'True Blood': Michael McMillian talks Steve Newlin's fate
Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched this week’s True Blood, stop reading now.
Everyone’s favorite turncoat, Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian), finally met the sun in Sunday’s episode when ex-wife Sarah (Anna Camp) opened the ceiling at Vamp Camp and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) refused to let Steve flee or feed from Bill (Stephen Moyer). Watch the scene below.
McMillian phoned EW this afternoon from Kansas, where he’s visiting relatives and watched the episode last night with his mother. “I had warned my parents that I was going to be leaving the show this season, but I didn’t tell them how. So as she watched the death scene, she kept screaming, ‘I thought it would be in the finale! I thought it would be in the finale!'” he says, laughing. “And then she felt really bad afterwards and kept offering me more glasses of wine with frozen strawberries in them. Her maternal instincts took over and she’s like, ‘Are you okay? Do you need anything? Do you need more wine?’ I’m like, ‘I’m fine. Do you need more wine, mom? Because I think you’re more upset than I am.'”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Carrie Preston recently told us that everyone gets applause at the table read when their character dies.
MICHAEL McMILLIAN: Absolutely. All of us in the cast — well, I’d say some of us — have always lived in constant fear that we might be killed off. Lauren Bowles, who plays Holly, she and I used to keep in touch with one another and just say, “Have you heard anything yet? Do you know if something’s happening to you this season?” So anytime a castmember is killed off, they get a nice send-away, and it was the same for Steve. It’s a big moment and it’s a funny moment in the script. I was checking [Twitter] last night, of course, and I was actually surprised that people thought it was as funny as it was. That made me really happy. And I also got a lot of messages saying that people were sad to see Steve go. So if you can pull off a death that is both sad and hilarious, I think you’ve done your job okay. I’m glad if Steve had to go, he’s going out on a memorable note.
If you got to choose between Eric forcing Steve to burn in the sun, or Eric doing to Steve what he did to Dr. Overlark, what would you have picked?
I would like to die with genitals intact, I think. And it’s a fitting end for Steve too. Meeting the sun was, of course, the only way he should have gone. That was his whole thing in season 2 [with the Fellowship of the Sun], so it was a nice twist of irony at the end.
And Steve’s last line — “I love you, Jason Stackhouse!” — was your idea.
That line was a real gift from [showrunner] Brian Buckner. In that conversation where he told me that they were gonna be killing me off, I had asked if I was gonna get a chance to work with Ryan Kwanten again. We hadn’t worked together all season, and that was really my only disappointment from this year, because I just love working with Ryan and I always love the Jason-Steve stuff, and I felt that they had left that door open for more. In my mind, Jason was always Steve’s true paramour. So when he told me that we weren’t [going to work together], but Jason would be present for Steve’s execution, I asked him if my last line could be, “I love you, Jason Stackhouse,” and he said yes — if it would make me feel better. He wrote it into the script, and that was super kind of him.
Did Alexander Skarsgard do anything special for you?
He gave me a very personal sendoff in the gag reel, which nobody but cast and crew saw. It was somewhat inappropriate and somewhat hilarious, but beyond that I really can’t describe it too much. [Laughs]
I’m thinking there might have been skin involved then.
There was a little skin involved. Yes.
One of the questions I’ve seen asked by fans is why the vampires in the room didn’t just leave through the door from which Bill entered.
Well, I think Steve figured that out at kinda the last minute [Laughs], that once that door was open they could all get out. You know, I don’t have a good answer for that question except that we’re all panicking, and that sun is coming in, and we’re also starved for blood when Bill arrives with the promise of fairy blood. That’s where everybody’s gonna go.
Steve tried to tell Eric not to kill him because he’d be stronger in the future. Do you think Steve was actually capable of that?
I do. I mean, I think Steve has always just wanted to belong to a club. That’s why he was so happy to be the leader of his own club for a while. I think that once he was brought into the vampire world and made part of the Authority, he was just so happy to be included. There’s definitely beef between him and Eric. Steve was the guy who kidnapped Godric, and that led to Godric’s death eventually, and obviously all the trouble he caused for Eric this season. I think Steve, too, felt that Russell’s death last year by Eric’s hand deserved some payback. I think he just really wanted to survive Vamp Camp and was doing it the best he could. He knew who Sarah Newlin was, and I think he felt his chances of getting out of there were better if he appealed to her rather than somebody like Eric. And unfortunately [Laughs] it just didn’t work out.
Were you surprised that Sarah got to live?
Well, no, I mean, have you see Anna Camp’s work this season? She’s amazing. And I think that the show rediscovered that human villains tend to be most compelling for this series — Russell Edgington notwithstanding. I think the heart of the series is that relationship between humans and vampires, so bringing Sarah back and making her the big bad this season, I think was a really smart choice on the writers’ side. And they’re lucky to have an actress like Anna who can totally pull that off while keeping that sense of humor intact.
In your mind, where is Sarah headed when Jason lets her drive off?
I don’t know. She could go back to the church, possibly. The Fellowship of the Sun is still out there, so maybe she’s gone back to them. She’s gotta get away though because she killed that woman [Tru Blood spokesperson Ms. Suzuki], and even though Vamp Camp is now a bloody massacre and her death will probably be blamed on vampires, I think Sarah’s gotta get away and re-examine her life for a minute. [Laughs] I don’t know. I’m excited where that character will go next.
This fall, the book Steve Newlin’s Field Guide to Vampires (And Other Creatures of Satan) will be released. True Blood associate producer Gianna Sobol came up with the idea, and you helped co-write it. Tell us about it.
This was Steve Newlin’s field guide that he was putting together after the Fellowship of the Sun takeover by the vampires at the end of season 2 and before he was turned sometime in that year where Sookie was missing. So it kinda fills in the gaps during that period where Steve and Sarah were splitting up, and he was doing a lot of spying and investigating on characters in the show and learning more about the supernatural world of True Blood, and these are all of his notes. And then once he was kidnapped by the vampires, this notebook was found in his abandoned car and eventually made its way into the hands of Pam and Eric, who go through and rewrite and annotate with snarky flair all of the things that Steve got wrong. Since we started writing it before season 6 really got into production, it covers a lot of seasons 1 through 5, and then we incorporate as much of season 6 as we can. It’s kinda like a True Blood wiki in a published form through the eyes of some of the funnier characters on the show.
And there are re-created letters, postcards, and handwritten notes?
The graphic design department at Chronicle did such a good job with it. We have little fliers that the Fellowship of the Sun would hand out to children on how to kill vampires. There’s an Anubis Airlines emergency instructional pamphlet on what to do if the plane is crashing and you need to evacuate your coffin. There’s a lot of really fun found materials. And then I went through and did a lot of doodles as Steve Newlin, so you get to see his drawings of werewolves and vampires and what he thinks fairies might look like if they do exist. [Laughs] It was a really fun book to put together. We try to keep that sense of humor alive throughout the whole thing.
What’s next for you?
I have a web series that will be launching Aug. 19 on YouTube on Justin Lin’s You Offend Me You Offend My Family network [The YOMYOMF Network]. That’s called Jon Davis Gets a Sex Robot, and I play Jon Davis.
And you get a sex robot.
Yeah. It’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s not as raunchy as you might think, but it’s pretty hilarious. And I’m going back to shoot some new episodes of Hot in Cleveland in September. I play Jane Leeves’ long-lost son, Owen, who she gave up for adoption, and he’s back in her life now with a baby of his own.
What’s the biggest difference between the Hot in Cleveland set and the True Blood set?
[Laughs] I would say Betty White is the biggest bloodsucker of them all.