SDCC 2011: The ‘True Blood’ Panel (Photos and Video)
The panel for “True Blood” at Comic Con is one that I have wanted to see for years, but each time the line to get in resembled something you would imagine seeing at Disneylworld multiplied by one thousand. Each year I would try to get in, and each year I would fail. I started to feel like I was Captain Ahab and the panel for “True Blood” was my big white whale. My sexy, ridiculously good looking Southern white whale.
Thanks to a kind samaritan with an unwanted bathroom pass, I got into this fabled panel. And you know what? It was AWESOME.
The panel started off with a fun trailer of Season 4 that teased us with lovely things to come (shirtless Eric, possible Eric x Sookie, possible Jason x Jessica, and more witches!). After that, the cast members were introduced and welcomed with loud and sincere cheers and applause, especially for Alexander Skarsgard and Stephen Moyer. Alan Ball, the creator of the show, was there along with cast.
The panel started off with a question for Anna Paquin asking her about the different sides of Sookie Stackhouse. She responded saying that a part of Sookie is still sweet and innocent, and the other part of her has “lots of dirty vampire sex.” This pretty much set the tone for the whole panel. The actors who attended were Anna Paquin (Sookie), Stephen Moyer (Bill), Ryan Kwanten (Jason), Rutina Wesley (Tara), Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette), Alexander Skarsgard (Eric), Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica), Kristin Bauer van Straten (Pam), and Kevin Alejandro (Jesus). Each actor was asked about the changes in their characters, which included a possible romance between Jessica and Jason, and stronger and happier Tara, and an amnesiac Eric who keeps forgetting to put a shirt on (God bless this show).
Many of the questions brought up in the panel concerned the future of different characters and their relationships. In particular, the relationships between Sookie, Eric, and Bill. It was funny to hear the verrrry strong audience reactions with each different relationship, particularly for Sookie x Bill. There was an equal amount of “Yays!” with” NOOs!” Each time a question about those relationships was asked, Alan Ball would pretty much say, “We’ll see!” For you Charlaine Harris fans out there, the question of the infamous shower scene in the fourth book was asked. Alan Ball responded in that there will be a scene in a shower with Sookie and Eric and that it may not be exactly the same, but it will be “weirder and dirtier.” The audience went wild and a huge grin spread across my face.
The next questioned was for all of the cast members and asked them what was their favorite scene to film this season. Alan Ball responded, “The ritualistic gang rape of Jason Stackhouse.” Â Ryan Kwanten, the actor who plays Jason, agreed that it was his favorite as well. Alexander Skargard said that his favorite was swimming in the lake in the sun (yet again, the crowd goes wild).
Finally, it was time for the fans to ask their questions. The first question was for Kwanten about the evolution of Jason’s character. He said that he was happy that his character was finally growing up and showing some responsibilities. I must say as a fan I’m glad they had his character grow up as well, so good job Mr. Ball on that. The next questions were for Skarsgard and one of them is a question I have been asking myself for years now. Are we ever going to see when Eric made Pam into a vampire?
I managed to get the answer to that question on video:
A really cool moment was a surprise appearance by actress Janina Gavankar who plays Luna on the show! She didn’t show up on stage, she waited in line with the fans and then told the whole cast, “You know you’re all going to hell, right?” It was a lovely moment for all the Trubies. I’m such a sucker (har har) for when the cast members play with the audience like that.
A lot of the questions were for Skarsgard concerning little ol’ Eric. His character has a history that has barely been explored on the show, so the fans are dying to see this history played out. Alan Ball, as always, was coy wit his responses concerning what we’ll see with Eric and his history. Something that was really funny with this panel was when any actor was asked about the future of their character, they would always look to Alan Ball, worried about what they were allowed to reveal. One question like this was whether or not Sam and Tara would ever get back together. It was almost frustrating because so many of the questions revolved around potential future plot points that all the fans are dying to know, so a lot of those questions didn’t get answered! I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…
There was a lot of recognition for Nelsan Ellis playing a strong gay character. The audience would always clap whenever that point was made. Lafayette is probably my favorite human on that show, so it was great to see him get so much love! Following that great observation, a fan asked if he could please call her “hooker”. Come on, who doesn’t want to be called “hookah!” by Nelsan Ellis? HOOKAH!
Ball brought up all of the things that the fans get to look forward to in Season 5. These include Eric making Pam into a vampire, new supernatural creatures that have not yet been featured, and a supernatural strip club that is based off of “Hooligans” from the books. Hooligans, for those of you who have not yet read the books, is a strip club featuring verrrrry good looking men. I was happy to hear that a version of it, which according to Ball will feature both men and women, will make it onto the show.
Another discussion point was the differences between the books and the show and why Ball chose those differences. He said that the books are mainly Sookie’s story, so for the show, he wanted to expand that world and create stories for characters so that we can see all of the different elements of that world. He also said that “True Blood” is an ensemble show, so the story line can’t always be focusing on Sookie. Lastly, there would be no surprises if the show was exactly like the books! No matter what, though, he wants to stay true to the spirit and the world created in the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Personally, I love the differences between the two, especially since we get to learn so much about characters that, in the books, aren’t featured that much.
I have to say, probably my favorite question that was asked was to Skarsgard as to whether or not he will be returning in Zoolander 2 as the ghost of Meekus. He said he’d love to, but that’s all up to Ben Stiller (You listening, Ben Stiller? The fans want a really ridiculously good looking ghost!). Also, another fun point made was that being a waitress at Merlottes was probably the most dangerous job on the planet. Seriously, those girls die off more than Spinal Tap drummers!
The last question asked was about the audition process for each actor. It was humbling to see these actors, who are now stars because of this show, talk about how nervous, worried, and petrified they were during that process. The answer that stood out the most to me was Moyer’s. He found out he had gotten the part of Bill right after his apartment had been robbed, so for him it had been a strange experience of feeling awful with feeling overjoyed.
What was really great about this panel was how gracious the actors were to their fans. I’ve been to panels where the actors aren’t very appreciative of the people who support their show and career *COUGHTomWellingCOUGH* and it saddens, actually pisses me off, when that happens. Thank goodness, that is not the case with the ensemble of “True Blood”. What made this panel great was the interaction between the panelists and the fans asking the questions. You can tell how appreciative they are of their success and the enterprise that the show has evolved to over the years. After the panel was over, Skarsgard, Moyer, and Paquin stayed on stage for twenty minutes to sign autographs for the fans. The actors were literally dragged away by the Comic Con employees because as more people showed up to the stage they kept signing. It got to the point where the *lovely* employees were yelling at the fans to “go away”. Ahh, that’s Comic Con for ya.
So there it is, kids. My inner Captain Ahab was very happy with his white whale. Oh, yes. That panel was a lot of fun and hopefully, maybe, I can get into next year’s. Maybe.