Some aspects of playing a sexy vampire on HBO's True Blood can be a pain in the neck. Kristin Bauer, who plays Pam, the vamp who makes camp at the Fangtasia club, counts the ways: "You're trying to be immortal and strong and cool, but it's not easy when your fangs keep getting in the way and you're drooling and talking with a lisp," Bauer says. "And you're wearing a corset that's so tight you can't sit down in it or eat or drink anything. And working vampire hours during night shoots can be challenging on your body." But all things considered, Bauer wouldn't swap this job for anything. "There's not one night on set where I don't get sort of emotional and go, 'I love you guys. I love this show. I love this job,'" she says. "I wear fabulous clothes, I have a wonderful character to play and it's on the happiest set I've ever been on." So what's not to love? True Blood, which just began its fourth season, airs at 8 p.m. CT Sundays on HBO.
Except for her devotion to her maker Eric (played by Alexander Skarsgard), Pam has few, if any, redeeming qualities. Yet the show's fans adore her. How great is that?
"It's fabulous. Pam leads a simple, straightforward existence. She doesn't have complicated loyalties and she doesn't lead a complicated life. It's really nice to step into those shoes, literally and figuratively, and to have her job, her maker, her clothing and her sexual conquests. And if anybody starts annoying you, you can just well, you can just eat them! You know where you stand with Pam. I think people like that."
Is it liberating to be able to channel all of your dark impulses into your performance?
"It is fun. But I sometimes wonder if it gets it out of my system or merely fuels it. Like, when I'm driving home from work, is there a bleed-over? Am I more aggressive behind the wheel? I'll have to keep an eye on that. I do know this: I've been accused at times, mainly by my family, of being a little bit too bottom-line and a little bit too sarcastic and harsh. That sounds like Pam, doesn't it? She is one sarcastic girl."
Yet for reasons that are hard to fathom, people turn to Pam for advice. What's that all about?
"Is that not hysterical? It must be that people want the license to do what they really want to do. Otherwise there's no logical explanation. Also, Pam is so completely confident. I know I've turned to people who aren't competent to give advice, but they're very clear and very sure of themselves, so you're under the delusion that they would tell you to do the right thing. And remember: The advice that others come to Pam for is, 'What do I do with a dead body?' They don't ask her anything like, 'How do I be calmer or kinder?'"
Is there a story behind how you got the role?
"They called me in, I showed up and auditioned, then they called again, I showed up and did the same thing again and, about a month later, I got the job. I went to the Philippines to shoot a cute little movie and I got a text message three weeks later that they needed me back the day after I finished in the Philippines. So I took a 17-hour flight, got off the plane, dropped off my luggage at home and went right in for my fang fitting and wardrobe fitting, then went straight to set and shot all night. Alex and Stephen Moyer [who plays Bill] and I were in the scene and I was so delirious. I didn't know where I was. Alex had a couple of lines in Swedish in the script and I remember asking, 'Is that Cambodian?' I look back and I think, 'Yeah, I was really out of it. Why would this 6-foot-5 guy, blue eyed and blond, be speaking Cambodian?' I'm sure he was thinking, 'Wow, how long am I going to be stuck with this loopy chick?' But by the time the sun came up, we were all laughing so hard we were crying. I feel like we bonded for life that night."
How do fans react when they meet you?
"Usually people approach me with a kind of caution. They're sort of sheepish, a little nervous, a little giggly and they say, 'Oh, my God, I love Pam.' And once I start talking to them, it's clear that they're shocked that I am nice. They definitely see me and expect me to be like Pam."
Any vampire skills that you wish you had in real life?
"Being able to 'glamour' someone would be useful with my husband and the issue of taking out the trash!"