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'True Blood' Star on Shocker: 'It's a Pivotal Moment' for Sookie (Q&A)

The HBO vampire series lost a major character in Sunday's episode, the third of its final season.

True Blood Season 7 Still Group Shot - H 2014
Tony Rivetti/HBO
"True Blood" Season 7

[WARNING: This story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of True Blood, "Fire in the Hole."]

True Blood bid goodbye to another major character in Sunday's episode.

The second fatality of the HBO series' seventh and final season, after Tara's (Rutina Wesley) death in the premiere, was Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello). The werewolf was shot while tracking Sookie (Anna Paquin), who ventured into the forest with Bill (Stephen Moyer). Manganiello felt his exit was very much in line with True Blood, he tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I die naked in the woods with nothing but my sock on. Given Alcide's track record on the show, I was like, 'That's about right,'" he says.

The death wasn't a surprise for Manganiello, who predicted Alcide would be killed when he learned the sixth-season finale would have a time jump of six months. At the start of the seventh season, Alcide was in a happy relationship with Sookie.

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"When I read the last season finale, my first reaction was, he's dead," Manganiello tells THR. "I knew he was going to go before the season started. I called it."

In a chat with THR, Manganiello discusses Alcide's death scene, what it means for Sookie moving forward and why he'll look for similar roles for the rest of his career.

When did you learn you'd be killed off?

If you do the math, in a final season, you want to kill as many people as possible, which left me — and when you get rid of all the werewolves, I knew that's what was going to happen. When Alcide got together with Sookie at the end of the season, it was like, I'm in the A plot, but Sookie's not going to end up with him. You can't have her break up with him; then the audience wouldn't like her. You've got to kill him.

So Bucky [showrunner Brian Buckner] called me and said, "Hey, let's have dinner." Bucky and I do this — we get a steak. He said, "We're killing you." I said, "I know." He said, "You know?" I said, "Of course, and I totally get it." He handed me the first three scripts of the season, and then we ordered the hugest steaks on the menu.

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You die naked in the woods. What was shooting that scene like?

It was really, really cold that night, about 30 degrees. I was naked, and the director kept shouting to me that I had to stop rattling — because my body was rattling, it was so cold — and I was like, "Damn it, I'm trying!" I had to be dead, motionless, with the weather at 30 degrees. That was definitely the most difficult thing about shooting that scene.

What's going through Alcide's head at this point?

At that point, Sookie had taken off with Bill, and then he's tracking her by scent. Obviously, this is the pattern with her, she gets into trouble and then he gets her out. He's accepted that about her. There's the shaking the head, the "goddamn it," but then he goes to find her, he protects her, he fights for her. This time, it just becomes the last time he can do that for her.

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In True Blood, characters who are killed or fatally injured do not stay dead — Tara at the end of season four being an example. Is Alcide gone for good?

Yeah. There was some talk about, "Should we try to turn him?" but ultimately, they decided that wouldn't be right for him. It would be a fate worse than death — from a cultural standpoint for him, and to lose his power and his connection to nature. And for Sookie, she's run into trouble with all these vampires. To turn the one guy who's been just unconditionally loving and good to her wouldn't be right.

Had Alcide not been killed, might he and Sookie have ended up together?

I think that this moment does change her. I think it's a pivotal moment there, that this guy that was in love with her dies because of this madness that follows her and that she chases after. It winds up being a pivotal moment. But I think that, like in episode two, he says, "I could keep driving." That's the answer. "Let's get the f— out of this town, this house where there was this meat statue and this crazy orgy on the front lawn and your grandmother's blood all over the floor. Let's stop living right next to Bill, leave these people behind and get away from it all." But Sookie decides to ride out her situation.

Had he lived, taken some time to heal — maybe. Maybe he winds up being a possibility, but it never got to that point. Alcide really is the grown-up choice.

What will you miss most about playing this character?

His first two seasons, it was this exploration of masculinity in terms of these very masculine wolf powers. It's about what it means to be this savage killer, to live outside the confines of society. But he also has this amazing vulnerability and sensitivity. … To have the juxtaposition of the savage with the vulnerability at the core was amazing and it seemed like people responded to it. I'll definitely be looking out for more roles like that in my career.

Email: Austin.Siegemund-Broka@THR.com
Twitter: @asiegemundbroka