Kristin Bauer van Straten Talks Gore, F-Bombs and the End of ‘True Blood’
With all the vampires who want to bare their souls and make a love connection lingering in pop culture, at least one would tell them to suck it. True Blood’s Pam De Beaufort (Kristin Bauer van Straten) is anything but a sensitive type. Outspoken, intolerant of B.S. and full of attitude, fan-favorite Pam frequently steals any scene she appears in on the HBO drama.
Now in its final season, True Blood is bringing all its vamps, sex and over-the-top blood spatter to a close by bringing all its characters home. For her part, Bauer van Straten’s Pam is on the hunt for her lost lover Eric (Alexander Skarsgård).
With only a few episodes left, Spinoff spoke with the actress about the softer side of Pam, the final episode, buckets of blood and her most memorable f-bombs.
Spinoff Online: Let’s flash back to Season 1. How challenging was it nailing Pam’s tone and voice in the beginning?
Kristin Bauer van Straten: I auditioned for it and when I read the sides, the only way I could make those lines really fly was to drop my voice. They [the producers] had said [they wanted] a Southern drawl, and I thought that was perfect. I really went off my gut before my first audition. I got a call for a second audition, which usually means you are doing something right, but I was unsure. You don’t know what you should improve or what you should change. I went in and did the same thing. It was the only way I could see her being played. On the first day on set, they let me do it with that same voice. Really, I go with my gut every time I audition. The short answer is that’s how I saw her from the beginning. I think she was clearly written to be deep-voiced and caustic.
In this final season, they’ve pulled out all the stops, and Pam has been off tracking Eric halfway around the world. What is your take on their relationship?
At the end of Season 6, when Pam decided to leave everybody and her prodigy Tara and go looking for him, it just reinforced for me what we’ve seen in the past years about how important Eric is to her. I think she took a look at her life without him and couldn’t face it. She was even willing to die as we saw in the Russian roulette game, just for the possibility of finding him. At that point, she didn’t even know if she would find him. What I was playing was relishing every moment with not only her strongest relationship, but her only relationship.
Did you ever consider Pam the fifth piece in the Bill/Eric/Alcide/Sookie love pentagon?
For many years, I was playing a crush on Sookie because I am a vampire and she smells really good. It was really fun to be flirting with Anna Paquin. We had this great scene in the bathroom at Fangtasia where I say, “You have vampire in your cleavage.” I pull out a piece of goo from her boob. I loved that dynamic. It changed in Season 4, because Eric really fell for Sookie and picked her over me. Then all of a sudden, it became, “I hate Sookie and her precious fairy vagina.” Last week, I called her a fungus. It’s fun to play a character that openly hates other people and doesn’t feel the need to hide it.
What has Eric being infected by this virus allowed the writers to explore with Pam?
The depth of her vulnerable side. To have Eric weaker and to know that their time is limited makes Pam more human. We see their child/father relationship. We really don’t have relationships like this as humans. Our relationships can’t be so multi-faceted. You can’t be a lover and then also a maker and a father and an enemy and then go back to being a lover. Also, our human relationships can’t span over a century. I can imagine if I had over a 100 years with my father, who was one of my greatest allies, and that’s something that is hard to lose. It was hard for me to lose my dad after 30 years, much less a 100 years. I can layer that with my friendship with Alex Skarsgard.
Pam is usually such a hard-ass. Are you enjoying those more vulnerable moments?
As I was driving yesterday, I was thinking I’ve gotten to play the hardest, edgiest female. Certainly the edgiest female I’ve ever played, but also one of the edgiest on television. Then, I’ve also gotten to play these vulnerable scenes. How unbelievable to get to play both of those. Plus, there’s the humor, the clothing and different decades. I was just feeling so grateful for this experience. I had no idea, and I don’t think any of us did, that this could be. It’s such an incredible gift as an actress.
Pam hasn’t processed Tara’s death yet. How will she handle that tragedy?
Yeah, there’s so much going on and her priorities are focused on Eric. I was glad when Pam mentions it in episode 2 or 3. There’s actually a few other mentions of it. We’re going to see different ways Pam deals with it. It affected her. She’s just got her hands full at the moment. She’s also not the type of person to have a lot of ways to express herself.
Can we suggest violence and murder?
Yes, revenge. She deals with her emotions in a more outward manner.
Speaking of, how floored were you by Tara and Alcide’s deaths?
We are always really floored. Even people we don’t know…We all wake up and you find out that Philip Seymour Hoffman is dead. It just seems inconceivable. Because we’re really invested in these True Blood characters, that happens to us as well when we read the scripts. Then we all remember that it’s fiction and television and that it does keep it exciting for the viewers. We realize it’s True Blood.
I’m watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and apparently that’s one of the first shows that killed a series regular. It started a new paradigm for TV where it makes it a lot more interesting and a lot more dramatic when anything can happen.
Tease us a little. Where do we find Pam in the back half of the season?
Every year, I feel like we peeled the onion a bit with Pam. Every year, I got an interesting way to see another side of her. For example, in Season 4, they made her face rot. Such an amazing gift to get to experience that situation. This year, the main focus is the relationships for all of the characters. Of course, Pam’s relationship is with Eric.
We find Pam digging deep, like we saw with the bucket game. Even more so in later episodes, we find the depths she will go to for Eric.
When you received the script for the series finale, did you read it all the way through or skip to the last few pages to see where everyone ends up?
It is so funny. We were so heavily immersed in shooting and also night shooting. There were so many moments that were just business as usual, and then it would hit me that we’re coming closer to the end. I saw script 10 in my email and thought, “I’ll bring my iPad so I can read it when I’m in hair.” I didn’t think anything of it.
Then, my makeup artist had a paper copy of the script and said to me, “I skipped to the last couple of pages and read those first.” I thought, “What is she talking about?” Then I realized, “The last few pages? Oh my God.” It hit me so hard I couldn’t read the script. I put off reading it. I couldn’t even confront looking at the first page. It took me a day or two to even go into Adobe Reader and look for my Pam scenes.
True Blood’s vampires get to do some crazy, bloody stuff. How relieved were you that you never got fully doused in red-colored corn syrup?
We learned the hard way, and fairly quickly, that when you get splattered in blood and it’s a long sequence, you’re going to be splattered in blood every day for a month. It’s really sticky. When I saw people who had to be head-to-toe red, like Stephen Moyer… Because the other thing is if you have to be in it for a long time, they basically use a red paint. You have to scrub it out with alcohol on a cotton swab. I don’t know how many people or how many hours it took Stephen to get out of that “costume,” but I always tried to avoid the heavy splatter.
I’m always relieved when I can be more comfortable. There are some costumes that were not so comfortable. You don’t know how long you’re going to be in them or if you’re going to be outside at night. In Season 4, I ended up outside, at night, all night, for three nights where it was 19 degrees. I was wearing a tiny little corset in dirt.
Lastly, Pam is the queen of one-liners. Which one will forever stick out in your mind?
Somebody on Twitter will post one from a past season and I’ll think, “Oh, that was the best one.” Then the next day, “Oh, that one was the best one.” There are so many. I’ve been dealing with an incredibly strong desire to collect them all in one place so I can peruse them like a photo album. But I was reminded yesterday about “Fucktarded.” I thought, “That is so wrong.” The wrong ones are closest to my heart because they say True Blood.
True Blood airs Sundays at 9 .m. ET/PT on HBO.