Alan Ball began the True Blood panel Saturday afternoon at Comic-Con by holding up a very familiar-looking bottle and announcing that "True Blood, the drink, is a reality now." In lieu of actual synthetic blood, it's a blood-orange soda, "an exact replica of the props we use on the show," and it'll be available September 10th, "just in time for your viewing party for the final episode of Season Two."
Following a montage of previously unseen snippets from forthcoming episodes of the hot HBO vampire series, the panel got under way, with producer Ball joined by actors Anna Paquin (who was celebrating her birthday), Michelle Forbes, Nelsan Ellis, Stephen Moyer, Rutina Wesley, Sam Trammell, Deborah Ann Woll, and Alexander Skarsgård — who got particularly loud cheers — and Charlaine Harris, author of the novels on which True Blood is based. (The panel's other big announcement was that Harris has just signed a contract to write three more Sookie Stackhouse books.)
The capacity crowd in the San Diego Convention Center's ballroom had lined up seemingly halfway to Tijuana to get in, so most of the panel was devoted to Ball, Harris and the cast answering their questions. A few highlights:
• Harris, on the initial experience of seeing her books come to life: "I watched it, and in some of the scenes I went OH!" [She covered her eyes.] "And then I called my husband, and I said, honey, we're gonna have to move..."
• Skarsgård, on why his character Eric is smitten with Sookie: "Well, just look at her! ... Eric's been around for a very long time, he's kind of over humanity — he's seen it all — and then she comes along, and there's something different about her. The fact that he can't really put that finger on what it is excites him."
• Ball, on what he's excited about for Season Three: "I'm just excited that there is a Season Three, even though I don't think that's been officially announced. I'm looking forward to seeing werewolves for the first time, I'm definitely interested in getting into the world of Russell Edginton and the Mississippi vampires, and I'm really excited about the character of Debbie Pelt."
• Forbes, on what attracted her to the role of Maryann Forrester: "When someone offers you an entrance where you're standing in the middle of the road naked with a pig, you don't say no."
• Ball, on whether there's going to be a half-vampire baby in True Blood a Twilight-inspired question met with loud booing: "What? Oh. No. No. In our show, vampires are either full-on vampires, or they're not vampires." (That answer got cheers. There seems to have been a bit of Twilight vs. True Blood rivalry going on at Comic-Con.)
• Harris, on where the inspiration for her work comes from: "Inspiration is a word I really don't trust. Writing is work, and what I do is work. Some days I actually pull my own hair when I'm trying to make ideas come. But I have a contract, and my contract has a deadline. So I sit there, and I flex my fingers and say 'Who's coming to Sookie's house today?'"
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