In the hit HBO series True Blood, actress Kristin Bauer plays a remorseless, cynical vampire named Pam Ravenscroft who runs the Fangtasia bar along with her vampire “maker” Eric Northman (played by Alexander Skarsgård). Pam is comedic and cutthroat—particularly to humans. When not in character, Bauer is an outspoken advocate for animals and the environment (and “mom” to two dogs and two cats, all rescues), on a personal quest to transform her own habits and enlighten others, too. Here, she talks to E about True Blood, books and her green leanings.
E Magazine: You’ve said that you can see an environmental or population subtext on True Blood. In what way?
Kristin Bauer: It feels to me like Pam has just become disgusted and signed off on the human race. That they are only pests or food. She’s refreshing in a way because she doesn’t suffer fools. Different comments that she’s made, it made me feel like she was paying attention and she’s been around for quite a while [apparently Pam’s going on 200]. I read history books and I see that there are certain things with humanity that have been going on for a long time and basically it’s just not paying attention or caring about the other guy. Or the Earth.
E: On your website you describe it as “picking a team”—i.e., for or against the environment. And you make the case that our purchases make a difference.
K.B.: We’re all very busy and juggling so many things, and so you just kind of reach for the same detergent that you’ve always reached for. It just takes that focus to say, “Wait a minute. Whose rent am I paying?”
I’m reading The Story of Stuff—it’s the most remarkable book…and [author Annie Leonard] talks about our stuff, its life from inception to trash heap, and it’s made me think a little more. The realization I keep coming to is, “Wow, I’m supporting a lot of things that I don’t really agree with.”
E: You’re very invested in the idea that individual actions make a big difference.
K.B.: It can’t continue to be “That guy over there is the bad guy.” My wedding band is two tons of toxic waste in Africa that little kids are playing in. They’re playing with cyanide. But I didn’t know. The things that I’m doing in my life over here are affecting somebody on the other side of the globe.
E: If more people were aware of this connection, do you think they would change their habits?
K.B.: I think habits are very hard to change. I notice it in myself. But with this many people on Earth, if we did just 2% more, cared 2% more, we could shift it enough that Earth would start looking different. I don’t think it takes a monumental effort, and I feel like there’s so much bad news that it’s easy to turn it off and become apathetic. I hear from a lot of people: “I don’t want to know.” And I think “Well that’s how every bad thing that’s ever happened has continued.”
E: People do seem, in general, more concerned with where things come from—particularly food.
K.B.: From a health perspective, people are definitely making the link between what you eat and how you feel and how your body ages. Those things are usually tied to the environment as well. And it’s become a fashion to be green, which is fabulous. Becoming green is now sexy. It used to be not-so-sexy. Friends of mine whose parents were health nuts in the ‘70s talk about the kinds of things that they had to eat and I feel sorry for them. Now, my gosh, there are amazing restaurants and incredible chefs and Stella McCartney.
E: What drew you to activism—both for animals, particularly whales—and the environment?
K.B.: I suspect it comes from growing up in Wisconsin, in nature. We did a lot of horseback riding and playing in streams. We had 10 acres to amuse ourselves in. My mom would turn off the TV and kick us out the back door. When any of us become aware of something that just doesn’t seem as nature intended, we tend to move away from it. Circuses, zoos…
Same thing with the environment. When I see things go into the trash bin I think, “That’s going back into the earth.” A landfill is just a field that’s become a trash pit. So I don’t even concern myself with the global warming debate, I just think, “It’s not really nice to litter.” And whaling, I just look at it and think, “There is other stuff to eat.”