Although his name might not readily rush to the tip of your tongue, you definitely know William Sanderson. As a TV and film veteran in projects that range from Blade Runner to Deadwood, Newhart to The X-Files, Sanderson has made a career of playing offbeat characters. You can catch Sanderson on HBO’s bold and bawdy vampire series True Blood when it returns for its second season on June 14th. Playing the Sheriff of Bon Temps, Louisiana, Sanderson is one of the few “normal” characters wading in a sea of supernatural sex and unwashed prejudice.
Sanderson also popped up on IGN’s radar when he appeared on Lost this season as Oldham, a DHARMA wing nut who tries to get a few answers out of Sayid in “He’s Our you.” No one’s sure if Oldham will be back, but we do know that on the same episode, during “the present,” we were shown a building that had a sign that read “Oldham Pharmaceuticals.”
IGN TV: Some of the characters on True Blood head off to Dallas in. What about your character, Sherriff Bud Dearborn? Does he get to leave town, or does he stick around the home front?
William Sanderson: Heh, I’ve got to be careful. They’ve told me not to reveal too much. I get emails from True Blood, and from Lost, telling me not to talk too much about it. But he (Bud)…well, I don’t know if they really need him in Dallas. It’s a good question though. I don’t mean to be evasive. Bud’s a little lazy, if that helps at all. I don’t want to say anything to get me in trouble with HBO, they’ve been very good to me (laughs). I did Deadwood with them and they were so great. I’m just so happy. He (Bud) is a normal character. Yes, I’m playing a normal character right now and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
IGN: We did see you on Lost this season (“He’s Our You”), so with that and True Blood you’re now a part of two different serialized genre shows that have a rabid internet following.
Sanderson: I don’t ever want to forget the fans. You guys have been so great.
IGN: Were you aware of the Charlaine Harris novels? Did you try to read them before you started shooting Season 1?
Sanderson: Of course. I couldn’t get them fast enough. I saw that this was a fun part. Often, over the years, I wouldn’t get a role until the last minute and I couldn’t do research. I looked in the books a bit to see if he survived.
IGN: That’s funny. I’ve heard(True Blood‘s Tara) say that too.
Sanderson: She’s wonderful, man. Beautiful girl. I love it when I get to be in a scene with her. The books though, they’re a loose blueprint for the characters. And a character’s “survivability” doesn’t always follow the blueprint. He may not get killed but…Sheriffs also do get replaced in real life. And how exciting is he, really? He doesn’t have any vices. I have every one in life, but he probably doesn’t have any.
IGN: Does Bud really hate vampires?
Sanderson: I think he really loathes them. Yeah. But underneath that is fear, right? I’m just speculating and going by the book. In the book,– , a wonderful actress, – says that killing a vampire who hasn’t attacked you is against the law. Bud says “I don’t agree with that, but I’ll uphold the law.”
IGN: On, we saw that you played a character named . You had an interrogation scene with where you gave him a truth serum. It seems like this might be a character that we’ll only get to see once, but on Lost you never can tell. Did they tell you what this guy was all about?
Sanderson: The writers did tell me something. One of them told me that this guy was like a Hunter Thompson-like character and that he might have taken a few too many of those drugs himself. He was doing bio-chemical interrogations and he claimed he’d done it to the Viet-Cong – and he worked at Berkeley. There were a few pieces that got cut out, but you know, that’s the story of my life. The writers had talked to my agent a few years ago about doing a running role, but that didn’t work out. Believe me, I was disappointed. But that was before this came along.
IGN: I had a chance to speak witha few months back, and his wife is on with you…
Sanderson: He’s terrific, isn’t he?
IGN: He told me that when he first began his role on Lost, he didn’t know he was going to turn out to be a main character on the show. He thought he’d only be on for a few episodes. Do you think that Oldham might be back in some form?
Sanderson: I’m almost certain he won’t. I say that to protect myself in some aspects. To entice you to do roles sometimes they say that the part is “possible recurring” and then you get there and it doesn’t happen. But there was no talk of that even happening. But you know…I’m available (laughs). I’ll put it that way. You know, it’s like having a date with a pretty woman. Don’t think about the next date.
IGN: You, throughout you career, have been a part of a lot of projects that we here at IGN have been big fans of. A lot of “genre” shows. Sci Fi shows. Westerns. What’s your favorite type of project?
Sanderson: Someone once said that Sci Fi was the modern Western. What’s my favorite? Well, anything that needs a misfit. I don’t have a real favorite. My dream is to play something different. I was happy to be clean shaven in this one. When you play so many outcasts and derelicts, or even a murderer, you need to play someone healthy.
IGN: You recently were a part of a documentary on Starz called The Face is Familiar. It’s all about character actors. Actors we’ve seen in many projects, but their name might escape you. Do you often get recognized a lot?
Sanderson: Depends on if you’re in New York or out here (L.A.). Newhart ran the longest and it was great to have a regular role, but I run into a lot of film fans and they ask me about. I was grateful to be a part of that. Ridley Scott’s a visionary and I got to wear two hours of latex, but really…more people have been asking me about Lost than anything else recently.