True Blood was a smash-hit HBO series based on Charlaine Harris’ best-selling The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels. True Blood’s curious mix of southern charm and gothic vampires made it a cultural phenomenon that was even bigger than The Sopranos. In the crazy and wild world of True Blood, vampires rubbed shoulders with Southern belles, werewolves, delusional preachers, fairies, maenads (whatever those are), and “werepanthers.” If you’re coming to Bon Temps, leave your inhibitions behind and sink your fangs into these truly fascinating facts about True Blood…
True Blood Facts
1. The Show Is All About Good Times
The majority of True Blood’s storyline takes place in the fictional northern Louisiana town of Bon Temps. Although we do venture to French vineyards and Japanese factories, the heart of this show stays in good ole “Louisiane.” The name of the town is French for “Good Times” and is a reference to the Cajun expression, “Laissez les bon temps rouler!” And boy, oh, boy, were there some good times on True Blood…
2. The Show Was The Dentist’s Fault
Trips to the dentist can be uninspiring events—even for vampires. But audiences have one dentist to thank for True Blood. I know what you’re thinking, no, it was not Dracula’s dentist. Show creator and runner Alan Ball was 30 minutes early for his dentist appointment and decided to stroll through a Barnes & Noble. While there, he stumbled across Charlaine Harris’ Dead Until Dark, and the rest is silver screen history…
3. The Show Had Big Talent
Anna Paquin, who portrayed the show’s main character, Sookie Stackhouse, for its seven seasons had some serious bona fides. By the time Paquin signed on the dotted line and stepped into Bon Temps, Louisiana, she was already an Oscar winner. Paquin won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in 1994 for The Piano…she was just 11 years old.
4. The Show Was Fun For Paquin
Anna Paquin wasn’t the obvious choice for Sookie Stackhouse. Paquin claimed that people saw her as being “too serious.” Can you blame them when she was snagging Oscars before she could even drive? Apparently, she wanted to do something “radically different.” Of her role on True Blood, she said, “…it only takes one person with a little bit of imagination to go, ‘You know, pale-skin girls with brown hair can also be blond girls with a fake tan,’ and presto change-o, makeover. It’s not rocket science.”
No, no, it’s magic.
5. The Show Had Some Unexpected Talent
Not all of True Blood’s cast and crew members were child prodigies. Take the heart-throbbing, pulse-quickening Joe Manganiello for example. Manganiello portrayed werewolf Alcide Herveaux on the hit series. But prior to that, Manganiello was making money by dressing up as Captain Morgan and promoting the brand at various bars around town. The only problem…he was just 16 at the time.
6. The Show Will Make You Red…Headed
Anna Paquin wasn’t the only one dyeing her hair for the show. Deborah Ann Woll who portrayed the red-hot Jessica Hamby is known for her flaming red hair. But guess what. Red isn’t her natural hair color! Woll is naturally blonde but has been dyeing her hair red since she was in her teens to make her strands “pop” against her pale complexion.
7. She’s Had It Hard
Jessica has been through some dark times on the show—and behind the scenes, Woll has also known tragedy. Her husband suffers from a rare condition called choroideremia—try saying that five times fast. Sadly, the condition ultimately leads to blindness but fortunately, Deborah Ann Woll continues to raise awareness.
8. The Show Had Connections
With a cast as star-studded as that of True Blood, there are bound to be some—i.e. A LOT—of Hollywood connections. Even some of the show’s more minor characters can draw straight connections to television and film nobility. Lauren Bowles who portrayed Holly Cleary, for example, is the half-sister of Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. She might be half the sister, but she’s all the fun.
9. The Show Pitted Vampires Against Pennywise…Sorta
On that note, Lauren Bowles isn’t the only True Blood alum who can lay claim to superstar family members. Alexander Skarsgard who stole hearts as the rakish rapscallion, Eric Northman, is, himself, a member of television and film royalty. His father is Stellan Skarsgard, and his brothers are Bill Skarsgard of It fame and Gustaf Skarsgard of Vikings fame. Now let’s see, who wins in a dust-up between a millennia-old vampire, a frightening alien clown, and a Norse god?
