As True Blood
's Sam Merlotte
, the shape-shifting owner of Bon Temps's favorite bar, Sam Trammell
has seen some pretty shady characters walk through the door. First, there were the vampires. Now, even his regular customers are out of control. Of course, they're under the power of angry maenad Maryann, who's out to sacrifice him. With the finale of season 2 of True Blood
airing Sunday on HBO, Trammell spoke to PEOPLE about working with Anna Paquin
, his frequent nude scenes and what's in store for the final episode. "There's somebody that's in major, big, big trouble," he says. --Aaron ParsleyWhat does Maryann have against your character?
She needs Sam Merlotte for her own personal spiritual satisfaction. There's also a resentment that she has towards him and this idea that she actually had me at one point and I got away from her and I stole some stuff from her. I'm an annoyance to her and I'm something she can't control. How has life changed since True Blood took off?
Towards the end of the first season, I definitely started getting recognized a little bit here and there ... but this season it's every single day and it's really cool. People are just really passionate. They're like, "I love the show," or "I love your character." It feels so good. Were you familiar with the Sookie Stackhouse books?
I was not familiar with them at all ... I'd heard about this vampire show and it was set in Louisiana and I just thought that'd be perfect for me because I'm originally from Louisiana. And certainly know that rural world pretty well having lived also in West Virginia.
You thought you'd be perfect as a shape-shifter?
I didn't really know about the shape-shifting aspect until creator Alan Ball
... told me, "You're going to be a shape-shifter." And it was at that point that I bought some of the books and started reading just to see if I could get any information about Sam and shape-shifting. Have you met Charlaine Harris (whose 10th book about Sookie Stackhouse is due out May 2010)?
She's got a cameo in the last episode. She shows up at Comic Con and some of the other things. She's very familiar to me because she's from Arkansas and lives in Arkansas. She's had three kids and she's like a regular mom, but she writes these crazy books. And she's got a massive following. She's really smart and savvy ... very well spoken and very articulate.Will you talk about working with Anna Paquin?
We have a really funny relationship. We mess around a lot. She likes to hit me because she knows I can't hit her back. She's very much somebody you can joke around with a give a hard time and she'll give you a hard time right back so it's a very comfortable and fun relationship ... When the cameras roll, there's something that happens with her that she is just able to show such a vulnerable side of herself. You just see her. It's beautiful to watch because she just channels her inner self out with such ease.Is it difficult doing all those nude scenes?
I did full frontal nudity three or four times on stage, which is more than what I'm doing on this show. But it's a little more awkward for me than everyone on True Blood
else because most everybody else, when they're naked it's because they're having sex and they're in ... a closed set. For me, it's because I was just an animal and I turned into a human and I could be anywhere … It's always like I'm in the middle of outside in front of everyone and I'm standing there or running. Seeing yourself run while you're naked is the worst.What can we expect from the finale?
You can expect a major character -- I'm not going to give it a way and say if someone dies or not -- but there's somebody that's in major, big, big trouble. Also, I'll say it's going to be very surprising and it's going to set up some cliffhangers for next year.Read our interview with Trammell's costar Ryan Kwanten, who plays Jason Stackhouse.
John P. Johnson/HBO