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AMC’s TV Version of ‘Interview with the Vampire’ Bests the 1994 Film

"Interview with the Vampire" on AMC is the perfect example of how to take a text and build upon it for a different time.

Sam Reid as Lestat De Lioncourt and Jacob Anderson as Louis De Point Du Lac - Interview with the Vampire _ Season 1, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Alfonso Bresciani/AMC

“Interview with the Vampire”

Alfonso Bresciani/AMC

Fans of Anne Rice’s novels are devout. The author’s stories of vampires, witches, and other things that go bump in the night has inspired a generation, especially those who found identity through her homoerotic characters, particularly the vampire Lestat. It’s been nearly 30 years since director Neil Jordan’s film adaptation of Rice’s 1976 novel, “Interview with the Vampire,” and now AMC Network has decided to transition the novel into a series that feels more modern and sexy than what we saw in ’94.

“Interview with the Vampire” on AMC is the perfect example of how to take a text, whether a book or movie, and build upon it for a different time. By critiquing racial and relationship dynamics AMC’s series feels fresh and more than “just” a vampire series. Happily, it’s to die for.

Both film and TV series tell the same tale: that of the vampire Louis recounting his story to a journalist. Immediately the series takes the reins to propel the story into a more modern era that also enhances the racial dynamic of casting Jacob Anderson as Louis. Rice’s novel, and the 1994 feature, both take place in Louisiana in 1791 with Louis, played by Brad Pitt in the feature, a wealthy plantation owner. The film positions him as a kindhearted slave owner, with the slave narrative only being of significance when they rebel due to Louis’ relationship with the vampire who made him, Lestat (Tom Cruise).

In 1994, Jordan’s script didn’t necessarily have a desire to tackle the thorny issues of a white slave-owner turned vampire, so the various slave characters are ancillary window dressing. The AMC series propels the story into the early 1900s, to a Jim Crow South filled with all manner of racists. Anderson’s Louis is a Black man trying to make something of himself, but is always reminded that he is considered an Other by the wealthy white elite.

Even Louis’ relationship with Lestat (Sam Reid), in this iteration, has an undercurrent of racial discussion, particularly in instances where Lestat acts condescendingly to Louis. Along with the open awareness that Lestat and Louis are in a relationship, this is one of the best modernizations of book to film to TV. The series never belabors the point about Louis’ race, but it always shows the audience how ridiculous and wrong it would be not to say that Louis being Black wouldn’t affect everything in his life.

One might be saying, “Wait, they actually made Lestat and Louis gay this time around?” One of the biggest criticisms of the 1994 feature was how it might have been coded as queer, but Louis and Lestat never actively engage in a romantic relationship. There’s nothing queer coded about the new television series, which presents Lestat and Louis’ relationship as far more than what journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) describes as “a fucked up Gothic romance.” The relationship in the series is one of sex and, at times, love. But it’s also filled with trauma, manipulation, and other toxic elements that, in recounting the story to Daniel, Louis has to grapple with.

Sam Reid as Lestat De Lioncourt and Jacob Anderson as Louis De Point Du Lac - Interview with the Vampire _ Season 1, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: ç

“Interview with the Vampire”

Alfonso Bresciani/AMC

This also makes Lestat a far more delicious character to watch on-screen than Tom Cruise’s florid, yet cold, portrayal. Watching Reid and Anderson play off of each other brings up an interesting element to the vampire landscape: power dynamics. Sure, a vampire maker has more power, but the series questions what that does to a relationship. How can Louis and Lestat have a relationship of equals when the former owes his very life to the latter? Or, as the series shows, what happens when Lestat turns Louis into a vampire with questionable consent?

Even the relationship between Louis and Daniel brings up questions of relationship intimacy and the role of memory. The pilot lays out that Daniel and Louis met at a gay bar, with Daniel himself struggling with his identity and his life. The original feature left the relationship between Pitt’s Louis and Christian Slater’s Daniel Molloy as one of formality. Molloy is just a plot device for Louis to tell his story to, until the film’s conclusion when Lestat attacks him and the movie ends. Here, Bogosian’s Daniel constantly critiques Louis’ narrative, questioning his authenticity and, at times, Louis’ reticence to be honest. Daniel in this series acts like a journalist, investigating Louis’ story and moving the action along without the vampire, which fleshes out the character beyond being a narrative device.

“Interview with the Vampire” premiered on AMC and AMC+ October 2.

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