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10. The Show Had A Soap Opera Connection
Not all connections to the broader television universe are familial. Ashley Jones portrayed Daphne Landry on True Blood while also working on The Bold and the Beautiful. Just as a quick note, she’s been on The Bold and the Beautiful for 16 years and running. Her schedule was so hectic that she would show up on set sometimes without having slept. Vampires weren’t the only ones who were up all night…
11. The Show’s Cast Had Limits
While it must have been an honor for Ashley Jones to appear on True Blood, she had her limits. True Blood was known as much for its fangs as for its scantily clad—or not-at-all clad—actors and actresses. Jones might have been ok with the fangs, gore, and guts, but she drew the line at indecency. Jones had it written into her contract that she would not appear without clothes. To get around this, HBO filmed her romantic scenes in silhouette.
12. The Show Will Drive You To Drink
Jones wasn’t the only cast member to struggle with the…sparse wardrobe. Lizzy Caplan was a fixture of True Blood’s debut season back in 2008. Her character had more than a few intimate scenes to shoot and Caplan was nervous about it. So nervous, in fact, that she needed a little liquid courage. According to Caplan, she was “chugging vodka” at seven in the morning to ease her nerves.
13. The Show Got Into It With Grizzlies
True Blood showrunners offered former vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, a cameo in the final season. But the Alaskan was…not a fan of the show. "The brilliant minds of True Blood were brazen enough to ask me to do a cameo on their show, apparently so they could insult a conservative woman in person instead of just all conservative women in general," Palin told Breitbart News.
"Their offer wasn't presented in any negative way, perhaps to benefit from a surprise factor after the guest appearance. I turned them down anyway." And she had more to say…"Nice try, HBO. I'd put any mama grizzly in America against a vampire any day; for only one of them actually exists," Palin said.
14. The Show Angered Politicians
Of course, Sarah Palin wasn’t the only politician sharpening their fangs on the HBO mega-series. Senator Ted Cruz made an unintentional cameo when the show writers used a fictional Ted Cruz fundraiser as the site for a vampire rampage. Cruz fired back, “Of all the places I never thought to be mentioned, HBO’s True Blood vampire show would have to be near the top of the list…I’m sorry to have lost the vampire vote, but am astonished (and amused) that HBO is suggesting that hard-core leftists are blood-sucking fiends…”
15. The Show Was Almost Kwanten-Less
Ryan Kwanten almost wasn’t our Jason Stackhouse. That’s right. We may never have gotten that Kwanten-Skarsgard scene. Ian Somerhalder of The Vampire Diaries fame auditioned for the role of Jason Stackhouse. It’s not exactly clear why he didn’t get the role, but him having no resemblance to Anna Paquin might be a possible reason.
16. The Show Had Its Kryptonite
While we’re on the topic of what might have been…Joe Manganiello came very, very close to pulling off the triple threat. I don’t mean singing, dancing, and acting. Who can’t do that these days? I mean, “werewolf-ing,” “Captain Morgan-ing,” and “Superman-ing.” Director Zack Snyder liked Manganiello for the role of Superman, but HBO stepped in and prohibited it.
So, there you have it, Superman is vulnerable to Kryptonite…and television executives.
17. The Show Was Too Mature For Katniss Everdeen
Ian Somerhalder and Joe Manganiello weren’t the only actors buzzing around True Blood to get swatted away. Jennifer Lawrence—the one and only Jennifer Lawrence!—once auditioned for the minor role of Crystal Norris. If you can’t remember seeing Katniss Everdeen staking vampires with her bow and arrow, that’s because it never happened.
The showrunners thought that Lawrence looked too young for the role and turned her down. The odds were not ever in her favor.
18. The Show Was Almost Reversed
Jennifer Lawrence and Ian Somerhalder can attest to the fact that auditions don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Alexander Skarsgard originally auditioned for the role of Bill Compton, the romantic competition of the role that he eventually landed as Eric Northman. The role of Bill Compton eventually went to Stephen Moyer…completing a three-dimensional, fourth-wall-breaking love triangle.
