As Pam De Beaufort, “True Blood”’s favorite fanged fashionista, Kristin Bauer van Straten struts through steamy Bon Temps wearing stilettos while flinging insults and bodies wherever she goes. Offscreen, however, the low-key actress prefers jeans and t-shirts, painting, and the company of her singer-songwriter husband (Abri van Straten) and their four rescue pets (dogs Asher and Osmond; cats Abigail and Samuel). Far from having Pam’s taste for blood, van Straten is diligent animal activist who lends her name and time to several causes including the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “I’m from Wisconsin and I was raised with respect for nature,” she says. “Also, maybe because I’m an artist, I believe in free will and I don’t think it’s fair to tell another person or another species how to live for your convenience. It’s wrong and it’s rude.”
With Season 5 of the HBO smash about to get under way—amid rumors that her role has been put on the front burner—van Straten agreed to a little interrogation.
More: “True Blood” fans are very excited to finally see how Eric 'turned' Pam; what can you tell us?
KBVS: Well….i think I’m allowed to say…(Pause) almost nothing! (laughs) But we do finally see it and I can tell you from my experience—first from reading it and then from seeing it—that the writing was soooo perfect. It really explains their relationship and it finally explains Pam. You know, up until now, we really haven’t known much about her, she’s been a mystery. She’s pretty harsh but she also has loyalty and huge integrity.
More: And some great one liners!
KBVS: (laughs) I think part of why she’s so funny is because she just says what most of us are thinking. But, you know, that’s the writers, they’re just the best writers I’ve ever worked with, probably the best anywhere. And sometimes I don’t think the writers get their due when it comes to awards—maybe it’s because we’ve got the nudity and the blood and the violence and all that fun stuff, sometimes I think their talent is overlooked. Ultimately, though, I guess it doesn’t really matter, right? I love going to work and I love saying their words and people love hearing them, so that’s what matters.
More: Let’s talk wardrobe—Pam’s always dressed up, in heels and full makeup with her hair done. What does that say about her?
KBVS: Well, last year, I was theorizing that when you don’t have to worry about aging, illness and money, what else do you have to think about all day, except how you look? But now I’ve added to it that she comes from another time, a time when people didn’t only think of comfort—like it wasn’t acceptable to be dressed in flip flops and sweatpants like we are today. She’s from another time. And this season, i feel like her wardrobe is an homage to the time she came from…(pause) There’s a certain costume we keep coming back to—
More: Which you probably can’t tell me about–
KBVS: No, but you’ll see—everything makes perfect sense.
More: Speaking of Pam’s clothes, most of them are skintight. Is it a challenge to keep yourself so slender? <
KBVS: “True Blood" is adding years to my life because I work out more, especially after wardrobe fittings! (laughs) I eat a ton of fresh salads, and I really look and think about what I’m eating. And I won’t have the whole dessert anymore. I do cardio-barre method a few times a week, but mostly I hike and walk with the dogs. I feel better and my dogs are happier because they get longer walks. It’s great for all of us.
More: What about your diet?
KBVS: I’m a vegan at home, and a vegetarian on the road—it’s harder to maintain a vegan diet when I’m working and can’t make my own meals. My protein sources are protein shakes, quinos, tofu, organic soy…I into avoiding white foods—you know, sugar and bread. And I love nuts, so I eat a lot of those. And I just feel so great eating like this.
More: Do you have, like, a guilt food, something you reward yourself with or can’t say no to?
KBVS: Definitely. I had a photo shoot recently where I had to wear swim suits, so I was reallygood for a couple of weeks leading up to the shoot. But the next day, I got up early and met a friend for pancakes and vegan bacon. I love breakfast food—waffles, pancakes, muffins...I love all those things, even more than any kind of dessert.
More: I’m fighting the urge to run to a diner and order pancakes. Back to “True Blood”: Will Pam ever not hate Sookie?
KBVS: I’m not sure she hates her. Pam was okay with Sookie until Eric chose Sookie over her. She’s used to Eric having other relationships, it’s not that—he can have his dalliances, but just don’t put any other female in front of her, you know? But this season, you’ll see more of the back story and understand their relationship in a deeper way.
More: This past season, you played another supernatural character, Malificent, on the hit show “Once Upon a Time.” And she died, but, considering all the back and forth between the past and present and curses and all, might we see her again? Cuz she was really fun.
KBVS: Thank you—she was fun, wasn’t she? I had such a good time going to that set to do that. Yeah, I hope she comes back, too. You know, the finale leads me to believe it could happen—it just seems like the purple smoke or fog rolled into town and the curse was lifted. So maybe Maleficent wasn’t bad after all, who knows? But I’d love to play her again.
More: Everybody has dues-paying gigs; what did you do before making a living at acting?
KBVS: Oh boy…I was an art student, I studied fine art, so after college, I was just looking at a life of poverty. So I did just about every menial labor job you could think of, but they’d only last like two weeks before I’d get fired. I was a window washer, a receptionist at a hair salon, I sold jewelry on the street in Boston. In the winter.Yeah, that was fun…I was a nanny, a maid, I sold weight loss products...I also tried bartending but I couldn’t mix drinks, so I came home drunk andfired. (laughs)
More: But then you started working constantly, with guest shots on everything—“Dharma and Greg,” “CSI,” “Everbody Loves Raymond,” “Bones,” “Desperate Housewives,” to name a few. Why do you think you’re so adept at getting cast in so many wildly divergent things?
KBVS: Yeah, it has been fantastic and amazing. I guess I’m character actor—I can play a preacher’s wife on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and then a vampire on “True Blood.” I’m a chameleon. But it’s not just as an actor, it’s something I’ve had my whole life. Like, I can run into a guy I used to date and have to re-introduce myself! Oh, that sounds bad (laughs) What I mean is that, physically, I’m a bit of blank canvas. And with acting, it’s hair and makeup—it drastically changes my appearance. A friend once told me that I’m a shape shifter, which is a great thing for an actor.
More: You appeared in an especially beloved episode of “Seinfeld” playing Jerry’s girlfriend, “Man Hands.” So, um, are your hands especially large?
KBVS: I want you to know that I have the daintiest hands, with the loveliest thin, tapered fingers you’ll ever see! (Laughs) For years, people have asked to see my hands. Those weren’tmy hands—a guy doubled for my hands! If you watch the episode again, you’ll notice that I keep my own hands hidden on camera, under the table mostly, and then they cut away to show the guy’s hands. It’s so funny because every couple of years, I run into Jerry and I guess because I’m a chameleon, I have to tell him who I am. So I walk up to him and say, “Hi, Jerry. I’m ‘Man Hands.’” (laughs)
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