11:37pm PT by Philiana Ng
'True Blood' Cast Teases Season 4, Sookie's Dilemma
The entire cast of HBO's vamp-tastic True Blood held court on the second night of PaleyFest at Beverly Hills' Saban Theatre on Saturday night. Yes,16 of them, make that 17 if series creator Alan Ball is included.
Nothing earth-shattering was revealed during the session, unless you consider the incessant screams -- the longest and loudest out of all the cast members -- for tall Swede Alexander Skarsgard (Eric) during panel introductions breaking news. (Keep your eyes peeled for exclusive video interviews from the carpet with the cast and creator of True Blood.)
After a sizzle reel of the most memorable scenes from the first three seasons played, a moment from Season 4 whetted the appetite of the blood-hungry crowd. [minor spoiler alert!] The brief scene featured lovebirds Hoyt and Jessica with Pam in front of Fangtasia, as they fend off some protesters. Things get hairy, to say the least.
The topic of True Blood's large ensemble cast was frequently touched upon. New series regular Joe Manganiello (the werewolf Alcide) shared that he was itching to work with Chris Bauer (Andy) and Sam Trammell (Sam), while Kevin Alejandro (Jesus, revealed to be a witch; wiccans play a role, Ball said, adding that "they are not the bringers of evil") joked to loud laughter: "I guess Alex so I can see why everyone screams so much."
Ball confirmed that Rutina Wesley's Tara and Kristin Bauer van Straten's Pam would be teaming up in an episode, after Wesley revealed that she wanted to see them work together.
At one point Stephen Moyer, who plays Southern vampire Bill, joked: If we have "some more cast members, then we'll be sitting down there!," pointing toward the sold-out audience. Ball, never one to reveal anything major about the risque drama, did share that Gary Cole and Fiona Shaw, playing a witch named Marnie, would be appearing in the new season.
With Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Bill officially broken up (again) because of the latter's "betrayal," there may be some developments with some of the other men in Bon Temps who have been eyeing the newly-minted fairy. (In case you were wondering, Sookie went off to fairyland at the end of Season 3. "There's some stuff that's different," Paquin said of her character's return to Bon Temps.) Team Alcide or Team Eric then?
"Well, Alcide doesn't turn into a charred ball of fire in daytime," that's a plus, Paquin said when reviewing Sookie's options. "But Alcide comes with baggage ..." So what about Eric?
"I mean, Eric is problematic for Sookie," Paquin responded, with Skarsgard playfully agreeing to every positive thing she says and disagreeing with the negatives. "He's caused her some trouble. He seems to be looking out for himself ... [but then he'll be] disalarmingly on her side and [has] consistently shown interest. I mean, you never know." ("It happens," Skarsgard mouthed.)
The other looming question: Will fan favorite Denis O'Hare, whose Russell Edgington was last seen buried in cement, return? We didn't kill his character off, Ball coyly answered.
Currently in production, things were fresh in the cast members' minds when they discussed their respective character's journeys.
Where did Tara go in the finale? "It's close by; it's cool," Wesley said. "You'll find out early on where she's been." Later saying, "We'll see a new Tara. She's a lot more stable and she may find some happiness."
"If things are stable for Tara, things aren't stable for Eric," Skarsgard said of his character's newfound identity (or lack thereof). "He doesn't know who he is ... Eric needs help." Who helps him, the moderator asks. "There are a lot of friendly people in Bon Temps," he teased. So how did Eric lose his memory? "He messed with the wrong people," Skarsgard simply said, confirming the amnesia storyline featured in the fourth book of Charlaine Harris' series. "Everything that we've built up in the past three seasons is just gone. ... He's lost, completely lost." He shared that there was a flashback early on in Season 4 with Bill that's "really fun." Why? "You just have to watch it," Skarsgard responds. Oh they are good.
What about the fight between Sophie-Ann (Evan Rachel Wood) and Bill in the finale? "There was a bite-off," Moyer said to laughs. Ball added that they weren't the only ones involved in the showdown.
Skarsgard and frequent scene partner Bauer van Straten used the open forum to make some requests. Flashbacks with Pam, Sophie-Ann and Godric are tops on Skarsgard's list, while Bauer van Straten would like to see Pam and Eric back in time since "Pam dresses for every occasion."
The HBO show is known for its raciness, one of the most memorable being the "twisted" sex scene between Bill and Lorena. "He can be f---ed around by her but he can f--- her," Moyer said to the audience, who ate up every word like candy. In one of the night's soundbite moments, Moyer said, "I got to have my own f--- puppet," when discussing how he prepped for the very technical scene.
When asked about their craziest fan encounters, Bauer shared that a fan approached him because he had "bird shit" and Manganiello said that at Comic-Con a fan asked him to lick her after she read that wolf saliva could cure her. Marshall Allman (Tommy) drew a laugh when he told the audience his grandmother described True Blood as "vampire porn." Skarsgard had the best story, when a woman from Ohio sent a letter requesting that he fly out so he could marry her daughter -- and he would be compensated. "It was a lot of money, so of course I did!," he joked.
Deborah Ann Woll, Carrie Preston, Jim Parrack, Nelsan Ellis, Todd Lowe and Ryan Kwanten rounded out the large panel.