As part of San Diego Comic-Con, Nerds & Beyond had the opportunity to participate in a press conference for the highly anticipated AMC series Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire! The adaptation of Rice’s bestselling novels follows Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson), Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid), and Claudia’s (Bailey Bass) epic story of love, blood, and the perils of immortality, as told to journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian). The cast and creative team discussed their own connections to the novel and what audiences can expect from the series.
One theme that quickly emerged was how this version of Louis and Lestat’s love story will rest on the chemistry and passion of Anderson and Reid, both of whom were fans of the novels before being cast. Anderson shared that he was “personally struck by the level of similarity I have with Louis … I really feel like I understood him and that he understands me, in quite a deep way.” He confessed that the task of bringing Louis to life was so daunting that the night before shooting his first scene, he had “a complete crisis of confidence.” He snuck over to the backlot to wander the streets of New Orleans that production designer Mara LePere Schloop and her team had created in order to ground himself.
“Within a minute of walking down the street, I felt like Louis. It loaded me with confidence and feeling like I could do it. And that’s Mara, and this incredible immersive environment that you get lost in.”Jacob Anderson
Bogosian praised both Reid and Anderson for their performances, teasing that “they had a chemistry that I’ve never seen before … Lightning [in a bottle] and a lot of love, a lot of passion. The whole Anne Rice universe is one full of tremendous emotion, and these guys brought it. There’s a risk in putting it all out there as an actor, and I think older actors start to learn ‘Hey, maybe don’t go all the way.’ These guys went all the way, and it was inspirational.”
LePere Schloop, herself a fan of the novels, commended Anderson, Reid, and Bass for their dedication to bringing the vampires to life as both the cast and the producers lauded her team’s dedication to creating a believable and visually interesting world.
“The art department was a lot of women, and we were all huge Claudia champions from the get-go. We all had our opinions on who should be cast in the show, and early on Rolin [Jones] would bring us all down and let us see auditions. And we saw the three of you, and I think all of us were like, ‘Oh, four letter word, we better not screw this up, because they’re bringing it in a way that’s so incredible.’ There was a lot of great energy in the cast and the crew, and I think that energy really fueled everybody through the long nights that it took to make this show.”Mara LePere Schloop
Unlike her costars, Bass was unfamiliar with the source material before her audition process and chose to watch the 1994 film during callbacks to have a better sense of the scale of the world. Seeing Kirsten Dunst as Claudia made it a “dream role” for the younger actress, who is best known for her upcoming role in the Avatar sequels. However, both she and showrunner Rolin Jones note that this version of Claudia is written and performed differently than Dunst’s. For starters, Claudia is aged up to be 14 at the start of the series, which differentiates her from Dunst’s more childlike innocence.
Jones added, “For Claudia, we felt that Kirsten Dunst did really good work with what she did and there was no need to repeat it — it was already out there. And especially for folks who knew those books really well, we didn’t want to do something where they were already caught up, or already ahead of us … we wanted to give Bailey a chance to present something different.” Bass praised the writers and the show’s episodic format for allowing her to portray a more nuanced Claudia, noting, “Because of the show, we can expand on her feelings more, because she feels so deeply.”
Another character who has a slightly different storyline than in the original novels is Daniel Malloy, the reporter who Louis tells his story to. The original novel was published in 1976, and rather than make the modern interview scenes take place in that time period, the present day is in 2022. Daniel’s backstory has been expanded to accommodate this adjustment, with the reporter having originally met Louis as a younger man in 1973 before sitting down with him again in the present. Malloy has been chasing the vampire’s story since that fateful meeting, despite his myriad accomplishments in the interim. He is willing to risk his life for the glory of the story. Bogosian teases, “It’s a wrestling match between Daniel and Louis” as the reporter chases his “white whale.” But more importantly, the shift in perspective leads to an interesting tension between the younger and older versions of Daniel. Bogosian notes that the possibility of immortality looks different to someone in their 20s versus their 60s, and that was in the back of his mind as he developed the character.
“I was a fan of the books myself, so it was an experience to read the scripts for something that I already adored. And then to have the opportunity to play a character that I admired for years … it’s very intense to approach something that you have such a reverence for, to go back to the source material and examine it.” Sam Reid
The trio playing vampires all enjoyed building their characters, with Bass in particular relishing the chance to play a character caught in a state of perpetual adolescence and dangerous emotions. When discussing what physical traits helped her bring Claudia to life, Bass shared that, “Posture was a big thing for Claudia, especially because I play 14, then 17, then 20-25, all the way up to 30. So she’s becoming a woman, but she’s stuck in this body. She’s seen how women walk and she wants to achieve that … Because Claudia is so feral, it was go big or go home.”
