true blood bill and sookie

Jessica Chastain as Sookie? Benedict Cumberbatch as Bill? True Blood creator says it almost happened

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Nov 19, 2018, 12:38 PM EST

As Sookie Stackhouse and Bill Compton, Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer defined their respective True Blood roles so well that even fans of the Charlaine Harris vampire novels on which the show’s based came to identify strongly with HBO’s small-screen version of the colorful characters who populate Bon Temps. 

But some pretty recognizable actors also took a shot at landing the sleazy southern series’ lead roles — including a certain master of the mystic arts, according to creator Alan Ball. In addition to an early-career audition by Jennifer Lawrence, who came close to landing a part as a were-panther (the mature role was slightly too racy for the then-17 year-old, said Ball), Benedict Cumberbatch and Jessica Chastain also tried out for the show’s two main parts.

Via Deadline, Ball told a fan audience over the weekend that “Benedict Cumberbatch came and read for Bill,” while Chastain auditioned for Sookie, and Lawrence — whose audition went great — wowed the creative team and likely would have landed the part of the oversexed Jason Stackhouse’s supernaturally gifted girlfriend, if only she’d been slightly older.

“She was great, 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,’” said Ball. 

Ball was on hand for a 10th anniversary True Blood screening in Los Angeles, where he also updated fans on a long-rumored bit of intrigue — especially if you like a little singing and dancing served up alongside your vampire telepathy and lascivious blood sucking: True Blood is definitely heading into the realm of musical theatre.

Ball reportedly didn’t confirm his direct involvement in the project, but said the True Blood musical indeed is being scored by Nathan Barr, who also scored the original TV show. As for the new show’s theme, it sounds vaguely familiar, but with a twist. “It tells the story of vampires coming out of the closet,” Ball explained, although “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.” 

Is it too late to dream of a True Blood musical cast headed by Jessica Chastain and Benedict Cumberbatch? Probably. But at least we’ll always have the human-vampire chemistry of Paquin and Moyer (who ended up as a real-life couple thanks to their True Blood meet cute). All seven seasons of Sookie and Bill are eternally available on Blu-ray, via your favorite VOD service, and at Amazon’s HBO channel.