Benedict Cumberbatch was almost cast as Vampire Bill in ‘True Blood’

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I was never a True Blood fan, it’s just not my thing – I generally don’t care for books, TV shows or movies about vampires, werewolves or zombies. Looking back on True Blood now, who came out a winner? Arguably, Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer’s careers weren’t really helped, although they did get together in real life and they have a kids together. Arguably, Alexander Skarsgard was the true breakout star of True Blood, when he was cast as Viking Eric Northman. No one else could have played that part. But at least a dozen actors could have played Stephen Moyer’s character Bill Compton, right? Well, series creator Alan Ball says that they did read other British actors for the Bill role, and one of those actors was… Benedict Cumberbatch?!!?

On the tenth anniversary of True Blood’s debut, the show’s creator Alan Ball came to Vulture Festival Los Angeles to watch the pilot episode with fans and share some memories about the making of the breakout HBO hit. Jaws dropped when Ball talked about how difficult it was to find the right actor to play smolderingly attractive vampire Bill Compton, and described how the search took him to London, where one of the actors he met with was none other than Benedict Cumberbatch. Let’s think about that for a minute: The man we’ve come to know and love as Sherlock and Dr. Strange almost played one of TV’s sexiest vampires. (Sadly, Ball didn’t reveal why Cumberbatch didn’t land the part.)

More fun facts we learned: Anna Paquin read for the role of Sookie Stackhouse five times before the producers were convinced she could play Southern enough. Ball casually mentioned that Jessica Chastain also auditioned for the role of Sookie, while an underage Jennifer Lawrence auditioned for a “were-panther girl” in season three.

[From Vulture]

We could have had Anna Paquin and Bendy Cumberbatch, together on screen, and possibly together in real life. True Blood started in 2008, which is before Benedict’s career had really taken off, although he had already appeared in some films and TV shows (like Atonement). He was on the cusp, and I would argue that Benedict was probably more “on the cusp” than Stephen Moyer. Which makes me wonder if Benedict was offered the role and he turned them down. Just two years after the start of True Blood, Sherlock premiered. So… it wasn’t that long of a wait for Bendy. He became a much bigger star anyway. Also: Benedict is terrible with American accents, so the thought of him trying to do a thick Southern accent for True Blood makes me very grateful that he didn’t do this role. (The photos of Bendy in this post are circa 2008.)

Benedict Cumberbatch

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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16 Responses to “Benedict Cumberbatch was almost cast as Vampire Bill in ‘True Blood’”

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  1. Suze says:

    I’m trying to imagine Benedict saying “Sookie” with a southern accent, and just can’t do it. I mean, Stephen Moyer’s “Sookay” was ridiculous, but we got used to it, you know?

  2. Lightpurple says:

    Oh, dear God, no!

  3. MeghanNotMarkle says:

    Stephen Moyer was almost campy but Bendysticks Cumbersnatch would’ve been awful.

  4. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    The bad accents were what entertained me the most of TB. Anna’s accent was the worst and her character was a perpetual eye-roller. Layfayette, Eric and Pam were my favs. I don’t think BC would’ve been good as Bill because he’s too arrogant and doesn’t brood well lol. Vampire Bill is just another vampire in a long line of vampires who take brooding to extreme heights.

    • lucy2 says:

      Lafayette, Eric, Pam, and Jessica were my favorites, and the only reasons I hung in with the show to the end (and I hated how Jessica’s story ended). But the show was fun, for the most part.
      BC would have been straight up awful as Bill. I like Stephen outside of that role, but rarely liked him in it, and I still would have chosen him a hundred times over Benedict.

    • Lightpurple says:

      Lafayette, Eric and Pam were the reasons to watch.

    • There’s a needy, ‘impress professor’, quality to Bendy’s performances, that doesn’t gel with the Bill character… likewise, the arrogance. Bil IS arrogant, but he doesn’t shove it in your face the way Cumby does.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is, Bendy’s overall vibe is a little bit that of a spoiled, attention-seeking child, and he has trouble toning that down for… y’know, everything.

      • Digital Unicorn says:

        Your last para is spot on with him – ITA that he has trouble toning it down in certain roles, in others it works very well (like Sherlock). I used to be a fan of his but his attitude got worse when he hit big time.

      • Layla says:

        Ironically, he’s not like that at all. Really nice IRL (a friend worked the Melrose set and had a great experience)

  5. cory says:

    Or lord, that would’ve made Beel 10000000000x worse.

  6. kristen says:

    Benedict Cumberbatch just can’t figure out what the hell to do with his hair.

  7. Hrefna says:

    Cumberbatch would have been so much better in the role! Moyers was a great choice for the Bill in the original book series, that Bill is a creep and out of Sookie’s life fairly quickly, but the TV show tried to build Bill into something Moyers couldn’t pull off. Paquin couldn’t pull off Book Sookie either, she’s too solid somehow, too human. Chastain could have brought the lightness and feyness to (un)balance the character. Just imagine how good the show would have been with Chastain, Skarsgaard, Cumberbatch, and Sam Trammell!

    Mind you, I’m a Charlaine Harris superfan who is still bitter about Paquin insisting that Moyers stay on the show, which derailed the whole Eric storyline that is central to the series. And yeah, when Skarsgaard was talking about Silverbacks messing up sets, I’m sure he was thinking at least a bit about Moyers

    • CairinaCat says:

      Right??? In the books the true love story was with Eric!
      I’m still super pissed and bitter

      • Felicia says:

        I will NEVER EVER buy another Harris book after the fiasco of how she wound that series down. Especially as she has said she always intended to finish it that way, and even more especially after realizing what her “world building” in that story likely represented.

        I did how ever, love the first few seasons of TB and ASkars in particular. And Pam.

    • Anners says:

      The books aren’t exactly fine lit, but I really enjoyed them and was disappointed with the True Blood casting…other than Eric and Sam. Skarsgaard is perfect! Pam wasn’t how I imagined her, but I quite liked her character on the show. And that was about it. I also really hated the Tara as a witch storyline and Lafayette on drugs bit – although I guess it kept him alive :)

  8. Mia4s says:

    Whoa! Sliding Doors. Cumberbatch is a hell of an actor so his take would have been interesting. But I’m not so sure he would have gotten where he has if that was his breakout. I mean…no Sherlock? Crazy thought now.