Bad Moon Rising? No Mr Nice Guy? SAM TRAMMELL (Sam Merlotte) – TRUE BLOOD, SEASON 4: HBO {Mild Spoilers}

(CLICK FOR BIGGER) Sam Trammell plays Sam Merlotte; the hapless shape-shifting bartender in HBO’s sex and fangs ‘dramedy’ True Blood. Born in New Orleans, the 41 year old has a rich CV taking in theatre and both big & small screen roles. Sam started True Blood as a nice guy doormat – we asked, is that changing this season?

Sam Trammell:He was a little weak, for lack of a better word. The first season was a lot of pining over Sookie and warning her not to do things. Sam’s a nice guy and a lot of people took advantage of him. They wouldn’t show up for work, especially his brother, and really pushed his buttons until Sam finally had this outburst in season three where he almost killed a guy. Now that side of him, the not Mr Nice Guy, is out, and Sam is playing catch-up to try to reign that back in. It really relates to the theme of the series. It’s Sam’s true self that he’s being trying to hide in Bon Temps, and the show is about people hiding who they really are and then it coming out, and they try to assimilate with society.

  • Q: So you’ve got some strong storylines?

ST: This is a great season for Sam. A year has passed and Tommy is still around, but there are going to be repercussions for me having shot him. I tried to close the chapter on my family last year, but that didn’t really work. Also, there’s this shape-shifter community that I’ve become involved with, and I’ve become attracted to Luna. As I’ve given up my biological family I’ve brought on this other family – Luna and her daughter, who’s half shape-shifter, half werewolf. We’re gonna explore that whole shape-shifter mythology and go to the extreme limits of it.

  • Q: Alan Ball says you could see vampires as kind of sexuality; you can see werewolves as a kind of a beast within – can you say that about shape-shifters?

ST: Yeah, shape-shifters are a metaphor for defining your identity in different ways, in different circumstances and in different environments. I responded to Sam because I grew up moving around a lot and I had to establish my identity in different cities when I was a kid. Every year I was in a different town, a different school every year, and it was a constant process of redefining who I was. Sam has done that a lot, as well. He was kicked out of his house at 15, and he had all these different lives. He moved to re-establish himself and he has kept his past a secret. But you learn he was a burglar at one point, and we’ll probably discover some other things that he did. But in the same way, I think people do that every day. You have different identities that you show to different people, and there’s the core of your spirit that’s the same.

  • Q: How easy is it to play the fantasy elements – like, falling in love with a shapeshifter?

ST: It means stakes are higher. When I was dealing in season two with Mary Anne, and Daphne essentially tells me that she’s the devil… So you have to really believe somehow that you’re dealing with the devil and what would that be like. I tried to keep it as real as possible, because I think that’s what people want. But I get the best of both worlds because I get to be a supernatural being but I’m also just a guy.

  • Q: He’s notoriously unlucky in love. Will Luna give him some kind of happiness?

ST: Yeah absolutely. He’s completely unlucky; the first season he had unrequited love with Sookie, the second season Daphne almost led him to his death, Tara has not been great either. So a healthy relationship is gonna be a totally new thing for Sam. I think Luna’s gonna be good for him, but she comes with her own dangers – like, her ex-husband is a werewolf. There’s gonna be some conflict there [laughs].

  • Q: You’ve got a gang of pretty alpha males acting on the show – do you all prowl around each other like the characters do?

ST: It’s true, it’s true – it’s show of about 10 leading men. But we’re not all on the same set all the time. There’s plenty of room for the steam to blow.

  • Q: And if there’s an award ceremony and the show’s up for something, it looks from the TV that the whole cast heads down to party together…

ST: Well it’s because we don’t get to see each other that much. First of all, in the show our storylines are so separated that we don’t get to see each other that often except at the table-reads. When the season’s over, everybody lives all over the world so people go back to their countries. So when there’s an even that brings us all together, we’re all so excited about it and we have a really good time.

  • Q: Did you expect the show to take off in the way it has?

ST: No. It’s so unbelievable. Season one, we did four episodes, then we had the writers’ strike. We were just hoping to finish the season. Then we first came out some people liked it, some people didn’t. We had an okay audience, but every single episode got bigger, bigger, bigger. Season two, the same thing happened. I knew when we started that Alan Ball and HBO was a good combo, and I thought it could do well, but I don’t think anybody, even the people who had high hopes for it, imagined that it would be this kind of phenomenon. You talk to somebody from Bulgaria, somebody from the Philippines and somebody from Chile, all fans. It’s nuts!

  • Q: Do you get down to fan-fests like Comic-Con?

ST: This was the first year I didn’t go because we’re about to have a twin, so we’re on baby-alert. But I have been many times. The first year at Comic-Con, we were trying to sell the show, nobody had seen it, nobody knew about it. The second year was a little more, and each year it has gotten bigger and bigger until now there’s security around us because it’s so nuts. It’s fans who dress up like the characters and who know every nuance. They’re all very smart, and they ask good questions but it’s a situation where you’d literally have a bodyguard. Which is fun for a few days – but you wouldn’t want to live like that.

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