Kristin Bauer van Straten talks Pam's 'True Blood' ending
This post contains plot details of the True Blood series finale, “Thank You,” which aired on Aug. 24. Read the recap.
Amidst all the happy endings as True Blood concluded its seven-year run, Pam’s was perhaps the happiest. Kristin Bauer van Straten talked to EW about Pam and Eric’s final scenes, the way the crew tortured her throughout the season, and what Pam’s reaction would have been to Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and Ginger (Tara Buck) finally having sex had we seen it. And yes, she cried.
EW: It feels like in the end, Pam gets Eric back to herself. Is that how you read her happy ending?
Bauer van Straten: That’s exactly how I read it. It felt to me like Pam got back to where we started, with everything that she loves back in place.
Was that the ending you had expected?
It was a total surprise to me. I had no idea, and I tried to not have expectations, because that’s how you keep your sanity as an actress. I was just happy to be still on the show. You can never tell with an HBO show where it’s gonna go. To get to spend all that time with Alexander, have Eric and Pam together, and then to have so many varied emotions to play throughout the whole season? We’ve had the highest highs we’ve had in any year, and the lowest of lows we’ve had in any year. For an actress, it was a dream.
The show had played chicken with Pam’s life so many times this season, I was afraid for the character going into the finale, because I thought the writers might feel like they had to follow through. Did you ever genuinely think that Pam might be offed?
Yeah, I did. There’s a big joke around the set, that I’m probably the most worried about being offed, because I just love the show. So everyone would joke with me—the camera guys, everyone who would see the script before I would, they’d come over and put their hand on my shoulder and give me a puppy dog face and go, “Have you read it?” [Laughs]
That is so cruel!
It was terribly cruel. And they got me almost every single time. At a certain point it became a comfort, because I thought, “I guess they wouldn’t be joking with me if indeed in the next episode the Yakuza got me.” I think I finally relaxed probably about episode eight. [Laughs]
Tell me about the New Blood infomercial scene. So hilarious.
Alex and I were night shooting and we got that script. We both looked at each other and said, “Did you read it?” We were so excited. And we actually kinda started rehearsing it with each other on our iPads that night—we weren’t shooting it for a couple of weeks. But that was our last day together, that scene and the Stock Exchange. And it was, for me, I was just sorta feeling stunned and a bit in shock. I didn’t quite know how to act. Usually, we’re laughing and giggling and riffing. Alex would say something, and I’d say, “What’d you say?” and he’d go, “No, I didn’t say anything.” I’d go, “Didn’t you?” We had an odd rapport that day, and in hindsight, I thought yeah, I guess that would be how it is after seven years—you just don’t know really how to feel or how to act on your last day together. I was trying to enjoy that unbelievable set, the bottles of New Blood, and Anna Camp’s face, and the different expressions she makes for the different blood types. [Laughs] I just thought the whole thing was phenomenal. I experienced it in a strange, removed way on that last day.
Alex has said he cried like a baby when it was over. True?
He was. [She starts to cry.] I had told him, “I’m not gonna be able to deal with it.” I started crying weeks before. I said, “Look, when we have our last day, we have to just act like we’re gonna see each other tomorrow. Let’s just go, ‘See you tomorrow!’ and walk away because I’ll be a mess, and I can’t deal with it.” He knows I’m an emotional person. I said, “Literally, you’re gonna have to help me out and pretend.” In that Stock Exchange scene, we had to look at each other and be laughing and happy. I kept thinking, “Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.” They said, “That’s it!” and he hugged me. And then I felt that he was crying. And I was like, “Oh no! Oh no! I’m in trouble! I’m in trouble!” So then I just, of course, was a mess. And I finally just said, “See you tomorrow! See you tomorrow!” and ran to my car.
I’m tearing up just hearing you tear up. I can’t handle it.
I know, it was brutal. We couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t believe that he cried. He’s a stoic Swede normally.
Do you think Ginger is still at Fangtasia?
I do. I think she has to be there, still hoping there’ll be a second encounter with Eric Northman. She’ll wait 10 years for another one.
We never really got to see Pam’s reaction to Eric and Ginger finally having sex, because obviously Pam was almost dying at that moment. What do you think Pam’s reaction would’ve been?
There was a draft where she did have a reaction. He walks back into the office, and instead of not finding Pam, Pam said, “Did you just have sex with her?” I think Pam said something like, “I always thought it would’ve been louder.” [Laughs] Pam was a little surprised that there wasn’t the Ginger scream, which of course was the writers’ joke, that for once she didn’t scream. It was too much.
That scene was one of the funniest of the series.
Wasn’t that amazing. Everything that Tara Buck did as Ginger this year was incredible. The scene where she lugs that throne into the video store. To watch her do that over and over—she did it with such commitment. She had this huge bruise on her thigh. We just thought that was the funniest thing ever, because Alex had imagined that this was a throne that Eric had kept and cherished since his father in the Viking days. [Laughs] It’s something she found on the side of the road—just so brilliant.
