"I've been a terrorist. I've taken the secretary of defense hostage," says Kevin Alejandro, running down his TV resume. "I've killed my wife, killed my baby. I've gone to prison for accidentally killing a guy instead of his father."
Until recently, the majority of Alejandro's work has involved playing the bad guy. So comprehensive is the actor's experience with bloodlust -- via memorable stints on 24 and the Showtime series Weeds and Sleeper Cell -- that a vampire drama was perhaps the (super)natural next step. This month, Alejandro, 34, joins True Blood as a love interest for Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), the flamboyant, foulmouthed fry cook at Merlotte's Bar and Grill, staffed by series heroine Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and owner Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell). Alejandro plays Jesus, a quiet, gentle nursing-home caretaker who tends to Lafayette's senile mother (Alfre Woodard). Although Alejandro can't reveal whether he's a vampire, shapeshifter, or other force of supernature -- 'I'm something,' he hints -- he's more upfront about his character's sexuality. 'We meet, and there are sparks,' says Alejandro. 'I didn't want people to second-guess that this could be a real relationship. Nelsan and I have incredible chemistry. Everything we do is very real.' This time around, Alejandro's character plays good -- at least at first. ''Jesus is a nice balance to Lafayette -- the yin thing,' he explains. 'They're opposites, but it works. They keep each other in check.'
Aside from the sparks between Jesus and Lafayette, season three promises to be True Blood's most homoerotic yet. Sam, for example, dreams recurrently of sweaty, shirtless encounters with Sookie's fanged beau, Bill (Stephen Moyer). It's uncertain if they're fantasies or premonitions, but Alejandro assures, 'It's a really, really fuckin' sexy season. I think it's going to open a lot of eyes.'
This isn't the first same-sex adventure for Alejandro, who played a bisexual hustler on the second season of HBO's Big Love. His character had a pivotal role in the coming out of the deeply closeted Mormon leader Alby, whom he picked up in a grocery store and followed to a hotel room. 'I went up to try to seduce him while he was making a sandwich,' recalls Alejandro. 'He's about to put the sandwich in his mouth, and I lean over, take a bite of it, and say, 'Dude, are we going to fuck or what?' Then he started banging his head on the wall and screaming. I got a lot of good feedback on that scene.'
That particular turn may have led to Alejandro's other day job, playing the steadfast cop and family man Nate Moretta on TNT's Southland, which was recently renewed for another season. (It's a persona closer to his own: Raised in Snyder, Texas, the small town that also produced actors Powers Boothe and Barry Tubb, Alejandro is married with a daughter.) The portrayal earned him a spot on EW.com's roundup of the sexiest crime fighters of 2009. 'It adds a little bit of pressure,' sighs Alejandro. 'Now I always have to work out, so I don't make the ugliest crime fighters list.' Appearing on a show as flesh-filled as True Blood has come with its own stressors. 'Ryan [Kwanten, infrequently clothed town himbo Jason Stackhouse] is built like the perfect dude,' says Alejandro. 'You get next to someone like that, and you think, Crap, I really have a lot of work to do. I'm like, 'Please, whatever you do, don't put me in a scene with my shirt off next to this dude.''
True Blood airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.