19. The Show Sparked Real Romances
Throughout the seven seasons of True Blood, Bill Compton competed with Eric Northman to win the affections of Sookie Stackhouse. In real life, however, there wasn’t really much competition at all. Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin began dating in 2007, around the time that filming of True Blood’s pilot episode began. Paquin and Moyer got married just three short years later.
20. The Show Had A Weird Love Triangle
Stephen Moyer was a busy guy on the set of True Blood. Apart from appearing in every single episode alongside his real-life wife, Moyer took up some directing as well. The actor was responsible for directing three episodes of the series throughout its run. And those episodes involved intimate scenes between his wife, Anna Paquin, and other cast members including Alexander Skarsgard. Three-dimensional, fourth-wall-breaking love triangle complete.
21. The Show Blended Fact And Fiction
To complicate matters even more between the on-screen/off-screen love triangle between Paquin, Moyer, Skarsgard, and their characters, Paquin made a HUGE announcement. The now mother of two tweeted out that she was proudly bisexual. Given the fluidity of romantic interests that Sookie Stackhouse displayed on the show, this is just too much fact and fiction blending for my little brain.
22. The Show Was Blissful
One of the most memorable villains from the series—and certainly my personal favorite—was Maryann. The talented Michelle Forbes brought the fascinating “maenad” to life. In actuality, maenads were very real ancient women who were known to worship the god Dionysus by, shall we say, having a good time. It stands to reason then that Alan Ball’s advice to Forbes was to portray Maryann as “pure bliss.”
23. The Show Will Make You Bite Your Lip
Have you ever tried speaking with marbles in your mouth? Not easy, eh? Now try it with fangs. Cast members on the set of True Blood struggled with their speech when they had their prosthetic fangs put in. Ironically—or comically—the vampire-portraying cast members were likelier to bite themselves with their fangs than they were to bite their human counterparts.
24. The Show Was Multilingual
Speaking of having difficulty, well…speaking. Kristin Bauer van Straten (Pamela Swynford De Beaufort in the show) certainly had the Swedish look…but not the language skills. The American actress had to ask her actually-Swedish co-star Skarsgard to record her Swedish lines so that she could hear how they were supposed to sound. Luckily, the technique was successful.
25. The Show Helps With Memory
I’ve often wondered how actors and actresses can remember their lines. Is there, like, a mnemonic device that they teach you in theatre school? Is it eidetic memory techniques? Magic?! Kristin Bauer van Straten just used good old repetition. The actress repeated her Swedish lines hundreds of times to get them right. She got them so right that she still remembers them to this day.
26. The Show Is Real…Kinda
Bon Temps was a happening place in True Blood. Many an episode revolved around the always-lively bar/restaurant Merlotte’s. But if you really wanted a good time, you would have to drive to Shreveport and check out “Fangtasia.” The vampire-and-leather-themed bar’s real-world film location was Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, California. As far as I know, they do not serve blood…of any kind.
27. The Show Is Delicious
If Long Beach is too far for you to go to your True Blood fix, then have no fear. There is an actual True Blood cookbook complete with drinks and food. Would you like to have a “Beautifully Broken Bisque” in the style of Russell Edgerton? Or perhaps it’s the “Brujo Burger” for you? Finish it off with a “Just Desserts Blood (Orange) Gelato.” Yum.
28. The Show Is Diet-Friendly
If you’re flipping through that cookbook thinking that there aren’t any diet-friendly options, then you’re not alone. While on the set of True Blood, cast members had to drink more than their fair share of “blood.” So much, in fact, that one cast member asked the makeup effects team to come up a calorie-free option. Vampires have to watch what—or who—they drink too, you know!
