One of two adaptations from Anne Rice's deep catalog of literature to come to AMC soon is an adaptation of Mayfair Witches, which is actually a trio of novels from the 1990s. The first season of the show will follow the first book in that series, titled The Witching Hour, showrunner Esta Spaudling confirmed at the Television Critics Association press tour panel for the series.
"It starts where the book starts: in this mood of New Orleans and this house and [with protagonist] Dr. Rowan Fielding," she said. "We based the whole first season on that book, so we felt we should end the first season [where the book] ended."
That said, though, the book is much richer in history than the show can delve into in its first season. The "300 to 400 pages of 13 generations" of the witches at the center of the story that fall in the middle of the book takes readers all the way back in time through the bloodline and across the world to Scotland. "We used a piece of that," Spaulding said, but the bulk of it they have in their back pockets for subsequent seasons.
Alexandra Daddario stars as Dr. Rowan Fielding, who is a key descendent of important witches but doesn't know it. And she also doesn't know that she actually did have something to do with a death she thinks she merely "was present for." So, as the show follows her, she struggles to just live her normal life while people pull at her from all sides, and of course she won't be able to avoid her destiny.
"I think that Rowan's story is so, so relevant, and [so are] the stories of all of the Fielding women because when women start to get power socially, what do they do with it?" Spaulding asked. "Rowan has the gift of healing and also discovers a gift to destroy biologically. She's at the fulcrum of the question, 'How do you use power?"
Spaulding noted that there are two clear paths someone could take in such a situation: finding new ways to wield the power or modeling the patriarchy. The central question of the show, which she added will get "answered in various ways over the course of each episode and this season and beyond" is, "As female power emerges, how should a women use power?"
The show is set in New Orleans and also filmed there, which meant the production team tried to "tap into [its] mythology" as much as they could. "There are lots of spells we've been given help on," Spaulding explained, noting they employed a witchcraft consultant, a Latin consultant (for the chants), and a magic consultant.
Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches does not yet have a specific premiere date but is scheduled to debut in 2023. This is after the network's Anne Rice's Interview With the Vampire will run its full first season. The two shows share the author's "thematic and stylistic concentration," said executive producer (of both shows) Mark Johnson, and they shot on the same soundstages. The latter led to them having to call out a set painter to very quickly paint over wallpaper a crew member realized was Interview With the Vampire set decoration while they were in production. But other than a few "very, very selective Easter eggs" of Interview With the Vampire in Mayfair Witches, the producers deliberately wanted Mayfair Witches to stand on its own, "at least for the first season," Spaulding said.