How AMC’s Interview with the Vampire Changes the Anne Rice Books

Exclusive: Creator Rolin Jones promises AMC’s Interview with the Vampire revamp will make you forget Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise...

Lestat (Sam Reid) and Louis (Jacob Anderson) in Interview with the Vampire
Photo: AMC

“The world changes, we do not, therein lies the irony that kills us,” Anne Rice wrote in Interview with the Vampire. AMC will test that theory. Its upcoming series is based on the books but set in a changed world.

But adaptations of Rice’s works always find controversy. With the new AMC series, there will be alterations to established canon, and Vampire Chronicles fans can be resistant to change.

The timeline now starts in the Jazz Age, and Louis (Jacob Anderson) owns brothels instead of plantations. Sam Reid is Lestat, whose first-book character reflects the full book series’ persona. Bailey Bass plays the young plague victim turned immortal child, Claudia, now aged 14. Creator/writer Rolin Jones believes those three names will set the new standard for the modern vampire. Here’s what he told us about the new Anne Rice reboot:

Den of Geek: What will longtime Anne Rice fans enjoy in this new telling? 

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Rolin Jones: People who are very familiar with the first three books will be very happy. Fans will know when I speak of the difference between the Lestat who is in books two through 12, and the Lestat who is in book one. Anne, obviously, hadn’t written the Lestat that she ended up landing on when she wrote Interview with the Vampire. We’re building a universe. We actually have more knowledge than Anne did when she wrote Interview because we have the follow-up books. There will be some differences, but it’s generally locale and time and setting. I think the fans will be very excited about how much of Anne’s prose made it into our series.

What fan backlash are you predicting? 

Look, if you can make it through these first seven episodes, I’ll be back at Comic-Con next year, and if you’re still upset with me, I will set myself up at a booth, and you can kick me in the shins. I’ll be there for you. I really do think [the fans] will be surprised at how we are constantly going back to the book.

How does the contemporary setting affect the timeline? 

One of the things AMC asked when they tasked me with the gig was: here and now, how does it change? Prince Lestat is the first time Anne talked about how difficult it is to be a vampire with technology as it is today. The timeline is not going to be wildly different. Lestat was born exactly when he was born. He might meet Louis a little bit later than in the books. We’d go into a big hole if we were to write the Lestat from book one because book two and onward is the “Brat Prince.” We wanted to quickly establish the Lestat that she settled on and put him back into the first book. We made Louis an African American, which is not a swing if you consider the demographics of New Orleans.

Will the new adaptation be able to explore the fluid sexuality of the books? 

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It’s aggressive subtext in the first book, but by the time you read books eight and nine, it was the love affair of the century. Without spoiling too much, subtext becomes text in our show.

How did you cast Lestat? 

You can imagine the number of tapes that were sent in for auditions for this. When Sam Reid’s first tape came in, I would be lying if I did not say: “This is not Lestat.” Then he started to speak. He had a facility with language and this alien presence that immediately made him feel like he was different from anybody.

Why is Louis’ situation changed from the book?

To be perfectly frank, I didn’t know how to tell the plantation owner story. I wasn’t going to be the writer to do it. The other reason was aesthetic. If you were going to make this heightened Gothic drama, what is the next period in New Orleans where there was a sexiness, a feast of the senses? I’ll say this, we’ve given Louis a little bit more of a spine.

How did you update Rice’s immortal child, Claudia?

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Claudia, for me, personally, is her greatest creation. The five- or six-year-old girl permanently trapped in that body is aggressively original. I think everybody knows the origin of the book, the passing of Anne’s child, and the great depths of mourning these pages are soaked in. Claudia is this stunning creation. It was very important for us to shoot in New Orleans, where child labor laws say your actor can only work so many hours. We decided to make her trapped in all the chemical excitements of puberty, and we put our Claudia at 14.

How does Eric Bogosian’s Daniel Molloy vary from the book?

He was a boy when he did the interview in 1973, and we are seeing him now in 2020. He is a journalist who is capable of asking really cutting questions.

What are you most excited about for this adaptation?

Most people have this image of Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. In this, the emotional stakes are super high. It’s Love with a capital L and Hate with a capital H, Remorse and Regret, and mostly reverence and respect. I gotta say, I’m really mostly excited for everybody to see Sam and Jake. You will not be thinking about Tom and Brad, ever again. Of that, I am supremely confident. It’s a very big, grand show. AMC is taking all the right risks on this thing. They are putting something very aggressive out there. They put more money into this than they thought they would, and I don’t think that they’re upset about it. There’s a big, big thing coming. 

Interview with the Vampire is out on Oct. 2 on AMC.

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