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Q&A: ‘True Blood’s’ Pam on meeting her maker

Kristin Bauer, the scene-stealer who plays Pam, the loyal business partner, henchman and hairstylist to Alexander Skarsgard’s Eric, does a marathon interview with Entertainment Weekly on all things "True Blood."
/ Source: Entertainment Weekly

SPOILER ALERT! Pam will not get to avenge those great Betsey Johnson pumps she ruined tracking the creature that turned out to be meanad Maryann in Sunday night’s season finale of “True Blood” (HBO, 9 p.m. ET).

Pam won’t even be in the episode because apparently, vampires don’t know how to close a bar for the night. It’s a wrong that can only be righted by Kristin Bauer, the scene-stealer who plays the loyal business partner, henchman, and hair stylist to Alexander Skarsgard’s Eric, receiving serious screen time in Season 3 — and, of course, doing a marathon interview with EW in which she answers most of the 96 questions our glamoured PopWatch readers recently submitted for her.

Here, Bauer — who TV devotees might also remember as Man Hands on “Seinfeld”, the woman still nursing her 8-year-old at work on “Desperate Housewives,” the woman who sued her plastic surgeon for injecting his own ass fat into her lips on “Boston Legal,” Ray’s first kiss on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and Jack’s ex-wife Allie on “Just Shoot Me!” — shares the stories of how Pam met Eric, how she met Skarsgard, and much, much more.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It’s not fair that we won’t see Pam in the finale!
KRISTIN BAUER: It’s not fair! I’ve been asking fans to tell me what happens in the next books because I’ve been holding off on reading them ’cause I’m a fan of the show, too, and it’s more exciting if the scripts come and I don’t know what happens. I keep asking them, “What does Pam do next year?” I have no idea what Alan Ball is gonna do. None of us do. I talked to Alexander this week: “Do you have any idea about Season 3?” He said, “Nothing.”

A very popular question: Do you have any input in what Pam wears?
I haven’t had to give input because [costume designer] Audrey Fisher is so amazing. She sends me pictures of the zebra outfit or the red sequined jumpsuit, and I’m like, “YES!” It’s like having the best character consultant you’ve ever had. She puts so much thought into each scene. She’s responsible for Pam. She creates Pam.

I imagine that Pam and Eric are two of her favorites to dress.
Yeah, I think she told me that Pam is one of her favorites. I met the costumer who did the pilot and left to do another project at a party and he said, “This is my biggest regret, that I can’t dress Pam.” She’s such a diva. The red sequins, to us, was very ’80s. The first episode she was in last season was very Victorian, with the leather corset. One episode she was in J. Crew. That’s extremely fun for me, that you can show in somebody’s clothing so much about the person and how long they’ve been around.

That brings us to another burning question: What’s the history between Pam and Eric? I know you’ve recorded a special feature for the season 2 Blu-ray that dives into that.
It was 34 pages of writing, straight Pam. It gives you Pam’s viewpoint on everything that happens in the vampire world in season 2. It also fills in everything I’ve been wondering about Pam, Alexander was wondering about Pam. ... We kept asking producers what their relationship was.

Why had they never told you before?
Every time we’d ask, it was some night shoot, 2 a.m., we’re all giddy, and we would just start laughing and joking almost immediately, so we never got any details. When I saw the writers for the Blu-ray, I said, “This was wonderful. Thank you. It was really fun to find out about Pam,” and they said, “Us, too!” It feels like we’re all creating it as we go. Pam was turned about 100 years ago. It seems from this writing, Pam sought Eric out. She was living a very wealthy, upper-crust life and these little men were lining up to court her and she’d be married off to one of these people, and she’s a real feminist: She looked at what her life would be and said, “No.” She met Eric and he split her world apart and she never looked back. So she really went after him.

And their relationship started off romantic?
Yeah, it was. Alexander and I would always joke during the season, “Were they a couple?” “Well yeah, the first 100 years were very passionate but it’s sorta cooled.” [Laughs] I just decided to play it that way. She is extremely enamored and impressed and loyal to Eric. In the Blu-ray, she just thinks that being a maker is an incredible position to be in and that Eric is the best maker you could ever have. She was released by Eric — she is with him and at his side because she believes that this guy is one of a kind.

