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Must List TV 2009: 'True Blood'

Alan Ball’s vampire drama nabs the top spot on our summer television queue

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The Cast of True Blood
Must Cult Faves

Anna Paquin (Sookie), 26; Stephen Moyer (Bill), 39; Sam Trammell (Sam), 38; Ryan Kwanten (Jason), 32; Rutina Wesley (Tara), 29; Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette), 31
HBO’s vampire drama has the sexiest, sauciest ensemble on TV — one that was willing to suck blood to work with show creator Alan Ball. ”I started stalking him,” says Paquin of her pursuit of Ball for the role of prim but feisty Southern belle Sookie.
As Sookie’s love interest, Moyer’s vampire Bill provides a gentle take on the undead. ”The sex and drug addicts on our show are all human,” contends Moyer. ”They’re the seedy side.” And none more so than androgynous gay fry cook/drug dealer Lafayette. ”I’ve never really heard a character description of a dude wearing lipstick and makeup who’s masculine sometimes,” says Ellis of what drew him to the part. Recognition came more quickly for Wesley, who plays bitter Tara. ”Immediately I got Tara. I saw through her anger straight to her heart.” That’s why Ball’s show isn’t your typical vamp camp. As Kwanten puts it, ”With the depth of characters and substance of our stories, it’s so much more than just a vampire show.” True that.
Season 2 will feature wilder story lines and crazier creatures. ”I don’t think it’ll feel like a different show, but it’s definitely going to feel like a bigger show,” says Trammell.
Paquin’s fired up over FX’s Rescue Me, while Moyer just finished Willy Vlautin’s The Motel Life.
For exclusive bonus video with the cast of True Blood, go to ew.com/mustlistvideo