True Blood's Stephen Moyer Defends Evil Bill, Recalls Turmoil of Slapping Deborah Ann Woll
While you’re looking forward to the fifth season finale of HBO’s True Blood (Sunday, 9/8c), Stephen Moyer is already looking back. And who can blame him? This summer has been especially eventful for his toothsome alter ego, Bill Compton. In the span of just a few short weeks, he was transformed from a chivalrous romantic who’d die the true death for lost love Sookie (Moyer’s real-life wife, Anna Paquin) into a religious fanatic who’s not above slugging his own progeny, Jessica. No wonder when the actor thinks about it all, he (mostly) smiles: The ride has been just the way he likes it — bumpy and exciting!
TVLINE | Are you having as much fun playing Evil Bill as it seems?
You’re saying he’s evil and I’d say he thinks he’s doing the right thing. But I suppose dictators always think they’re doing the right thing. [Laughs] He’s been lost and he’s found something to grab hold of that he thinks is the right way forward… When you play a character you have to ask yourself, “Can I make sense of what’s happening here? Is this authentic?” And if you can sort of find a through line of authenticity, then you can play that beat — which might come across to somebody else as evil. [But] there were a couple of things that were tough to play, and one of those was with Deborah Ann [Woll].
TVLINE | I was going to ask you what it was like slapping her across the room in last week’s episode.
I love the Bill and Jessica relationship. There’s genuine love there. When Sookie turned her back on Bill in Seasons 3 and 4, that was the one affectionate relationship he had left. And so that was a really tough scene to play. But she went against what Bill asked her to do. So, again, that was an authentic reaction.
TVLINE | When you read that in the script, did you have a moment where you were like, “Um, I have to do what?”
Yeah, we all have those moments. There have been moments that Alex [Skarsgard] and a couple of the other people have questioned this year just to make sure that the reason it happened in the writers room works in our heads. You just have to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Of course I questioned it. Deborah and I adore working together and I wanted to make sure that this was the correct route. The scene in Episode 10 where Bill tries to explain to her that he’s read this book and it’s made a real difference – that was tough as well. That was a really difficult scene because we’re seeing Bill truly believe, and I remember I had a conversation with Alex about it. And he was saying, “What do you think? Are you okay with that?” And I said, “I think I am.” Bill has this belief that what he is doing is right. Whether it is right or not we won’t know until the end. But he is like anybody who goes into a cult. He’s a victim. He’s brainwashed. But to get back to your first question, is it fun to play? Hell yeah.
TVLINE | It seems like it.
There’s been some really enjoyable stuff. Once you commit to it, it’s like, “Okay, Deborah Ann goes flying across the room!” [Laughs] It’s like, “Can we wrap our heads around this? Yes! Okay, then let’s f—ing do it!” And then at that point it’s, “Which hand shall I slap you with, Deb? Do you want to fly over your right shoulder? Do you want to fly over your left shoulder? Do you want to slide on the floor? Do you want to fly through the air?” [Laughs] Once you’ve [committed] to it, it’s just as much fun as every other part of the show.
TVLINE | Bill and Sookie have had virtually no contact this season. What has that been like?
When I’m at work, [Anna]‘s at home. And when I’m at home, she’s at work. And it’s been like that for a couple of years now. Truthfully, we don’t really talk about it. As long as we’re still loving what we do it doesn’t really come up as a topic.
TVLINE | On the flipside, Bill and Eric have spent a lot of time together.
The whole ‘Bill and Eric on the Run’ thing was really, really fun thing to play. Me and Alex are close so it was great to actually not have to snarl at each other anymore and actually be able to laugh.
TVLINE | Do you recall ever being holed up on one set as much as you have Authority headquarters this season?
It’s interesting that you should say that. We have a great exterior for the Authority headquarters, which is this massive electrical complex outside of Los Angeles. But we’re rarely there. The [interior] of the headquarters is at the lot where we shoot. Consequently, [nearly all of the main] vampires this season are shooting during the day; we had no night shoots. [Laughs] We’re going home at 7 or 8 o’clock at night, which is not the norm. And all the other characters are running around in the dark. If you can think of a time that you saw me and Alex in the dark this season — outside — then it’s probably around Episode 2 or 3. And Episode 5 when we go to the Scooby-Doo haunted mansion. Thankfully, [the Authority set] is so f—ing big.
True Blood‘s fifth season finale airs Sunday at 9/8c on HBO.Follow @MichaelAusiello