Anderson also found that physicality was an important part of bring Louis to life, given that the character has to evolve from 1910-2022 over the course of the series. Louis is also a Black, queer man in New Orleans who “in his human existence was constantly having to code switch. He had to find ways to behave differently in different environments.”
“The brooding and the melancholy are really there. I think something really beautiful and true that the writers have done with the show … We all have to wear these different masks … People exist in multitudes. I love Louis in the book because he is a representation of grief and melancholy … He’s very sad in the beginning, but he has to put on this mask of, ‘Oh, I’m a man about town,’ because it’s a protection. The crisis of his former existence is that he’s constantly having to pretend to be all these different things. I think that manifests sometimes in anger and he’s a little bit hardened. He’s a human going through an identity crisis who is handed an even bigger one in being turned into a vampire.”Jacob Anderson
Reid, meanwhile, found that boiling Lestat down to his core was helpful in establishing parameters for the character’s behavior. “We can’t forget that we’re also playing vampires. We’re playing monsters and they are exquisitely drawn characters, which is a gift for any actor to play … It’s a challenge because we don’t operate that way. [To play this part] you’re constantly looking for the monster inside of you … as an actor you’re usually going to shy away from that, but we have to honor that element, that evil, which is hard.”
Given the iconic status of Rice’s original works and the prevalence of vampire media in recent years, the conversation turned towards how this adaptation will update old tropes while honoring the original series. In addition, AMC is in the process of creating a wider universe of Rice’s other works including the currently in-production Mayfair Witches. While Anderson acknowledged that Interview with the Vampire fits into a larger world, he praised the smaller focus of the first season: “Obviously it’s a universe … the connections are really rich and exciting. But one thing I would say about the show is that while the depth of feeling is massive, it’s also very intimate. It’s a love story about a very dysfunctional family.”
Jones emphasized that while some changes had to be made to the novels in order for them to work on screen, Rice’s work was always the guide for the writers and for the actors. Both the cast and creative team pointed to the depth of emotions present in the original novel as being part of what made the series an inspiration to successors like Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, and more. Bogosian attributes this to Rice’s focus on the humanity of the vampires despite their animalistic tendencies, noting, “They suffer everything that we suffer. That’s why we identify with them and embrace them.”
Anderson echoed the sentiment, adding, “I’ve never seen anything like this before, in so many different ways. It’s quite a difficult show to categorize. It’s a difficult show to compare. I don’t feel like I’ve ever seen these vampires before in any vampire media.”
“This show is loving, it’s shy, it’s definitely not afraid of what it is. Sometimes it’s confronting and surprising … I’m very proud to be in it. And we talk about these characters having intense emotions, that’s straight from Anne Rice. The intensity with which they love is so extreme, it would be until death if they could die.”Sam Reid
Of course, part of the popularity of both the novels and the 1994 film came from their sensual approach to the vampire myth. Jones joked, “Look, they’re sexy guys, this is the most attractive cast I’ve ever written for,” before elaborating on how he sees “seduction” as an essential theme for the first season. He noted that the 1994 film didn’t have as much time to follow Lestat’s seduction of Louis as a human and the development of their relationship during that time, which the show will deal with in more depth.
In addition, that film was released during a time where a queer relationship was far less marketable. Rice had even toyed with the idea of changing Louis’ character to a woman in her screenplay in order to keep the sexual undercurrents from the novel in a way that would get past audience and reviewer biases. While this did not occur, it’s clear that this new adaptation will be able to be far more explicit in portraying Lestat, Louis, and Claudia’s makeshift family.
Reid firmly stated that while he loves the 1994 film, “It exists in its own world and it should exist in its own world … It was queer coded, and we’re not that, in any way shape or form.” He also added that while sexuality is certainly a large part of the series, “we have all these sexy seduction moments, but we also have looking for companionship and filling that hole.” Anderson agreed, adding that for Louis in particular, his arc is about searching for a family. Ultimately, Jones’ word that encapsulated the first season arc was “enduring”: what is is to endure over centuries and find meaning (and even love).
“It’s a sense of loneliness. To live forever is a very lonely situation. Given the choice, I don’t know how many people would actually choose it … That sense of loneliness and looking for someone to spend eternity with is very much brought out in this show.”Sam Reid
Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire will debut Sunday, October 2 at 10 p.m. ET, with the series’ first two episodes available on AMC+ that same night. Check out the trailer below, and be sure to stay tuned for more news from Nerds & Beyond!