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'True Blood''s new blood

Denis O’Hare, Theor Alexander, and Joe Managaniello join the cast of HBO’s vampire drama

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They’re scary, sexy, and ready to make trouble in Bon Temps. Get to know the colorful characters — including vampires, a werewolf, and a very mysterious blonde — who have infiltrated season 3 of HBO’s hit drama.

Denis O’Hare
Stars as Russell Edgington, the King of Mississippi who kidnapped Bill (Stephen Moyer)

Where you’ve seen him In addition to nearly 30 years of theater experience (he won a Tony for Take Me Out in 2003), the 48-year-old has appeared on the big screen in Milk, and on TV shows including The Good Wife.

Feeding time True Blood‘s fake blood is made of a sugary syrup, and for O’Hare, getting the unappetizing goo down is just a matter of commitment. ”If you’re in the moment, it’s actually really fun,” he says. ”It’s only after, when you’re thinking about it, that you get the shakes.”

Say it, don’t spray it O’Hare says sibilant-heavy scenes are a particular challenge when he’s wearing his ”speaking” fangs (the actors wear soft fangs for biting): ”The hardest thing is when you say a lot of S’s. ‘Stand right there, Sookie Stackhouse!’ Inevitably, I have tons of S’s.”

What’s next for Russell Power is as vital to the King’s livelihood as human blood, but his never-ending appetite for political play is his downfall. ”My trajectory is a tragic one,” says O’Hare. ”At one point I end up with rotten teeth.”

Theo Alexander

Stars as Talbot, Russell’s droll royal consort

Where you’ve seen him A relative newcomer, the 29-year-old Alexander played a Greek mafioso on Chuck and a circus acrobat on Pushing Daisies.

Sneak Greek Talbot was conceived as a British character, but Alexander’s agent persuaded the show’s casting director to see her Athens-born client. ”When I read it, I said, ‘He’s very sensual, he’s very Dionysian, he’s very Socratic,’ ” says Alexander. ”He reminded me of Greek royalty. I wore my kimono [to the audition] because he’s wearing his robe in the first scene.”

Backstory time Three weeks before shooting began, Alexander and O’Hare created their own tale of how the couple came to be. ”We had to create 700 years of relationship, the ups and downs,” says Alexander. ”It was a lot of fun.”

Mama as muse Alexander credits his mother for inspiring some of Talbot’s comic histrionics: ”Greek wives take it to the extreme. If you break something, ?Oh my God! It’s a tragedy! We can never replace it! What are we going to do now?’ ”

What’s next for Talbot Don’t expect the King’s beautiful boy toy to pipe up only when his cherished tapestries are manhandled. Says True Blood creator Alan Ball, ”Talbot plays into the plot in a way that will have pretty far-reaching consequences for a lot of people.”

James Frain

Stars as Franklin Mott, a sinister vampire detective looking for dirt on Bill

Where you’ve seen him Best known for his role as Thomas Cromwell on Showtime’s The Tudors, the 42-year-old Brit has also appeared on FlashForward, 24, and Californication.

An inconvenient tooth The show’s vampires get individually molded fangs, but removing the custom-crafted canines can be a challenge. ”I couldn’t get them off,” admits Frain. ”All the practiced vampires flip them in and out. You can tell [who] the new people [are] because they’re struggling to get them out.”

All in a day’s work In a showdown between the heavy costumes on The Tudors and the ”hilarious amount of chunky gristle” actors encounter on True Blood, Frain says the regal period clothing was much more of an occupational hazard. ”You’ve got on a fur coat, jacket, shirt, and we’re indoors in the summer shooting and they couldn’t use the AC because it makes too much noise,” he says.

What’s next for Franklin Though he’s on assignment for the King of Mississippi, Franklin gets sidetracked when he falls for Tara (Rutina Wesley). ”His idea of love proves he’s a psychopath,” Ball says. ”It’s all narcissistic. He basically sees her as something that is his.”

Joe Manganiello

Stars as Alcide, a werewolf assigned by Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) to help protect Sookie (Anna Paquin)

Where you’ve seen him As Marshall’s law school buddy on How I Met Your Mother; he’s also been seen on Scrubs, CSI, One Tree Hill, and ER.

Popular vote The fan site truebloodnet.com first nominated the 33-year-old Manganiello to play Alcide. Meanwhile, Blood‘s casting directors tested the actor for the NBC comedy pilot Rex Is Not Your Lawyer before realizing he was the word-of-mouth werewolf. ”[They] took it as a sign and then brought me in,” he says. ”The stars wound up aligning.”

Nude awakening Blood‘s werewolves often find themselves naked, and while Manganiello has done nudity before — in an Off Broadway play called Unraveled — it’s not something he’ll ever get used to. ”You have three options,” says the actor of the show’s penis-covering protocol. ”A sock, a thong, and the ‘manty’ or man panty. You can go sans sock, [but] I come from a good Pittsburgh upbringing that raised me to wear a sock.”

What’s next for Alcide
As the heartsick werewolf clashes with his ex Debbie (Brit Morgan), and Sookie pines for the still-missing Bill, the pair seek solace in each other. ”There’s definitely an attraction, but how are they going to handle that?” teases Ball. ”Are they going to be adults or give in to what they’re feeling at the moment?”

Lindsay Pulsipher

Stars as Crystal, Jason Stackhouse’s mysterious love interest and, in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse book series, a were-panther. (Ball is tight-lipped about whether True Blood‘s Crystal will have the same powers as her literary counterpart.)

Where you’ve seen her The 31-year-old Pulsipher costarred with the late Patrick Swayze on A&E’s The Beast.

Playing hard to get While Jason (Ryan Kwanten) is infatuated with Bon Temps’ new blonde, Crystal is going to make the ladies’ man earn her affections. ”She’s not so eager to jump into bed with him,” Pulsipher says. ”She’s unaware of how courtship works.”

What’s next for Crystal Though her story will unravel slowly, Ball says the reasons for Crystal’s extremely sheltered upbringing will have serious effects on Bon Temps’ residents: ”There are a lot of situations that are going to put people in danger.”