The actual interview that the vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac gives in the Anne Rice book Interview with the Vampire is one of the biggest tell-alls in all of fiction. The character not only tells his origin story as both a human and a vampire -- each fascinating in and of themselves — but there's also the factors of why he's telling it.
Is Louis scorned by Lestat de Lioncourt, the vampire and former paramour who made him the immortal monster that he is? Is he giving the interview out of guilt over all the people he's killed or watched die? Is he tired of hiding? Is he just old and trying to get his affairs in order?
The AMC series Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire attempts to answer these questions while adding much more context to the story. Setting it in a post-MeToo; post-pandemic world and casting Game of Thrones actor Jacob Anderson — a person of color — as Louis to Sam Reid's Lestat offers a modernized and more nuanced look at a novel that is more than four decades old.
Here, Anderson and Reid talk to Metacritic about their adaptation and interpretation of a very complex relationship.
People who only know these characters from the Tom Cruise-Brad Pitt movie might be surprised by how much more explicit this show is in showing the sexual relationship between Lestat and Louis.
Sam Reid: We did follow what was written in the books. Their romance is more explicit from the second book in the series and was continually expanded upon in the subsequent books. So it was important to make sure that that impossible-to-break bond was present there for that sort of to be set up.
What was it like to be able to lean into the LGBTQIA+ factors of their relationship?
S.R.: I think it wouldn't be Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire if we didn't. Obviously, I like the film, but the series of books hadn't been completed when they did it. So, we're looking at it with a bit of a larger, overarching context. I think it was really important that those scenes are there and present. When Anne talks about the biting, she talks about it as a supplement for intercourse. The way that we approach it in those scenes, we're trying to mesh that feeling with the drinking of blood. [That act] is deeply sexual in its nature and erotic and life-giving.
Jacob Anderson: The story is the story of this relationship between these two characters and we've got to explore that in all of its nuance.
A lot of these scenes, such as the scene where Louis is turned, are sexual in nature without being out-right sex scenes. Did you work with an intimacy coordinator for these scenes?
J.A.: We work with an intimacy coordinator throughout. Yeah, how you define intimacy is really interesting and those things blur in in this show.
We're coming at this story from a post-MeToo world. Would it be correct to say that Louis is an abuse survivor?
J.A.: You can certainly look at it that way. That's a part of the discussion in the show between Louis and Daniel [Eric Bogosian's journalist, who is conducting said interview with the vampire]. Louis is maybe not quite ready to talk about it in those terms until Daniel pushes him on it.
Something that's interesting about these characters, and about Anne Rice's writing, is that these characters are very human. But they're also monsters. I think that that creates a really interesting dynamic in how we talk about the ways that they treat each other.
Jacob, I know you've also talked about this when you worked on Game of Thrones, but does this relationship and its complexities become more important when you look at it as a white man and his power over a Black man?
J.A.: When we talk about interracial relationships, there are certain conversations that need to be had to understand the power dynamics and about the differences. I think this is uncomfortable for people to talk about because you don't want to acknowledge differences in a relationship. I think that Lestat is so excited by the prospect of their life together that he has a lot of blindspots. Even as vampires, Louis still doesn't have the privilege of enjoying certain things. His vampiric power doesn't necessarily make him more powerful in a human context.
Do you think Lestat is a villain?
S.R.: I think "villain" is a generalistic term. Yes, he's a villain. He has villainous qualities. He's a monster. But how he got there and why he's doing the things that he's doing are also presented. You should have an element of understanding or empathy. But, that is the character that Anne created: Lestat abuses and brutalizes other people who are close to him, and whom he loves, because he wants them. It's not malicious; his nature — his pure animal nature — is a monster. There's an echo of a human existence somewhere within that and [he has] memories of that.
If I am this monster who just woke up in the world and I've got to kill people to survive and I've got to drink blood and have all these insatiable urges, I must be bad; I must be evil; I must be a villain. And you can either embrace that and then enjoy it and accept who you are and not get bogged down in what those actual implications are — or you can fight it and be deeply unhappy.
If we look at both the villainous nature of these characters and also what they, and vampires in general, represent for the queer community, how do you put all of this together while respecting both a marginalized community and the source material?
S.R.: It goes back to what I was saying [about], What if you wake up and your innate nature that you cannot change is considered evil? Lions have to kill deer to survive. We incarcerate animals to feed billions of people, as humans. So, you're always questioning the nature of what is good and what is bad. But, if you can put yourself within that context and have empathy for the outsider— we're actually saying that these are beautiful, free beings who transcend the confines that they're in. That's the parallel that's there. I don't think that's a negative commentary. I think it's one that questions who we are and what are the pressures that society puts on us to define who we are.
J.A.: Something that's really exciting about the show and the book series is that it's very difficult to moralize when you put it in this context. Even their love is the vampire bond. There is no human equivalent.
There are things that we can understand [like] why we're drawn to people that are bad for us. But the central question of the entire series is what am I and what do I stand for. Why do I behave the way that I behave? Can I control it? And that's life.
Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire is
Get to know Jacob Anderson:
Anderson may be best known for playing the Unsullied Grey Worm in HBO's fantasy series Game of Thrones (Metascore: 86), but he also showcased some comedy chops in the first season of Showtime's Episodes (74). Additional recent television work includes the British crime drama Broadchurch (84) and the 2021 season of sci-fi classic Doctor Who (77), both of which aired on BBC America in the United States. He's also a prolific musician, releasing the album You're a Man Now, Boy in 2016 and Andy in 2020.
Get to know Sam Reid:
Australian actor Reid may be best known state-side for his work playing note-worthy Americans in various limited series. He played Tolbert McCoy in the 2012 History channel Western Hatfields & McCoys (Metascore: 68) and astronaut John Glenn in ABC's The Astronaut Wives Club (60). He also appeared in Prime Suspect 1973, British channel ITV's prequel to the Helen Mirren series Prime Suspect. His brother is actor Rupert Reid.