As wisecracking, latex-wearing, Fangtasia proprietor Pam, Kristin Bauer van Straten has spent the last six years crafting one of True Blood's most memorable characters. She stopped by our LA studio earlier this month to talk about where we'll first see Pam in the seventh and final season of the series, which debuts on June 22, and why fans can expect lots of flashbacks and nostalgia in the last 10 episodes of the show. Kristin also revealed the scene she and Alexander Skarsgard almost refused to shoot and one of her biggest on-set blunders. Read on for our interview — and to watch a video of Kristin's visit to POPSUGAR.
POPSUGAR: We're coming up on the ultimate season of the show. How does it feel?
Kristin Bauer: I like that word ultimate better than "last." The "last" has been killing me. There's been so many lasts for me in the last month. My last scene with blank, then the next day my last scene; it's intense. It's a lot of goodbyes right now, and you don't realize how many until it's the ultimate.
PS: Have there been a lot of tears on the set? A lot of emotions?
KB: I started crying last year, or maybe even the year before, because you know at some point every series has to end. Even that concept will get me weepy. It's very wonderful and surreal and so lucky.
PS: In some ways, are you excited to go on to this next chapter? It's a long time to play any one character and to have the same job.
KB: I am excited about it. It's amazing how many emotions I am feeling about it. The full spectrum. And we've been shooting so intensively that I am a little tired, so it helps. You kind of long for the nap or a sitcom. It's like childbirth, you know? You're like, 'Get that thing out of me.' We have a little bit of that. But it's been such a wonderful season.
PS: We left on such a big cliffhanger on that last episode. Can you talk a little bit about where things will pick up for Pam? Last time we saw her, she was on the search for Eric.
KB: That's where we see her again. She made the decision to leave her progeny, Tara, behind and go find her maker. That's what we've seen with Pam over the years, so it's not a surprise for her to make that decision, but it's a big choice for her to leave everything. But Eric's always been her rock.
PS: Well talk a little bit about the relationship you have with Alexander Skarsgard, who plays Eric, because—
KB: I'm going to cry! See, I told you. I started [tearing up] last year. It's so lucky, because somebody cast us, and they put you in a room and go, 'This is your maker.' And I'm like, 'What's a maker?' And seven years later I can't imagine not having endless, sleepless nights standing out in the cold pretending I am immortal next to him.
PS: It's going to be hard to leave behind, I'm sure.
KB: It is. It's weird because you also don't know what it's going to mean. Last week, when script 10 came out, I saw it in my emails. I went to the set and thought, 'In hair, I'll read it.' And the hairdresser handed me her paper copy, and she goes, 'I skipped to the end and read the last few pages first.' And that's when it hit me.
PS: It's hard to imagine the show being wrapped up in just 10 more episodes. But I'm sure the writers are going to pull it off.
KB: They do pull it off. And they are absolutely amazing. The show is magical for me in so many ways, and for so many reasons, but it comes from the top down. You have HBO, who gives such huge leeway and license for these creative people to just be creative, and that's the feeling on the set. And the writing for Pam has always been so remarkable.
PS: Has playing Pam made you the queen of one-liners in your own life? Because she's got a zinger for every situation.
KB: They don't really go over as well with my husband as with the fans, and my family, they're not as entertained. But it's nice to finally find a place where my caustic side is appreciated. She says what we're all thinking. I think that's one reason we enjoy her so much, because we live vicariously, thinking, 'Oh my god. I wish I could say that at the grocery store!' And we can't. She stepped out of the normal life and doesn't have to care.
PS: What can you say about the relationships that Pam does have? You talked about her decision to choose Eric over Tara, and she's got this antagonistic thing going on with Willa, too. How are those relationships going to play out?
KB: They play out in the most ultimate way, and really, we were all challenged this year. And we see Pam being consistent, but more . . . It's a Pam-ultimate year.
PS: In the last episode of the last season, we saw Sooki back in the love triangle between Bill and Alcide. If you were her, who would you choose?
KB I'm very biased. Of course you have to choose Eric, but Pam wouldn't want him to choose her. She just wants him not putting a human before her. Sooki's got some good choices. I mean that girl, she gets all the guys. My life was never like that! They just line up. I don't know if this is PG, but remember Pam's line, 'I am so sick of Sookie and her precious fairy vagina and her unbelievably stupid name'?
PS: A classic Pam moment! Tell me how this show has changed your life, because you clearly have such a strong bond with your castmates. Anna and Steven even found love on the show.
