This article contains spoilers for the Interview with the Vampire season 1 finale and Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles.
In the gory aftermath of the Mardi Gras blood feast in Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire’s season 1 finale, it is easy to underestimate how much there is to digest. Even if it is easier to keep down than a paralyzing brew of laudanum and arsenic. The journalist Daniel Molloy, played by veteran actor Eric Bogosian, is finding it harder to swallow the realities of things that rise up.
In “The Thing Lay Still,” Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson), and Claudia (Bailey Bass) rose up against their tyrannical father figure, Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid), in an incident so traumatic, it takes Daniel two tries to get an acceptable truth out of his vampire subject. But there are other things floating around which are psychologically unacceptable.
Up until now, Assad Zaman has been best known for his role as Anish Sengupta on BBC’s Hotel Portofino, and for playing Rashid, Louis’ most attentive personal assistant, on the AMC vampire series. Soon, he will only be known as Armand, 114 years older than the 400-year-old vampire of Anne Rice’s novel. Armand believed he was turned by an angel, but found only damnation, which he turned into art. His Théâtre des Vampires was all the rage on Temple du Boulevard in Paris, with Armand’s fury guiding it. He is also, in the books, the vampire who gives the Dark Gift to the former boy reporter, Daniel Molloy.
Of course, the adult journalist has no recollection of many events of his youth, barely keeping up with events as they play out in real time in the unreal high-rise. In the post-mortem interviews of Interview with the Vampire, Eric Bogosian and Assad Zaman appeared together while speaking with Den of Geek. While the future remains uncertain for both players, if their recent past is any indication, it promises to be an exciting glide.
Den of Geek: In the first episode, Louis asked Daniel to let the stories seduce him, are you seduced?
Eric Bogosian: I am, absolutely. When you make work as an artist, you want to create a world, and you want to say “come to my world, enter my world.” And you can be more or less successful. You can be so unsuccessful that nobody wants to enter your world, they come in for five minutes, and they walk away again. This is a world that I am honored and excited to be part of because it’s total. And it’s so consistent.
One of the things is that (showrunner) Rolin (Jones) figured out how to merge his mind with Anne Rice, take her wonderful inspiration of all these worlds, these characters, these storylines, and refashioned it. He’s made a world that’s seductive, and I’m seduced for sure.
There are so many things to talk about. But let’s just say, for want of anything else, I did all my work with Jacob, and with Assad, of course, on the side sending me knives and daggers with his eyes in every scene we did. Jacob and Sam, their performances are just: You got me. The commitment, it’s very hard to commit like that as an actor, because the more you commit, the more vulnerable you are.
We spend so much time watching safe acting in film and TV that we get used to it, and we think, “Oh, that’s acting, that’s good acting.” We don’t get to see this authentic, deeply invested stuff. What happens is, they inspire us, those guys and what they’re up to. I don’t know if you agree with me on this, Assad, but then going and watching the performances that I wasn’t there for, it’s like “oh, man, I want to step up to this level of commitment.”
Assad Zaman: Oh, absolutely. I was lucky, in the sense that my moments in season one are few and far between. Enough that I can watch the whole thing objectively as a fan. I was sucked in so deeply watching everyone do their thing to create this amazing, beautiful show. Especially Sam and Jacob and their electric kind of energy. For me, on one side, it was so beautiful to watch. And then on the other side, I think I was getting palpitations thinking, “Okay, this is what I’ve got to step up to now for season two, and how in the hell am I going to do that?” Yeah, so it is electrifying and terrifying at the same time.
Armand has one of the great arcs in Rice’s series, she wrote a book about you. Did the novels have an impact on you prior to being cast?
Assad Zaman: I was only familiar with the original movie when I first got the audition. I remember saying to Rolin, I was four when Interview with the Vampire, the film, came out. I think a cousin of mine made me watch it when I was five. In those days, like there was no there was no “look, he’s too young for this.”
