Stephen Moyer and Richard Gere in THE DOUBLE | ©2011 Image Entertainment

Stephen Moyer and Richard Gere in THE DOUBLE | ©2011 Image Entertainment

In THE DOUBLE, Richard Gere plays former CIA agent Paul Shepherdson, who is dragged back into the field when it looks like the presumed-dead Russian agent he was chasing has resurfaced to kill again. Topher Grace plays Ben Geary, an FBI agent who partners with Paul. Among the people they talk to is Stephen Moyer’s Brutus, an imprisoned KGB assassin who reveres the man the other two are seeking.

Moyer, who speaks with his native English accent when not playing characters who hail from elsewhere, speaks with great affection about his best-known character, TRUE BLOOD’s gentlemanly Louisiana vampire Bill Compton. However, he’s equally delighted with the opportunity to play other characters, especially someone like Brutus, who is so physically, psychologically and even vocally different from Moyer’s other roles.

“He’s a really well-written character,” Moyer relates. “As an actor, one is always looking for stuff that takes you outside your comfort zone, and Brutus is quite dark. I kind of played with the idea that he’d been in solitary confinement for let’s say ten of those fifteen years, and so when somebody comes and there’s an opportunity for him to use his skills, it was a lot of fun.. [He] was an impactful character that I saw I was going to enjoy. Any possibilities to chew the scenery, and I will,” he laughs, then adds more seriously, “I always liked playing accents. One of the things that has just happened is, I just came off a job where I was using my own accent, and I haven’t done it for years. I called my wife [actress Anna Paquin, who plays Sookie Stackhouse on TRUE BLOOD], and I said, ‘I sounded really weird and I’m not sure I like it, because it’s the first time I’ve spoken [on screen] as me for so long.’ And so that was quite odd, because I’m always using an accent of some kind. Even when I was in England doing work, I played Northern and did lots of different dialects. So it was a really fun character to get my teeth into.”

The prospect of working with DOUBLE director Michael Brandt and  his co-writer Derek Haas also appealed to Moyer.

“Michael is an incredibly educated man,” says Moyer. “He and Derek [wrote] WANTED and they did 2 FAST, 2 FURIOUS, they wrote 3:10 TO YUMA, and I love that, I think that’s a beautifully constructed film. So it was actually the two of them being attached to this film that made me read it in the first place Michael is a very intellectual, interesting man. I really love him. He’s very soft-spoken, he’s incredibly articulate, but most of all, he allows you to create what you want to create. I came to him with a bunch of ideas and he just said, ‘I love all of it. Do all of it.’ It was everything from the hair to the scar to the tattoos to the dialect that I chose. [Brandt] would come in and give me little tinkering notes or little things to think about, but mostly he just let me play and it’s a lot of fun to be able to do that.”

Stephen Moyer at the Los Angeles Premiere for the fourth season of HBO's series TRUE BLOOD | ©2011 Sue Schneider

Stephen Moyer at the Los Angeles Premiere for the fourth season of HBO's series TRUE BLOOD | ©2011 Sue Schneider

Working opposite Richard Gere was an added bonus, Moyer notes.

“My sister is two years older than me, so growing up, when I was twelve, thirteen, she was fifteen, she loved OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN,” says Moyer.We had a VHS copy that she used to watch a lot and I absolutely love that movie because of that. I think it’s a great film. There’s an amazing fight sequence at the end of that film, where Richard’s kind of incredible. AMERICAN GIGOLO as well. Also, what people tend to forget about Richard is that he started out in musicals. And I started out in musicals. I think he was the first person to play Danny Zuko in GREASE on stage and I played Danny Zuko when I was seventeen. So I was peppering him with [questions about] that. I wasn’t actually peppering him with AMERICAN GIGOLO and OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, or any of those films. I was more interested in his musical theatre career. And so we found out that we’d sort of got a common thread and were not from dissimilar backgrounds, either. And so that was really fascinating, because I think he started thinking back to things that he’d sort of not thought about for awhile, so we had a lot of fun. We didn’t go into any WEST SIDE STORY numbers during our fight, but we did have a little croon every now and then.”

Speaking of fight scenes, Moyer has some killer ones in THE DOUBLE.

“I learned about something called Systema,” Moyer explains. “I don’t know whether it’s [practiced in theU.S.],, but the fighting that was used by the KGB is called Systema. Until the Cold War, the West didn’t really know about it and how it was used. It’s a form of self-defense in which you use the other person’s energy to disable them, rather than expelling any of your own energy. It’s an incredible discipline, and it was taught to Russian spies in KGB. So I had to learn about that.”

One of the themes in THE DOUBLE is how information is obtained, which fascinates Moyer.

