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True Blood’s Kristin Bauer on Eric’s Amnesia, Corsets, and Her Most Shocking Line This Season

Photo: Art Streiber
Kristin Bauer as True Blood’s Pam. Photo: Art Streiber

As True Blood’s Pam, Kristin Bauer’s role has thus far been twofold: to spit out piquant lines, and to look fabulous while doing it. But this season, the unflappable vamp must channel her inner thug to fight a coven of witches, who’ve had the gall to mess with the only precious thing in Pam’s life: her badass maker, Eric Northman. Vulture discussed all the True Blood basics (sex, savagery, Skarsgard) with the seasoned actress. Then we shamelessly pumped her for information on former co-stars Jerry Seinfeld and Charlie Sheen.

Pam was always just Eric’s sidekick. Now that he basically has amnesia, how will she come into her own this season?
Pam wants everything back to normal, so her maker [Eric] being this sweet, sensitive guy is no good. The witches aim their wands in her direction. She’s very into appearance and making money and the love of her maker — they try to strip all of that away from her. So this year, we get to see her really mad and really feral. When things get dire, her solution is: kill it. She’s like the Mafia.

How will that affect Sookie and Pam’s relationship?
There’s interesting alliances during this crisis that unite against a common enemy. Sookie and Pam have quite a common interest in keeping Eric okay. But Pam finds Sookie alluring as well, like many vampires. The only thing keeping Pam from going after Sookie is that Eric doesn’t want to share this one. On top of it, Pam is a bit possessive of Eric. So it’s a really complicated relationship.

Everyone’s speculating about whom Sookie will choose: Bill, Eric, or Alcide. Maybe Pam’s the wild card?
Yeah, exactly! Maybe Pam. The billboard next year can be Pam grabbing at Sookie as well. It would be great.

We’ve seen werewolves, werepanthers, shape-shifters, fairies, witches, vampires … what’s next?
That’s what I was wondering. Joe Manganiello [who plays Alcide] and I were saying aliens. That was the only thing we could come up with.

Hands-down, Pam gets the best lines. Which one is your favorite?
Oh my God, there are so many. Last night when I watched episode three, I was like, “Right! This is the ‘Eat, fuck, kill’ line!” — which I thought was pretty great. But there’s a line … I think it’s in episode eleven. I heard about it coming all season. We thought, “It’s so wrong. It’s never going to stay, even on HBO.” Then came the script and, sure enough, there it was. At the table read, there was a silence before I said it. And then everyone giggled after I said it. That one’s very fresh in my mind, but I cannot tell you what it is.

You also have the tightest wardrobe on set.
Right? My manager called [once] and said, “Next time I see you, I’m feeding you.” I’m like, “Dude, that’s a corset!” I was cinched in. I could barely breathe. There’s nothing like a corset to make you feel feminine. Then, of course, halfway through the shooting day, I’m like, “What was I thinking?”

Alexander Skarsgard’s Eric is supposed to dress more flamboyantly, too. And yet he doesn’t.
In the book, when he loses his mind, he ends up in pink spandex. I can’t say [if he does], but I can tell you he looked very Abercrombie last night. I was like, “Oh, that’s so cute. The girls are going to go crazy.” But I feel like he’d be fine [in pink spandex]. He has a European sense about him.

Until now, your most famous role was the lady with man hands on Seinfeld. What do you remember about shooting that episode?
In the read-throughs, we would have some guy on the floor behind me. I’d put my hands behind my back, and he’d do the hands moving around. We would laugh so hard that we wouldn’t get through the run-through. Jerry was very lovely to work with. Every few years I’ll see him somewhere and say, “Hi! I was Man Hands.” And he just laughs.

Does everyone ask to see your hands?
Yeah. And thank God I have the tiniest, most slender hands. Thank God!

You were also in the Two and a Half Men pilot. Was Charlie Sheen anything like he is now?
Well, you know, I’ve seen different things in the tabloids over the years. So from a distance, it doesn’t shock me. But the Charlie that I worked with was the polar opposite of what I’d been reading: He was really sweet, really quiet, and shy. Totally different.

You studied art at Parsons and Washington University. How does that fit into your life now?
I was sort of a more classically trained portrait painter in school. I just kept doing it over the years. I draw dogs often for charity things, and then I do people.

Any of your True Blood co-stars?
I actually did a portrait of Alex [Skarsgard] which we both signed and auctioned off for the Amanda foundation. It’s an animal rescue in L.A. The next one I’m going to do is Stephen [Moyer], because Stephen came up to me and said, “Why didn’t you paint me?”

It’s funny that you play a vampire, because in real life you’re a pretty vocal vegetarian.
Both of my parents got cancer. My dad died of it, and so did a couple of other very close friends, who were young. Vegetarians have an astoundingly lower rate of cancer; there’s this book, The China Study, that’s pretty moving. And I don’t like needless suffering [of animals]. It really haunts me. Growing up in Wisconsin, we had horses and chickens. [Laughs.] But I didn’t particularly like the chickens; we had this nasty rooster I spent half of my childhood trying to kill.

True Blood’s Kristin Bauer on Eric’s Amnesia, Corsets, and Her Most Shocking Line This Season