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Interview with Bill Compton of ‘True Blood’

Viewers have been thirsty for the second season of HBO's "True Blood": The premiere attracted 3.7 million viewers, making it the cable channel's most-watched program since The Sopranos' series finale. Stephen Moyer, the British actor who plays handsome vamp Bill Compton, chatted with USA TODAY Pop Candy blogger Whitney Matheson.

Question: Now that "True Blood" has returned, what sort of reactions have you been hearing?

Answer: People seem genuinely excited by it. I think that our first two episodes are very much about setting up new ideas for the season, and Episode 3 is when it really starts to show something completely new. I've only seen up until Episode 3, but I was blown away by it. I think it's really interesting television, and it breaks new ground.

Q: One thing we're seeing is that Eric has a larger presence this season. What is that relationship between Bill and Eric going to be like?

A: Well, it starts off as one that is respectful, because he is Bill's elder and because he's a sheriff. Bill has to kowtow to him in many ways, which he doesn't like. What'sreally interesting, I think, is that Alan (Ball, the executive producer) and the writers have set up a modern-day feudal system, like a hierarchical kind of system where you're not allowed to speak down to your elders or the person above you. It's very old-fashioned, and I really like that. So even when Bill is incredibly (ticked) off with Eric's behavior, he has to be very careful with how he voices that.

Q: Several readers sent questions for you. Annie M. asks: "I was wondering if Stephen's life has gotten any crazier since becoming a vampire, like how Robert Pattinson's life has gotten insane."

A: It's changed an awful lot. I don't think it's quite up to Pattinsonian standards, but it is lovely. (Laughs.) One thing about living in L.A. whilst I film this is that I think Los Angelenos have a very comfortable way, because they're so used to being around people from the business. They're very comfortable just coming up and saying, "Hey, man. I love your work." And then they leave you alone. It's really quite refreshing. You get the odd one who comes up and says "Bite me!" and I've literally met three people who've named their dog Sookie, and they'd like me to call after Sookie as Bill. But on the whole, it's pretty much the same.

Q: Ksulycos asks, "What is really in the Tru Blood bottles?"

A: Last season, our set dresser and prop maker came up with a really fantastic blend. It took a while to get there, because obviously it had to be the deepest red. But what it ended up being is kind of like a raspberry puree. It's like V8, but they put like 1,000 raspberries in a sieve, and they crush them and blend them. So it tastes pretty darn good, and it leaves a really great stain on your lips.

Q: Have you read the books, and, if so, how do you feel about the way the show is vastly different from the books? — Ashleigh P.

A: I have read the books, and I think Charlaine (Harris, the author) has done an amazing job of creating this world. Obviously, the books are told very much from Sookie's point of view, but I think Alan has made a brilliant choice to extend Jason's character, and to create the Tara character. Also, I think the relationship between Bill and Sookie is more loving than it is in the books, which I think is going to make it much more interesting when events occur that change that.

Q: Celia P. asks, "Do you feel your real-life relationship with Anna (Paquin) helps or hinders your performance on the set?"

A: We have now been together for nearly two years. Our relationship has grown with everybody watching us and knowing us, so we're incredibly comfortable in front of (the crew). I actually think that it helps, because we are able to try things in the sex scenes — I think we're able to do things that perhaps a couple that weren't together would never dare try. It certainly makes those moments much easier on the crew knowing that we feel comfortable. I'm so used to having them on set when Anna and I are having a love scene that when we get home and we're in bed by ourselves, I kind of miss them.

Q: Bill B. asks, "I've read a lot of criticism of how Southern culture and people are portrayed on the show. How did you prepare to portray a Southern character? What, if any, is your response to such criticism?"

A: I haven't had any criticism at all of my stuff — I've been very lucky, I think. I love the South, I love Bill. I love the way he sounds, I love doing the accent. I prepared for it quite meticulously, and I work hard on making it correct, and we did try to make him very different-sounding from all the other characters, in that he's 173 years old.

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