Filming HBO vampire drama True Blood may look like a lot of fun, but it turns out there is a downside.
“The consensus on our show is that everybody hates the f---ing blood,” says Nelsan Ellis, 34, who plays flamboyant clairvoyant Lafayette Reynolds.
'Lafayette' in Brisbane for Supanova
True Blood star Nelson Ellis is enjoying the 'southern' feel of Brisbane ahead of the annual pop culture festival.
The series, which eschews the twinkly bloodsuckers of Twilight in favour of rip and raw tactics, is infamously bloody.
“It's sweet and sticky and we hate it, because once it gets on the skin it dries," he said.
“But our boss is our boss,” he grins. “We can suffer in silence and with each other, but we can't do anything about it. So we just deal with it.”
Ellis is in Brisbane for Supanova, the annual pop culture pilgrimage for geeks, nerds and fanatics of all kinds.
True Blood has featured vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, fairies, and witches. But are fans as out there as the show itself?
“Yes,” Ellis replies immediately.
“The sci-fi fans in America ... they are die-hard. They will follow you to the ends of the Earth.
“Once they attach themselves to a show, and believe in the show and love the characters, they're there forever, and they're unshakeable."
Ellis expects to meet similarly obsessed Australian fans as part of the weekend event at the RNA showgrounds, although you'll have to forgive him if he's still a bit jet-lagged.
Ellis left Los Angeles as results from the US election began flowing in, and was relieved to find out mid-flight that Barack Obama had been re-elected president.
“The best person for the job is Obama,” he says. “And Obama needs to finish what he started.
“Rebuilding the middle class is the most important thing for our country, because the middle class supports everything else, the rich and the poor.”
True Blood's creator, Alan Ball, is a supremely adroit observer of the middle class, from his Oscar-winning American Beauty, to Emmy-winning Six Feet Under.
And Season five of True Blood (which screens in Australia on Showtime) has a definite political bent; with in-fighting at the vampire Authority, and a bunch of Bon Temps rednecks hiding themselves behind President Obama masks to target so-called “supes”.
“When you deal with Alan Ball, you're dealing with a person who is a genius in terms of how art imitates life,” says Ellis. “I think he makes a statement, and I think it's bold in season five.”
Also up to its fifth series is The Adventures of Merlin, the BBC's take on the King Arthur legends, screened here on Channel 10.
Tom Hopper joined the cast as steadfast Sir Percival at the end of series three and has enjoyed getting to know the show's “intense” fan base, many of whom come to events like Supanova in full Arthurian armour.
“I love being able to connect with fans and give something back, because at the end of the day we enjoy making the show,” says the 27-year-old.
“I think as a kid I would've loved cosplay - I was always dressing up as something.”
The well-muscled Englishman confesses to getting the biggest kick on the Merlin set from doing his own stunts in the show's many fight scenes.
“You learn how to launch yourself off things,” he says with a laugh.
Does the camaraderie between Hopper and his fellow Knights of the Round Table translate from onscreen to off?
“Dangerously so,” he grins, describing how they get together for football matches, and wind up playing in a similar style to heroes of Camelot.
“There's aspects of all of our characters in all of us,” he says. “Bradley [James, who plays Arthur], he's our captain, and he's very good, he's a natural leader.
“Eoin [Macken] who plays Gwaine is always joking around a lot, Bradley has to pull him into line, and I just sort of stay quiet and do my job as the goalkeeper,” says Hopper.
But he says football has now been banned from the set after one too many injuries to cast members.
Hopper's next project is a Michael Bay-produced series called Black Sails, which follows characters from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island 20 years before the events of the book. He'll play Billy Bones in the show, which begins shooting in Cape Town in the new year.
But he hopes to return to Camelot, if a sixth series of Merlin is green lit, as he likes how the show has developed.
“You look at series five and compare it to series one, and it's a lot darker,” he says. “Merlin and Arthur, for instance, have grown from young lads into men.”
“It's grown with the demographic.”