will be a story finish.

    Reply

  16. Avatar
    June 05, 2012

    The interview was a pleasure . thank you Alex , the Vault for letting us know what’s to come . The stories that he wrote all i love . and more . i hope TrueBlood be around a few more seasons too come . this show is the best . The cast & crew are amazing . brilliantly written scripts . Again thank you for the best show ever made on tv to me . Season 5 i am so ready for . some of the new cast members i remember very well i am sure this season will blow us away . Thanks to Alan Ball with out him we would have never had a show this so well put together . Brilliant .

    Reply

  17. Avatar
    June 05, 2012

    This is certainly a great interview. Congratulations, Lynn, on a job well done! Mr. Woo is so forthcoming, such a pleasure to read, and so enthusiastic about the show, and TV in general. Many of his favorite shows are mine also. His scenes are my favorite scenes on the show too. I am in love with Bill’s turning, RE’s TV rant, Bill’s DGD appearance, and the Big Wheel in Fangtasia’s basement!
    He hit the nail on the head when he talked about TV being the medium that brings characters into your home over and over, so that you develop relationships with them. That is so true – but only if the writing is creative and talented enough to make us want that relationship – and that’s what TB has. The writers have made these characters on TB real and riveting, so that we want to follow their every move, and know more about them. This is why TB is a winner in my book!

    Reply

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