Although I know all you True Blood fans are all still busy mourning Eric’s (apparent) demise, I suspect you’ll want to take a break from your weeping to read what showrunner Brian Buckner has to say about Alexander Skarsgard’s future involvement with HBO’s monster smash.
For that matter, you’ll probably also be keen to read in this exclusive Season 6 post-mortem/Season 7 preview how the boss explains the lack of Sookie-Alcide sex in the finale and how he plans to reset Bill now that he’s no longer the godly Billith.
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And yes, just for good measure, he’ll also reveal how much prodding it took to get Skarsgard to go full frontal for his “final” scene (hint: none at all!), and why Season 7 will not be taking a page from The Walking Dead.
TVLINE | The big question coming out of the finale, obviously…
Let me guess. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Alexander Skarsgard — will he be back for Season 7?
I can tell you that Alexander Skarsgard is going to be a part of the next season of True Blood. He will be a series regular.
TVLINE | That will be a huge relief to fans.
I am aware! I’m not going to take Alex Skarsgard out of people’s living rooms.
TVLINE | I’m guessing Eric won’t suddenly be alive and well in the Season 7 premiere.
No. That would be a cheat, wouldn’t it? That would be an incredible cheat. Pam has gone off in search of Eric, and maybe she’s going to be the one to find him, y’know?
TVLINE | Let’s talk about Alexander’s nude scene. Full-frontal nudity on a guy is not something you see often on television.
TVLINE | What kind of behind-the-scenes conversations took place prior to shooting?
Alex Skarsgard was the coolest camper in the world. There’s no conversation with him. He’s Swedish. They’re naked all the time. As a matter of fact, when I saw what we had on camera, I sent him an email that said, “We’re going to lock picture. Are you OK with this?” He said, “No problemo.” That was the conversation. It couldn’t have been easier.
TVLINE | Did the reaction surprise you — or him? Probably not.
I think sometimes we are impressed by how much people care. But I don’t think that people care was a surprise. He knew the gift he was giving everybody. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Moving on, talk to me about the decision to jump ahead six months.
Look, we’re going into a seventh season. I’m aware that people like the familiar, but we have to change. We have to be able to pivot. There were bits of story in there that I didn’t necessarily, nor did any of the other writers, want to show. The fallout from what Bill had done… Ours is a show that is so constrained by [our narrative structure]. We’re not 24, but we’re damn close – and sometimes it’s really refreshing to be able to shuffle the deck. For me, it’s fun. We will obviously pick up some of the pieces and explain how certain things happened. But what I think some people found jarring, to me was really refreshing. It was that: The world has changed, this virus has mutated, and this is the way the world is going to look now. Meanwhile, life beats on in this small town.
TVLINE | The show has flirted with a Sookie and Alcide romance for years. Why was now the right time to pull the trigger on that?
In a world where almost everybody is a creature of some kind, Alcide is the most human of all of our creatures. Now, that’s not to say that it was his most human season. We all felt the same thing that the audience was feeling, which was that Alcide needed to come back to center. So it was that as much as anything else. And it was also that Sookie’s going to put her money where her mouth is and say “no more vampires.” She got into it with Warlow without knowing he was a vampire, so she was trying. But this shows growth for Sookie. I mean, I suppose he’s a hunk, so at least she’s still getting her piece. [Laughs] He’s the most normal, most human, most down-to-earth of any of her suitors. To me, with Eric gone and off on his own story going forward, I think it’s a pretty obvious triangle we’re setting up between Bill and Sookie and Alcide.
TVLINE | The time jump deprived us of their courtship though.
Well, yeah. We skipped stuff, which is not to say that the audience is going to be deprived of love scenes [between them] going forward. But truthfully, the Jason/Violet love scene that the audience did get [in the finale] – or, just shy of love, I suppose – if I had those scenes back-to-back, it would’ve been really pandering. The Jason/Violet [sex scene] was more on story, because that was set up between them. She promised that she was going to make him work for it, and that was the payoff.
TVLINE | Are you looking at Season 7 as a reset of sorts for Bill?
Absolutely. We don’t want Bill to be an a—hole. Whereas the show that I love watching most right now, Breaking Bad, Walter White is on a downward trajectory with the consequences of his actions. The question we’re going to be asking this coming season is: Can Bill be forgiven? Because he made his intentions clear. One thing that I noticed – and I probably shouldn’t read as much as I’ve been reading, but I have been, in terms of audience reaction – is the idea that characters can’t change. I will put to bed one thing for you: this idea that Lettie Mae is trying to poison Tara? It’s absurd. That is genuine. And I realize that on our show, because it’s been so incredibly plot-driven for the past several years, you insert a Big Bad and then have the characters react in the way we expect them to react. That’s sort of what’s been going on. When we let characters change, when we let the show be character-driven, I think people don’t know what to do with that. So with Lettie Mae and Tara, not to say that everything is going to go great, but the conflict is not going to be she’s poisoning Tara. By the same token, I think Bill doesn’t have a trick up his sleeve this time. I think he’s genuine. The real question is about forgiveness.
TVLINE | What do you see as the theme of Season 7?
The show started out as, “Let’s see if vampires and humans can get along.” We’re returning to that original promise of the show. And because humans and vampires are being forced together, we’re going to be examining that with all of our characters. Everyone’s going to come under the umbrella of that main story. These are complicated relationships now because they’re feeding – it’s not necessarily sex, but things get confused sometimes, especially in vampires’ minds – so you’re going to be looking at a number of complicated three-way, four-way relationships.
TVLINE | All the humans will be paired with a vampire, essentially?
For every human a vampire; for every vampire a human.
TVLINE | The gang that appeared in the finale, they were all infected with Hep V?
TVLINE | How do you explain the fact that some of those infected — Nora, for example — died quickly, yet others are wandering around.
We did say that the virus had mutated, and we get to decide what those mutations are. Perhaps the demand for human blood goes up and that’s the only thing that keeps vampires with Hep V alive. In seasons past – I’m not going to point to any one of them – we took some massive swings, not knowing where we were going. That’s the nature of what we do. In this case, I don’t believe we bit off more than we can chew. I’m not going to give answers to all these things, but the virus has mutated. That’s another reason for the time passage. Just like bacteria mutates and that’s why there are antibiotic-resistant strains. So what applied to Nora doesn’t necessarily apply to this gang. And they’re not zombies.
TVLINE | What are they? Is there a name for them?
In my somewhat limited zombie-genre experience, zombies are not organized. They’re just hunting-killing machines. So what was meant to come across there was that they’re organized, they’re in a formation, they’re hunting, they’re sentient, they can talk. They still have intellect.
TVLINE | There was definitely a Walking Dead vibe in that last scene. Was there any concern that people were going to look at that and go, “Ah, they’re jumping on the zombie bandwagon?”
Sure. Of course, it was a debate in the writers’ room. The logical conclusion to a season about Hep V getting out there in the world has to be [that] there’s Hep V-infected vampires… but we’re not going to do The Walking Dead season of True Blood. Truthfully, all of this is about forcing humans and vampires into relationships. It’s not going to be a plot device the way people are familiar with us introducing a Big Bad at the end of a season.