I stayed in Ballroom 20 all day to be in the front row for this so I was right at the front to hear the absolutely deafening screams that went up the minute the lights went down. And then again when the stars stepped out onto the stage.
Let me tell you, for any fan of the show, the wait — through seven panels and you don’t even want to know when I woke up to get in line — was more than worth it.
Despite the fact that host from Entertainment Weekly is so obviously a fangirl of the show in her own right and spent much of the panel asking questions of her own, the panel was pretty excellent. Lame questions aren’t so bad when the panelists come out with great answers
* In attendance were Anna Paquin, whose birthday it was, Stephen Mayer, Rutina Wesley, Alan Ball, Nelsan Ellis, Michelle Forbes, Charlaine Harris, Sam Trammell, Deborah Ann Woll and Alexandar Skarsgard.
* The panel began with a teaser trailer for the second half of season two. It seemed to indicate that Bill’s going to be running into some salacious trouble with his maker, Jason Stackhouse is about to find himself caught in the middle of a war, a showdown between vampires and the Fellowship of the Sun will occur in what appeared to be a church, Sookie just might be hooking up with Eric by season’s end, Sam will be hunted by Maryann, Tara’s about to get into some trouble of her own under Maryann’s guidance. The trailer ended with Evan Rachel Wood, who’ll be playing the queen of the Louisiana vampires, looking up with blood dripping from her fangs and asking, casual as anything, “Wanna join me?”
* TruBlood beverages will go on sale in September, just before the season finale airs. It’ll be a blood orange soda in a glass bottle based precisely on the show’s props.
* The show’s sexy signature song, Jace Everett’s “Bad Things,” was originally intended as a mere placeholder while they searched for a better song. Nothing, however, fit as well as that and it wound up sticking.
* Asked about “fang malfunctions,” Deborah Ann Woll, looking somewhat sheepish, said they have a terrible tendency to fly out if you talk too fast. Stephen Moyer says he spent much of the first season with two indentations in his lower lip from the hard fangs, which were so much trouble that they led to the creation of softer plastic fangs. “They were so hard,” he said, to which Anna’s reply was a rueful “Yeah, they were,” which prompted more than a few cheers and laughs.
* Woll comes off as such a sweet girl, clearly thrilled with her first big role. She cited the cast’s moral support as being a huge part of what’s helped her get along. Asked about a love affair between Hoyt and Jessica, she said, “I hope so! He’s so cute!” When asked about how much trouble Jessica will cause in the future, she glanced down toward Alan Ball and said, “As much as they’ll let me!”
* Asked where she gets her inspiration, Charlaine Harris said, “Inspiration is a word I don’t trust. Writing is work.” With her deadlines looming, says Harris, she can’t afford to simply wait around for inspiration. She just closes the door, sits at her computer and asks herself, “Who’s coming to Sookie’s house today?” Harris has just signed a contract for three more books in the series, which, she says, will take them to 2014.
* In answer to the question of whether the Eric/Sookie/Bill triangle would occur on the show in the same way as in the books, Alan Ball’s response was simply “Yes.”
* One audience member asked if we would see any “half-vampire, half-human baby” in the future. Ball looked confused until a few people called out “Twilight,” by way of explanation, at which point his expression became one of bewildered disgust. “No,” he said, then added, “Either you’re all vampire or you’re not a vampire.”
* The bond between vampire and maker, says Ball, is one so profound, we can’t possibly understand it, something which will come into greater focus during the rest of the season.
* Asked why she chose to take this role, Michelle Forbes says, “When you’re given an entrance where you’re in the middle of the road naked with a pig, you don’t say no.”
* In response to a question about what she most likes and least likes about Sookie, Anna Paquin said her favorite thing about Sookie is that she says just what she’s thinking, even when it’s not the best idea. She admires the way Sookie does what she thinks is right, despite it resulting in the continual endangerment of Sookie’s life. As for what she dislikes, says Paquin, that Sookie is written “as a natural blonde. I’d be spending a lot less time at the salon if she wasn’t…. Other than that, me and Sookie get along fine!”
* Asked about the difference between the media here and in Sweden, Skarsgard replied, “If this were in Sweden, we’d be in a barn. There’d be thirty-five people and twenty-five of them would be named Skarsgard.”
* Elaborating on the character of Eric, Skarsgard said he spends a lot of time having to defend Eric to people who accuse him of being merely a villain. He’s had a lot of fun working on this season, principally the Godric story arc, as an opportunity to show a different side of the Area 5 Sheriff. Because Eric is primarily an entrepreneur, up until this point, every action he’s taken or not taken has been towards an end, because he could get something from it. With Godric, he says, it’s for nothing but love; Eric gets nothing from it, but does it anyway, and it’s an aspect Skarsgard is thrilled to explore.
* As for Eric’s fascination with Sookie, he says it’s because, after a thousand years, “Eric is over humanity,” finding them naive and boring. Sookie’s different somehow and it makes him curious.
* Asked about the possibility of rekindling the romance between Sam and Tara, both Wesley and Trammell said they would definitely be in favor of it.