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True Blood’s Lucy Griffiths on Nora’s Hepatitis V and Her Emotional Moment with Eric

Lucy Griffiths as Nora. Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

Spoilers ahead, naturally. Fans were warned that at least one big character death was happening this season on True Blood, but it turns out that the body count just keeps getting higher. The latest death on the show was Eric’s vampire sister, Nora, who had been injected with Hepatitis V, and not even Billith’s blood could cure her. Her death served two functions: to let the audience know what kind of a fate awaits any other vampire who drinks the tainted True Blood, and to set Eric on a path of revenge. Lucy Griffiths, who played our latest dearly departed, chatted with Vulture about her gruesome death scene, vampire sibling rivalry, and what would have happened had Nora actually found Warlow.

Nora collapsing into all that blood and goo into Eric’s arms was one of the one most prolonged and gruesome deaths on the show in a while. How did you shoot it?
It was quite weird, because I had to have a tube next to my head and they had to pump all the blood through it, to make it look like I was melting, before they added the CGI. So I was covered in blood, covered head to toe, and it was so cold. It feels quite strange! The vein effects right before that were part transfers and makeup and postproduction.

How much of a warning did you get that this was coming, and what did you think of it when you read it?
I thought it was wicked. [Laughs.] At first, they said, “We think we’re going to do this,” and then they said they weren’t sure, and then they said they were. But the thing is, when you sign a contract to do any of these shows, unless you’re a lead character, someone that the show is really centered around, you always know that your character might leave. I’ve got no complaints. And I thought it had been written really well. It was clever, and I was looking forward to playing the scenes when I read them.

Was the table read sad?
It’s not real. [Laughs.] But yeah, I guess so. It gave an opportunity for Eric’s character to be a bit more openly vulnerable than he normally is, so he was very moved by that.

On top of the death scene, you also finally got the origin story, the flashback of how Nora became part of Eric’s vampire family. In a way, you got two death scenes.
I really liked the set that we shot that on. I thought the way they made that simple thing, her dying, quite complex and quite rich, with all the elements they included. It was strange, because it’s always been modern sets, so it felt like I wasn’t shooting True Blood, but a different production on that day. And when Eric’s got a long wig on, he looks very different. And the surroundings really did change the atmosphere.

Earlier this season, Nora had a revelation from reading the Vampire Bible — that a key passage had been mistranslated, that it was not the people but the progeny who lead Lilith to the sun. She interpreted this to be about Warlow, but she hardly got to tell anyone about it. Well, she told Niall, but they got distracted when she smelt his faerie blood, and he’s been blasted to another realm.
That’s a really good point! And she doesn’t really ever share that information. She just dies and takes it with her. [Laughs.] Oh, well. Whoops! Once she’s injected with Hep V, she loses her physical and mental faculties. That’s probably why she doesn’t say anything about it to Eric.

What do you think would have happened had she gotten to finally encounter Warlow?
Hmmm. She would have eaten him up. It would have been a problem. I’d like to think she dealt with it quite cleanly, just eradicated the issue. I mean, if Eric wasn’t there to help her restrain herself …

He was the one who told her to not eat Sookie.
She might have had an addiction to faerie blood. Some people describe it as making you euphoric, but I don’t know if euphoria is the right word. I think it’s more of a feeling of being invincible, a feeling of like you could live forever. Can you think of a drug that makes you feel like that? Do you know of one? I can’t.

Why didn’t Nora cry during her deathbed scene?
Because Eric’s crying, and she has to take care of him in that moment. Some of the vampire tears are CGI, though. And some are makeup. The makeup department is incredibly thoughtful when it comes to making you look a certain way and giving you the space to concentrate on the thing.

Eric and Nora are brother and sister. They’re also lovers. Vampire families seem to have a built-in incest factor.
Yes. I just think of them being very close. I don’t really make a distinction between they’re brother and sister and they’re lovers. I just think they’ve known each other for an extremely long time and they’re really close. And because they’re not blood relations, they weren’t brother and sister before they were made into vampires, which takes away from that incest-y thing that might have made the portrayal of their relationship a little complicated.

They were probably the more functional vampire sibling relationship we’ve seen on the show. What advice would you have for Pam, now that she has a vampire sister in Willa? How to get over their vampire sibling rivalry issues?
I don’t know! My general advice would be, Don’t die. Maybe the older one is always right? That’s not fair. Hmmm. Nora and Eric haven’t had a very tempestuous relationship, I mean, certainly there was friction with the Lilith stuff, but in the end she came around to his way of thinking. Maybe the advice should be sleep with each other, trust each other, and don’t die. [Laughs.]

True Blood’s Lucy Griffiths on Nora’s Hep V