Interview with the Vampire Season 2 Just Made Its Best Adaptation Change Yet

AMC’s Interview with the Vampire offers healthy tips for carnal connoisseurs not found in Vampire Chronicles recipes.

Jacob Anderson as Louis De Point Du Lac and Delainey Hayles as Claudia - Interview with the Vampire _ Season 2, Episode 1
Photo: Larry Horricks | AMC

This article contains spoilers for Interview with the Vampire season 2 episode 1.

AMC masterfully transposes Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire from unique literary expression to a cinematic episodic television experience. As series creator and executive producer Rolin Jones told an enthusiastic crowd at an advance screening at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, these are two different art forms, with their own artistic needs and devotees. Changes are necessary for the proper telling, and the contemporary audience at large. 

Claudia is five years old in the 1976 book. Her age is the very heart of the story because Anne Rice wrote the novel while mourning the death of her daughter, Michele. Modern sensitivities resist the tortured distinction, and the network provides respectful distance. The series’ acting part is even updated, with Delainey Hayles taking the young vampire role originally portrayed by Bailey Bass. There are several alterations in the adaptation which Rice traditionalists see as multiple lacerations, but there is no bad blood.

Sad blood, however, is an innovative adaptation not found specifically in the novels, where the newly liberated American vampires travel throughout Transylvania, Hungary, and Bulgaria looking for others of their kind. Interview With the Vampire season 2 opens with Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) and Claudia emancipated from blood ties and on the same quest. There is no mention in the books of any search for Vlad Tepes, or specific Dracula or Bram Stoker inquisitiveness, not even under the guise of Cezare Romulo. Instead, the series’ heroes witness the Post WWII transition of Nazi conquest to Soviet occupation in the bombed-out remnants of old-world relics.

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Soldiers are digging up corpses and shooting them with machine gun fire. It is a dismal overkill. Louis notes the effects of generational pain on the taste and feel of the blood he takes from the citizens. It does not taste warm. It offers only the basic nutritional value, and it has no spark. Both Louis and Claudia taste the sadness, desperation, and hopelessness in the human hemoglobin. Louis theorizes the blood is infected with the suffering of the war-torn survivors, whose gray lives were replaced by a darker oppression. He believes it is unhealthy.

With Claudia as interpreter, Louis tries to explain this dietary discovery to Daciana (Diana Gheorghian), an ancient Eastern European vampire in the season 2 opener. The transitional character is a creation for the series to give context to what is unspoken on the page. On screen Daciana says of her prey: “They don’t want life anymore,” vaguely confirming Louis’ concerns. In Rice’s history, the ancient eastern vampires are monstrous creatures, mindless zombies. “Revenants,” Armand (Assad Zaman) identifies them in the first book. “Their blood is different, vile.” The literature does not posit the cause of the rancid fluid beyond the eternally dark and superstitious history of the terrain.

Jones and executive producer Mark Johnson confided to the giddily assembled 92nd St. Y aficionados that droplets from future books of the Vampire Chronicles series would bleed into the second season. This will come primarily in the form of certain Anne Rice Multiverse characters who will make premature appearances, as well as a new trajectory in the present setting of the ongoing interviews between Journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian), Armand, and Louis in Prague. There are no future references to the effects hope and despair have on the drinkers of blood in the ongoing Vampire Chronicles. The underlying concept, however, can be intuited from subtext.

The novels infer loss of true, breathing, life does not diminish empathy in the eternal predators. Louis finds Eastern Europe to be a “strange country. I felt an anxiety … I’d never quite experienced in New Orleans. And the people themselves were no relief. We were naked and lost in their tiny hamlets, and conscious always that amongst them we were in grave danger.” He doesn’t internalize this ambient atmosphere. It is in no way ingested, except through geographical osmosis, and never digested.

There is more than a draining of life at work in the drinking of blood. There is a transformation exchange and deep connection unlike any other kind of coupling. It is not sex or akin to childbirth, it is unique and final. Though it can never be immediately terminal. “You’ll die if you do that,” Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) admonishes Louis during an early feeding. “He’ll suck you right down into death with him if you cling to him in death.” The newly turned blood-drinker learns the lesson on a physical level, recounting feelings of “a grinding pain in my stomach, as if some whirlpool there were sucking my insides into itself.”

Trace elements of the series’ postulation on the nutritional value of emotion comes during the blood exchange. When Louis first draws blood, he experiences “sound. A dull roar at first and then a pounding like the pounding of a drum, growing louder and louder … not just my hearing but all my senses.” After Lestat’s admonishing, “One doesn’t simply glut oneself on blood,” Louis learns “It is the experience of another’s life for certain, and often the experience of the loss of that life through the blood, slowly. It is again and again the experience of that loss of my own life, which I experienced when I sucked the blood from Lestat’s wrist and felt his heart pound with my heart. It is again and again a celebration of that experience; because for vampires that is the ultimate experience.”

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While the implication of internalizing the human condition infecting the blood supply is a reasonable conclusion, there is more evidence of a very strong emotional backlash to vampire-on-vampire backwash. The series establishes the telepathic connection shared by the insular vampire family, and the books continue to explore this bond into the sanguinary entanglement Lestat finds himself enjoying with Akasha in Queen of the Damned. From the very first book, in the prelude to Lestat’s betrayal, Claudia herself even wonders: “Such blood, such power. Do you think I’ll possess his power and my own power when I take him?”

It’s enough to warm the unbeating heart of the most bloodthirsty. There is ample evidence of Louis’ discernment of the warmth the vampires receive from blood. “Vampires feel cold as acutely as humans, and the blood of the kill is often the rich, sensual alleviation of that cold,” he explains in the book. He later explains “After killing, a vampire is as warm as you are now.” Only revenge and gazpacho are best served cold, and even the romantically carnal connoisseur Count Dracula enthuses “the blood is the life.” So the undead should live it up.

The underlying truth of Interview with the Vampire’s delectable discovery may be rooted in the simplicity of comfort food. Louis and Claudia were raised since undeath in the culinary delights of the blood of the locals of New Orleans. A land of fine foods, and rich appetites. They may be spoiled. But really, if we’re being honest, what does Louis really know? He drinks rats.

Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire season 2 premieres May 12 on AMC and AMC+.