Warning: The following interview with Anna Camp includes major spoilers about True Blood up through the most recent episode, “Karma,” which aired July 27.
Sarah Newlin, on the run from the Yakuza and vampires alike, may have found a salvation: her own blood. If she can cure her own vampire sister of Hep-V, then who else might want a little taste? (And more questions: Will only a little taste suffice? Just how much blood does Sarah have to give up to cure an infected vamp of the disease, and will it work for vamps with accelerated cases?) Vulture discussed the matter with Anna Camp, the actress who plays Sarah, and asked how her character might factor into True Blood’s endgame, what Sarah’s sexual partners reveal about her, and how Sarah would match up with Don Draper on Mad Men.
What is it like to be back on True Blood as both the villain and the cure?
[Laughs.] It’s definitely been a fascinating part to play. There’s a lot going on for her now — Sarah decided to become a Buddhist, and she truly believes that she is, and [that] doing so sort of absolves her of all guilt. She thinks that it’s getting her off the hook. She truly believes that. And she’s losing her mind.
So you don’t think it absolves her?
Absolutely not. [Laughs.]
So let’s talk about this cure. Sarah drank the antidote, her vampire sister drank her, and now her sister is healed. Why do you think Sarah drank the antidote in the first place? As insurance against vampires killing her? Or so she could heal anyone?
As an actor, I can play it one of two ways: I’m either trying to save my own ass by doing this, which is an interesting way, or the really psychotic way is, I truly believe now that I am here to save this world. And ultimately, maybe Sarah’s subconscious is definitely trying to save her own ass, but the way you play it is completely 100 percent, full-on, “I'm here for the good of God. I'm here for the good of the world.”
But I think in that moment when she's deciding, when she drinks the cure, I don't think she's even realizing what she's doing. I think she realizes after, when she goes to this Buddhist retreat, something dawns on her. I don't even know if she was planning on telling people. I don't think she's that smart, or that manipulative. I think when she goes to the retreat, she realizes these things, and then she starts to believe that God has this master plan for her, because ultimately, she still believes that God or the Buddha or whoever, this higher power, has called on her. She believes someone made her drink it. God gave her the idea to drink it, so now she's this vessel of love and light. She thinks she's here to save her sister and humankind, just like Jesus Christ. It's really messed up! [Laughs.] She's completely psychotic. She's lost her mind for Jesus. In this world, I am the new Messiah. She believes she's been sent to save both the vampire race and the human race. I'm not trying to destroy them anymore. She completely believes this was all meant to be and this all happened for a reason, and she's just so desperate to get out. She's a very desperate woman, and I think she's about to get her comeuppance.
Who do you think is the biggest threat to her? The Yakuza, Eric, all the other Hep-V-infected vampires?
I think the biggest threat to her this season are Eric and Pam, because what they witnessed Sarah doing to them and the other vampires at the vamp camp. They want to exact their revenge on her, because she actually tortured them. I think they're ready to snap at any moment when they see her. I don't have any weapons, the only thing that I have is my manipulative mind, so I try to talk a lot of people out of doing bad things to me, so it's been interesting to see how far that gets me. [Laughs.]
It seems like most of the time, her manipulation is about sex and power. Sexiness is next to godliness, for her ...
For her, yeah. [Laughs.] That's how she channels her power, and it's something holy for her. And she definitely loves men. She wants to impress the men she's with. Maybe perhaps she has some daddy issues from her past? She needs that support, and she needs that love, because she's looking for love, too. She just really goes about it in a really messed up way, sort of using the men to justify her actions. In using Governor Burrell, she gained power, and she was attracted to that. She really wanted to be where he was. With the guru, she thought the closer she got to the guru, the more guilt-free she would be, and the more at peace and enlightened she would become. And in doing so, I mean, she doesn't have to sleep with these people, but that's what Sarah does to get what she wants. But in a normal world, if she were a normal human being and if she could just go back and fit in with society, Jason would represent what she would want in real life. Like in another lifetime, they would have been perfect for each other ... if she wasn't so insane. With him, she just gets her carnal needs met — he does that for lots of women!
It’s the last season of True Blood and the last season of Mad Men ...
I know, it’s so sad! I can't believe it's the end of an era. And everyone's expectations are so high for both of these amazing shows, and I know audiences want so many different things. I like shows when they're kind of left open-ended. I hope that both shows sort of leave us wanting more, leave us with Sookie not knowing her future, and Don Draper not knowing what's going to happen, but having them both learn about love. They don't necessarily need to find love, but I feel like they need to learn about loving.
Do you think Sarah Newlin could have been a good partner for Don Draper? Maybe she's just crazy enough to snap him out of it ...
[Laughs] My mind is just exploding right now! I don't think he's met his match, and I don't know if he ever will. I'm excited to see what happens, though. I'm sure there are a lot of actresses out there who would have killed to play the new Mrs., another new Mrs. Draper, but Sarah Newlin might have gotten bored with Don, to be honest! I don't know. He's changing, and he's not drinking as much anymore, but I think she needs someone who is definitely striving for power all the time, or enlightenment, or whatever it may be. And he's kind of stuck in this place where he has a lack of ambition, at least this last season, and Sarah needs somebody who is super ambitious. [Laughs.] Actually, I think she and Aubrey [from Pitch Perfect] would be a good match. [Laughs.] They would be so crazy. They would just be two crazy girls, trying to strive for perfection all the time. They would probably just explode. They would probably have a Showgirls moment, where someone throws the marbles under the other one, and then someone would fall down the stairs. I don't know, but I think Sarah would probably win.
Aubrey pops up again in Pitch Perfect 2?
Yeah, I just wrapped that last week! Aubrey's graduated school, and it's like three years later, so all the people who were freshman in the last movie are now seniors. And I do play a little bit of a pivotal role in the movie, and it's pretty funny what I'm up to, so I think people are going to love it. It's going to be just as much fun as the first one.
Is it possible she's a judge in the competition now?
Um ... she is in a position of authority. That's all I can say.
That could actually be scary...
Um ... yes. I can't say anything else, but you're on the right track! [Laughs] It's such a fun role to play.
Well, maybe we'll get to hear you sing in the True Blood musical ...
You know, I heard about that and I would be down to be in it! I'd like to see what sort of epic song Sarah Newlin would sing about Jesus Christ and vampires. If there's a church set, I could crawl on top of a steeple and sing my heart out about saving the human race, with giant hair and a wind machine. It could be the end of act one, like a cliffhanger!