Tell me about filming the scene between Pam and Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp) at the carousel.
I thought that my last day was with Alex. I think the schedule changed, and then I thought my last scene was with Sarah Newlin on the carousel. Then we didn’t get me biting her, and that was a special effects shot, so I came back for that. Then they said, “No, you’re going to have another day torturing her in the basement and selling her blood.” So there was the carousel scene, Anna Camp and I were ready to have our last night together, and then both of us came back. It was so emotionally exhausting. [Laughs] But I loved working with her this year. She’s such an incredible actress, and the character is so multi-layered and fun. Just last night, we burst out laughing when she tries to speak through the gag. Eric says, “I’m going to release you,” and she goes, “You are?” There was so much that was fun about working with her. Just her on the carousel—the way she was eating that food, she looked like a little hamster.
The torture scene is fitting—because Pam had warned Sarah that she was going to be a prostitute, basically.
It goes really well with that speech that Pam gave her: “You’re a hooker. You were born a hooker, and that’s all you’re going to ever be.” She says, “I’m a horrible person.” “You are.” In other scenes, she says, “Why are you doing this,” and I say, “Because you deserve it.” Pam I think is the Judge Judy of vampires. She has no remorse, and that is a very fitting ending for Sarah Newlin. It probably is the most torturous ending, but the most just. There was such a feeling of everything is right in the world: They’re gazillionaires, Sarah Newlin is being tortured. It was like the Old West: the bad guy gets it, and the good guy gets away with the girl and everything.
Do you think that Pam and Eric are just done with Bon Temps? They never talk to any of those people again?
I do, from that ending. In my mind, it made a lot of sense that Pam could’ve cared less about any of them. [Laughs] Good riddance.
What is the moral of Pam and Eric’s story?
The main thing that I felt was that Pam and Eric really do have an unconditional love that really does endure. In my mind, it was an immortal connection. That was what I really began playing from fairly early on, but it didn’t really sink in until year three when we saw Pam’s vulnerable side and when Eric was possibly dying. Because Alex and I got along, it really helped, and this last year, it was just really kind of a true love story that transcended a romantic relationship even.
Part of me wondered whether they’re pretending to be a couple in public now, for the sake of New Blood sales, when we saw that kiss on the hand.
That was just a sweet little thing that happened. As a viewer, I want things to be romantic, but playing Pam, it just felt like their relationship could possibly go back and forth as we’ve seen that it has. In 1905, they met in a sexual relationship, but at a certain point, it transcended that and became a relationship that we never really had to worry about ending.
I know they’re auctioning off a ton of stuff from the set. Were you able to keep anything for yourself?
You know, as of yet I haven’t. Just my fangs. I was wandering around Fangtasia thinking what do I want to take. Every square inch of that set was dressed with something funny, kitschy, vampiric that I’d been looking at for seven years. I was so overwhelmed on my last night in the stage, I just literally couldn’t think. There are three paintings on the wall, like black velvet, Elvis-style vampire portraits: Bush with fangs, Clinton with fangs, and our producer Gregg Fienberg with fangs. I’m hoping that Gregg has the one of himself. I went to him and said, “I hope you’re going to hang that.” He has what I imagine is a tasteful, beautiful home because his wife, Annie, is an incredible designer. And I said, “Well, if no one wants Clinton or Bush.” Those may be hanging in my house for the rest of my life. It’s so much pressure, because I thought anything I take from this set, I will never ever be able to let go. I’m looking at some weird little skeleton thing, and, like, do I want to cherish that for the rest of my days? It was too big of a commitment to make. It felt like a bigger commitment than marriage. I couldn’t do it.
You’re also auctioning things off on eBay on your own for charity. Where is that money going?
Two places: One is to my documentary on elephant ivory poaching and rhino horn poaching in Africa. I am in the process of editing, which has been terribly long and terribly expensive. The other place is to a children’s arts education scholarship fund.
There’s early talk of a True Blood musical. Is that anything you would consider doing? What kind of song do you imagine Pam doing?
I can’t imagine me doing it. I’m not a singer and a dancer. In all these big musicals, we see actors who are not singers and dancers that somehow pull it off, but I would need a lot of private lessons just to have the guts. I always pictured Pam doing this great number where she sang “Only the Lonely” by the Motels. I just for some reason thought that would be really funny, and I think that’s one of the four songs that I can sing. They’d have to really tailor it to me.
What kind of role are you looking for next?
Hopefully I’m going to be going to something that shoots during the day, for at least a little bit. My goals are very, very practical.
I hope you’re done crying.
I know. I’m so dehydrated.
Sookie, Bill, Eric, Lafayette, Sam and the other residents Bon Temps deal with vampires, werewolves, fairies, and shape-shifters—not to mention romance and drama