TVs Interview With the Vampire Absolutely Has Teeth – Vanity Fair

Since the publication of Bram Stokers Dracula in 1897, vampires have been a nearly constant object of pop-cultural fascination, with each creator putting their own stamp on thecondition? Affliction? Lifestyle? Vampires can be monstrous, as in The Strain. They can be sexy, as in True Blood, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries. They can be funny, as in What We Do in the Shadows. They can even be cute, as in Monster High, a toy line/upcoming live-action kids movie on Nickelodeon and Paramount+. AMCs Interview With the Vampire series, which premieres October 2, reminds us of what many romantic versions of vampire life decorously keep off-screen: vampires can be psychopaths.

Adapted by Rolin Jones (HBOs Perry Mason) from Anne Rices book series, the show revolves around titular vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson). In 1973, we are told, he met up with journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) to tell his story. Nearly 50 years later, Molloywhos entered the online-master-class phase of his writing careerreceives a surprise delivery of the original cassette tapes: Louis still lives (or lives), and wants to revisit their collaboration. Molloy travels to Louiss lavish Dubai apartment to interview him again, and learns that since the last time they spoke, Louiss opinion of his sire, Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid), have evolved.

Whereas the book (and the 1994 movie based on it) place Lestat and Louiss first meeting in 1791, the show introduces us to still-human Louis in 1910. The setting remains New Orleans, though this Louis is no longer a widower whose wife and child did not survive labor (as in the movie, book Louis is mourning the death of his brother); nor is he a plantation owner with dozens of enslaved laborers; nor is he white. The Louis of the show is a Black Creole red-light proprietor who operates several sporting houses in Storyville, the citys red-light district. One night, a recently arrived Lestat sees Louis capably (and violently) defending his business interests in the street and, as he later tells Louis, is moved to buy a town house in the French Quarter to remain near him. Louis gets competitive when Lestat outbids him for the sex worker Louis visits to repress his latencies, but soon understands that Lestat is most interested in seducing Louis. A threesome turns into a twosome. Lestat feeds on Louis, and soon, following a crisis in Louiss family, Lestat makes the offer Louis cant resist: I can swap this life of shameswap it out for a dark gift and a power you cant begin to imagine.

In the run-up to the 1994 movies release, Rice was vocal in her opposition to the casting of Tom Cruise as her Brat Prince Lestat (though she came around once she saw him in the role). But while a contemporaneous Cruise profile in Vanity Fair described the character as bitchy and bisexualyou know, a 2022 viewer may see the former more than the latter in Cruises performance. There is plenty of queer subtext in the film, but thats as far as it goes; the only transgressive kiss, not counting all the ones involving necks and fangs, comes when tween vampire Claudia (Kirsten Dunst, 11 at the time of filming and not okay with it) bestows one on her father, Louis (Brad Pitt). But the new show is not coy about the nature of Louis and Lestats relationship: After Lestat has turned his lover, he invites Louis to share his coffin, smirking, Its okay. You can be on top.

Vampirism has metaphorically represented now-waning ideas of queernessa forbidden desire to which one ecstatically surrenders, ending up outside societys bounds as a consequence. Making Lestat and Louiss sex life an unambiguous part of this story disentangles Louiss horror at his thirsts collateral damage from the shame other versions of the character have evinced about sexual interests only (broadly) hinted at. Between hunts, Louis and Lestat settle into domesticity and have the same disputes all couples do. How do you balance the demands of ones family of origin with the needs of ones chosen family? How do you manage when one partner adopts a new diet (as when Louis decides hes no longer going to take human life, and will survive by draining animals), and the other feels judged (jk, Lestat doesnt care what Louis thinks of his murders)? Whens the right time to have a child, and how should you raise her? How often is too often to attend the opera?

Months before the movie came out, describing her (then) objection to Cruises casting, Rice told Movielines Martha Frankel that Lestat should be an overpowering personvery blond, very tall, very athletic, very full. Rice did not live to see Sam Reids performance, which aligns precisely with her brief; we eventually see nearly all of Reid and he is so very athletic, very full that one shirtless shot made me gasp aloud. (He also apparently grew out his strawberry blond hair for the role, and in an era when bad TV wigs are an urgent topic of concern, we simply must applaud the commitment.) Lestat is an aesthete, a womanizer, a charming dinner guest, a card sharpwhatever he needs to be to fulfill his ultimate goal as a serial murderer. Not since Mads Mikkelsens Hannibal Lecter has a fictional character killed with such purpose and artistry.

Jacob Anderson has the harder job: As Louis, the note he most often has to play is tortured anguish. This is especially true after he rescues Claudia (Bailey Bass) from a firetoo late for her to have escaped injury, so Lestat saves her life by siring her, and enmeshing Louis more fully into their chosen family in the process. (It may not shock you to learn that a girl whose mind keeps maturing while her body stays 14 turns out to be kind of a handful.) Present-day Louis is less active but shows more emotional depth, having moved, over a century, through his resentment against Lestat and to his desire for truth and reconciliation. This Louis has the unhurried manner of someone who has felt every one of his years, which is why, as his primary scene partner, Bogosians Molloy can grate. Were told that Molloy has his own regrets and urgency: an addict now long in recovery, hes being treated for Parkinsons disease; even getting on a plane during the COVID-19 pandemic is a risk in his condition. The choice has been made, I guess, to make Molloy seem extra-modern opposite a character who came of age in a different century, another world, but his arch, sarcastic dialogue feels like it belongs to a different show. Despite the series title, though, the interview scenes of Interview With the Vampire comprise comparatively little of its content; Sam Reids Lestat, feasting on every one of his scenes, is what makes the show unmissable.

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TVs Interview With the Vampire Absolutely Has Teeth - Vanity Fair

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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero
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