No, the cast of True Blood wasn’t always a bunch of sexy Southern vamps (and non-vamps). Back before they arrived in Bon Temps, most of the actors were still looking for a hit.
From a boatload of short-lived network series to some wacky kiddie shows, the cast of True Blood had a long, strange journey on their way to HBO.
So, here are some of the weirdest, and coolest, roles before they joined the Fang Gang:
Anna Paquin (aka Sookie Stackhouse), Early Internet Commercial (1994)
Yes, before she was the sexiest lady in town at the middle of steamy, vampy intrigue — she was just a weird little girl in this early-1990s commercial for the information superhighway. This role also came before Paquin’s breakout in 2000’s X-Men. But don’t worry: “There is no more there.”
Stephen Moyer (aka Bill Compton), Highlander: The Raven
Before he was a heartthrob on True Blood, Moyer popped up in a bit part in this mostly forgotten spinoff from the Highlander TV series. So he’s been around fantasy for a while — only now he’s on a hit series.
Ryan Kwanten (Jason Stackhouse), Spellbinder: Land of the Dragon Lord (1997)
This short-lived, Australian kiddie series focused on a group of teens who travel through a portal to another dimension and go on all kinds of adventures. Kwanten played a teen jock who gets wrapped up in the adventure. Honestly, the role seems to fit him pretty well.
Lauren Bowles (aka Holly Clearly), Arrested Development (2004)
Way back in 2004, before Neflix decided to revive the beloved sitcom Arrested Development, Bowles had a brief cameo as a stripper (yep) in the first season.
Sam Trammell (Sam Merlotte), Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)
A year before True Blood’s debut, Trammell duked it out with some of the galaxy's worst baddies as one of the townsfolk in this sci-fi sequel. Hey, after squaring off with xenomorphs, figuring out a town full of vampires probably didn’t seem so bad.
Chris Bauer (aka Andy Bellefleur), Jonny Zero (2005)
Before finding steady work on True Blood, Bauer bounced around several series — including this extremely short-lived little gem from Fox. The series was a flashy action series, and lasted only eight episodes before the network pulled the plug.
Nelsan Ellis (aka Lafayette Reynolds), The Inside (2005)
Short-lived TV series were a pretty common trend for True Blood actors before landing in Bon Temps. Ellis popped up in this flashy little crime drama, which played on the popularity of all those shows with acronyms about cops and investigators.
Alexander Skarsgård (aka Eric Northman), Zoolander (2001)
Skarsgard has the pretty-boy thing down pat, and one of his biggest early Hollywood roles was a supporting part in this hilarious Ben Stiller flick as the very (very, very) dumb male model Meekus.
Carrie Preston (aka Arlene Fowler), Wonderfalls (2004)
Preston popped up in a bit part in this short-lived (but beloved) series from Bryan Fuller. In an episode of the show’s one (and only) season, Preston played a nun who had lost her faith.
Jim Parrack (aka Hoyt Fortenberry), Supernatural (2009)
Ok, we admit — this Supernatural cameo came shortly after Parrack showed up in True Blood. But it’s too fun not to include.
Todd Lowe (aka Terry Bellefleur), Gilmore Girls (2002)
Before breaking out in True Blood, Lowe had a lengthy recurring gig on the beloved little WB series Gilmore Girls. He played a lovable goof musician, and eventually romanced one of the main character’s best pals.
Kristin Bauer van Straten (aka Pan De Beaufort), Star Trek: Enterprise (2005)
Yes, this lovely lady has the rare claim to fame for being a part of both the Trek and True Blood universes. On Enterprise, she played a Klingon warrior.
Michael McMillian (aka Steve Newlin), Firefly (2002)
It wasn’t a big part, sure, but McMilian will always have a place in one of sci-fi’s most beloved series. In the episode “Shindig,” McMilian has a bit part as “Younger Hopeful.”
Joe Manganiello (aka Alcide Herveaux), Spider-Man (2002)
If you’ve spent years trying to figure out where you’ve seen this hunky dude before, here it is: He played Flash Thompson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, and is best remembered for this epic fight scene above.