The cast of 'True Blood' made its final Comic-Con appearance on Saturday afternoon. Executive producer Brian Buckner was joined by Chris Bauer (Andy Bellefleur), Kristin Bauer van Straten (Pam Swynford de Beaufort), Anna Camp (Sarah Newlin), Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette Reynolds), Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton), Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse), Nathan Parsons (James), Carrie Preston (Arlene Bellefleur), Sam Trammell (Sam Merlotte), Rutina Wesley (Tara Thornton) and Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica Hamby). The panel was filled with fond memories of seasons gone by, and in the case of Kristin Bauer van Straten, some tears. Here's what we learned.
The pilot seems so long ago. Trammell laughingly remembered how shooting originally took place next door to the set of Disney Channel's 'The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.' "We had all these naked and bloody people walking around," he marveled. Wesley recalled that because the show was her first job out of acting school, she spent some time thinking, "Oh my god, please don't fire me." Meanwhile, Ellis recalled his prevailing thought at the time was: "Do my shirts have to be this tight?"
Season 1 remains Paquin's favorite, she said. "There's something exciting about the uncertainty," she explained. "And it was all 'firsts' and following in love together as a family."
You can learn a lot in a flashback. Showrunner Brian Buckner explained that since flashbacks had been used to such good effect to explain Bill Compton's human backstory, they continued using it this season to give context and so the audience could learn something else about the characters. Kristin Bauer said she loved the '80s flashback from this season. Besides enjoying Pam's big hair, she delighted in finding out that Eric's throne was just some chair Ginger found in an alley.
Everybody takes something home with them. Bauer van Straten, who started to tear up mid-story, said she took the three paintings from Fangtasia of producer Gregg Fienberg and Presidents Clinton and Bush as vampires. Most of the vampires took their fangs with them at series’ end. Buckner admitted to hanging on to Sookie’s porch swing, while Ellis confessed to having steadily taken little pieces of Lafayette home with him over the past seven years. Accidentally.
Chris Bauer thinks his job is pretty sweet. Bauer said it was gratifying “to see Andy develop into a character as lovable as I am in real life.” He noted that his job has been good to him over the years: “I’ve never had to lift anything heavy, and you throw in babies being born on a pool table...” Bauer also revealed he used Andy’s proposal to Holly for personal gain. Describing his own proposal 20 years ago as something that made “Woody Allen look like Sylvester Stallone,” Bauer recounted that he made up for up by asking his wife to watch the proposal scene and pretend that she was that person on TV. It worked.
Most of the panel knew who else they’d want to play. Only Bauer van Straten demurred and said she’s stick with Pam. Woll surprised everyone -- including Camp -- by picking Sarah Newlin. Preston thought she'd like to play Sam, but when she was reminded of the nudity required, changed her answer to Lafayette. (Some hair-flipping then ensued.) For her part, Paquin said she'd love to play Russell Edgington, and then upped the ante by saying she just wanted to be Denis O'Hare.
The cast will shame you if you're in the wrong. When an audience member’s cellphone started to ring during the panel, Paquin told the story of the set’s “toad of shame.” A flattened toad that a crew member found, it was subsequently laminated and turned into a necklace. It's awarded for lateness, cellphone rings interrupting scenes, and other crimes, and must be worn until someone else commits a foul. The guilty party is photographed for their Wall of Shame -- which topped off at 250 pictures. Woll said that because the other cast members hated penalizing her, she would have to remind them that she "wasn't made of glass," and to give her the "f*cking toad" when she deserved it.
Will Bill and Sookie make it? Buckner deflected by reminding everyone, “At the end of the day it’s a TV show.” Still he pointed out, Moyer and Paquin “got married for us.” Buckner did say that they had felt a need to “come back to Bill and Sookie… How we’re not telling you.”
As the new guy, Nathan Parsons didn’t have the same stockpile of memories, but said that the cast always made him feel “right at home.” Woll said she was happy when Parsons joined the cast since they “went to school together,” to which Ellis suggestively rejoined, “Nathan and I went to school together too.”