Friday, September 3rd 2010
Rebecca already gave you an inside perspective on what it was like for us getting to our first highly anticipated True Blood panel after a night of sheer hell in the Dragon * Con membership badge gauntlet. Here's some of the information and insights we gleaned from that event:
Production/special effect tidbits:
- Nelsan explained how they were able to film the "V trip" scene (which resulted in an altered state Sam Trammell suggested Nelsan had not yet come down from because he was so tired and jet lagged)during which Lafayette and Jesus encountered their ancestors who were, let's say, spiritual practitioners of various persuasions - . They had a camera strapped to them, and they were strapped together; they had to act from the waist up only and Nelsan hated every second of it, but in his words, it came out well.
- Kristin likened the scenes during which vampires are moving at super speed to "a college or high school movie" - everyone else in the scene freezes and the actor portraying the vampire moves at normal speed. For instance, when Pam dropped off Eric's check to Sookie, Pam exited her house at super speed. A grip fanned Anna's hair as Kristin walked past her normally to insinuate Pam blowing past Sookie.
- Kristin told Sam, "I have no idea how you do the shifting", Same replied, "we really shift", and an audience member called out, "show me!" Needless to say, that didn't happen.
- Kristin talked about how it was tough for her to learn to talk with her fangs in and that after days trying she asked Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton) how he fits the fangs in his mouth. He replied, "you just have to take the pain" Ah, words of wisdom for like in general, wouldn't you say?
- Sam told the crowd that when he streaked through the woods during Season 1 and was seen by Andy and Terry from their fishing boat, he was actually running across land that had been owned by his ancestors. He said he had 13 relatives buried about a mile away and they were from the conservative side of the family, so he figured they were turning in their graves. P.S. his only wardrobe for the scene was a sock and tan jazz shoes.
- Nelsan explained that Lafayette is "a concoction of my mother and sisters", so he hits close to home. He lifted mannerisms, do-rags, and more from his female family members, and they have definitely taken notice. His sister took him aside after watching the show and said, "so the hand thing (you know, when Lafayette outstretches his fingers like he's grabbing something in the air and then pulls back to punctuate a point); I do that. Did you steal that from me? I'll take a check!" Nelsan also said Lafayette is country; he himself is from Alabama so it's not such a stretch to get into that aspect of his character .
- Kristin explained that Audrey Fischer, the True Blood costume designer, is responsible for about 50%of Pam as we see her brought to life on screen. Pam's trademark left eyebrow raise and eye roll - that she got from her mother.
- Kristin can't imagine Pam becoming a maker (which Eric hinted at in Season 2 when it looked like he may not survive a showdown with Russell) because in her eyes Pam "can't stand needy" and is more likely to dole out "tough love"; not necessarily the best thing for baby vamps as we've seen with Jessica. She replied, "I'm not feelin' it" to the possibility of that plot twist.
- In response to the question, "what is it about your character that is like you", Nelsan responded that the fabric of every character is the actor who plays him or her; as far as he and Lafayette's similarities, he said LaLa's flow and swagger; "That's who I am, Lafayette is me with a feminine exterior"; the difference is in choice of bedfellows, but "he's basically me". The moderator asked Nelsan how his background as a former Marine and Julliard graduate inform him when playing Lafayette, and Nelsan deadpanned, "they don't". Then he backtracked, allowing that perhaps LaLa's toughness comes from his experiences in the Marines.
- To the same question, Sam replied that he is basically a private person, a lot like his character.
- Kristin responded that she herself is a softy but that Pam's tough, still, everybody needs one person (they can be close to, for her it's Eric).
- Nelsan shared that at first he didn't like the idea of Lafayette settling down with one "boy toy" (Jesus) in Season 3 since "Lafayette's a ho", but that Alan Ball wanted to explore a different side of LaLa and Nelsan is warming up to portraying his softer side.
- Sam said he had the best time filming the second half of Season 3 since his character has gone "kinda off the rails"; the first season he spent pining after Sookie, so this is a dark turn for him - some of it has been more than he wanted, or felt comfortable with. For instance, something that both Rebecca and I thought reflected on the kind of person Sam Trammell is; during the scene where Sam Merlotte crashes into the restaurant fresh off his bender; hung over, agitated, and over-the-top belligerent, he was directed to yell "damn, you're ugly" at a female bar patron. Sam Trammell said he recoiled from this, asking if he really had to do it. He recounted how lovely a woman the actress was that he had to lash out at and how he really, really didn't want to do it but was told he had to. We thought about how cruel it was to have Sam Merlotte attack a customer who was virtually anonymous to him; she certainly hadn't done anything to harm him or to "deserve" it - since assailing a woman's appearance, aside from impugning her sexuality (i.e. labelling her as promiscuous, a whore, a "dyke", etc.) is one of the most cutting attacks someone can level at her in our culture. The fact that that line - over the terrible insults Sam Merlotte hurled at Terry, his own brother Tommy, and even the highly offensive "bitch" comments he threw in Arlene and Holly's faces - bothered Sam Trammell the most, made an impression on us, suggesting that on an instinctive level he could sense its particular egregiousness.
