For seven seasons, Kristin Bauer van Straten has been one of the best reasons to tune in to True Blood. Her character, Pamela Swynford de Beaufort, is queer vampire with a penchant for deadpan humor, bondage-inspired wardrobe choices, and the blood of all those who dare cross her. In real life, Kristin is no less candid or endearing (she made waves at Comic-Con by calling out Sarah Palin) and she talked to us about saying goodbye to the show.
AfterEllen.com: So you just wrapped shooting for the whole series a couple of weeks ago, so how does it feel to be done?
Kristin Bauer van Straten: It feels very surreal. But for the last few months I’ve had scenes with different people and realized it my last scene with someone or my last table read, and then there was the last day of shooting. But then we went in to the premiere and then I went into press, so it helps that it’s split up and I’ve been able to say “we’ll see you at the wrap party!” or “I’ll see you at ComicCon!” But a couple of times I’ve run into people—I ran into Ryan Kwanten at looping, and said “OK, well I’ll see you at ComicCon” and he said “Yeah, I’m not going.” And I went, “Oh, so I’ll see you—when?” And we both just shrugged and it was exceedingly surreal.
AE: Yeah, after seven seasons, that’s a long time. That’s a good run.
KB: It’s actually, I think, hard for our minds to understand, because we would be going to hiatus right now.
AE: So it just feels like you’re letting out for summer vacation, but really you’ve graduated.
KB: Yeah! It’s exactly like that. I’ve been saying for years, that we’re so like kids that live on a summer off type of schedule. But yeah, we graduated and now we’re moving into the unknown.
AE: What do you think you’re going to miss most about it?
KB: I’m gonna miss the set. That’s really my favorite thing about acting. I’m a carnie and I really love living on this set with this dysfunctional but chosen family. And these particular people are just exceptional to me, and I know them so well. They accept me, warts and all, and choices and all, and viewpoints and all. And we not only accept each other, we like and support each other, so I’ve had a lot of feelings about family, and what that means as an adult with the family you choose. Because sometimes our DNA family, we kind of get each other, if we’re lucky, and we accept each other to a certain degree but there’s a lot of water under the bridge. But this family, my most objectionable trait—which would be my bluntness—they pay me for! They find my bluntness funny! They actually enjoy me. So that unconditional love and acceptance that you can usually only get from your dog, I actually got on this set.
AE: Well it’s hard to leave your pretend family. And I don’t mean “pretend” disparagingly, I mean the people you play pretend with. But you’re also leaving Pam behind, who I’m sure in your own way you’ve also gotten very close to. And you said that you have bluntness in common with Pam. Do you think you’ve taken anything from Pam over seven years?
KB: I think I have and I wish that I’d taken more. I truly admire her lack of concern over being liked. I think that’s one of the harder things for me and for humans [because] I really don’t like upsetting people and she could care less for speaking the truth. Because she really isn’t overly vicious or blunt, she’s actually overly truthful. I think that’s why she’s fun to watch because she says what we’re all thinking. And I wish I had that comfortableness in my own shoes. And I think people do gain that ability over the course of a lifetime; vampires just have many lifetimes.
AE: Well I’ve watched True Blood religiously from the beginning, and Pam is one of the characters that’s grown the most and gone from being a character where you loved her and could count on her for a great one-liner, to the past two seasons, where you’ve had the opportunity to play a variety of emotions. And you’ve seen her be vulnerable, especially with Eric. How do you feel like she in general and her relationship with Eric in particular have evolved?
KB: For me as an actress, I feel that Pam has gotten a huge evolution from the beginning, as far as us getting to know her. Because she really was tough as nails, and by season three we started to see how incredibly vulnerable she was in regard to Eric. I’ve always said: everybody has one person. The toughest people that we know, the most unlikeable assholes we know, have a spouse. And Eric is her one person. And as we’ve gotten to see her flashbacks and her making, we found out more why that was. But going into Season 7, Pam chose Eric again above all else. And now that he’s ill with Hep-V it’s probably her most vulnerable season. Because she actually could lose him. And as an actor, that’s been a huge gift to play dire circumstances. And it’s also been so linear and clean for me and for Pam over the years. You know, she’s stayed very consistent and we’ve just gotten to know her better and better. But this season, because of the circumstances, she has to dig deep into a strength we haven’t seen, and also a vulnerability that we’ll see even more.
AE: The past two episodes have been, for me, some of the strongest of the entire series. And you have been a big part of that.
KB: I know; I thought the same thing when I saw episode four, I thought “Wow, that had the core of every character.” And the same with last week.
AE: Yeah, it’s been great. I have to say I was sad–and I know a lot of my readers were sad–about both the fact that Tara died and that, after what felt like a very natural and graceful buildup of Pam and Tara’s relationship, it never ultimately came to very much. I talked to Angela Robinson last week and she said that you shot a scene in which you cried about Tara’s death, but how did you feel about how that storyline was resolved.
KB: That’s interesting that Angela told you we shot that scene. Because we did shoot a scene of a very emotional reaction when I felt Tara’s death. I think there’s so many things editors have to think about that actors don’t, and one of them is the length of the episode. [Laughs] So that may have been why. Did she say why?
AE: She said it didn’t match the tone and they wanted to move up the search for Eric storyline, so they moved a scene from episode two to episode one.
KB: Ah, I was wondering why they did that as well. That’s interesting, because the actor has different concerns and we just have to take care of our own area, thank god. But they have to think about so many other things. I really felt like that relationship that I got to play with Tara and Rutina was so much fun. I haven’t had many relationships outside of Eric and when Rutina (Wesley) and I realized we’d be working together, we didn’t know each other at all. We had only glared at each other from across a scene. You know, I had been wanting to kill her for a year. And we had no idea if we would enjoy working with each other, and we had so much fun. I just love that girl and I love that relationship. This year there’s a couple other people I at least got to pass in scenes. But it such a big cast, that it’s hard. Like, Chris Bauer and I—the two Bauers—was one of the few I never even got to walk past. But I loved everything they wrote for me and Rutina.