True Blood premiered on HBO 10 years ago, and to celebrate the milestone, the pilot episode screened at Vulture Festival over the weekend. Creator Alan Ball was in attendance, and he revealed that in another timeline, Anna Paquin got hitched to Benedict Cumberbatch. Well, maybe not, but Ball said that the Doctor Strange star “came and read for Bill,” the vampire played by Stephen Moyer (he and Paquin, who met while filming the series, later got married.)
Cumberbatch wasn’t the only big name to audition for the series.
Jessica Chastain read for the Sookie role, while her Dark Phoenix co-star Jennifer Lawrence was considered to play Crystal, the were-panther introduced in season three (she and Jason have a complicated, sexy relationship, although to be fair, everyone on True Blood has a complicated, sexy relationship), and “she was great,” Ball explained. “But all the women in the room, because she was going to be Jason’s girlfriend, and she was 17 at the time, were like, no, that’s gross.” The role ended up going to the age-appropriate Lindsay Pulsipher.
Ball also said that Rutina Wesley wasn’t the first choice to play Tara. “We had actually cast another actress,” he admitted. “And we shot the pilot with her in it. But HBO said, ‘We don’t really buy that girl,’ and we said, ‘Yeah we should have done it with Rutina Wesley.’ So we went back and re-shot those scenes.”
Meanwhile, Alexander Skarsgård was always going to play Eric, because Alexander Skarsgård is perfect.