Friday, December 2, 2022

Falling in Love With Jacob Anderson’s Louis de Pointe du Lac

TELEVISIONAMCFalling in Love With Jacob Anderson's Louis de Pointe du Lac

Jacob Anderson has always been a powerhouse as an actor and musician, but he hasn’t had much of an opportunity to shine as a leading man until AMC’s recent adaptation of Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire. And we’ve never been as fortunate to witness an adaptation as we have been with this particular show.

Anderson was given the nearly impossible feat of portraying Louis de Pointe du Lac, a character that doesn’t take up quite as much space in the fandom zeitgeist as the more flamboyant Lestat de Lioncourt. Honestly, the most effective way of ensuring a general audience cares about Louis is by casting someone as effortlessly charming as Jacob Anderson. Though some (wrong) fans did find fault in the casting of a black man to portray the famous vampire, Anderson proved himself to be more than talented enough to take on that challenge. And honestly, did we really need an adaptation with a white, slave-owning planter? No. No, we didn’t.

This is my dissertation (not actually a dissertation) on the groundbreaking, transformative performance by Jacob Anderson as Louis in AMC’s Interview With The Vampire. Emergency exits can be found at the rear of the plane, I hope you enjoy the ride and be warned of spoilers.

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When we’re first introduced to Louis in 2022, he speaks of the emotional highs and lows of his life with a cadence that lacks a lot of that very emotion, as if every syllable is purposeful; rehearsed. It’s a stark contrast to the events he’s describing, and even the few times he laughs seem antithetical to the subject matter like he’s putting on a performance for interviewer Daniel Molloy. There’s an undeniable rigidity in every syllable, and it contrasts heavily against Anderson’s performances in flashback scenes.

Alfonso Bresciani/AMC

Human-Louis is boisterous and powerful, an authoritative figure in Storyville, with his own business and multiple properties to his name. He walks with the air of someone of influence, further compounded by narration describing his status as the breadwinner of his family. There’s an outward ease with which Louis navigates his world, but it’s very much put upon by a man trying desperately to do right by everyone he loves while ignoring his own desires. Anderson is a man, acting as a man acting as a different man. Brilliant.

It was a bold decision to have Louis explicitly state his homosexuality in the series, especially so early in the pilot episode, but it was the right choice. The version of Louis that we met in the novels is less complex, less nuanced, and altogether just not as interesting or compelling. With Anderson’s performance, as well as the showrunner’s commitment to superior storytelling, the general audience can find more to relate to in Anderson’s Louis than was ever possible in Book-Louis, or even Movie-Louis. I would also like to point out that Jacob Anderson learned to tap dance over Zoom calls, with a piece of plywood on his hotel room floor. While he had COVID.

Once Louis joined the savage garden, becoming Lestat’s companion in immortality, it shifted a lot of what we’d come to know about Louis in the pilot episode. But even while watching him struggle with his newfound dark gift, he maintained a lot of his humanity. And that’s something that’s always been emphasized in the novels; how very human Louis is, even amongst his immortal brethren.

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Anderson showcased his talents further with his wide-eyed and almost maniacal fascination with vampiric powers. With this change in Anderson’s portrayal, we as the audience became aware of just how much had shifted in Louis; how he was most definitely not the same man he’d been only days before.

This continues with each passing episode, as we witness these ageless vampires throughout time. Anderson effortlessly displays the passage of years through changes in his body language and micro-expressions. Even without the dates being overlaid in text, it’s obvious to viewers simply how Anderson implements these changes.

It’s at this point I should point out that Sam Reid is also a sight to behold as Lestat, the Brat Prince. But without the same wide range of years to examine, combined with the story being told from Louis’ — and partially Claudia’s — point of view, we just don’t spend as much time watching Lestat evolve throughout the years. At least not as significantly as we do with Louis. This is no disrespect to Sam as an actor, who I am also quite fond of.

With the addition of their vampiric child Claudia, Louis yet again undergoes transformation. The fourth episode of the series gave us the domesticity that so many had been craving, a real insight into happier times for the three of them. We even got to see Anderson’s megawatt smile more than once in a single episode, which was a wonderful surprise. It remains one of my favorites from season one, a brief respite from the drama and angst so prominent in other episodes. The scene with Louis and Claudia in their little boat stands out the most, as Louis explains to her how love between two men works. It works like love.

Alfonso Bresciani/AMC

In a later episode, we see a flashback from Daniel’s dreams with Louis all smiles in a 1970’s gay bar. It’s another new facet to Anderson’s performance, another display of the range in his arsenal. He fits into the period without question, and he sits with a lightness in his posture that we hadn’t witnessed before. With the changing of timelines from book to screen, it’s unclear whether this takes place in a completely post-Lestat era of Louis’ life, but it can be assumed that Louis hasn’t seen his maker since Claudia’s attempt to kill him.

Speaking of that attempt, the finale of this season delivered like a gut punch, and Anderson served Emmy-worthy realness yet again. In detailing to Daniel the events leading to Lestat’s “demise”, 2022-Louis seemed less compliant, less disaffected by the sordid happenings. Over the course of the interview, he’d slipped from his carefully constructed persona to something more restless, more humanly upset. He managed to elicit from me the highest honor I can provide an actor: he made me cry. In the tragic act of killing the man he loved, in the beauty of his every breath, he drew out of me some real sobs.

And it was only made that much worse when it was revealed that Louis may not have been remembering things as they’d actually transpired. Daniel calls him out on the means by which he’d aided Claudia, and the brief shots shown prove that something in his memory had been altered, whether by himself or someone else. He simply wasn’t relaying the tale as it actually happened, and those tears started flowing again at seeing Louis screaming over Lestat’s prone body.

The final line of the finale was breathed from Anderson’s lips like some sort of prayer, something tenuous beyond human understanding, and it was chilling in how wrong it felt. If Armand is truly the “love of his life” it didn’t come across as such, and Anderson’s performance cemented the power dynamics between the two of them even for viewers completely unfamiliar with the source material.

So consider this my love letter to Jacob Anderson’s acting; a retrospective on the first season of a show destined for more. I will personally campaign for his Emmy, for his Golden Globe, for every damn award that exists in the medium. He deserves it and so much more.

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