Interview With the Vampire Cast on the One Thing They Don’t Tell You About Playing Vampires

Jacob Anderson, Sam Reid, and Bailey Bass deliberate justice, seduction, and after-hours delusions for Interview with the Vampire.

Sam Reid as Lestat De Lioncourt, Russell Dennis Lewis as Mark McPhail, Bailey Bass as Claudia and Jacob Anderson as Louis De Point Du Lac - Interview with the Vampire _ Season 1, Episode 7
Photo: Alfonso Bresciani | AMC

This article contains spoilers for the Interview with the Vampire season 1 finale.

The first chapter of AMC’s series adaptation of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire closed on unsubtle ambiguities. The season 1 finale took a turn from the novel, paying respect to the beloved New Orleans setting with a Mardi Gras going-away party to die for, and an almost equally lethal night cap.

Vampire family dysfunction overtook the pleasures of piercing flesh throughout the opening season, but blood ties proved tortuously gruesome on their own. The disarming charm of the majestic Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) was neutralized, and the seditious counterattack suffered internal sabotage. Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) and Claudia (Bailey Bass) disowned their unnatural parentage, and will be striking out on their own. But they are left with burning questions, and were given little information on life after life by the vampire who gave them the Dark Gift of undeath.

Lestat, Louis, and Claudia don’t have all the answers, and even if they did, they would take them to their graves, at least for the night. Even the vampire interviewer Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) can’t always rely on the information his subject gives, or even his own recollections. Den of Geek spoke with Jacob Anderson, Sam Reid, and Bailey Bass about the memorable first season.

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Den of Geek: Jacob, in the first episode, Louis asked Daniel to let the story seduce. Do you feel you’ve accomplished that, and how does it feel?

Jacob Anderson: Yeah, I think he does let the story seduce. I think it reveals at the end that Louis let the story seduce himself. I remember Rolin talked about this quite a lot, Louis tries to hypnotize himself a little bit when he’s telling this story. To the extent that he believes it himself. Maybe he believes there are things that he says that might not be completely reliable. But then, who among us really tells a reliable, completely truthful, story about our own lives and our own participation in our lives, and other people’s? Yeah, I think he succeeded. Maybe a little bit too well.

Sam, you are center stage in two character-defining genre moments. When you’re holding a head and punching tickets, is there an awareness of how this is gonna play on screen? And how does that energize your performance?

Sam Reid: Yeah, definitely, I think Rolin knew what he was doing, too, when he wrote those moments. I don’t write those beats, I see them on a page, and it’s my job to interpret them. Actually, the decapitated head had a lot of discussion around it, and whether it was going to be too far or not. I think I may have shot that sequence, and Bailey was there too, so I’m expected to remember, more times than I think I shot anything, ever. We did it so many times.

I always talk about the practical effects of this show, but they’re so astonishing. It’s almost worth ruining the illusion just to know how we shot it. So, when I kick open that door, I’m jumping across a little moving car that I’m standing on, to another one that’s being held by members of the production design team, shaking the cart. So, it’s being shaken by people, and then the carriage that disappears behind me is a 2-D flat piece of wood that is being pulled apart by a whole bunch of guys on ropes while I jump across it. It’s so detailed. Every shot was just beautiful the way they make those things.

Jacob Anderson: And fun fact, that head is the head of Adam O’Byrne, producer.

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Sam Reid: Yeah, it’s the head cast of one of our producers on the show, which was very funny to walk around with his head and have to work out how to manipulate it into being a puppet.

Jacob Anderson: [Mimicking] Get back to work!

Bailey, you play the same scenarios in two different worlds. Louis’ first telling and then after Daniel bullies them into the real story. I’m assuming you shoot these on the same set at the same time? How do you differentiate these realities internally?

Bailey Bass: We have an incredible crew that’s very supportive. Alexis Ostrander was very great at directing how Claudia should feel, and Rolin Jones knew exactly how he wanted the audience to feel in those moments. Because I was playing Claudia so truthfully as her for most of the show, when I’m doing that scene that’s not true – that Louis made up to make himself feel better – it was a bit of a challenge. I was grateful for both of them, Alexis and Rolin, for giving me guidance on how to live Louis’ lie rather than Claudia’s truth.

