On the Set: True Blood Raises the Stakes For Its Most Intense Season Yet
True Blood | Photo Credits: Sheryl Nields
"When that blood hit me in the face, I went, 'This looks awesome!'" Meloni says gleefully. It's nearly 11pm and it took two hours to set up the shot — called a "goo drop." A bucket of stage blood (with some latex blobs mixed in for guts) is suspended from a scaffold. Just below it hangs an empty suit of clothes matching what the actor playing the doomed vamp is wearing. As the stake goes in, the bucket empties through the garments, and the bloodsucker is no more. There's only one chance to get it right. And Meloni nailed it.
The actor's excitement is matched only by the seriousness of the character he plays: Roman, the 500-year-old head of the Vampire Authority with the weight of the world on his pinstripe-suited shoulders. He's chief executive not only of the vampire government but of their religion, too. "My first day on set, I recited a prayer in Aramaic," says Meloni. No separation of church and state here.
"Roman is a politician who has a dream," explains executive producer Alan Ball. "He was behind the coming-out-of-the-coffin [movement], something that's been in the works for at least a hundred years. But there are factions in the vampire community who want to go back to the Dark Ages and feed on humans. The biggest arc in Season 5 is the future of peaceful coexistence." Adds Meloni, "Roman's determined. He wants peace, but others have been trying to stomp out his path. Think Obama with very long incisors."
Tonight's stakee is one of these fundamentalists, a traitor to the Authority who meets the "true death" in the sleekly furnished conference room of an underground New Orleans compound Ball has nicknamed "the Vampire White House," where Roman and six chancellors govern the fractious vampire community.
Roman's pursuit of the conspirators will be a treat for Meloni fans who loved watching him solve crimes in his 12-season run as Det. Elliot Stabler on Law & Order: SVU. Says Meloni, "Elliot was free-form. Roman's more thoughtful — yet unafraid to pull the trigger. He's a man of action. Get the facts; get it done. But they both have a certainty of their view. They both think they're right."