Sam Foote Trammell
Born: Janurary 29th, 1971
Where: New Orleans, LA
An intelligent, highly-capable actor, Sam Trammell made inroads on the New York stage while building an intriguing career in mostly independent features. The West Virginia native attended Brown University where he gravitated to acting in his senior year. Trammell made his film debut as an intern at a tabloid TV talk show in the little-seen “The Hotel Manor” (1994) and kept busy with auditioned and day-player roles on daytime serials. He made his primetime debut with a featured role in the 1996 CBS/Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation “Harvest of Fire” and won some attention as a man who has an affair with the mother of a friend in “Childhood’s End” (1996). Returning to NYC, Trammell garnered attention and good reviews for a trio of stage performances. He was compulsive gambler in his Off-Broadway debut “Dealer’s Choice”, a gay man in “My Night With Reg” and earned a Tony nomination as the authorial stand-in in the Broadway revival of Eugene O’Neill’s comedy “Ah, Wilderness!” in 1998. Within months of capturing NYC audiences, the actor reached a wider constituency as the fast-talking ex-con Sonny Dupree in the quirky ABC comedy-drama “Maximum Bob”. Later that year, Trammell was briefly seen as the youngest son in a large Irish Catholic family in “Trinity” (NBC).
Trammell returned to the stage in 1999, playing the troubled offspring of an award-winning TV actress (essayed by Elizabeth Ashley) in the unsuccessful drama “If Memory Serves”. 2000, though, proved a better year as the actor had a supporting role as a male hustler in the Sundance-screened “Beat”, saw the release of “Followers”, an affecting drama in which he played a would-be pledge to a fraternity who makes several decisions with tragic repercussions, and portrayed twins in the dramatic road movie “Fear of Fiction”. Trammell rounded out the year garnering rave reviews for his turn as the title character’s male lover in the Off-Broadway play “Kit Marlowe”, about the Elizabethan playwright.
Sam Trammell on Sam Trammell
An older interview but very interesting none-the-less…
December 18, 2008
A West Virginia werewolf in L.A.
Charleston product talks about life as a shapeshifter in HBO’s ‘True Blood’
By Bill Lynch
Staff writer of theGAZZ.com
Charleston’s Sam Trammell says it’s a dog’s life for him. The actor is playing a central character on HBO’s vampire drama, “True Blood,” which ended its first season in November.
“True Blood,” for those who haven’t caught the show, is produced by Alan Ball (“American Beauty,” “Six Feet Under”) and based on the popular Sookie Stackhouse book series written by Charlaine Harris. Trammell plays Sam Merlotte, the mysterious owner and bartender of Merlotte’s.
Actually, Trammell only plays half the role. The other half is played by a dog. Keeping with the supernatural feel of the show, Sam Merlotte is a shape-shifter.
Trammell has been a very busy guy, with guest appearances on other television shows, such as “Law and Order,” as well as the occasional daytime talk show. He’s busy, but not too busy to talk to the gazz to let people back home know he’s doing just fine, even if the crowd he’s been seen running with lately are a bunch of bloodsuckers.
“‘True Blood’ is definitely the biggest thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “I love working with Alan Ball. He’s one of the best writers for television, and it’s fun. The show is set in an edgy, swampy gothic world. It’s scary and bloody, but there’s a lot of dark comedy.”
That’s not even the best part.
He laughed, “The studio where we shoot ‘True Blood’ is less than a mile from where I live.”
Getting to be a shapeshifting, Southern bartender, predictably, wasn’t an easy path. Trammell grew up in Charleston, went to Overbrook Elementary, John Adams Middle School and graduated from George Washington High School. He went to Brown University, where he studied physics and philosophy.
“I loved the idea of quantum physics and cosmologies,” Trammell said. “I liked dealing with the smallest things in the universe – particle physics – but then I got to college and realized it was just too hard.”
It was a tough decision, but he didn’t feel like he had what it took to do the work. Instead, he took an easier course of study: semiotics, the study of communication. He took classes on psychoanalysis and linguistic theory. He studied French philosophers and even went to the University of Paris for a year.
After he returned, he said he was pretty burned out on the subject, but he still planned to go on to graduate school. He was ripe for some kind of change. Then a friend suggested he audition for a play.
Trammell had never been in theater, not in college, not back home in Charleston, not even in school plays.
“It was a real lightning bolt for me,” he said. “It was intense and fulfilling and inspiring. I was hooked.”
A few more plays later, he decided he didn’t really want to go on to graduate school. So he hopped on a bus and went to New York. He went from casting agency to casting agency with headshots, stood in line and took different jobs to pay the bills. He went to acting classes and “weaseled his way into the scene.”
He was a working actor. He did Broadway and off-Broadway shows. He did little television projects, was nominated for a Tony for “Ah, Wilderness!” and even had parts in feature films.
“It was something I was driven to do.”
Trammell says he stays in close touch with his family, but he doesn’t get home very often. It’s hard to, with what he does for a living, but his extended family is spread out all over the country. Often, he meets up with his parents wherever they’re visiting, but he says he misses home. It’s always a treat to get back.
“You get a real perspective being outside of West Virginia for a while,” he said. “Every time I do get back, I realize how beautiful Charleston is.”
He’s not likely to be returning any time soon. Filming for “True Blood” will pick up sometime in 2009. Meanwhile, the show has been nominated for two Golden Globes, including Best Television Series in the Drama category.
Trammell says he’s focusing on the show, but like everything else in an acting career, every role is a steppingstone to the next role.
“But now I don’t have to have side jobs,” he laughed.