If the whole acting thing hadn’t worked out, Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer would have made wonderful tour guides (star tours, take note!). It’s a warm morning on the Lot, the West Hollywood soundstages that house the sets for True Blood, and Paquin and Moyer — who play the HBO series’ on-again, off-again couple Sookie Stackhouse and Bill Compton — are walking EW through some of Blood‘s most iconic locales, like Merlotte’s (now Bellefleur’s) Bar and Grill, vampire bar Fangtasia, and Sookie’s house. Moyer, 44, who has directed three episodes including the June 22 premiere, is the more excitable of the two; he enthusiastically explains small production details, such as how the mirrors in Gran’s bedroom needed to be clouded over to prevent camera reflections. Meanwhile, the sharply funny Paquin, 31, takes one look at Sookie’s living-room sofa and quips, ”That couch has seen a lot of action considering how uncomfortable it is.”
In just a few weeks, production will wrap for good on Blood after seven seasons, and these sets (and that well-worn couch) will vanish. The show, based on the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris and created for television by Alan Ball (Six Feet Under), in the most basic terms follows half-faerie waitress Sookie and her relationship with gentlemanly vampire Bill. But there have been detours into witches, werewolves, orgies, and one really nasty meat tree. The show has been a huge hit for HBO, averaging 11.4 million viewers a summer, but for Paquin and Moyer it’s been life-changing. The pair met filming the series, married in 2010, and had twins, Charlie and Poppy, in 2012. EW sat down with Paquin and Moyer at Bellefleur’s, in the very booth where Bill first saw Sookie, for a look back on their bloody good time in Bon Temps.
So let’s go back — way, way back. How did you get involved with this project?
Anna Paquin My agent sent me a script. It was this blond, perky Southern chick, and I was very much not that. I’d worked with HBO on [the 2007 film] Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and I was a big fan of all their programming already. In the back of my mind I’d been sort of thinking, ”It’d be so great to have an HBO show where you’re in one place, and you’re doing the same thing year after year, and it’s great quality and amazing people.” I was 24 and had been a gypsy since I was 9. I started talking about it, and then it appeared. Or in my witchy mind, I manifested it.
What about you, Stephen?
Stephen Moyer I had been fired from a pilot, along with the rest of the cast. It was a pilot that never went anywhere, but it was written by the people that did 24. I got back to London at that point and just went, ”I’m all good. I’ve got a career here. I’m really happy in London. I’ve given it a shot, and I don’t really want to be in a situation where that happens again.” My manager had been sending me scripts and I wouldn’t read anything — and finally she said, ”One script. If you read this script, I will leave you alone for the rest of the year. Even if you don’t want to do it.” And it was this. I read it — that was, like, a Thursday night, I believe — and I was blown away.
Did you guys read together?
Moyer I flew over, possibly on the Monday [after], went to Alan’s office here on the Lot, and met Anna for the first time. We sat down on the two audition scenes, and it was kind of…I was a bit cagey because I’d just been in this situation. But the scenes went really well.
When you first met each other, were you like, ”Well, hello there…”?
Moyer She had very dark hair and pale, porcelain skin, and I had just got back from Australia and was super tan with blond hair. It was really weird because we were the antitheses of what we ended up being. That day after we’d done the table read, we were sitting chatting and I was just like, ”I wish we could have just carried on talking.” We just got on well, and we were laughing.
Paquin Yeah, I was like, ”Oh, okay, I’ll see ya, maybe never…or at some point.”
Everyone always talks about the nudity. Did they sit you down and say, ”Just to be clear, you’re going to be naked a lot”?
Paquin Well, in the books they’re very sexually active, frisky people in a small town. Everyone’s having fun with everyone else. Charlaine does not exactly spare the details. So then when you come to read the pilot script and you see that kind of scene, even if it’s not with your characters…I mean, not to be rude, but you’d have to be kind of stupid not to see that one coming…. I don’t give a s— as long as it looks good. Vanity, not modesty.
Moyer We don’t have HBO as such in the U.K. So I knew what HBO was, but I didn’t really know. So I read [the first] book in between getting the job and went, ”Oh, f—, we’re going to do some stuff here. I better start doing the stairs.”
