You think it’d be hard to stand out amongst a television show about vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, fairies and witches—but Kristen Bauer van Straten undeniably steals the spotlight as Pam Swynford De Beaufort, the 100-year-old sharp-tongued, sassy vampire diva on HBO Canada‘s Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning Series, True Blood. If it isn’t amazing one-liners such as, “Just because we drank a bitch together does not make us Oprah and Gayle,” or, “I’m wearing a Walmart sweatsuit for y’all. If that’s not a demonstration of team spirit I don’t know what is,” it’s the big hair, stilettos and latex dominatrix get-up that make her a fan favourite. With the seventh and final season set to film in January, there is no doubt that elements of Pam are embedded in Bauer van Straten’s blood, in fact, she plays the role of a ruthless bitch so well that it caught us off guard when we sat down with the actress and saw a much softer side—even a few tears. And while Bauer van Straten couldn’t divulge any details about the last season, she spoke with FLARE about the skin-tight wardrobe and the role she wouldn’t change species for.
What is your favourite part about playing Pam?
I love pretty much everything about the experience. I probably most enjoy the freedom she has to just say things and not care what people think. People often say, ‘you’re so nice, isn’t it hard to play someone so harsh and bitchy?’—no, it’s so refreshing, because she’s actually saying what we’re all thinking. It really is easier to shed my personality than not. I think I started out in high school and college a bit more ‘Pam’ so she’s in there, that’s why I had the capacity to step into those shoes. I tried really hard over the years to be able to edit myself, so I think I actually get some of it out [playing the character] so that I can be more relaxed.
Pam has changed a lot over the series; she was a lot harder in the earlier seasons and now shows moments of vulnerability—has it been interesting developing different sides to Pam? Will there be more changes in the new season?
I completely agree with you. At the beginning we knew nothing about her, just that she was Eric’s (Alexander Skarsgård) and that she was very sarcastic and well-dressed, but as the series went on, we began to see that softer side and more of her story. Looking back on it, I feel like Pam is still as harsh but it doesn’t feel that way because we now have this very multi-dimensional character. I don’t know what’s going to happen next year and I can’t wait to find out. We start filming in January, so really January 1st is when I get the script. I have all this excitement and nervousness and I can’t wait because I don’t know a thing!
Pam’s relationships are very complex, these parental yet sexual relationships with both Eric and Tara (Rutina Wesley)—was it difficult developing a context?
It wasn’t difficult because the writers, producers and directors are such great captains, but there sort of is a volume-knob consideration when I am doing the character. I remember this one scene in particular where Tara cuts the head off the new Sheriff and kills him, Pam was losing it and we had to keep pulling it back because we realized the tiniest bit of frazzle looked like a lot with Pam. So, that’s the one thing that is a little bit fun to try and figure out.
Were there any scenes that were particularly difficult to film?
When Eric released Pam – when I read it, I cried; when we did the table read, I cried; when we were rehearsing it, I cried; when the camera was on my back, I cried…even when I talk about it now, I cry. It was just such so touching; it really affected me.
Yes, especially for me. I am terribly sentimental so I think ‘that’s the last first table read, oh my gosh’. Even this last year was difficult because I knew we were getting near the end of the run. I am going to be a mess at the wrap party!
If you had the chance to play another character or species, would you change it up?
I always say no, I mean, the vampires are the coolest – they are the rockstars! There are so many characters that I love, but I have a particular love for how Ryan Kwanten plays Jason. I love that dumb blonde role, it’s a role I played a lot, so I love watching him. He is such a comic genius!
Do the costumes help you get into character?
When I am on camera and I could be wearing my slippers, I don’t, because I just can’t be as sassy in fuzzy, comfy slippers so it makes a big difference. Audrey Fisher is the costume designer and she is absolutely remarkable. By the time I go through wardrobe fittings, 2 hours in hair and makeup, and then walk onto the amazing set with my friends who are also so heavily invested in our characters – you transform. There is an enormous scaffold to help us and it all plays a huge part in being Pam.
Have any elements of her style made their way into your wardrobe or affected your personal style?
Totally, I certainly feel more pressure! There are a couple of things I have borrowed from the show; the corsets are my favourite! They are so attractive on women but I am really glad they went out of fashion because I would spend 16 hours in them and they aren’t the most comfortable. Being in heels and unable to bend over to take them on and off, you’re sort of helpless but they are quite amazing.
True Blood Season 5 is currently available on DVD. Season 6 will be available on DVD in Spring 2014 and Season 7 will air in the summer of 2014.