Part Judge Judy, Part John Wayne, and Wholly Original – Kristin Bauer van Straten on Playing Pam

By Katie M. Lucas

Pamela Swynford de Beaufort finished True Blood the same way she entered the series – as the fabulous leading lady of Fangtasia. connected with actor Kristin Bauer van Straten who tearfully shared what Pam's story has meant to her. Below, the actress details the importance of hair dye, her take on Eric and Ginger and what Pam has in common with John Wayne.

What a perfect final scene for Pam – selling Sarah Newlin in the basement of Fangtasia. What did you think when you read the scene?

I was really thrilled because it showed Pam in full regalia Fangtasia costume. She's back in her happiest, corseted best form – and being a madame again.

She's come full circle.

It was full circle for me too, because it ended up being the last scene that I shot, so I started on my last night as I had on my first: completely strapped in, wearing heels and red lipstick. During my last shot, I was snarling with fangs, telling the guy to get the f*ck out of there.

Was it emotional?

Exceedingly. I tried to put it out of my mind. After the final take, I heard all these feet coming in behind me. The A.D. said to me, "OK, we're going to roll one more time! Kristin, don't turn around." Of course, I could hear everybody and I knew we weren't rolling. I turned around and they all applauded. It was a really lovely send off.

It's amazing to contrast this final scene with Pam's first appearance this season, where she's devastated and playing Russian roulette.

Pam had a great season. I got to play every color. I started as vulnerable and desperate as any person could ever be. Pam ends up better than she started. She's got money, she's got Eric, and justice is done.

One of my favorite things is to watch Westerns, especially John Wayne's films. I enjoy that Pam has a little bit of that "Old West" mentality. She doesn't call the police. She takes matters into her own hands.

She definitely did so with Sarah Newlin. What did the mission to find Sarah mean to Pam?


I think it began as a ruse to get Eric motivated to not die immediately. As it continued, it became personal for Pam. She's ultimately very fair… She's sort of the Judge Judy of the vampire world, and she realizes that Sarah Newlin deserves everything she's getting. Pam's perfectly happy to be the judge and the jury – she's also a businesswoman, so we see everything that we've come to know and love in Pam and her treatment of Sarah.

Why was it important for Pam to dye Sarah's hair?

I think it was so that everybody who bought a piece of Sarah recognized her exactly as we last saw her. Pam didn't want to sell the earthy Buddhist, Noomi; She wanted to sell a piece of classic Sarah Newlin. And she even dressed her up in nice lingerie!

We obviously see her response, but what was Pam's initial reaction to Sarah's proposition to be her vampire lesbian lover?

I imagined that at first, she is incredibly amused because the ultimate Christian vampire hater/executioner is now begging Pam to become a vampire sex slave. Pam's thinking, "Oh, how the mighty has fallen." She's happy to have a front row seat to witness it. Then she finds, as the writers' brilliance always illustrates, the most perfect way to say: not ever. The way I chose to deliver that message was almost a seduction, and then when I drink from her, it's basically a rape. There's always that sense of humor with Pam, and I like to show a bit of her viciousness.

Where would you see Eric and Pam in 50 years?

They're explorers and survivors. I would imagine them to have gotten on that SpaceX consumer space vehicle. They'd be looking for the new frontier.

That sounds like the perfect spin-off. Is there anyone besides Eric that you wish Pam could have gotten to partner up with?

In my mind, I've written many comedic scenes between Pam and Jason Stackhouse… like a cat playing with a mouse.

Did you have a favorite scene over the years?

My last scenes with Alex [Skarsgard], which were the infomercial and the stock exchange, are now the scenes that are stuck in my mind as the perfect way to go out.

That infomercial was hilarious.

Oh my God. The most perfect, comedic justice you could ever imagine.

What was it like filming that with Alexander Skarsgard?

We were together the whole time this season, which we really loved, and we got to finish out together doing the infomercial. It was wonderful, and of course very emotional. It's surreal after so many years to say goodbye. These relationships – for both the characters and the actors – have grown to have great depth. Every single scene that I had to play with Alex, I would just borrow my personal affection towards him. I felt so lucky to be able to do that.

I love Eric and Pam together, but I can't help but wonder: Is Pam bitter that Eric is always getting her captured? It happened again this year!

We talked about it with the producers and I tried to think of how to play it, because Pam is a fighter. From the beginning, she's been lieutenant, second in command. This year, I felt that there was more equality between her and Eric. But at a certain point, Pam is the only thing that Eric's enemies can use against him. I chose to focus on just how much Pam means to Eric, and I played feeling bad that I put him in that position. We've seen that she would die for him. Her whole focus is always first on him and second on herself. It exists so rarely in life. It's nice to see that unconditional love that really, most humans can only get from their dogs.

It's interesting that you bring up equality, because at a certain point this season, Pam comes across as the hero.

I thought that was a nice switch this year! I didn’t want to toot my or Pam's horn, but she really saves Eric. He would have wound up fighting to his death. He would have burned up in the sun before making a deal with the Yakuza. And repeatedly, he would have killed Sarah Newlin before drinking.

Does Pam know that Eric had sex with Ginger? Would she be upset?

I think that she would have been amused and happy for Ginger. I don't think that she could possibly be jealous of Ginger. In earlier seasons, we saw Pam walking in on Eric having sex with Yvetta, and she appeared to be more curious about Yvetta than jealous. Pam doesn't mind sharing. It was specifically Sookie's relationship with Eric that annoyed Pam, because Eric put Sookie before her.

Other than the cast and crew, what will you miss about playing Pam?

I was lucky enough to explore this character's whole evolution and prehistory through the decades. I got to play comedy and action, and I got to be the most vulnerable that I've ever been in my personal life, as well as on screen. I got to do all of that with some of my favorite people I've ever met. And I got to see millions of fans and witness that this resonated with them. That's a really incredibly lucky, "lightning striking" feeling to be part of.

Not ready to say goodbye to ‘True Blood’? Read the interview with Deborah Ann Woll for more finale coverage.