It was just sad, and I don’t remember much of it. Except Claudia, for some reason, Claudia. I was too young to understand the story, but I just couldn’t get the image of this child vampire out of my head. That’s what really stuck with me. So, when I got the audition, I was familiar only with what I’d known then. Halfway through the audition process was when I found out who Rashid was. I was originally just auditioning for Rashid. I was on the same boat as the audience. And then I had a spoiler moment where I sat with Rolin and he told me, “Rashid is Armand, and this is how we want to tell the story.” And I was like, “ahhhh, we’re gonna do this for it.” That’s when I immersed myself in the books.
After I got the part, I read Armand first, before reading Interview, because I wanted to get a good grasp of who Armand was before the story of Interview with the Vampire. Because of the way we’re structuring this version, it was important for me to know, before going into it.
How far into the process were you when you found out you were the next lead?
Assad Zaman: I think, on my third round, going into my fourth round of auditions, where I was still doing scenes with Rashid and Daniel. Rolin called me for a Zoom meeting. He was like, “we just want to have a quick chat before your next round.” And I was thinking, why are you spending time talking about Rashid when you could be talking about Louis and Lestat and Claudia? Those are the more important characters. That’s when he told me, “Look. I wanted to give you a heads up, because we’re trying to find a balance of someone who we can go into season two with Armand with.” It was like a pinch-me moment. I thought, God, how am I gonna get through this now?
You mentioned the child vampire of the film. In the book, Armand was 17, tops, when he was turned. How old was your Armand?
Assad Zaman: He’s a teeny bit older, our Armand. I think we are in the late-20s.
Eric, when you see Assad floating around on set, do you ever feel left out of the gravity defying action?
Assad Zaman: Not for long, hopefully.
Eric Bogosian: It is. It’s absolutely like one of those situations when you’re the odd person out. You’re with a couple all the time, and they can gang up on you when you do things. Obviously, one of the main threads of these seven episodes is Molloy, slowly but surely, understanding that there’s more to this whole thing than meets the eye. Finally, ending up in the sort of explosive last few moments of the seventh episode.
Yeah, I don’t know what’s up. I think there’s a degree of Molloy’s enterprise where he jumps out of planes without a parachute every now and then. Going to Dubai is already going to be a big gamble for him. Then once he’s there, he figures he’ll figure it out and he’ll get grounded. In fact, it just gets more and more ungrounded as the days go by because it’s only around a week, right? So yeah, he does feel left out. I don’t know if he completely understands what he’s being left out of, and that’s going to become more and more apparent.
Let’s face it. Molloy has been told about people flying, but he’s never seen anybody lift up off the ground before, and that’s what he sees in the last few moments. Honestly, it’s one of the greatest challenges as an actor to just be awed by something. You don’t really know how to do that. Because so many things are like you’re actually in behavior, and you simply behave the way that you would in that circumstance. But I have never seen anybody fly before. So, I was sort of challenged and how to respond to the bookcase.
Is there anything you can tell us about Daniel’s memory block?
Eric Bogosian: We don’t have anything to give away. They don’t tell us anything. We don’t know what’s coming next. We literally don’t know.
Assad Zaman: I can take a quick guess. With this version, we have put Armand in the context of the first Interview, whereas originally, he’s not there. Louis is free to tell his own story start to finish with just him and Daniel there. We can speculate and think maybe Armand has been tinkering here and there.
Eric Bogosian: Armand has extraordinary powers that we haven’t even begun to learn about yet. I know that because my son is a fanboy. He explained this to me about Armand yesterday.
But there’s also the element of any older guy, which I am, having selective memory. That’s a whole world of dramatics, Harold Pinter wrote a whole play about this, about people just not remembering things they don’t want to remember. I don’t remember every single thing that happened back in the ‘70s when I was hanging out in gay clubs scoring heroin. I don’t know if I ever exactly did that, but I did similar things.
Interview with the Vampire season 1 has wrapped. All seven episodes are available to stream on AMC+.