One reader asked, if there’d been a scene written for Pam and Eric after Godric’s death, how would she have handled him?
She comments on that in the Blu-ray. She says something along the line of she’s not at all surprised how Eric is reacting and how she wouldn’t have been able to keep it together as well as Eric did if something had happened to him. It was nice to see this side of Pam, she’s almost sentimental. If something happened to Eric, she’d be destroyed.

We would all love to see their beginning in a flashback. How would you feel about filming it?
It’d be great. I will play Pam anywhere, anytime, anyplace, and would love to be made, killing. ... I was so jealous of Alexander in this year’s season opener, when he’s ripping that body apart. I’m like, “Yeah! You lucky bastard!” I got to meet Charlaine Harris and have lunch with her, and she says in her latest book, she sends Pam on a real killing spree. I was drooling! Isn’t that terrible?

I’m assuming that enthusiasm for carnage is part of the reason you were cast. How did you get the role?
The casting people who are nominated for an Emmy, Junie Lowry-Johnson and Libby Goldstein, are responsible for half my career.They called me in to read for Alan Ball. There are some characters that you feel are just in you — you can play this person, and you can play this person better than most. It doesn’t mean you’re gonna get it. Then I went to the Philippines to shoot this movie, “Subject: I Love You,” and the producer said, “You know, you’re starting on this other show the day after you fly back from here.” I said, “What other show? Where are my agents? I didn’t hear about this? Do they have my phone number?” And she said, “Let me look. ... ‘True Blood.’” And I was like, “What audition was that?” My protective mechanism is that I go in, I read, and then I try to forget about it because it’s too sad when you don’t get something. She said, “It’s the vampire role.” And I went, “Oh, thank you, Lord!” I get so many messages from actor friends that I haven’t heard from in 10 years saying, “I’m so jealous.” I don’t know what it is that we’re witnessing with vampires and their popularity, but actors as well really yearn to play these immortal dead killers. [Laughs]

I bet it’s because you can play evil and get away with it. The audience won’t turn against you — they want you to be bad.
That’s it. I love the line fromTrue Lies” were Schwarzenegger says he only kills bad people. I think that with Pam, if people are killing the right people ... You know John Wayne — you’re rootin’ for him. Even the mafia, we don’t want the Sopranos to go to jail. “The Godfather,” you’re hoping they get away with it.

Does Eric confide in Pam? Does she know the reason he has Lafayette selling V, or why he wants Sookie so badly?
No. She does not know. She’s just going with it because of her loyalty.

Fans of the books are always talking about how Pam and Sookie end up forming some kind of “friendship.” Is that something you’re hoping happens on the show?
Anna [Paquin] is just an absolute riot and couldn’t be more talented, so it would be so much fun. [SPOILER ALERT!] I’ve heard about that, too, from fans, that Eric loses his memory and gets really soft and sensitive, and they form a friendship and help him. It’s really fun to see Alexander get to play Eric in ways that we don’t expect, like when he tries to be human. It’s really entertaining. He’s so funny.

There’s been so much buzz about Alexander in the last month. What’s your take on that?
I think it makes perfect sense. He’s new to us, our country, and he’s big and beautiful, and the character is big and beautiful. It’s the perfect storm.

Is there anything negative you can say about him to help subdue our crushes while we wait for season 3?
Like when a guy breaks up with you, you look for something really bad to focus on? Yeah, good luck finding that with Alexander. There’s nothin’ bad about the guy. Sorry. [Laughs] You’re all just gonna have to pine. He has an amazing sense of humor. After every Swedish take, I look at him, and he sort of nods. Once, he went and saw the footage. I said, “How was I? Was my Swedish good?” He said, “No. You sound like a Russian prostitute.” Of course, the comeback line was, “How would you know?” but I thought of it months later. In fact, I think someone else thought of it. But after every take, I go, “Russian prostitute? Or am I near the border of Sweden?”

