Last week at San Diego Comic-Con, Wetpaint Entertainment caught up with True Blood production designer Suzuki Ingerslev, who gave us some fun, behind-the-scenes info about the crazy supernatural world she has helped create throughout the past five seasons.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about Sookie's house, Authority Headquarters, and Bill's secret interior designer!
Let's start by talking about Sookie's house, which has been through hell and back. It's like you build it up just to tear it down. Is it hard to see your work destroyed?
Yes, it is, I have to say. We first designed the show and thought, oh my god, this is going to be great. It's going to be grandma's house and we have all these delicate treasures in there. We went to antique stores and found one-of-a-kind things. And by the end of that season, we started going, oh my god, we are really destroying everything.
And as the years have gone on on True Blood, it's gotten more and more destructive, with the maenad and the mud on the wall … but we've managed to keep a lot of it in tact. We've broken things that were fake at the time, and we were able to hold on to some heirlooms that we really liked. But I do have to say the biggest relief was when we were able to jump forward a year between seasons and we were able to wipe the mud off. That made us crazy! I couldn't even go on that set anymore.
But it's still one of my favorite sets. There's a home quality to being in Sookie's house. It's the heart of the show. That and Merlotte's.
The Authority headquarters is another amazing set. Is there a reason you used so much chrome? Did you mean for it to look so modern considering these are some of the world's oldest vampires?
The directive on that was to find ancient walls, so that was what we were starting with. But then we thought, you know, we don't want to make the vampires these heavy, cumbersome in-the-past characters. We wanted them to have some modern sensibilities.
We thought combining the old and the new world would give them some interest, because they have been around the world quite a bit and they would have been exposed to a lot of things. By taking the ancient walls and making the doors modern and the furniture modern, I feel like it gave them more credence into the future.
Again, the furniture provided little pops of color, because the rest of the set was so monochromatic, so that was fun.
Like Salome's room …
Yes, Salome's room has a lot of color. I did the reverse there, where you look out her doors, you see there's parts of the brick that are incorporated into the vampire headquarters — just so you know where you are, because it's such a different architecture.
And then you get into Salome's room, and it's kind of an art deco, trendy style. It's supposed to be va-va-voom, sexual, enticing, seducing men like a spider into the web.
All these vampires seem to have such good interior decorating skills. Like Bill for example, whose house went through a major transformation. Who's responsible for that? Is there a vampire decorator we don't know about?
It's funny. I brought that up in an article because the vampire Authority too, they had to use a vampire decorator because they wouldn't let any humans infiltrate their space. Nobody can know about it, so it has to be another vampire decorating it.
But Bill's house seems like he could have had either/or, but it's definitely fun to believe that it was a vampire character that would bring in that kind of sophistication. And think just how fast they can get it done! [laughs]
Looking back on the past five seasons, which set is your favorite?
I think it's Merlotte's. I really do. I just really enjoy that set and all the detail we put into it. I love the aging of all the furniture, the bar top, we got coasters on eBay that we Shellacked into the countertops. There's a homeyness to it. When you go in there, you just want to sit down and have lunch or something.
It's like the Cheers of Bon Temps.
[laughs] Yeah, it really is! And when it's all lit up, it looks so beautiful.
What's the deal with Brian Eller's hideout? How did you come up all that Smoke Monster art? Was it randomly drawn or was there a strategy behind it?
We actually did a lot of hand drawings. Our set designer and some of our PAs are pretty good artists, so they did little renderings of how they saw the Smoke Monster. So a lot of that is drawings we did. We didn't want Brian to be this professional artist. He had to be a madman. There were sketches and loose drawings. We also pulled some stuff off the Library of Congress, just to show fires and stuff, because to fill a wall like that takes a lot of material.
Apparently the Smoke Monster is a real mythological creature. Did you research this?
We did, we studied it a bit, because I had never heard of it before. At first, when I read it, I was like, "What is this?!" but yeah, it does exist. [laughs]. They did a good job on the visual effects too. You're not always sure how that's going to appear, but it was really kind of cool.
Are you sometimes surprised how the sets look once the editing is done and the visuals are added in?
Yeah, I had no idea what that was going to look like. You never know! They usually do a good job, so we try to give them as much as we can.
Lindsay Dreyer is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @LindsayNYC.