Anna Paquin hadn't done any television roles before True Blood. But she'd read the Sookie Stackhouse books and she wanted this part really badly.
Despite the fact that Anna was, in her own words, 'the palest brunette on the planet', she turned up to audition. She convinced them that she'd look great with blonde hair and a tan!
Meanwhile Stephen Moyer wasn't nearly so enthusiastic. He'd initially turned his nose up at the concept. He wasn't really interested in paranormal stuff and vampires just made him think of Twilight. Then it was pointed out that Alan Ball was behind True Blood.
He read the script and rushed to audition. But even then wasn't at all certain he'd accept the part. He was living in London at the time, feeling depressed because he'd just been burgled. Thieves had cleared him out, even taking irreplaceable items of sentimental value, like photographs.
Plus his kids were in London. He didn't want to be an absent father, living a continent away.
What swung it were two major factors - the fact that this was an Alan Ball script; and he'd bumped into Anna Paquin at the auditions. He'd been keeping in touch with her via Skype. Even though she was in New York and he was in London, they'd still managed to meet up for a date. Things had already become quite intimate, before they were both given the roles and called back to film the first season of True Blood.
He decided to go for it. Because, you know, It would give him chance to get to know Anna better...