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True Blood’s Michael McMillian on Steve Newlin’s Fate

Michael McMillian as Steve Newlin. Photo: John P. Johnson /Courtesy of HBO

Spoilers ahead. On last night’s episode of True Blood, Eric and Bill both rushed to save their fellow vampires from a fate prophesied earlier in the season, in which Pam, Jessica, Tara, and others would meet the sun in a white room. While most of them were saved by a last-minute infusion of faerie blood (courtesy of Bill, who had some from Warlow), one little vampire was denied a taste, and was consequently burned to a crisp: Steve Newlin, former leader of the Fellowship of the Sun during his human days. Michael McMillian, who plays Steve, chatted with Vulture about coming up with his character’s dying declaration, an idea he has for the True Blood comic books, and what Steve’s sex life with Sarah Newlin was really like.

Steve’s last words were, “I love you, Jason Stackhouse.”
If this were Lost, Jason would be Steve’s constant. And it’s not only Steve’s final proclamation for his one true love, but it’s also a giant fuck-you to his ex-wife. It was a line I actually pitched to [showrunner] Brian Buckner. One of the things I missed most this season was that Ryan Kwanten and I hadn’t had any scenes together, so when they called and said I was going to be killed off, I asked, “Am I going to have any more scenes with Ryan?” And Bucky said, “No, but he’s going to be at the camp and he’ll be watching from the observation room when you die.” And so I said, “Then I want my final words to be, ‘I love you, Jason Stackhouse.’” “Will that make you feel better?” “Absolutely.” And he wrote it into the script. [Laughs.]

What was it like shooting your True Death scene and getting burnt to a crisp?
I actually had a stunt double, Tim Eulich, so I didn’t have to do that stuff. I had to imagine catching on fire and dropping to the floor as a pile of goo. What they do is take images of the stunt double burning, and overlay them on me, and then the last image of Steve as a charred corpse before he explodes into goo is the stunt double. It looks like an extremely overcooked soufflé. It’s like very crispy and crunchy on the outside, and hot goo on the inside. Crispy vampire soufflé.

Did you see this coming for Steve? How much advance warning did you get?
Steve was really digging himself into a hole this season. Steve Newlin is the Jabba the Hutt of the True Blood universe. He has a very important place in the mythology, but he’s not going to help Luke Skywalker blow up the Death Star, you know? And especially seeing how the story was going, and Steve taking his place as a villain again and causing so much damage? If you think about it, Luna died because Steve and Russell kidnapped Emma. Pam was outted as Eric’s progeny because of him. Nora dies because of him. And he just wasn’t going to make it through. But Steve really dies at the hands of both Eric and Sarah.

Those two had a lot of issues.
They do! Steve got a lot of blame in their divorce, but she cheated on him! And I think Steve didn’t know exactly what he was feeling for Jason. I think he was so repressed that it took becoming a vampire to really understand that he was gay: Not only am I gay, but I also love this guy, and that’s why I was really upset. So becoming a vampire for Steve was really an enlightening experience. Unfortunately, it didn’t last too long. [Laughs.]

Do you think he was gay, or bisexual? Because there must have been something between him and Sarah at one point.
Yeah, well, Anna Camp and I used to talk about it, and we still do. We think that they still had a bit of a kinky sex life there for a while. I think they married young, and they were both virgins when they got married, and I think she was just trying to keep Steve happy for a long time. I think there was probably some intense dom/sub play going on in the bedroom. I think Sarah was willing to perform certain acts for Steve to keep her husband happy.

Was she a virgin, or a technical virgin?
I know where you’re going with that, but I think it’s actually the reverse! I think there may have been some props in the bedroom that Steve may have been on the receiving end of. I think they did nothing before their wedding night, and then they tried the traditional stuff, and Steve quickly started asking for a little bit more experimentation. And it may have blown her mind. And then after a while, the flame kind of burned out for the both of them, and things weren’t happening by the time Jason came along.

Maybe the solution should have been threesomes with Jason Stackhouse, since they both wanted him.
Possibly. Although at this point, I don’t think Steve would have any interest with Sarah in the bedroom, but if he were her lapdog, and she would allow him to watch … ? But I think there was genuine love and respect between those two, even in season six. Anna and I joked that in return for Steve giving information, she would sneak him hair products. [Laughs.]

Who was Steve’s maker? He didn’t know her name …
I’d love to answer the question, but the truth is, I don’t know! And I’m not sure if the show is ever going to answer it or not. At one point, we were going to find out last season, and it was written out in the script, but they scratched it out.

Do you remember what it said?
I would answer that question, except I co-wrote a book with one of the associate producers on the show, Gianna Sobol, that is coming out in the fall, and it’s called Steve Newlin’s Field Guide to Vampires (and Other Creatures of Satan), and one of the things we pitched to Brian Buckner was to answer that, but Bucky asked us to stay mum. So I guess there’s always the possibility that it could be answered next year. I’d love to see Steve’s origins as a vampire, but honestly, any flashback that involves Steve and Sarah’s history would be the best. I would love to do a whole prequel series about the two of them. It could be from the start of their marriage to starting up the Fellowship of the Sun camp in season two.

You also write for the True Blood comics. Will you keep doing that when you’re no longer on the show?
I’d love to keep doing the comic books. I’d love to write for the show. I really want to do a True BloodSix Feet Under comic book crossover. You could relocate it, so Fisher & Sons might be in Bon Temps, and reimagine that world there, and bring back Nate Fisher or Daniel Fisher as a vampire. But I’m not sure it’s something Alan Ball would ever sign off on!

Well, if you continue doing the comics, perhaps you can explore a story line from the books, how Jason is actually part faerie.
I always thought that’s what made him so attractive to everyone in town! Because he had a bit of that spark, too. It’s sweet to think of Jason as an underdeveloped faerie, you know? Because he’s always been a character in search of his own true potential, and that is a nice metaphor. It’s like with the Skywalkers — Luke had the Force within him, but Leia did, too. So maybe it’s the same for Jason. Maybe he’s got some untapped faerie powers that he could learn to yield. Let’s break that story down!

True Blood’s Michael McMillian on Newlin’s Fate