I just dig the fang,” quips “True Blood” star Anna Paquin of her character Sookie Stackhouse’s smoldering love for Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), a vampire with skin as translucent as the moon who desires her with a Dracula-like blood lust. “Vampires as a genre are dangerously sexy.”
Yet there’s far more to the hit HBO show beyond garlic knots and wooden stakes, its plotlines rife with sociopolitical symbolism — the expression “coming out of the coffin” is plied, and in one episode human-vampire marriage is made legal — and its implausible scenarios made doubtlessly believable.
“That’s Alan Ball’s strength,” Paquin says of the “Blood” series creator, “taking unreal circumstances and making them grounded in reality so you don’t forget it’s still people.”
Meaning what could have been campy girl-meets-vampire pulp becomes a poignant study of a woman whose prescient powers drive her mad and how a star-crossed soulmate, the only being whose mind Sookie can’t read, becomes her unlikely salvation.
“Everyone is looking for the people they can just be themselves with,” Paquin says of their passionate pairing. “With Sookie, she can’t read Bill’s thoughts and can just be.”
Their onscreen connection is electric thanks, Paquin points out, to bold writing, deft direction and a supportive cast and crew.
“It’s about our cast knowing you can really open up to each other for all kinds of weird, crazy scenes,” Paquin explains. “We feel safe to be emotional in front of one another, and it’s a very loving kind of work environment.”
But along with “Blood’s” romantic
storyline comes the demands of an often sleep-depriving shoot.
“We had two weeks straight of night shoots,” Paquin half-yawns. “It’s like the whole crew has jet lag, except we didn’t go anywhere. But I couldn’t be happier. It’s the best kind of tired when you’ve been plugging away at something, because you know you’ve really given it your all.”
What do you like most about your character?
“She’s tough, feisty and strong but sweet, kind and compassionate. She’s a romantic no matter how many times life kicks her to the ground. She’s really good to the people in her life and the people she cares about.”