When you add up all the vampire abuses, do you feel Lestat earned an attempted death sentence?

Sam Reid: I hope so. I hope he earned it, and I hope people feel like that was earned. I mean, God, what other choice do these people have but to kill him? And I think he knows that too. I really hope the audience feel that he should have died. Lestat, particularly at the end when he realizes that it’s Louis with the knife and not Claudia, he feels like, “Okay, I’ve gone too far. And I need to die.” [Laughs]

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Bailey, Claudia instigated it.

Bailey Bass: I think Claudia is, definitely, like: “Yes, he should have died.” I’ve been watching every episode as it airs on AMC+ so I can live it with the fans, and there are all these arguments about Louis, Lestat, Claudia, and our relationships. It’s really interesting. Because of Rolin’s great vision and writing, our characters are so equally specific, which makes audiences fall in love with them. When I’m watching it as a fan, I see why people don’t want Lestat to die. But then I also played Claudia, and I know how her brain works. And of course, he deserved to die.

And finally, Jacob, you’re the one who left Lestat with the rats, do you feel he deserved it?

Jacob Anderson: No, I think Louis doesn’t necessarily feel like he wants him to die. I think a lot of it is about freedom. They’re trapped in his house, and Claudia and Louis are essentially prisoners. I think that the only way they’re going to be able to escape the situation they’re in, is for Lestat to just be off the board for a little bit. He needs to go and sit in the naughty coffin and think about what he’s done. It’s like they’re on a break, essentially. That break will facilitate Claudia and Louis being able to explore their existence a little bit more, and explore their relationship, and their lives outside of this house. Get out of there. They’re not going to be able to get out of that house, unless Lestat is also out of that house.

Sam Reid: It’s also a very kind gesture, in a way, for Louis to do it to Lestat, because Lestat doesn’t really develop that much as a character over the first season. He’s got a lot of issues that he doesn’t really deal with. And sometimes the nicest thing that someone can do, or that a monster partner can do, is kill you to instigate a bit of personal change. Hopefully, this is the first step in a character arc for Lestat.

Jacob Anderson: It’s like any relationship, right? Sometimes you just have to have the big, big, big argument that completely changes how you perceive your relationship. Without that, how can you move on and establish something new?

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Sam Reid: Yeah, yeah. They live forever, you know? You gotta make big choices.

Cosmetically, technically, and emotionally, what is something no one prepares you for when you take on the role of a vampire?

Jacob Anderson: Nights. The nights.

Sam Reid: Yeah. Working at night.

Jacob Anderson: Yeah, because the scripts are so beautifully written. They’re so dense, full of ideas, and full of beautiful dialogue. You don’t want to mess any of it up. You have to switch your brain into a place where it can operate at full capacity. At 4 a.m., you’re having to do this very lofty stuff, and it’s very difficult to actually prepare for that without just doing it.

Bailey Bass: Because, eventually, we all have a time at night where we start to get delusional. I documented the whole show, I’m watching videos of myself and I can pinpoint exactly when I started to lose my mind. You have to rework it to keep acting at 100%.

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Along with that, no one could have prepared me for the lenses. Your vision is restricted. Sometimes we couldn’t see our other actors’ faces while we’re acting, which can make it really difficult because one of the first things you learn when you’re acting, as part of acting, is reacting. It’s mainly: when you can’t see the muscles of your actors’ face, how are you supposed to do that? Along with that, the lenses change how they feel in your eyes, based on the environment you’re in. So, if we’re working at 4 a.m., depending on the degrees it is outside, it will affect how the lenses feel on your eyes. No one can even explain that until you feel it on your eyeball.

Sam Reid: Yeah, the nights and the lenses. It’s very hard to grasp what that feels like, for the extended period of time that we did it. You enter something like a dream world, literally, that’s the best way that I can think of describing it. It’s like this bizarre dream primordial soup.

How will season two deal with Claudia and Louis’ falling out?

Jacob Anderson: How exciting to find out. I can’t wait to find out.

Interview with the Vampire season 1 has wrapped. All seven episodes are available to stream on AMC+.