The Sherlock star read for the part of Bill Compton, Sookie Stackhouse’s love interest in HBO’s acclaimed vampire show, but was turned down, according to The Hollywood Reporter. English actor Stephen Moyer eventually landed the part.
True Blood creator Alan Ball made the revelation during a special screening of the pilot, which marked the 10th anniversary of the series.
True Blood aired for the first time in September 2008 and concluded in August 2014.
In addition to detailing Cumberbatch’s ill-fated audition for the role of Bill – one of the main characters throughout the show’s seven seasons – Ball revealed that other Hollywood household names tried to land a spot on the series.
Jessica Chastain, as it turns out, read for the part of Sookie. Anna Paquin was ultimately cast as the show's protagonist, a waitress at Merlotte’s bar and grill who (at least in season one) begins a romance with Bill.
Jennifer Lawrence, meanwhile, went up for the role of Crystal, a were-panther featured in season three.
Ball said the Oscar-winning actor was “great” but didn’t get the part due to her age.
At the time, Lawrence was 17 years old, which was considered too young to play Crystal, who dates Sookie’s adult brother Jason.
The role went instead to Lindsay Pulsipher, an American actor who is eight years Lawrence’s senior.
The casting of Moyer and Paquin as Bill and Sookie, as opposed to Cumberbatch and Chastain, impacted not only the show, but also the private lives of the former two.
Paquin and Moyer have been married for two years and have two children together.
While the pair were “total pros” when it came to managing their real-life romance, Ball revealed they didn’t do the best job at hiding it from their colleagues.
“They thought they were keeping it secret from everybody. The whole first season everybody knew,” Ball said.
In addition to Moyer, Paquin, and Pulsipher, True Blood starred Alexander Skarsgård as Eric Northman, Carrie Preston as Arlene Fowler, and Nelsan Ellis as Lafayette Reynolds.
Ellis died in July 2017 of complications from alcohol withdrawal, his family said.
Ball called Ellis an “amazingly talented” actor.
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