“We live in this world where, when you’ve got a question, you just put it in [to an online search engine] and you find this stuff out,” he says. “One of the things that Topher and I were talking about earlier is the fact that I think the reason that people are attracted to the Cold War and espionage and all of that stuff is because it was a much simpler time, and we could only try and garner information [by spying]. We had to try and guess. So we sent all these spies in and they sent spies in to us, to try and find out what we were doing. And now we live in a world where [information is gained via] hacking and emails and the Internet and all that – we can find out so much more, so much quicker.” For example, Moyer points out, Systema used to be a Soviet government secret. “But now all we need to do is go into YouTube, and I can find three hundred people doing Systema. Systema is even taught. I just came back from doing a film inCanada, and one of the guys there does Systema with this Russian master. So we live in a world where it’s much easier to kind of access that stuff.”

Acting is the only profession Moyer can remember wanting to enter and it all started when he did a production of TOM SAWYER when he was ten.

“I used to sing in the church choir,” recalls Moyer. “My headmaster of the secondary school that I went to, that you guys would call middle school, he’d seen me singing in the church choir and he asked me to play Tom in the school production of TOM SAWYER. And I absolutely loved it, and I did many, many productions at school. About the age of twelve or thirteen, I started doing local amateur dramatics and stuff. And I when I was about fifteen, you have a thing called a Careers Advisory Day, where you talk to somebody who does that at your school. He said to me, “What do you want to do?” And I said, “I want to be an actor.” Literally, I hadn’t said it up until that point. And he had never heard it until that point. And he went around this office of filing cabinets, trying to find how you do that. Because I’m from a very ordinary working-class background in a small town outside London without any actors in it. And there wasn’t anything [in the resources about becoming an actor]. We didn’t know what to do. So I found out what you had to do, and I wrote the letters and I flipped burgers, because you have to pay for your auditions, and that’s how I got into drama school.”

If acting didn’t work out, Moyer didn’t have a backup plan, he acknowledges with a laugh.

“My parents thought I did, but no, I didn’t and I still don’t know what I’d do,” he admits. “In the summer holidays, I did landscape gardening for a friend. I used to dig holes and plant flowers and I got a fearful lot of knowledge about greenery, which I still retain, and so everywhere that I’ve lived is a little pocket of ground with a garden in it, that I keep going. So maybe, because I love the outside and I love gardens, I possibly would have ended up as some kind of landscape gardener. I don’t know.”

Preparation is important to all the roles Stephen does and he did his research when he landed his role in TRUE BLOOD.

“When I started out with Bill Compton, obviously, being English [in real life], the American Civil War isn’t something that I’m particularly au fait with, even though there was English involvement, obviously, so I did some research into that and I also did a lot of research into the kind of accent we were going to use,” he says. “As I said earlier, the accent stuff is very interesting to me, because it’s another part of your costume. You go on and you put your boots on and you do the hair how you’re going to do the hair, you put your makeup on and then you put the voice on. By doing that, I feel every time that little bit more removed from Steve. So certainly that was one thing with Bill and with other characters – I played an American character earlier in the summer. He was more of a Californian sound. My straight American, it tends to be more Connecticut-sounding. Most [British] actors, when they come over here, they end up with a kind of middle-class version of American.”

While filming THE DOUBLE, Moyer spoke with Topher Grace about an English director named Max Stafford-Clark and how he makes actors write everything that a character says about everybody else the they speak about.

“You also write down everything that everybody says about you, and you write down everything that’s mentioned physically, in terms of stage direction and stuff,” says Moyer. “And immediately, right there, in three columns, you’ve got an awful lot about your character. You’ve got stuff about the way you speak, you’ve got stuff about what people say about your character and you’ve also got stuff about the way you move. So literally, without doing anything else, you have an immediate access point to understanding. So that’s something I still do to this day.”

Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin in TRUE BLOOD - Season 4 - "And When I Die" | ©2011 HBO/John P. Johnson

Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin in TRUE BLOOD - Season 4 - "And When I Die" | ©2011 HBO/John P. Johnson

Despite the popularity of TRUE BLOOD, Moyer doesn’t feel he’s in danger of being typecast as Bill Compton-like characters.

“I think that I’m very lucky in some respects, because I’m not from the South, and I don’t have jet black hair, really – it’s kind of quite fair under here,” he says, indicating he currently has dark locks. “I am actually not as pale as I am as Bill and I’m not a hundred and seventy-three years old. And so when I act in other stuff, I don’t think I have the baggage that’s going to make me only be seen as that character. Certainly I take that into consideration when I’m doing something like this [THE DOUBLE], when I’m building this character. Instead of wearing the fangs, I’m going to wear my hair back and we’re going to lighten it, we’re going to put lines under my eyes, we’re going to put a scar here, because I want to try and make it as different as possible from the way that people see me on a day to day basis.”

