The hit HBO series True Blood is back for its seventh and final season, with major deaths, new hook-ups, plenty of naked bodies, life-threatening dilemmas, and all of the characters you’ve grown to love. To celebrate the show’s return, the cast and creative team turned out for the bit Hollywood premiere, and Collider was invited to chat with some of the cast and see how they’re all feeling about saying goodbye to their much-loved characters.
During the interviews, Anna Paquin (“Sookie Stackhouse”), Stephen Moyer (“Bill Compton”), Joe Manganiello (“Alcide Herveaux”), Deborah Ann Woll (“Jessica Hamby”) and Carrie Preston (“Arlene Fowler”) talked about what it was like to shoot Season 7, knowing that it was their last, gaining perspective on what it’s like to have been a part of this show, when they knew the show was really special, where their characters are headed this season, their most fun storyline, the emotional final table read, and how they feel about where it will all end up. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
DEBORAH ANN WOLL: Yeah, definitely. And it gives me a sense of comfort to know that we can really sculpt it the way the writers want. It’s not a mid-season cancel, where you’re suddenly throwing things together to try to make it work. They really had time to think about it.
CARRIE PRESTON: In a way, it’s good because then you know that your writers are going to take you to the end with every moment thought out, instead of having, not to pun, but vamp. A lot of shows don’t really know when they’re gonna be done, so they do have to flail around a little bit and look for storylines. But, we don’t have to do that.
JOE MANGANIELLO: You start gaining perspective and you start looking back. I started looking back at the five years as a whole, where I was at the beginning and where I am now, and at the way that my life had changed.
Joe, when you think back about that five years, as a whole, what stands out the most for you?
MANGANIELLO: Getting to hang out with my wolf. I loved all of my castmates and the friendships that I made. Being a kid who grew up loving Halloween, getting to play a werewolf was so much fun. And I’ve loved getting to interact with the fans. Every time there was a full moon, I would get all of this mail and these online blasts. It’s just really fun to be a part of something like that.
Anna, this show has given you and Stephen Moyer so much, and you’ve even gotten a family out of it. Now that you’ve had some time to be reflective and sentimental, what does it all mean to you?
Do you guys recall that moment when you knew the show was really special?
STEPHEN MOYER: I remember reading the pilot and going, “Oh, my god, this is it!”
PAQUIN: “This is completely inane!,” or “This is it!,” or both.
MOYER: I thought, “If we can make this in a way that people don’t laugh at, this might be it.”
Before the season started, were you able to sit with the writers, at all, and find out anything about what Jessica’s journey would be, for this final season?
WOLL: A little bit. I did have dinner with our showrunner, Brian Buckner, and he mentioned what his ideas and thoughts were. So, I had a little bit of an idea, going in, but you never really know how it’s gonna happen.
PRESTON: Bucky is pretty transparent. If you had a question, he’d pretty much answer it, if he knew it. He wasn’t trying to keep any secrets from us. We only just got the final scrip ta couple of weeks ago. They were still breaking story and writing, all the way up to when we started shooting.
Where is your character at, this season?
PRESTON: Everybody is at odds with what’s going on. Everything is turned upside down because of these Hep-V vampires. There’s that to contend with, but there’s some good stuff that happens, too, in this season. It’s not all high-stakes, no pun intended again. There’s some lighter stuff, too.
Deborah, Jessica has had some very dark moments. Is it nice to have her seeking a bit of redemption now, instead of continuing further down a dark path?
WOLL: Well, that wouldn’t be much of a story. You want to see the person suffer, and then you want to see them persevere. I do think it’s important that she change and that she become a self-confident woman out of the experience. There are a lot of lessons that Jessica learns, this season.
Carrie, what will you miss most about playing Arlene?
PRESTON: I’m gonna miss her spirit. She has a very strong spirit. And I like how the writers give me humor and drama to play. You don’t often get that balance. A lot of times, it’s one or the other. So, I’m gonna miss that, too.
Joe, how was it to more deeply explore the relationship between Alcide and Sookie, this season?
MANGANIELLO: I think it was a long time coming. I was glad to see it happen. He was the one who never had ulterior motives with her. He never wanted to do anything but love her and take care of her, where the vampires obviously did not. I think it was nice to get them together because he was the one character who deserved her.
Is it challenging for him to have a relationship with someone who knows everything he’s thinking?
MANGANIELLO: No. That’s what happens in relationships. Sometimes people say things they don’t mean, and you just have to let it go. That’s just how it is. But, what is he thinking that’s that bad, really? But, I’m definitely glad that I’m not in a relationship with a telepath. That would be very difficult.
With everything that your character went through on this show, was there a storyline that was most fun for you?
WOLL: Jessica and Jason will always be my favorite relationship on the series, in part because I have so much respect and love for Ryan Kwanten, but I also think their characters are so interesting together. I will miss that dynamic, enormously.
PRESTON: There’s always something fun to do with Arlene, but I felt like last season was a real gift, as an actor. Although it was at the expense of Todd Lowe, who played Terry, the loss of that character did give my character some really great things to play. It was a really great time for me to be able to sharpen my chops.
MANGANIELLO: Anytime the live wolves came out, I got really excited. I got along with them really well and it was really fun to go play with them, between takes. I would go visit them on their ranch. That was something, for me, that was a real blast.
Stephen, this show is so full of crazy stuff. What’s the craziest thing you’ve had to shoot?
MOYER: When I was dipped down in a pile of blood, and then brought back out again. I come out of the ground, and I’m completely naked. That was weird, until the following year when I had to do exactly the same thing, directing my wife (Anna Paquin) and [Alexander] Skarsgard, completely naked, and trying to be taken seriously.
So, the table read for the final episode got a little emotional, didn’t it?
PAQUIN: It did!
MOYER: It did, but it was really beautiful
PAQUIN: It snuck up on me.
MOYER: We were all expecting certain things out of it. People turned up who we hadn’t seen for ages. Alan [Ball] was there. That stuff is really deep. We were sitting in the same room that we’ve been reading in for seven years. It was really great.
What was it like to read the last script and find out where all of the characters end up?
WOLL: It was definitely anticipated. We were all just waiting to get our fingers on it. It was bittersweet. People have asked a lot if we’re satisfied, and it’s hard to answer that question because, if we were all going to be satisfied, there would be an hour-long show about every single character. So, I’m thrilled to be a part of it, but Jessica is like me, too.
PRESTON: We had heard some of the plot points, so it was just a matter of seeing how those plot points were being fleshed out. So, it was moving, but at the same time, it felt like it was time for it to wrap up.
MANGANIELLO: I was sad to know that it was going to be over. I was sad to think that I was going to have to say goodbye to the character. That was the saddest thing to me.
True Blood airs on Sunday nights on HBO.