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True Blood’s Kristin Bauer van Straten on Pam’s Eric Issues and Her Newfound Appreciation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

True Blood’s Kristin Bauer van Straten. Photo: Splash News/Corbis

Spoilers ahead if you have not seen the most recent episode of True Blood.

After abandoning her vampire bar Fangtasia (which became a base for Hep-V-infected vamps) and her progeny Tara (who since found the True Death), Pam finally found what she was looking for — but was she too late? At least Eric didn’t die during his nude sunbathing session, but he’s got a separate affliction now, something he shares with  one eigth of the world vampire population — Hep-V. What does this mean for our favorite Viking vamp, and his progeny? Kristin Bauer van Straten chatted with Vulture about Pam and Eric, playing Russian roulette, and her new appreciation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Pam has been wandering the world trying to find Eric, and when she finally does …
… she finds out he has V, Hep-V. Her worst fear was that she couldn’t find him, or that she would be too late, and then she finds him, and she sees that he is dying. What I imagine was that Pam looks at her life, at the end of season six, and looks at her life without Eric in it, and can’t face it. She has to know that she did everything in her power to find him. And then of course when she sees him, we’ll see how far she’ll go to try and keep him with her as long as possible.

Nora had an extreme case and died quickly because she was a test subject. Eric could live longer.
Exactly. Like we see with human illness, when people get the same disease, such as cancer, the outcome can be very different. That’s explored a lot during this season. That’s a huge subject. And I feel like we’ve gotten to know over the years, especially after we saw Pam’s flashback, how important Eric is to her, because he saved her. The life she was headed for was going to be hard and short and lonely, and she really chose, and forced him, to either allow her to die in that moment, or become a vampire and create that special bond. And whenever he’s been in peril, she’s been so vulnerable. That’s when we realized how much he meant to her. And to find him in such a state … Their relationship is more complex than a father/daughter relationship, but that’s the closest thing we have as humans. A best friend and a father that’s been stretched over a hundred years. It’s inconceivable for her to think of existing without him.

Do you think because she was caught up in her search for Eric that she didn’t feel the exact moment that her progeny died? Because some fans thought that was “proof” Tara might still be alive, that Pam didn’t register it.
Right … We do find out more about that later. There is something about that in episode three. I can’t totally tell you about it, but it is something that is addressed, and it was kind of an editing decision, but it will be addressed.

For all we know, Pam was playing Russian roulette when it happened, and she had to play it cool.
Right, right. [Laughs] It’s very interesting, the things humans will come up with to bet on, and I thought it was very clever that they had vampire Russian roulette with wooden bullets, with the vats that we stand in, to make it easier to get the next two in there. And we had to hold the guns right over our hearts.

Have you ever played Russian roulette before?
No. [Laughs] But we all think of the classic movie Deer Hunter when we think of Russian roulette, which is why I thought it was so funny and so perfect when that guy, the circus leader there, comments, “We watch Deer Hunter.” That’s how they got the idea. Death is something we try not to think about as humans, and when it happens to someone close to us, it’s a game changer in our lives. Your life is actually changed forever, and you contemplate what part of us continues, where do we continue. So I have at times been very philosophical about playing a vampire, because I thought, really, everybody is immortal — it’s just as a vampire, your body is what is becomes immortal. Almost.

You recently started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer? How far along are you, and how has that affected what you see explored on True Blood?
It’s very interesting, because having not seen Buffy before I did True Blood, I can’t help but notice there’s a cute lead blonde girl with a silly name, and she falls in love with a vampire, and there’s a few other similarities. It’s like when I was an art history major — it’s interesting to look back and see how Monet lead into what we see with Jackson Pollock. Buffy is our predecessor, and really probably opened the door for the next artist to come along and take it to a new level. I’m in the middle of season four, they’re in college, and Buffy is trying to get away from trying to be the Slayer, but of course, she can’t. She’s being sucked back in, and she’s not having so much luck with human boys. Sookie doesn’t have the easiest time in relationships, either. And neither did I! And when Buffy slept with Angel, and he became a monster, that was hard for me, because we root for them to be together, and it was so brilliant of the writers to make it impossible. If they ever truly abandon themselves in each other’s arms, he will lose his soul. There’s parallels there between Bill and Sookie, when he became not such a good guy. And then Bill regains his soul again, so to speak, and became a good guy again, when he saved us all last year.

That’s the most amazing thing about True Blood — it looks fantastical, especially this season. You think, “How could a small town like this not be protected by the government?” And then we go, “Oh. Right. That actually just happened.” “How can disease be spreading … ” “Oh. Right. That actually happened.” “How can people in a town be turning on each other?” “Oh. That’s actually what happens.”

So if you were making comparisons between the two shows, who is the most Pam-like? Spike?
[Laughs] I guess so! Maybe Pam is where Charlaine Harris and Alan Ball came up with something completely new, or at least an amalgam. Nobody is just black or white, or good or evil. I wish it were that simple at least in my own life. I wish I could just tell the bad guys from the good guys, whether it be a politician or a lawyer or an agent or a family member. Because it’s never that simple.

True Blood’s Kristin Bauer van Straten on Pam