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True Blood Season Four: Vampire Eric Is "Just Gone"

Alexander Skarsgard, True Blood John P. Johnson/HBO

When True Blood returns to HBO this summer to showcase a new menagerie of supernaturals (Blood boss Alan Ball offhandedly mentions "witches, mediums, ghosts and possessions"), all those new kids are going to have to work overtime to distract us from the real focus of this show: Alexander Skarsgård's notorious and deadly Eric Northman.

Sadly, this season, fan-fave antihero Eric won't be nearly as dangerous as usual, because...

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Our favorite Viking vampire suffers from amnesia for a large portion of the season—as Skarsgård puts it, "He messed with the wrong people,"—and because he loses that crucial matchup, he also loses his memory and therefore his entire personality.

At the 28th Annual William S. Paley Television Festival in Beverly Hills, Skarsgård told assembled fans, "This powerful character is just gone—it's not what we've built up over the past three years; it is just gone. And it's a lot of fun for me because it's the polar opposite of who Eric really is…He is lost. He doesn't know how he is, he knows he's a vampire, but he slowly finds out stuff, like, 'Did I do that? I killed those people? Why would I do that? Oh. Really?' It's not easy to hear—and not knowing who he can trust, who's a friend or an enemy. He's very vulnerable."

Vulnerable Eric? Seriously? Swoon! Eric's partner in crime Pam (Kristin Bauer) tells us that we're in for a comedic treat during this storyline saying, "[Eric's] being 10 years old, basically. He's so sweet and cute, because he's got amnesia. So our whole dynamic has changed. You'll see how incredibly comedic and brilliant Skarsgård is, which everyone doesn't know."

Of course, being sweet isn't exactly safe in the world of True Blood, so we're going to have to keep a close eye on Fangtasia's finest. As Skarsgård says, "Things are definitely not stable for Eric. He doesn't know who he is, so 1,000 years of resentment for humanity is just gone. He's very innocent...So Eric needs help."

The moderator asked, cannily, if Sookie (Anna Paquin) would be giving Eric any help, and Skarsgård teased, "There are a lot of friendly people in Bon Temps who are kind enough to give him help." Hee. Also on board for some assistance? "Pam is obviously very helpful as well—my lovely daughter." Awww... 

Speaking of Pam, it sounds like she's in for a rollicking good time this year. The lovely Ms. Bauer told us, "Because I don't want to ruin anything and I want to keep my job, all I can tell you is what I was shooting this week was so fun and so astounding and so challenging. It involves the whole vampire world, and it's present-day, and the s--t is going down. It is so compelling. It is a really, really meaty, great storyline with stuff I have never gotten to do, so it's very exciting."

Last but not least, another one of our favorite Eric relationships isn't dead yet, despite both parties now having other significant others. Nelsan Ellis says, "There's still going to be a little somethin'-somethin' between Lafayette and Eric." Winning!

For more dish from Paley Fest, including additional exclusive scoop on True Blood season four, check back Monday for a brand-new Spoiler Chat!

VIDEO: Kristin catches up with Alexander Skarsgård at the 2010 Emmys

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