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True Blood’s Tara Buck on Screaming and the Spinoff Ginger Should Do With Pam

True Blood’s Tara Buck. Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Every good horror story needs a scream queen, and for True Blood, that’s Ginger. Until last night’s episode, much of what we knew about the character played by Tara Buck was scream-related. Warning: Spoilers about the most recent episode of True Blood to follow.

Via flashbacks, we finally got to see what a pre-glamoured Ginger was like, both as a college student and as the ultimate vampire groupie — one who actually dreamed up the concept and name for Fangtasia. “Who would have guessed?” giggled actress Tara Buck. This glimpse of past Ginger helps set up an actual trajectory for the previously one-note character, who might have seemed so far regressed that there was no room for growth, but then, at the end of the season, “we may have a chance to see how she evolves,” the actress teased. Buck chatted with Vulture about all that screaming, her idea for a True Blood spinoff, and drooling.

We finally get to learn what Ginger’s like if she only had a brain …
I thought that was so wonderful! The six years I’ve been on the show, as an actress, I had to create my own backstory, but then when I actually got the script for Ginger’s backstory this season, I thought it was perfect. One hundred percent. It was a lot more funny and entertaining than what I had created on my own, and I think a lot of really intense fans of the show will relate. If there’s one thing you really love and you know a lot about it, of course you’re going to have good ideas about it, and that’s Ginger. She doesn’t have a lot of life experience, but there is one thing she knows and cares about, and that is vampire cinema, vampire history, you know what I mean? That’s one thing she’s actually good at. And I think Interview With the Vampire must have been huge for her. That came out in 1994, and it took place in Louisiana. I guarantee that movie piqued her interest. She was a small-town girl with big dreams of having an adventurous life, and the chances of that happening were second to none, so what ended up happening was that she hunted down a little video store, because there were rumors that there were vampires there, and it changed the trajectory of her life. She could have become a professor, but she would have been a spinster with five cats and she would have been miserable. And instead, she got to live out her dream of being a vampire groupie. Her version of Almost Famous. And Interview With the Vampire was this rich world of love and devastation and loss. What a cool life, to live forever? And to be gorgeous forever? Although you do have to kill other people. I loved Tom Cruise in that.

People were very upset at the time about Tom Cruise being cast as Lestat …
I thought he was completely sexy! Absolutely. But in the blond vampire competition, Alexander Skarsgard wins! There’s not even a fighting chance for Cruise, I don’t care who you are! Cruise who? Tom Cruise is like your childhood version of a crush, and then you grow up and you have a real crush, you know what I mean? Tom Cruise is like an adolescent version of hotness, but everybody has to have their position on the throne.

Eric is pure “sex on a throne,” as Ginger says. And at one point last season, Eric did promise to have sex with Ginger.
He promised. [Laughs.] I will say this — that promise has been the sole motivation, whether it was spoken or inferred or just hoped in Ginger’s life, for many, many years. You could glamour her so she forgets, or has no cognitive thought, but it is her entire existence. She wants to be with Eric. That has not gone anywhere. And we will see a lot more of that this year. Ginger knows that time is of the essence. Eric’s sick, and if it’s ever going to happen, she better put every ounce of energy she has into realizing that dream.

On the flip side of that, Kristin Bauer has said that if she got to have one lesbian vampire scene, she’d want Pam to be with Ginger.
[Laughs.] Well, can you imagine? I mean, Kristin is awesome. She is one my  favorite people in life, and absolutely my favorite person on the show to work with and hang out with. It could have been fun! Remember when Ginger comforts Pam? And they have a sweet moment? I think what was so beautiful about it is that there was nothing sexual about it. That is the pinnacle of who Ginger is. As weird and eccentric and odd as she is, her core is very genuine, loyal, and kind.

I kind of love that Pam and Tara ended up together. I think that was more interesting. But I would have gone for it! Sure! Why not? She’s gorgeous. She’s inspiring. She’s kind. She’s funny. Who wouldn’t want to do a love scene with Kristin Bauer? Better yet — Kristin and Alex. That would be Ginger’s ideal. She might die. That might be sensory overload for her. [Laughs.]

You’d have to practice the difference between her orgasm scream and her scared scream. How do you get in scream mode for Ginger, anyway?
I don’t think about it at all in terms of the relationship to the scream. I think about it in terms of how committed and real the situation is, to react to it. I did see one time on the internet, someone had done an impersonation of Ginger, and they kept doing these things with their hands [makes a fluttering sound], and they kept waving their hands around, and I was like, “I don’t think I do that!” But it was hilarious to see someone else’s impression of Ginger’s neurosis and fear as manifested through her body. What I think is great for Sookie and a lot of the other characters on the show, they to some degree know that they live among the supes, supernatural creatures. But Ginger, it’s like she forgets that, and every time is the first time: “Who knew vampires existed?!”

I loved the scene in season four, where Pam has the skin-eating disease, and I have to give her shots to keep her skin from completely rotting, and she goes into her coffin, and Ginger swears to keep her safe, which is hilarious, because I don’t know how Ginger can keep her safe, but she takes her oath very seriously, and so when that coffin starts to shake, she jumps on and holds on for dear life and starts screaming! There was one take where they kept shaking the coffin, and just kept having me scream all these different ways, like a long, ongoing shake-and-scream fest. At some point I started drooling, and the camera was going, and no one had yelled “Cut!” so I just kept going! And there was all this drool coming out of my mouth! So finally I was like, “Guys, I’m done! I’m done humiliating myself!” [Laughs.]  I think of Ginger as just a reactive animal in some ways. There’s no memory or thoughts of the future for her. You’re forced to live in the present, and even if you have an underlying fear in your body’s memory, your mind is allowed to continue to function, like nothing bad has ever happened to you before.

That would have been a great idea for a vampire business. As an add-on to Fangtasia, vampire-glamouring for therapeutic reasons.
Absolutely! [Laughs.] You’re onto something. Last season when Pam was in vamp camp and had to go to the therapist, I thought that could actually be the spinoff. Pam decides her next lot in life is to have a vampire therapy practice, and people come and they have their minds erased. So instead of going to a hypnotist to lose weight or stop smoking or whatever, you go see Pam. Ginger could be her receptionist! As long as she writes everything down immediately. [Laughs.]

True Blood’s Tara Buck Breaks Down Her Screaming