So you hadn’t spoken any Swedish before the show?
No. And I still don’t. Alexander records what sounds to me like gibberish, and I play this jibberish over and over until I can regurgitate the jibberish, and I just hope that I’m sounding somewhat Swedish. That’s definitely nerve-wracking. My husband [Abri van Straten, lead singer of the South African band The Lemmings] is of Swedish descent as well, so he learns it with me. I just repeat it to him 100 times a day. It’s seared into my frontal cortex because I can still remember all my Swedish lines — not my English lines — from the whole season.

And Alexander is good about translating? He doesn’t trick you into saying dirty words?
He’s very good about that — as far as I know. That’s a trick my husband pulls. He’s teaching me phrases in Afrikaans, and he just keeps telling me not to say them around his mother. I have no idea what I’m saying, but he laaaaughs.

Did you read with Alexander for your audition?
No. We were cast separately. I didn’t meet him until I was on the set, in the leather corset, and in another time zone because I started on “True Blood” 17 hours after arriving back from the Philipines. I remember Alexander was speaking Swedish, and I said, “Is that Cambodian?” I was just so out of it. I couldn’t breathe, my feet hurt, and I thought for some reason he was Cambodian. But I remember thinking he was very crushworthy.

How many of your friends have asked to be set up with him?
They haven’t, because they’re all married. But they all secretly tell me behind their husbands’ backs, “I have the biggest crush on vampire Eric.” After a while, I thought, Am I chopped liver? Do people just call me to tell me how wonderful Alexander is?

Well, we had a reader say “Your lips are heaven-sent” and ask about your heritage.
[Excitedly] Oh! I’m all German.

More burning questions: Does Pam really want Lafayette turned into a vampire?
That’s also commented on in the Blu-ray: She’s like, “Why not?! I think he’d make a great vampire!” But she says Eric always has his reasons, and he’s never wrong.

If there was one character you could have more scenes with, who would it be?
Terry Bellefleur [Tad Lowe], the shell-shocked guy who’s in the relationship with the waitress Arlene this season. It’d be like, have you ever seen a cat play with a mouse? They just take a really long time to kill it because they’re sort of bored and entertained by it.

That’s the reason I’m hoping Eric and Jason (Ryan Kwanten) have more scenes together. I think Eric would be amused by his childlike stupidity and appreciate his Rambo sensibility.
Well, that’s exactly how Pam feels in the Blu-ray, so I imagine that’s how Eric would feel, too. Pam’s fairly impressed with him, and seems to be a bit turned on by him with his new Brad Pitt/Rambo thing.

People would love to see Pam have a love interest on the show. Which character do you think she could have the most fun with in that way?
Well, my sick mind looks for something that we haven’t seen before. Apparently in the books, she’s bisexual. So I thought we haven’t seen a vampire with a vampire in a love way, and we haven’t seen two women together, so what about her and Jessica? [EW gasps] Right?!

If Jessica and Hoyt (Jim Parrack) are really over, she could be reeling and Pam could come in with the tough love —
And teach her how to really kill. [Laughs] Take her under her wing.

I was gonna say, but slowly fall for her, but you always have to take it to death.
What’s wrong with me? In my life, I’m saving the whales [as a face of IFAW's Tails for Whales campaign, which asks people to show their support for U.S. leadership in global whale conservation by submitting a photo], and then they say “Action!,” and I’m like, “Kill ‘em all!” Maybe Pam wants to save the whales, though.

That would be hilarious, if Pam got Save the Whales literature in the mail at Fangtasia.
I saw my doctor off hours, and he was wearing a Save the Ferret T-shirt, and I thought interesting. My doctor is a ferret activist. I wish I didn’t know that. I’m thinking it would be really odd to see Pam wearing a Save the Whales T-shirt, but she was there for that movement, too ....

Where did Pam’s eye roll and sneer come from? Was that in the script or something you brought to her?
It might be just Kristin Bauer. [Laughs] The longer I play Pam, I’m like, I’m heartless, aren’t I? I’m completely intolerant of my fellow man. I think my sense of humor is kind of sarcastic, and I have a friend who says I have rubber face. I just make all these expressions. Once I did it onscreen they seemed to like it, and they encouraged me to do it. In the next script I’d see, “Pam rolls her eyes.”

