A Tony-nominated stage-trained actor, Sam Trammell was best known as the sexy shapeshifter Sam Merlotte on "True Blood" (HBO, 2008-14). Besides an impressive theater résumé, Trammell also appeared in "Autumn in New York" (2000) with Winona Ryder and Richard Gere, co-starred on the cross-country road trip comedy "Going to California" (Showtime, 2001-02), and earned guest-starring credits on everything from "House" (FOX, 2004-12) to "Dexter" (Showtime, 2006-13). His talent - and buff physique - were on full display, however, on "True Blood," where he quickly became a breakout character on the Southern-fried vampire cult smash, able to transform into a collie (or anything else) to protect Anna Paquin's Sookie Stackhouse. With his star on the rise, fans hoped that he would continue to land high-profile jobs so they could see more of him - in human form or otherwise.
Born May 15, 1971 in New Orleans to Betsy, an artist, and Willis Trammell, a surgeon, Trammell spent most of his childhood in Charleston, WV. He was not involved with the arts until his senior year at Brown University, where he became interested in acting after originally wanting to be an astrophysicist. He made inroads on the New York stage while getting the occasional film or TV role, often in independent projects. He made his primetime debut with a featured role in the 1996 CBS/Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation "Harvest of Fire," in which he married fellow Charleston native Jennifer Garner, and won some attention as a man who has an affair with the mother of a friend in "Childhood's End" (1996).
Trammell garnered attention and good reviews for a trio of stage performances: he was a compulsive gambler in his off-Broadway debut "Dealer's Choice," a gay man in "My Night With Reg," and in 1998, earned a Tony nomination as the authorial stand-in in the Broadway revival of Eugene O'Neill's comedy "Ah, Wilderness!" Within months of capturing the esteem of New York audiences, the actor reached a wider constituency as the fast-talking ex-con Sonny Dupree in the quirky comedy-drama "Maximum Bob" (ABC, 1998). Later that year, Trammell was briefly seen as the youngest son in a large Irish Catholic family on "Trinity" (NBC, 1998-99).
Trammell returned to the stage in 1999, playing the troubled offspring of an award-winning TV actress (Elizabeth Ashley) in the unsuccessful drama "If Memory Serves." The following year proved better as the actor had a supporting role as a male hustler in the Sundance-screened "Beat" (2000), which co-starred Kiefer Sutherland and Courtney Love. In the affecting drama "Followers" (2000), he played a would-be pledge to a fraternity and portrayed twins in the dramatic road movie "Fear of Fiction" (2000). Besides a supporting role in the Winona Ryder/Richard Gere romantic drama "Autumn in New York (2000), 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.
Trammell landed a starring role in the wistful road trip comedy series "Going to California" (Showtime, 2001-02). After the show's cancellation, he continued to juggle movie projects with TV roles, and he appeared on many respected series, including "House" (FOX, 2004-12), "Strong Medicine" (Lifetime, 2000-06), "Judging Amy" (CBS, 1999-2005), "Bones" (FOX, 2005- ), "CSI: New York" (CBS, 2004-13), "Dexter" (Showtime, 2006-13) and "Medium" (NBC, 2005-09; CBS, 2009-11). He reached a new level of success when he was cast as the handsome shapeshifter Sam Merlotte on the hit vampire drama series, "True Blood" (HBO, 2008-14). As the bartending boss of Anna Paquin's psychic Sookie Stackhouse, Trammell nursed an unrequited love, protecting her from the vampires and other dangers she faced in the sticky, Southern small town of Bon Temps, LA. The award-winning show became a cult hit, and the handsome Trammell was considered by fans and critics alike to be one of its major assets -in or out of human form.
Cast (Feature Film)
Made film debut as an intern at a tabloid TV talk show in "The Hotel Manor"
Primetime TV debut in the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, "Harvest of Fire" (CBS)
Featured as a gay man in the Off-Broadway production of "My Night With Reg"
Played a compulsive gambler in his Off-Broadway debut, "Dealer's Choice"
Played the youngest son in a large Irish Catholic family in the NBC drama series, "Trinity"
Received a Tony nomination for his performance in the revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Ah, Wilderness!"
Acted opposite Elizabeth Ashley, as the troubled son of a famous TV star, in the unsuccessful Off-Broadway comedy "If Memory Serves"
Appeared in dual role of twin brothers in the independent film, "Fear of Fiction"
Co-starred as the title character's male lover in the Off-Broadway play, "Kit Marlowe"
Had a supporting role as a male hustler in the Sundance-screened, "Beat"
First regular TV role was the Showtime series, "Going to California"
Had a starring role in the independent feature, "Undermind"
Cast as bar owner and operator, Sam Merlotte in the HBO vampire series, "True Blood"