29. The Show Was Accommodating
The effects team on the show haven’t shared which cast member asked for the diet-friendly “blood” and it’s unlikely that we’ll ever know. My money is on Skarsgard—those abs don’t shape themselves. We can, however, absolutely rule out one cast member. Let’s just say that they had no problem with whatever the effects team “cooked” up…
30. The Show Could Make You Thirsty
According to Todd Masters, the makeup effects producer on True Blood responsible for its…redder scenes, Anna Paquin had an inner vampire. The first time that the actress had to consume the fake blood the scene only required that she drink a small amount. But the actress must have been dehydrated, because she downed what Masters believed to be gallons of the stuff…
31. The Show Was Not Vegetarian
Creating carb-free fake blood wasn’t the only unique task presented to the effects team. In the Season 2 finale, the team had to build a statue in honor of the god Dionysus—and it quickly turned into a disturbing disaster. Instead of using oh, I don’t know, effects, the team used $500 worth of real meat. The cast and crew had to deal with some rancid smells as the meat soured and rotted in the hot weather. And now I’m vegetarian.
32. The Show Was Sssssss-uper
Not all fangs are created equal. One of the first tasks for the effects and design teams on True Blood was to come up with a style of fangs that were unique to the show. Instead of looking to other vampire shows and movies for inspiration, they looked to nature. The design and effects teams modeled the signature long and curvy fangs of True Blood off of rattlesnakes.
33. The Show Was Insured
At least one cast member really appreciated the work that the crew put into designing the fangs for the show…maybe he appreciated it a little too much. Stephen Moyer had a total of three sets of fangs for the show. You know, in case his backup needed backup. Moyer was so protective of his fangs that he actually had them insured. Against what, exactly? Werewolves, garlic, and silver, I imagine.
34. The Show Helped Charity
The cast and crew of True Blood didn’t just entertain audiences…they sucked their blood. Literally. Ok, not literally. But they did make them bleed. True Blood organized a blood drive at Comic-Con every year that they attended, offering donors “swag bags” in return. The cast and crew managed to collect over 1,000 pints of blood for charity. A vampire’s heart might not be beating, but it is full of love.
35. The Show Had Famous Fans
A show as big as True Blood is bound to have some famous fans. So just who in Hollywood was tuning in when the sun went down? Snoop Dogg for one. He was such a fan of the show that he even recorded a whole song professing his love for Sookie Stackhouse. I’m sure that Snoop Dogg is charming, but to win Sookie’s affections he would have been up against two vampires, a werewolf, and a shapeshifter.
36. The Show Almost Had A Huge Cameo
Sadly, we’ll never know if Snoop Dogg could have won that romantic tussle. HBO floated the idea of a cameo for the famous rapper to show their appreciation for his dedication to their show. Unfortunately, Alan Ball popped that bubble like a vampire biting into a balloon. Ball said that Snoop Dogg’s celebrity was too big and would have been distracting.
37. The Show Differed From The Books
Readers of The Southern Vampire Mysteries series can tell you all about the differences between the show and the books. They’ll probably tell you that one of the biggest differences comes in the form of one character…Lafayette Reynolds. Brought to life on the screen by the effervescent and lively Nelsan Ellis, Lafayette was not a major character in the book series.
But the show writers just couldn’t deny screen time to this flamboyant fan-favorite and he was a major character in the show.
38. The Show Lost Its Brightest Light
Both Lafayette and Nelsan Ellis were fan favorites—but sadly, in 2017, a devastating tragedy struck. The hugely talented and always professional Ellis passed on unexpectedly that year, only months shy of his 40th birthday. The actor was the victim of withdrawal syndrome. Here’s to hoping that there is an afterlife…just not one with vampires, please.
39. The Show Didn’t Have The King
While we’re on the topic of those we hope to see in a life after this one…Elvis Presley! In the book series, Elvis Presley was a vampire! Sadly, the superstar was a shell of his former self and apparently liked feeding on cats. But if you caught him on a good day—i.e. a good night—he still had the voice of an angel…with fangs and a thirst for blood.
40. The Show Beat The Sopranos
It’s hard to overstate how much of a phenomenon True Blood really was. For a time, the show was HBO’s biggest hit, overtaking even The Sopranos. It took maybe the biggest show of all time, Game of Thrones, to de-“throne” True Blood…or would that be defang? Either way, dragons beat vampires, vampires beat mobsters, and I still need a new show to binge.
