Being Anna Paquin’s Stand-In on “True Blood”: Top 5 Things You Should Know

Image credit: Liz Forde
As fans of HBO’s True Blood are aware, the hit show centers around Anna Paquin’s character Sookie Stackhouse and all the trouble and love affairs that seem to find her and her friends (be they vampires, werewolves or other supernatural beings). But it takes a village to make a Sookie Stackhouse and Paquin isn’t the only blonde actress responsible for the part. Her stand in, actress-musician Liz Forde explained her role in the creative process.

5 Vampire shows mean a lot of night shoots

Because of the show’s late hours, Forde can often be on set until 7 am. And those sets can include creepy woods or fabricated Antebellum-era cemeteries. But, Forde says, she doesn’t complain because she knew what she signed up for when she took the job.

“I drink more coffee than I have ever drunk in my life,” she says.

4 Working with famous people

Forde acknowledges that her job has a few perks, such as attending red carpet premieres for the show and spending several hours a day with famous faces like co-stars Joe Manganiello and Alexander Skarsgard. Still, Forde stresses, she’s professional on set and prefers to give these actors their space.

“I am in the camp of, I do my thing, you do your thing,” she says. “If you need something and you want to talk to me, that’s fine. I have acted in the past and I know what it’s like to be thinking of a million things for this scene and going over lines. I don’t want to put people in a position of being distracted, especially on this show because they are intense.”

3 Getting personal

True Blood happens to be a show filled with graphic, intimate sex scenes. Forde helps block these scenes as well and will wear nude-colored clothing to help set the color contrast. This means she can’t be afraid to get personal with her fellow stand-ins. In fact, her second day on the job required blocking a multi-partnered sex scene.

“We had to get very close and had to do a cheek-to-cheek thing for several hours,” she says, laughing. “And I thought well, this is one way to get to know someone. And we’ve been good friends ever since.”

2 What do the stars do during all of this?

Jobs like Forde’s are critical timesavers on film and television sets where everything is on a strict schedule. While Forde sets the scene, the actress who will be filmed can finish things like hair, makeup and costuming.

1 What does a stand in do?

Forde doesn’t have a profession that’s easy to explain to friends and family who aren’t in the film business. She said people think that she’s a body double, meaning that she fills in for nude scenes or even far-away shots or scenes that show the back of a character’s head.

“People always say it’s like that scene in Love Actually,” Forde says, referencing the British ensemble romantic comedy that shows actors Martin Freeman and Joanna Page as body doubles for a sex scene. Instead, she says, “We basically go through the scene ahead of filming, sometimes with dialogue, sometimes without dialogue, so the cameras can set their angles and the lighting guys can do all those beautiful lights and make everyone look perfect even before they come in.”

Forde, who has comparable height and hair color to Paquin, will style her hair or wear similar shoes in the scene that the actress will be wearing. She says this helps the lighting department, “figure out how high they want the angle of the lights.”

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