KB: It has. When we look at our lives seven years ago and now, everybody's life has really transformed, from the show and we've also just lived a lot of lives next to each other. And of course, Anna and Steven's lives have transformed personally, so it's really crazy to think about that. We've been reflecting on that a lot. Everything is different. I didn't really realize that, I thought, 'Oh, the show ends,' and I hadn't examined it. I thought I'd just go back to the way my life was before.
PS: But now it is such a big part of your life.
KB: That's right. I realized you don't ever go back in life. Everything has shifted and changed in the best way possible.
PS: Talk about reading the final script. What was that like for you? Did you think in some ways you were maybe avoiding it a little bit? Were you nervous to get through it?
KB: I did avoid it. After our hairdresser said she skipped to the last three pages, I was so stunned that I didn't want to read it. And then we saw our show creator, Bucky, and he's like, 'What did you think?' And I felt terrible because this is huge pressure on him, mainly. And I hadn't read it, and I had that moment where you're like "It's great!" and you should lie. And then I realized I had skimmed for myself, so I ended up saying, 'I skimmed for myself. Kudos. I liked the me part.' It's very hard for me always every season, especially this season, to have my storyline in my head — because that's what I'm worried about delivering — and then to also understand the arcs of the other characters. Alex and I would, other times in the past, embarrass ourselves by saying . . . I can't believe I might admit this. But last year, I was like, 'Wow! Sookie has been with everybody. She's been with Alcide, Sam, Bill and Eric, but she was never with Ryan.' And they go, 'That's her brother.' [Laughs.]
PS: Well, It's True Blood — anything can happen.
KB: Right! It's hard for me to manage Pam and everybody else. I'm here at the table read, but I'm not there when it's filmed, so it's hard for me to have a vision of this last season as a whole until I watch it with the fans. I watch it on Sunday like everybody else. I don't enjoy watching myself as much as I enjoy watching everybody else.
PS: Let's talk about Eric and this season. Things were up in the air in the finale, but then Alex said he will be back for the final season. Is he somehow going to be changed by this experience, though?
KB: There is a lot of change, and there's a lot of each character; there are very character-defining moments. The show does get back to the core questions and relationships, and there are of course all kinds of outside influences that are very intense. But the writers were very graceful in the way that they had us have to deal with those outside challenges.
PS: I spoke with Amelia Rose Blaire, who plays Willa, earlier this week, and she said if she could sum up this season in a word, it might be "nostalgic." She said there are a lot of tie-ins to early seasons and early storylines. Do you feel the same?
KB: I do. I feel like Pam has some great flashbacks and those are always informative, where you go, 'Oh, my god. That's how that happened.' Certainly for us, that's very nostalgic.
PS: Have you had a most memorable scene? Or one that was most challenging?
KB: I think the most everything — the most tortuous, sad, didn't want to shoot it, emotional — was when Eric releases Pam. It was intense, and the camera is on my back and I'm crying. I'm crying in rehearsal, and Alex and I were saying, 'We are not going to shoot it. We refuse to shoot it. Why does he have to release her?' And we got no good reason except if you want to get paid, report on this day. So we did, but that was emotional.
PS: Have you guys talked about celebrating once you do go to work on that final day and shoot those last scenes? How are you guys going to mark this occasion?
KB: It is bizarre, because as some people already had those days, and it's different for everybody. We have, luckily, all sorts of wrap parties and premieres and Comic-Con. You can tell how close we are, because I've got six invitations in my email of all of the wrap parties, so not only do we see each other 100 hours a week, but then we finish Saturday morning at 7 a.m. and then go out that night. We're going to be dragging it out. I wonder what happens a year from now. Do we still have an annual party? When do we get together? It'd be really, really fun.
PS: This show has so many devoted fans. Is there a fan experience you had that was the most moving for you?
KB: Every time that I am at an appearance, there's the awkward, the completely bizarre, and then there's intensely moving. And they both throw me off. The ones that are intensely moving, I understand. I've always had the same experience, that one hour a week, where they get lifted out of this hard time and escape. It's so huge. They'll just walk up to me and say, 'My brother just died,' or something, and I get it. There're other people who just walk up to you and say, 'Why don't you just kill that c*nt Sookie?' and you're like, 'Oh hello, nice to meet you.' But there's every shade of fan interaction.
PS: It's a testament to the power the TV show has had.
KB: It is a testament. My husband is a musician, and I always say, why do they always ask the fans to sing along? We can't sing. It's horrifying and stupid. And he says it's because it lets the fans participate. And I realized, with True Blood, you see all this participation, so people want to exchange. They're getting something, and they have a desire to be a part of it and give something.