Kristin Bauer van Straten: Summer of Pam

The True Blood actress sinks her teeth into the subject of her character's sexuality, takes a bite out of her backstory, and shares a taste of her exciting new story line.

BY Brandon Voss

June 21 2011 6:45 PM ET

KRISTIN BAUER X390 (HBO) | ADVOCATE.COMLast season Pam unexpectedly became a motherly mentor to Jessica, the vampire newborn played by Deborah Ann Woll. Will we see that continue this next season?
We do see more of that, and I love their dynamic. It’s incredibly fun for me, and Deborah’s mentioned how much she loves it too. I also love the incredibly wrong advice that Pam gives her — “Did you call the hypothetical hardware store and buy a theoretical chain saw?” That’s so fabulous to me.

Some of Pam’s best scenes take place with Jessica in the bathroom of Fangtasia, the vampire bar that Pam co-owns with Eric. Have you ever noticed the creepy paintings on the wall in that bathroom?
Yes! Aren’t they hysterical? They’re so odd, but for some reason so perfect.

I’m dying to know more about Pam’s backstory, but we don’t learn about Pam’s human life until the seventh book. According to the books, Pam grew up in Victorian-era London. She was only 19 when Eric turned her, so Pam’s history on the show will obviously be at least somewhat different. Denis O’Hare told The Advocate that he took the liberty of creating his own backstory for Russell Edgington, the vampire king of Mississippi. Is that something you’ve considered?
Well, Denis O’Hare totally put us to shame. When I was doing scenes with him, I was so unbelievably impressed with him. On his second episode, when he was sitting there telling me of his whole 3,000-year backstory, he looked at me and said, “So, what’s your backstory?” I was like, “Well, you know, um, I like to leave it to the writers.” I hadn’t done my actor homework. Really, what I’ve been compiling for Pam has come from the writers. In the special features of the season 2 Blu-ray, I have a couple of lines about my relationship to Eric. The line I remember is something about the Victorian era, when her parents were grooming her for a life with small men and small people. She said that we she met Eric, her world split apart — and so did her legs. I thought that was pretty funny. Also, when Pam threatens Lafayette at Merlotte’s, she says, “I am not a hooker; that was a long, long time ago.” So all I have are those two pieces. Probably when we get around to the full disclosure, it’ll be so much better than anything I could’ve come up with.

Do you think Pam was a bitch as a human, or is her attitude the result of more than a hundred years of suffering fools?
In my head, she came from a time when women had no mobility and no choice. She was looking for a way out and she got it. What I love about her is that she really is the poster child for vampires, because she loves and embraces the entire life, and she’s never looked back. Something inside Pam was unleashed when she became a vampire. It’s exciting to play someone who’s so unapologetic about who they are. On some level, all of us are trying to fit in and to be liked, but she doesn’t. That’s incredibly refreshing, and I think we could all borrow a little bit from Pam.

We’re also happy to have Pam represent the LGBT community.
Yes, and I’m proud to do it.

According to the books, Pam seems to be something of a late-in-afterlife lesbian who didn’t discover her attraction to women until well after she became a vampire. As we head into season 4, how would you describe Pam’s sexuality?
Well, it almost feels that way to me — she’s been around long enough to figure out what she really likes. She isn’t bound by any constraints, so she doesn’t try to suppress who she is. In my head, I assume she had some type of relationship with Eric in the beginning, but at this point it feels like she’s decided she’s gay, and she’s been living that life for a while.

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