JOIN THE FANG CLUB; British Actor Stephen Moyer Tells How He Enjoyed Getting His Teeth into His New Role as a Member of the Undead Who Falls in Love with a Human
Byline: Brian McIver
BUFFY and Dracula look to be history, because there is a whole new breed of vampires about to arrive on television - and they're sexy, funny and very, very cool.
True Blood, the latest hit HBO series from America, arrives on British screens tonight, after dominating ratings in the US, where it has become the most popular show on the channel since The Sopranos.
The series is set in a world where vampires are real, and have gone public, co-existing with normal members of society.
Set in the deep south of America, near New Orleans, the main plot follows a psychic waitress, played by Oscar winning actress Anna Paquin (The Piano and X-Men), and her love affair with a 173-year-old vampire played by British actor Stephen Moyer.
The series made its debut in America on the HBO cable channel, where it's become the most watched programme since Sex and the City and The Sopranos, and has received rave reviews, with a second series starting in the States this autumn.
The programme features serious issues like discrimination, racism and addiction, as the vampires suffer ostracism from the rest of society as well as dependence on a synthetic blood substitute called Tru Blood (sic), which has allowed the underground creatures to come out of hiding because they no longer need to kill humans to eat.
But while the central themes of the hit programme are weighty, with lots of killings, its style is black comedy and very sexy, with lots of dark humour, sexual tension and graphic scenes of vampires and humans getting it on.
And a bit like a grown-up version of teen sensation Twilight, the focus is all on the romance between Paquin and Moyer, which has been replicated off screen, as the 26-year-old actress, who won an Oscar for The Piano aged 11, has been dating Moyer in real life.
The programme is based on a series of books by Charlaine Harris and written and directed by Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball, who also wrote American Beauty.
While the similarities with Twlight extend to the leading man, with Essexborn star Moyer following in the footsteps of fellow English hunk Robert Pattison, who played the lovelorn bloodsucker in Twilight.
Moyer is a drama teacher turned actor who appeared in British dramas such as Cadfael, A Touch of Frost, Casualty and Cold Feet.
He got his Hollywood break in the Al Pacino film 88 Minutes two years ago.
HE has become a pin-up since donning the prosthetic incisor teeth as the 173-year-old pacifist vampire Bill Compton.
Bill falls for Paquin's psychic waitress Sookie in the first episode, when she saves him from a beating by vamp-hating hillbillies.
Moyer, 39, said he is amazed at having landed in such a hit.
He said: "One minute I was sitting in London reading a fantastic script for True Blood and two days later I was in Los Angeles reading for the show's creator, Alan Ball, and being told I'd got the part. It was incredible. And it has changed my life completely.
"You have this outsider who comes into this small town and it's like it's own little world, a microcosm of society.
"It's a parallel world, like our world, but one where vampires exist. And you have to buy into that straight away and you have to believe that it's real. And when you have someone like Alan creating this world, you do."
Stephen said he was delighted to get the part after trying to break into the big time in Hollywood for several years, and feels he has won the lottery with the role of Bill.
He said: "Bill is a pariah because he's a vampire . He has this mask on, in a sense, so he's vilified. And everybody's resentment is poured on to that person and that's the metaphor for the piece. He represents addiction, sexuality, racism, whatever metaphor you want to bring to the table. …