You also consider the way you pursued your husband very Pam-like. Tell us that story, because as a single woman in her early 30s, I find it inspirational, and yet, as someone who’s slightly excitable, I’m curious ... I mean, it wasn’t stalking, but ...
[Laughs] “I don’t wanna say you’re a stalker!”

Well, you could have been if you weren’t gorgeous and on a hit show. But how did you know it wasn’t a crush, you would actually connect with him?
I didn’t. My husband says, “When I heard your voice on the phone, I knew.” I say, “Yeah, I did not know. I knew you were hot, and I knew it had been a long time. I did not know that you were my soul mate.” I was just in this fed-up place with so many first dates over four years, and being the only single adult at Christmas with my family in Wisconsin every year.

I was headed into the Christmas vacation [last year], and I really announced to the universe, in my house, “I’ve had it! Is this thing on? I mean, is anybody paying attention? Is there anyone on duty when I’m talking?” I was just pissed off. I’m like, that’s it. I’m taking it into my own hands. I had tried everything — The Secret method, sacrificed the chicken, followed the full moon, lit the love candle and pictured what I wanted, wrote down everything I wanted then got mad and burned it because it didn’t work. And for some reason, on the day I say this, I go to the nutritionist, and there’s his CD sitting on the only chair open. I’m like, “He’s cute. I’m callin’ it…I’m goin’ a freakin’ date!” The woman I was talking to backed out of the room slowly, like you do when you’re afraid for your life. I went online, and wrote an email: “Hey, is this dude in LA? Because I want to have coffee.” I wanted him to be excited to get this email and not like [weary groan] so I wrote, “I’m Kristin Bauer. I’m onTrue Blood,” and here’s my Web site” shamelessly. I was embarrassed about it, but I had to get the job done. He doesn’t check email, so three weeks later, I wrote again: “I haven’t heard back. Still thirsty! Still need caffeine!” Someone wrote back saying he doesn’t do email. I said, “Well, then send a pigeon with my phone number.” [Laughs] I had HAD IT.

I was past being embarrassed or having some normal sense of decorum. We met and just talked and talked and talked and talked. For three weeks, we just talked all day. Within a few months, we were engaged, and within about six and a half months, married. I joked for years, “Where is he? Uganda? Where is my guy?” And the answer was, yes, close. South freakin’ Africa. And he didn’t even want to be in LA. He didn’t want to come to America to tour, he was perfectly happy to tour South Africa, but his record label and band forced him. So maybe all the séances and chicken sacrifices worked, there’s just a delay in this universe.

So I need to go buy chickens?
Try it all! I don’t know what one thing works. And it’s really amazing because we’re coming up on Christmas with my family, and last Christmas, I was sitting there with nieces, ages 13 to 20, at the computer watching this video he has for the song “Rain.” We all fell in love with the song, and we’re watching the video over and over, so at that point, I certainly was your classic stalker because I’m now imagining who this person is and imagining that he wants to meet me. If I weren’t on a TV show, it would be crazy! But people do and eHarmony, and it’s no different. I was looking at his profile. And then I sent a notice: I would like to open communication with you. And now a year later, I’m gonna be sitting at that same computer, checking my email with my husband next to me. My nieces were my bridesmaids.

Such a great story.
I went to college for writing and painting, and the script I’m writing now is the fictionalized version of how Abri and I met. Just a simple, beautiful love story, which I love. It’s fun because his parents are both very well-known South African writers — his dad was a playwright, and his mom a novelist — and he went to school for music and writing. So it’s lovely to show him my pages at the end of the day and to have the songs he’s recording now for his solo album inspiring the direction the story goes. [She's also in the studio painting still life flowers feverishly for a Sept. 26 artists showcase in San Marino, Calif.]

Last question: You just filmed an episode of “Private Practice.” Shonda Rhimes is also notoriously tight-lipped, so she told you not to say anything?
She is, but she didn’t tell me, so screw it! [Laughs] I play a mom of a 13-year-old girl who gets pregnant and disappears. I find her again and she’s not doing well. The mom and daughter have to fight and cry and scream and try find a way to reconcile and save the life of her baby. I can tell you it’s harder to play a human. At the end of the week, I said to my husband, “So when is “True Blood” coming back? Where are my pumps and my teeth?”