True Blood fans rejoice. You may be getting a fix of the vampire fantasy story in musical form.
Speaking at a 10th anniversary screening of the pilot episode at Vulture Festival in Los Angeles on Sunday, creator Alan Ball gave details of the rumored musical version coming from composer Nathan Barr, which Ball says he’s heard is “pretty good”.
“It tells the story of vampires coming out of the closet,” Ball said. “Ultimately it really departs from the book, because people aren’t ready, and they’re too bigoted and they end up going back in to the closet.” He said the project, which Barr first announced in 2014, is currently being workshopped, but didn’t reveal whether he will have any sort of involvement.
Ball also dropped another surprise when he talked about the original show. It turns out Benedict Cumberbatch, Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence were almost cast.
“Benedict Cumberbatch came and read for Bill,” he said of the role that eventually went to Stephen Moyer. And that’s not all. Jessica Chastain read for what would be Anna Paquin’s role of Sookie Stackhouse. But perhaps most juicy was the news that Jennifer Lawrence was almost a were-panther in Season 3.
“She was great,” Ball said of Lawrence, “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.’”
Ball also talked about the casting of Rutina Wesley as Tara Thornton. “We had actually cast another actress,” he said, “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.”
Ball said that people often characterized Tara as an “angry black woman”, which clearly bothered him. “Whenever people say, ‘Why are black women angry?’ I say, ‘Well because they’re women, and their black, and this is a totally misogynist and racist country, and why wouldn’t you be angry?’”
Of course it was only fitting that Ball paid tribute to Nelsan Ellis, who tragically passed away last year. When Ellis came on screen for the first time in the episode, Ball sighed and said, “That breaks my heart. He was so amazingly talented.” Ball recalled that Ellis mostly ad-libbed his first scene. Although that wasn’t standard practice on the show, Ball was so impressed, he stood back and let him do it, he said.
One enlightening gem Ball mentioned as he narrated anecdotes over the pilot screening, was the origin of the wig Carrie Preston wore in her role of Arlene Fowler Bellefleur. “I believe that wig she’s wearing is some famous wig,” he said, struggling to recall the exact details of its history. “It was Gwyneth Paltrow’s wig in the first Iron Man or something like that,” he said.
While another fun fan fact was that the pilot was actually shot in Los Angeles, rather than Louisiana. “We just hung a lot of Spanish moss,” Ball said, to plenty of laughs from the festival audience.