What does Moyer make of the fact that TRUE BLOOD is literally seen by some fans on a day to day basis?

“The show is so extraordinarily successful,” the actor muses. “Who would have thought in Season Four that we’d gain audience? That’s so rare to do that on any show. I don’t think THE SOPRANOS ever did that. SEX AND THE CITY didn’t do that. And obviously, that’s just HBO shows. So it’s extraordinary that we keep growing. I’ve done this for so long. I’ve been acting twenty years, but I’ve done this job for four years now and so I’m so used to [the fans’] reaction being part and parcel with Bill that I can’t really access what it was like ‘PB’ – Pre-Bill,” he laughs. “So there are the genre-crazy TRUE BLOOD fans, probably ten percent of the mass audience who like the show, and then there are people who are just fans,just ordinary people like my Mum and Dad, who just really like great drama. They don’t tend to be interested in the fang aspect or the crazy mud sex,” he laughs again, referring to a specific first-season sequence, “or any of that. They just love the drama.”

This year alone, besides THE DOUBLE, Moyer has found time around his TRUE BLOOD commitments to be in the feature films PRIEST and THE CALLER. And according to IMDB, he has two more films, EVIDENCE and THE BARRENS, currently in post-production. Is he allergic to taking time off? 

“I actually almost had more [films],” Moyer responds, “because I’ve got two incredible offers on the table for great stuff, and both of those projects pushed to the beginning of next year, so I can’t do them [because of the TRUE BLOOD schedule]. Obviously, it’s a double-edged sword. That here’s that interest is because of my show, but I love my show, and if it wasn’t for the show, there wouldn’t be that interest. So there’s no point in getting upset about it. I’ve got a five-month window [during TRUE BLOOD’s hiatus]. A lot of people don’t have that long. So if I can make stuff in that five months, that’s amazing; if I can’t, I can’t. This year, I had decided that I wanted to try and do some work. Last year, I took some time off, because again, a similar thing happened, where I’d got some work and I’d got some scripts and I’d been offered stuff and I’d got this whole summer mapped out and then, for whatever reasons, independent movies, the way they are, we lost money or there was stuff that got pushed into the new year. And again, you have to pull out. So I ended up having quite some time off.” This wasn’t all bad, Moyer adds. “I managed to fit in a wedding!”

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Click on Link: THE DOUBLE movie review

 

Click on Link: Review – TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 – “And When I Die”
Click on link: Review of TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 – “Burning Down the House”
Click on link: Review of TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 – “Burning Down the House”
Click on link: Review of TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 – “Let’s Get Out of Here”
Click on link: Review of TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 – “Spellbound”
Click on link: TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 – “Cold Grey Light of Dawn”
Click on link: TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 – “I Wish I Was The Moon”
Click on link: TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 – “Me and the Devil”

Click on link: TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 premiere review – “I’m Alive and On Fire”
Click on link: TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 premiere review – “If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin”

Click on link: TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 review – “You Smell Like Dinner”
Click on link:
TRUE BLOOD – Season 4 premiere review – “She’s Not There”

Click on link: TRUE BLOOD – THE COMPLETE SEASON 3 DVD review
Click on link:
Exclusive photos from the TRUE BLOOD Paley Fest screening
Click on link:
Exclusive photos from the TRUE BLOOD comic book signing featuring some of the cast

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Article: Interview with THE DOUBLE and TRUE BLOOD star Stephen Moyer

 

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Comments:

  1. Pingback: Profile: TRUE BLOOD star Stephen Moyer on THE DOUBLE trouble – Assignment X | MYSOUTHDIVA

  2. Stephen always provides an interesting and thoughtful interview. He is charming and talented and I look forward to seeing him on the big screen! Oh and did I mention that he is one sexy man!

    Mirela
  3. He is indeed a great interview, and is hotter than Hades. I never knew that both Richard Gere and Steve played Danny Zuko in Grease. I would love to see Steve getting some starring roles–He does have a great range and deserves really good material. Shame that some of his projects got shelved or postponed, but money is tight these days, especially in the movie business.

    SemiramisII
  4. love this interview. stephen is so intelligent and always has such an interesting perspective.

    Adrianne
  5. Stephen is Wonderful! I have seen several of his movies and a Big TB fan. I am formost a Bill fan. I adore this beautiful man and his heart. I have met many people (via net) because of him and am very greatful to have found Bill Compton and the Bill’sbabes. We love you Stephen and hugs to Anna.

    fbforbill

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