As True Blood comes to a close, one of the characters fans are likely to miss most is Pam, the beloved bloodsucker played by the lovely Kristin Bauer van Straten. Kristin took time out of her busy schedule last Monday to talk with me about how it feels for her to be hanging up her fangs, the passionate True Blood fans, and what could possibly come next.
She's one of the actors who have been with the series since its first season, watching True Blood go from an unknown new series to a major television phenomenon. So how does she feel now that it's reaching its conclusion? "I experienced the incredible highs and the lows with the incredible highs," she reflected, "but yet True Blood is immortal, just like vampires. We will be on DVD; I'm just discovering Buffy The Vampire Slayer. These shows live on. So the main feeling I have is gratitude."
What's difficult is wanting to talk about season seven, but not wanting to spoil it for the show's devoted audience. "There's so much communication that I feel like I want to have with the fans, because I'm so proud of the work that we did, especially this year," Kristin reflected. "The main thing I feel about this season is the writers and the producers did the most beautiful job of taking all of our characters deeper into what we know and love about all of them.
"Like we saw in the episode last night with Pam and Eric, we get flashbacks and we get to know them better. It was so fun for us to get to find out how Pam and Eric got to Louisiana. How Fangtasia happened. The week before [that], we got to understand an even deeper layer to Pam and Eric's relationship."
We won't see the season finale until August 24, but the actors already know how it all ends. Kristin gave us her initial reaction to finding out how Pam concludes her story. "I always do this thing where I can't help but write the next season - especially this season and the ending - and come up with so many possibilities," she said.
"And then every year, when I read what they wrote and I think about acting it, I'm always surprised. Because it's better than what I came up with, and it's also more challenging than what I came up with, and therefore more rewarding."
She did give us one ominous hint, though: "All of the storylines can't end happily." Uh-oh.
But what about after True Blood? How does somebody follow up having been a popular character on a hit TV series for seven years? That part's not so easy, either. "I'm so used to HBO, and incredible writing, and a massive budget that supports a lot of time to make the product," Kristin said. "It feels like we're shooting a movie. We take twenty days to shoot an episode. That's a mini-movie every week, and we also have six months to perfect it, reshoot it, the editors do their thing before it airs...The bar has been set."
She does have a few things on her post-Pam wish list, though. "I'd love to do comedy," she continued, quipping, "I'd like to be in makeup less than four hours...I wouldn't mind being in more comfortable shoes!"
Kristin will no doubt have plenty of roles after Pam, and she had plenty before, too. We asked her what other projects she might point audiences toward now that True Blood has helped raise her profile. "There's two things. I did a movie called The Story of Luke, and it's a really great movie. It's an independent movie, with me and Cary Elwes, I just think it's such a lovely heartwarming film.
"I'm also working on my documentary, that's whatI'm jumping back into as we speak, and it's called Out for Africa. It's about elephant ivory and rhino horn poaching," she added. "It was an incredibly life-changing experience." You can find out more about the documentary - and other causes important to Kristin - by visiting her website.
Pam isn't even the first hugely popular character that she's played. In an episode of Seinfeld entitled "The Bizarro Jerry," Kristin guested as Jerry's then-girlfriend Gillian, who was known for her "man hands." Has being a badass vampire for seven seasons finally surpassed her Seinfeld infamy? "I think it maybe has," she laughed. "My experience walking around in the world is that people yell 'Pam!' and every once in a while people yell 'Man Hands!'"
Seriously, though, Kristin wants to thank the True Blood fans for not only their ongoing support of the show and its stars, but their making a difference in the real world as well. "We're so aware, on this show in particular, that the reason we got to continue to play for seven years was because we had support. Without the fans, we don't have a show," she told us. "The fans have also been amazing at supporting us in our causes. All of us have something that we feel is important. How much money collectively we've raised for charity is pretty incredible."
Kristin herself is pretty incredible, too. Not just because she's played such a memorable character as Pam, but for her thoughtfulness and the good she's striving to do in the world. Though True Blood might be coming to a close, keep your eye on her, because something tells us that this isn't the last time we'll be talking about what she's accomplished.
True Blood continues its seventh and final season tonight at 9 PM ET/PT on HBO. For more with Kristin, you can also follow her on Twitter (@BauervanStraten).