As vampire king Bill Compton on HBO’s True Blood, which is currently in its fifth season, Stephen Moyer still has boys begging to be bitten. Married to bisexual costar Anna Paquin, the 42-year-old Brit just wishes he had a bigger gay following than some of his costars.
By Brandon Voss
The Advocate: The LGBT community has embraced True Blood from the start. Are you conscious of your own gay fans?
Stephen Moyer: I feel very at home in that world, so I’m very pleased about it, but I may come in fourth behind Joe Manganiello, Alex Skarsgård, and Ryan Kwanten, if I’m really honest. I’m a little upset. Once upon a time I was doing very well in that area, but after Alex and Joe joined the show, I naturally went down in the pecking order.
Were you aware of that audience prior to True Blood?
I got quite a good response when I did the miniseries The Starter Wife and played a big bum with his top off most of the time. I worked hard to please everybody on that one.
You’ve said that women occasionally ask you to bite them. Do men ever ask for a bite?
I’ve been asked to bite in West Hollywood. If the person looks clean and wholesome, I might oblige.
There has been criticism that True Blood has alienated some viewers because it’s become “too gay.” What’s your response?
Is there such a thing as too gay? We live in a very different world than we grew up in, so if people can’t embrace that aspect of our show, then that’s a shame. I certainly don’t think it’s specifically gay, but our show ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of people. We have an incredibly broad audience, one of the widest demographics in terms of sexuality and age groups, so obviously we’re doing something right.
You’ve gotten in on the action with a fantasy sequence involving you and Sam Trammell. Was that a challenging scene?
Not at all. We had an awful lot of fun that day, and I happen to think Sam’s a very good-looking man. We also had a lot of fun lighting the scene with our shirtless stand-ins, Nate and Lenny. [Laughs] Not that that particular scene was a challenge, but anything that seems like it could be a challenge in the script is just meat for an actor. So I looked at that scene like, Oh, my God, that’s fantastic. I can’t wait to do that!
Sam’s sex dream and your imminent kiss were cut short by Sam’s phone ringing. Like many home viewers, do you secretly wish it had gone off just a little later than it did?
[Laughs] I think we’ve all had times where the alarm’s gone off or the phone’s rung earlier than you wanted it to.
Speaking of sexual tension, when will Bill and his adversary Eric just get it over with already and have angry vampire sex?
I’ve been asking myself that question for a long time. Alex and I would absolutely embrace that. Last year, when Sookie had her fantasy about the two of them with her, we even suggested it. Of course, Bill and Eric together isn’t necessarily Sookie’s fantasy.
If you’ve read any True Blood slash fiction, you know it’s a common fantasy among fans.
I have not read any of it, but apparently some of it is incredibly good. I know it exists and that it can get very graphic.
Surely you’ve seen the viral Photoshopped version of your nude 2010 Rolling Stone cover that removed Anna altogether and pushed you and Alex together.
That happened very quickly, didn’t it? Alex and I were both made aware of it right away. I thought it was hilarious. When the photographer suggested the idea for the original shot, we had already shot what we thought would be the cover. Alex and I were actually sitting there eating, and the last thing we wanted to do was take our tops off. Literally 10 minutes later, we had dropped trou and were in position being sprayed with blood. It was only until an hour later, when Anna and I were driving home and stopped at a traffic light, that we looked at each other and said, “What in God’s name did we just agree to?” Then Alex pulled up to the side of us, we rolled down our window, and he said, “What did we just do?”
Do you see the bromance building between Bill and Eric as they’re forced to become greater allies this season?
Yeah, it’s a situation where the two of them realize that it’s pointless to be against each other. They’ve both been rejected by Sookie, and they’re both in deep water because of what they’ve done, so they both know that the best thing to do is to join forces. I like to think that somewhere in their past, maybe the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, or earlier on, Bill and Eric were actually friends and partners in crime. I think they had a messy breakup, which is why there’s an animosity between them when we first see them in season 1. Hopefully we’ll get to see what really went on between them in a future season.
How do you feel about the fact that Alexander Skarsgård declines to wear a modesty sock on set?
We all know each other really well, and it’s not that I care about what the actors think, but I don’t think the crew necessarily needs to see my bits. As for Alex, hey, whatever floats your boat, man.
You famously auctioned off your modesty sock for charity. Was the winner a wealthy gay man?
I received it back so that I could autograph it to the person, and I believe it was a lady. Sorry.
That auction benefited Gulf Aid, and you’ve attended the White House Correspondents’ dinner and the Point Foundation Honors with your wife, who’s a longtime supporter of many causes like the Give a Damn campaign. Has Anna inspired you to get more involved in politics and philanthropy?
I’ve always been a flag-waving, bleeding-heart liberal. Anna and I have very similar feelings about a lot of that stuff, including LGBT causes, so we support each other in it. Being in the public eye has its benefits when you can be the face of something important and raise money for a charity that wouldn’t otherwise have had that profile.
As a married man from the U.K., what’s your take on the marriage equality debate in America?
I can’t even believe that in 2012 it’s something that you and I have to discuss.
Tell me about your earliest exposure to the LGBT community. As a choirboy in your local church, did you grow up shielded from gay people?
You don’t necessarily get shielded from that when you’re a choirboy. Perhaps that’s enough said.
Are you making a joke or was your first interaction really in the church?
Yeah, it really was in the church, but it wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience, and it probably wouldn’t cast him in the best light, so it’s not necessarily something I’d like to talk about. But I also grew up in amateur dramatics. I was a normal kid at a normal school, but I loved doing drama, so I joined a young persons’ theater group. There were all sorts of gay incidences within that structure, from the director to friends of mine in the shows. I suppose I didn’t really understand it at the time, when I was 11 or 12, but I was friends with gay guys from a very early age. It wasn’t as public as it is now, but it didn’t ever occur to me as anything other than completely normal.
You later established a theatre company called The Reject Society. Did that name stem from your feeling like a reject or outcast?
There was an element of what you’re suggesting, sure, but it wasn’t quite that blatant. We just liked the name. [Laughs] Everybody was doing musical theater where we were, and I’d been doing musical theater from the age of 10, but we wanted to do ordinary straight plays — and by that, of course, I don’t mean not gay. We thought The Reject Society was a fun name to sort of lampoon that we were trying to do something different.
Are you excited to see your costar Joe Manganiello in Magic Mike?
We’ve been privy to most of Joe’s performance in Magic Mike just from being on set with him. Joe is not somebody who’s afraid to take his top off or hump desks. If you went up to Joe and said, “I hear you’re playing a stripper,” he would do the dance for you then and there. He would probably do it for my dog Banjo. He has no shame.
Would you ever play a stripper?
I’m open to all offers.
Do you have a celebrity man-crush?
Yeah, but mine is totally talent-based: Philip Seymour Hoffman. With any kind of attraction for me, it ultimately comes down to what’s underneath the surface.
In the upcoming movie The Barrens, you play a man terrorized by a legendary monster called the Jersey Devil. Are you trading Sookie for Snooki?
It does sound like it could be. No, I’d be truly horrified if that came towards me.
The Advocate, August 2012 issue; extended online version.