41. The Show Was Expensive
If you really wanted to live in the world of True Blood, you actually could. When Queen Sophie-Anne met the pointy end of a wooden stake her mansion went on the market. Or rather, the mansion the show was renting for filming went on the market. The whole estate hit the market in 2012 for a paltry $54 million dollars. If that’s too steep, they’ll sell you just the mansion itself for $23.8 million.
42. The Show Had Southern Charm
For all of the southern charm that True Blood brought to the screen—and it brought a lot of southern charm—there weren’t many actual southerners on the show. In fact, there was just one authentic, born and bred “Louisianais” on the show. Sam Trammell, who portrayed Sam Merlotte on the HBO series, was born in New Orleans. Everyone else was…from another world.
43. The Show Ended…Badly
All is well that ends well. And by that logic, all is unwell that ends unwell…I think. That might be how fans of True Blood and The Southern Vampire Mysteries book series felt. Neither viewers of the show nor readers of the books were particularly fond of the way the story ended. So, what exactly had everyone’s blood boiling?
44. The Show Must Go On
For all of the hemming and hawing over the course of 7 seasons and six years about who Sookie Stackhouse would end up marrying, fans were treated to a controversial reveal of her husband. And by reveal, we mean—a complete cop out. True Blood ended with a sunny picnic scene in which Sookie is with her friends and family and husband. Who was it, you ask? I have no idea.
A tree was blocking his face the WHOLE TIME! For all I know, she married a mannequin. I demand to know who he is!
45. The Show Had Some Departures
The intense nature of the romantic scenes on True Blood wore on some cast members—and for others, it became their breaking point. Luke Grimes, who appeared in six episodes of the series’ sixth season, for example, was so put-off by a scene that he actually chose not to return to the show the following season. Originally, the reason for his departure was “undisclosed” but nothing stays secret for long, especially not in Bon Temps…
46. The Show Had Its “Creative Differences”
Luke Grimes apparently walked off the set of the show never to return when he read the script for the upcoming season. The reason that he gave for leaving the show apparently “had nothing to do with storylines,” but HBO contradicted him. According him the network, Grimes left the show because of “the creative direction of the character.” Creative differences can be so contentious…
47. The Show Goes Both Ways
What “creative direction” could HBO have been talking about? Well, Grimes’ character was originally romantically involved with Jessica Hamby (Deborah Ann Woll) but the writers had his character switch his romantic interests…to Nelsan Ellis’ fan-favorite Lafayette in the following season. Grimes apparently didn’t want to “play gay” and that was enough for him to walk away, driving a stake straight through our hearts.
48. The Show Was Controversial
Luke Grimes’ decision did land him in some political hot water—but the series creators and writers were no strangers to controversy. In fact, from the first season to the final season, True Blood was regularly wading into the overtly political. Whether you agreed or not, you’ve got to give credit to True Blood for pushing the envelope. Or the coffin…
49. The Show Will Make You Want More
While some of the cast members had to take a shot to film their intimate scenes and others simply walked off the set, there were a few asking for more. Ryan Kwanten played the lovable simpleton Jason Stackhouse on True Blood. Though he and his fellow cast member Alexander Skarsgard were fixtures on the show, they rarely had scenes together. Until they did…
50. The Show Brought Friends Together
Kwanten and Skarsgard, being good friends, asked the show producers and writers to give them more scenes together. The two pals—and eager audiences everywhere—got what they asked for…and then some. The show writers eventually gave Kwanten and Skarsgard a particularly racy dream sequence together that HBO has forever etched into silver screen pixel history.
51. The Show Was “Fantastic”
Luke Grimes decision to leave the show was controversial, but he may have benefitted from taking a page from Kwanten’s book. In an interview on the red carpet, a nervous interviewer asked Kwanten about his “steamy” scene with co-star Skarsgard—and his answer was unforgettable. Instead of getting awkward, Kwanten simply called the experience “fantastic.” Audiences agreed.