- In response to the question "how much input do the actors have in the direction their character's story arcs take", the cast pretty much unanimously replied, "not much".
- Kristin said she really doesn't ad lib; Nelsan said he doesn't either. Sam begged to differ; he said Nelsan ad libbed quite a bit during table readings for Season 1 and Lafayette's dialogue was written incorporating some of this. Nelsan allowed that some of his phrasing has been part of Lafayette's "language"; Alan Ball wanted an actor who could ad lib because he himself was trying to "figure out who Lafayette was".
- Kristin explained that Alexander Skarsgard (Eric Northman) doubles as her dialect coach for scenes in which she has to speak Swedish; her husband tried to learn her Swedish lines with her and since his native tongue is Afrikaans the accent is a little similar.
- In response to the question, "why can't Sam get any love", Sam responded that he picks the wrong people; waitresses who lead him to crucifixion, etc. He's not sure where that aspect of his storyline is going for Season 4 but he knows he will be doing some "very cool shifty things". He said "maybe he'll end up with Sookie" (Sorry Sam, not too likely). Nelsan interjected that when he watches Sam/Tara love scenes he thinks they "know how to do the do"; he sees them as having passionate, good chemistry. The audience seems to agree judging by their applause. Sam sheepishly replied, "I try to bring it, it's my job".
- In terms of whether the cast reads the Southern Vampire series and how closely upcoming seasons will follow the Charlaine Harris books, we were told that Season 4 begins shooting in November. Nelsan has read 7 books, Sam has read 4, and Kristin said she read the first book while shooting Season 1, started to get confused, and figured the less she knows about the book storyline the better. However, her husband has read 4 books thus far.
- Kristin surprised the crowd by telling us that the cast sees the final edit of the show the same time as we do; Sundays at 9PM - in this way, she explained, "you can be a fan of the show AND on the show".
- Talking about whether or not they would attend an event like Dragon * Con if they were not there in connection to their work on True Blood, Sam brought up the cast's recent appearance at Comic Con 2010; he let us in on the fact that Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica Hamby) went "under cover" at that events dressed as the little girl character from the film Kick Ass for 2 days before the True Blood panel ! Neslan said when he was first invited to appear at Comic Con he had never even heard of it before and wondered, "what do you do at a comic book convention? Read comic books to each other?" He said he would probably not attend such events if not for his love of rubbing elbows with fans and that he has had the opportunity to come face-to-face with cool people. Sam continued that he might attend to check out horror movie staff and that he especially enjoys Italian horror movies.
- Someone asked the panel if their characters have effected the way the actors are in real life; we took the question to mean have the characters they portray made an indelible mark on the actors in any way; have they seeped into their everyday lives and personalities, but they panel responded this way: Sam said he doesn't have paparazzi chasing him in his car, but there are certain place where he knows he'll be recognized. Nelsan said it's hard to maintain anonymity; he joked that he can be in a bathroom stall and a fan will be standing outside telling him how much he really likes the show. Nelsan said he would day "thank you but can I finish before we continue our dialogue about True Blood? He also said he comes from a family of alpha males; he has 4 brothers, and they kind of rough him up (playfully) when they see his portrayal of Lafayette. His son incredulously says, "daddy?" when Nelsan's scenes play.
- Regarding fan attention, Nelsan said he is "a shy dude" and a lot of attention makes him embarrassed. Sam concurred. The moderator queried, "you're both stage actors, but you don't like it when people watch you?" Sam and Nelsan laughed that off, noting that attention for your craft and attention because you're a celebrity are different altogether. Kristin said it's wonderful to get compliments, but she doesn't really know how to respond.
- Apparently Nelsan's brothers have profited from his fame; they meet girls by telling them they are related to Nelsan. He cautions them not to bring these girls home, rather to take them to a hotel since he's concerned they will go through his stuff. Kind of joking, kind of serious on that score.
- Sam's multi-talented; he plays guitar in between takes on set!
- The moderator asked what accounts for the success of the show, and someone in the audience yelled out, "it's not Twilight!". Nelsan wryly retorted, "I like that guy". One a more serious note, Kristin said the great thing about HBO is that as opposed to working in network TV, where the ad agencies and censors weigh in on everything, Alan Ball as creator and the writers are trusted in their vision and creative process and the cast gets huge support. The seed coming from Alan Ball is what they get to film, and that contributes to the high quality and production values of the show.
back shortly...gotta take a shower...pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain!
the great and powerful Oz...
|...and you guessed it - the man behind the curtain|
|Volcano Goddess Pele; her energy is direct, volatile, and explosive!|