Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse and Stephen Moyer as Bill Compton.
Image: HBO

The year was 2008. Barack Obama was in the last leg of his ultimately successful bid for the U.S. presidency and the wildest thing on television aside from election coverage was a quirky little show on HBO called True Blood. The campy vampire soap opera quickly gained a reputation for the way its entire cast chewed up scenery, spit it out, and made audiences beg to scoop it up off the ground.

True Blood was a lot—you’ll recall io9's deep backlog of thorough recaps of the series—and while it’s been a while since we looked back at what life in Bon Temps was like, it’s interesting to get in that headspace again, given a bit of new information about the show that’s recently come courtesy of creator Alan Ball.

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While speaking about True Blood at this year’s Vulture Festival in Los Angeles, Ball explained how, before Anna Paquin became HBO’s choice to portray Sookie Stackhouse, Jessica Chastain was also in the running, and that Chastain’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix costar Jennifer Lawrence also read for a part on the show. Even more shocking is that Benedict Cumberbatch might have ended up playing Vampire Bill, one of the show’s earliest leading men, whose whole reason for being was to exude raw sexual energy on the screen. Ball said, “I read Benedict Cumberbatch. He came and read for Bill...Jessica Chastain read for Sookie. Jennifer Lawrence read for, in season 3 there’s this werepanther girl, and she was great.”

Now, let’s be clear about something: Everyone on True Blood was attractive to the point of ridiculousness, and that almost made the show unwatchable more than once. In another world, the same would have been said for Cumberbatch who, knowing he was slated to play an ageless sexpot, probably would have gone through a transformation of sorts to get him more into that beefcake realm. Of course, he’d go on to become a heartthrob anyway, thanks to Sherlock becoming such a massive hit.

What’s difficult to wrap your mind around is the idea of Cumberbatch doing that kind of uniquely unrealistic, almost cartoony Southern accent that became a hallmark of True Blood. Just, like, close your eyes and try to imagine that.

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