Speaking of nudity, in the first episode of the new season you directed a love scene between your wife and Alcide, played by Joe Manganiello.
Paquin It’s not as awkward as you would think. If you were to picture the perfect day at work for your spouse, would that be it? Probably not, but this is just kind of how it’s always been. So it doesn’t feel as bizarre.
Moyer There are moments where I’ll be watching on a monitor [and say], ”Oh, Joe, just move your hand up towards Anna’s breast. Good. And can you move your right thumb just a little bit towards her nipple? Great.” And then I’ll go, ”Babe, babe, enjoy it.” I’m certainly talking to her as ”babe.” ”Darling, go for it. Yeah, feel the nipple.”
Paquin We set the bar very high for weird very early on. We’ve done a lot of odd s— on this show. Actually, the potentially awkward couplings [are] not the weirdest s— that we’ve done on this show.
Moyer In a funny way, I feel like — without revealing too much — it’s quite interesting for us as a couple because we’ve kind of gone to places where a lot of people don’t get to.
Paquin Or have to.
Moyer And we’re still here. And I think that’s good for us in a way.
Do you get jealous?
Moyer Of course you do. There are moments, like any human being has, of self-doubt or little wobbles that people get. Then the other person might see it or feel it and just go…
Moyer ”Chill, we’re all good.” It happens both ways. That’s life.
Is there one moment from this whole experience that you hold close to your heart?
Paquin Because it has lasted seven years and because of the relationships, not just between us but the way they all evolved as a family, it’s been extraordinary to have that experience that is completely life-changing in all of the best possible ways — and with the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. We will always have this. As opposed to it being this thing that only I experienced or only he experienced, it’s this thing we have forever. It’s been the springboard for both of us, in this section of our careers, for huge opportunity, and change, and growth. Being able to have experienced it together is incredibly, incredibly special. And I hate that word, but it is.
When do you think you’ll let your kids see this show?
Moyer Well, I did have a funny conversation with my son.
Paquin His older son.
Moyer The 14-year-old [from a previous relationship]. He’s got friends at school that watch True Blood, but he’s never seen it. I still think he’s a little bit too young, but these modern kids. I said to him, ”Well, the time’s coming to the point now, mate, where if you wanted to, you could…” And he’s like, ”No way, I’m not interested in that.” I was a little bit hurt, and I went, ”You might enjoy it. It’s kind of fun, actually.” And he went, ”Dad, I don’t want to watch you do it.” And I went, ”Ohhh.”
Paquin That’s all it’s about. It’s not about all the fun vampire stuff. It ultimately comes down to ”There’s my dad on screen naked.”
Moyer I thought, ”Yeah, all good, mate. Let’s play football.”
Let’s get into the particulars of the final season. Is it fair to say that it’s very much about Sookie and Bill’s relationship?
Moyer Totally. We had reached a point where [the story had] gone into the stratosphere and there was nowhere else to go. It’d reached a point where the natural thing to do is to bring it back — and I personally feel it’s a story about coming back to Bon Temps and back to Sookie. Back to who Sookie is and what she is.
Obviously some people will die this season. What have those goodbyes been like?
Moyer Let’s just say that the table reads have gotten smaller. Without giving anything away, it’s very strange. I’ve said this before, but seven years is two lots of college, and those people have become incredibly close to you. As we’ve been waving people goodbye, it’s really sad. Never will the same group of people ever be in the same room together, and that includes the crew, of course. What’s lovely about that is that it’s coming back to the original core. The smallness of it will actually be something that we will enjoy very much.
You guys have such fervent fans. With finales it’s so difficult — you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Are you concerned about that?
Moyer We have no control. It has nothing to do with us. That comes down to the showrunner and the writers’ room, and they have to create, ultimately, the story that they want to watch.
Paquin And you cannot try to please every single person that has a very, very specific idea of who should end up with whom, and who should live and who should be dead. You’d drive yourself completely nuts if you tried to. Yes, you’ll probably piss off some people, but other people will be really happy. You just have to commit to whatever it is you do go for, and that it is emotionally truthful for the characters that you have created.
Moyer I do think Bucky [EP Brian Buckner] has done his best to try and give the audience a little bit of everything but ultimately land this whole story in the way he feels it should be told.