Bleeding into a highly anticipated second season, True Blood, Alan Balls dark and drawling Southern vamp drama returns, riddled with thinly veiled metaphors for LGBT rights. On and off-screen the shows lead vampire lover, Sookie Stackhouse, played by X-Mens Anna Paquin, aches for the bite of her vampire lover, solves mysteries telepathicallyand waits tables.
The Canadian-born, New Zealand raised Oscar winner (she won Best Supporting Actress at the ripe age of 11 for The Piano), recently chatted with Out about the new season, her uncanny ability to play metaphorically gay roles, her off-screen romance with co-star Stephen Moyer, and sweet Sookies newfound love of S&M.
Out: How did you get involved with True Blood?
Anna Paquin: Well, I read the pilot script and completely fell in love with it and then pursued it incredibly hard, auditioned 100 times -- I mean four or five times -- until they said yes.
Sookie initially comes across as a innocent and incredibly virtuous girl. What drew you to the role: was it that sweet nature or was it her darker moments?
Well, its the fact that shes all of it [rolled into] one, because I feel like thats real. You can be someone whos gone through a lot of crap in your life and who has survived a lot of ups and downs and whatevers and still be someone with a positive outlook. You can be sweet and kind and treat people the way you want to be treated even if thats not the way youve been treated. Shes not a victim. I love that about her, and shes really tough -- mostly she just kicks ass.
Both of your recent roles in X-Men and True Blood, have centered around storylines involving metaphors for minority rights. Is that a coincidence?
It is a coincidence, but kind of a nice coincidence. Cause when is it not a good time for those sorts of messages to be put out there into the world in a sort of non-threatening, non-beat-you-over-the-head with it kind of way?
In the last episode of the first season there is a scene featuring a state legalizing vampire-human marriages. Have you noticed Alan Ball pushing the current LGBT struggle through the show?
I mean pushed sort of sounds like its being forced. I think those ideas were in the books already. The metaphor that is used is coming out of the coffin; I dont think it takes a genius to turn that into a pretty good metaphor for gay rights. Obviously the big issue now is legalizing marriages, thats been in the works for a very long time. Yeah, I think it was a very good way to put it in there.
I think a major indicator of that is the character Lafayette who, obviously, is pretty interesting as an LGBT character.
Of course, does anyone not find him interesting?
Thats true, I think its also fascinating because theres that overlying metaphor for vampire rights, and then theres Lafayette whos the literal interpretation of all that. What exactly would Sookies opinion of Lafayette be?
Sookies a little more prim when we first meet her so shes more easily shocked but hes family, you know, as Taras cousin and someone shes brought up with -- hes an important part of her life. I dont think it would occur to her to be in any way judgy -- its just not in her nature. She really doesnt judge. And, frankly, hes the first person she goes to when she has crazy, kinky, vampire-biting sex. Hes the person she goes to and is like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah -- I did this. Finally she cannot be the big old prude in his eyes, which I find very sweet.
Speaking of kinky sex, the first episode definitely heated up for Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Sookie. Theres been talk about the second seasons focus on their S & M. Does it feel like a major shift?
Well, part of vampire-human sex is biting, I mean thats part of how they express their desire and its just part of the relationship. And, its exciting and dangerous and sort of scary at first for Sookie, but you know its part of how they make love. It becomes her normal. And, she likes it.
It doesnt seem like shes in any sort of pain at all.
Yes. Well -- not any bad pain.
You and Stephen are in a relationship off-camera as well. The passion you have on the show is palpable -- did it transition from on-screen to off-screen or vise-versa?
We met at his screen test when they were doing, essentially, a chemistry read to make sure the Sookie they had cast was going to click with the Bill they wanted to cast, and shockingly enough we ended up liking each other. But, it kind of all happened at the same time -- its kind of hard to say which came first because when you click with someone and you have that sort of vibe -- thats just how weve always been around each other. Nothings really changed except we live together now.
Was your first kiss then on-screen or off-screen?
Ha. Im not telling you that.
Oh come on, its nothing lewd.
Yeah No I -- why would I want to ruin the whole mystery and allure of did they or didnt they? But also its the fact that if you work an eighteen-hour day job six-months out of the year where else are you going to meet people?
Whether its the power to touch someone and almost kill them or read their minds and invade their privacy, in your largest roles youve been an outcast. Is this outsider theme something you are personally invested in or drawn to for a particular reason?
I dont know -- its kind of hard to say. My life has been very blessed and Im very lucky, and things have been, by most standards, incredibly easy for me as far as what Ive been allowed to do with my life. I guess maybe its not as interesting to tell stories about people who have perfect lives and for whom things have always been easy. The stories that I think are interesting and that are important to tell are the people who have to struggle to get to where they want to be, and to be allowed to live their own lives the way they want to live them.
Have you noticed a larger gay following because of this?
Well, apparently there were a lot of boys in New York dressed as Sookie for Halloween last year. And, Ive got to say thats the highest compliment there is, you know, whether or not I like that some of them had better legs than me and were prettier. I will get over that.
Well, you know, we cant resist those short shorts.
I mean come on. I think when you have boys dressing as you for Halloween thats pretty cool.
Its a good diva moment. Other than the obvious choice, who do you think is your sexiest cast member?
Thats a completely unfair question. We have some pretty sexy ladies on our show; lets not leave out the girls and their amazing and gorgeous ways. I mean Tina and Terry and Mishka and all the unfortunately dead girls from last season, those were some pretty hot ladies. Thats other than the obvious guys who never keep their shirts on. Our show does not want for eye candy, no matter what youre into.
Are you saying that you are into your brother a little bit then?
No, Im just saying that objectively he has a very nice physical situation going on. I mean he never wears a shirt on our show so weve all seen it a lot.
True Blood airs on HBO Sunday nights at 10 p.m. EST.