I’ve seen quotes from this Hollywood Reporter interview with Brian Buckner, but I hadn’t seen the whole thing until last night.
THR: I assume you knew you were going to shock and piss off a lot of people with that surprising scene?
Buckner: Well, yeah, but truthfully, here’s the thing — the idea that the audience needs to and deserves to know that everything’s going to be OK sort of runs counter to what I think our job is. So, yeah, of course Skarsgard and I sat down and said, “We’re doing this story for behind-the-scenes reasons, but we knew it was going to be fun.” [My emphasis – MVB] The anger is surprising. But I understand he’s beloved, and he understands he’s beloved and he’s going to be a part of this show going forward. We should be allowed to put characters in jeopardy — and people can hope we didn’t just do that — without death threats.
The fact that Buckner refers to the presumed Eric death scene as ‘fun’ isn’t offensive to me (although it jarred at first), because it tells me that they were obviously thinking of an excuse for Eric not to be around (so Alex can film, I assume) as a temporary situation. You don’t use the word “fun” if you’re really planning on killing a central character, IMO.
Another quote was about the nude scene. I had to laugh at this because it seems to indicate that Eric-acting-human is actually Eric-channeling-Alex. “No problemo!”
THR: Speaking of surprises, on top of all that other stuff, there was the full frontal nudity. Tell me about your discussions with Alexander Skarsgard when it came to that.
Buckner: First of all, he’s Swedish. He doesn’t feel about this the way we all do. When we usually shoot scenes with that level of nudity, the men are wearing socks. Alex is not fond of the socks. So I wasn’t entirely sure whether he was comfortable with it. When we were going to lock picture on the cut, I sent him an email. He was already off in real Sweden somewhere, and I said, “Are you comfortable with this?” and he said, “No problemo!” That was the level of the talk. That thing about Eric Northman, the too-cool-for-school, it comes from Alex. He is really a cool cucumber.
And, finally, Buckner talks about how long he thinks the show has before it is ended.
THR: This show has had six great seasons, and you’ll start on the seventh soon. How long do you see this show running?
Buckner: I think we have one or two more great years. It’s going to be an HBO call. I don’t have the answer yet. I’m requesting it. I want to know if I’m breaking the final season or not. I do hope to get that answer. The show is viable as long as the audience still cares. They might be mad right now, but they care.
So, we know have season 7 and that Alex is apparently going to be off filming for some significant part of it so that they had to sideline the character — apparently temporarily. (I’m beginning to think that they really do want to bring Eric back as himself, rather than a ghost or in flashbacks.) And Buckner wants an eighth season to finish the story, but that is going to be HBO’s call.
My biggest fear with the backlash right now is that HBO might cancel prematurely because of it. It sounds increasingly to me that they do understand the popularity of Eric Northman and Alex and do want the fans to be happy, but are trying to work around scheduling conflicts. I haven’t sent my letter to Michael Lombardo, the President of HBO Programming yet, but I certainly intend to include a wish that they will keep the show on long enough to give us that “real romance” with Eric and Sookie that we want to see. If season 7’s scheduling is a problem for Alex, maybe they can make it work for season 8 with enough notice.
I think a big part of the problem this week has been that for all that he is a professional wordsmith, Brian Buckner seems to blurt out some things that can be interpreted in ways he may not anticipate. Maybe he’s an introvert suddenly thrust into an extrovert position as show runner? The transcripts of these things are full of what sounds like nervous laughter. (Sorry, a bit of my work life leaking through there, lol!)
All in all, I’m actually feeling better about all of this than I was Sunday evening. Unless we hear otherwise, I think that what is going down is this: Alex has some significant scheduling conflicts in season 7, so they are sidelining Eric to some degree — but not completely — so he can do that. They have NOT given up on the Eric/Sookie ship, but they are going to keep Sookie occupied with Bill and Alcide as placeholders until Alex-as-Eric can return. I think HBO knows that this is what the audience wants to see and that they will try to give it to us once they work out the logistics. I like to think that they learned the lesson from Charlaine Harris that you don’t want to burn your bridges with fans and that the easiest way back into our hearts is putting Eric with Sookie. (Good plots and excellent writing would help, too, but that’s a heck of a lot harder to mandate than a particular plot development. HBO will grab the low-hanging fruit first, IMO.)