Many fans of Anne Rice’s 1976 gothic novel Interview With The Vampire—and its 1994 film adaptation—have been harboring one question in their minds for decades: Did Lestat and Louis, y’know, do it? Queer readings of nominally straight texts are at least as old as Ishmael and Queequeg shared a bed in Moby Dick; and for many years, it’s all LGBTQ+ media consumers had to go on. But it’s 2022, baby, and the subtext has become text.
Making the two bloodsuckers’ crypto-romance official is one of the many innovations of AMC’s fresh take on Interview With The Vampire. Genre adaptations are a dime a dozen these days on TV; the past few months alone have seen prequels (The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power, House Of The Dragon) and adaptations (The Sandman, Resident Evil, the upcoming Let The Right One In) galore. But unlike these lesser retreads, Interview justifies its existence with a wholly fresh take that remains true to the spirit of the source material. And, vitally, it’s not afraid to have fun.
Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) is a century-old vampire who agrees to an interview with human reporter Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) at his palatial Dubai apartment. Daniel last interviewed his immortal subject in the 1970s, with violent results—and the two have a shared history allows Daniel to challenge Louis without actively fearing for his life.
In Rice’s novel, Louis is an 18th-century Louisiana plantation owner with a bevy of slaves. In Rolin Jones’ update, he’s a wealthy, closeted Black man who owns a string of brothels in 1910s Storyville, a red light district in New Orleans. This reversal adds fascinating depths to Louis and allows Interview to grapple with prickly questions of race, sexuality, and history—and all the shifting power dynamics that come with them.
Like Louis, the now-vanished Storyville existed in the in-between spaces: It was one of few places in the Jim Crow South where Black people could find success as businessmen and rub elbows with the white elite. It’s here that our antihero meets Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid), a flamboyant French vampire who immediately makes Louis the target of an all-consuming obsession. (It helps that Lestat’s powers include telepathic communication, mind control, and time-freezing.)
Louis is resistant at first, but he’s drawn to Lestat like a moth to a flame. (“His gaze tied a string around my lungs,” he tells Daniel, in the character’s characteristically flowery language.) But a family tragedy sends Louis into a nihilistic spiral, and he gives in to Lestat’s advances in a scene that’s as gory as it is romantic.
It’s this gothic melodrama vibe that Interview nails. Rather than opting for the tired gritty-reboot trend, the show leans into what draws readers to Rice’s work in the first place—which is to say, smart, thoughtful writing with a heaping helping of Harlequin paperback camp. “You talk about him like he was your soulmate, like you were locked in some fucked-up gothic romance,” Daniel remarks at one point.
Anderson and Reid’s chemistry is at the unbeating heart of the show, and it sizzles like a vampire in the sunlight. The two expertly move between dark romance, steamy sex, and the domestics of day-to-day life as a couple, which are inescapable whether you’re mortal or not. One second they’re erotically sucking the blood from their latest victim, and the next they’re bantering over whether or not they should sleep in separate coffins. This is no one-note Twilight romance; Louis and Lestat feel like a real couple, which makes it even more horrific when the latter becomes controlling and abusive.
But Interview really sings with the introduction of Claudia (Bailey Bass), a teenage girl who becomes the pair’s surrogate daughter, filling a hole in Louis’ life where his family used to be. The series wisely ages Claudia up to 14 (she was 5 in the novel and film), trapping her in a permanent puberty that will leave her impulsive and voracious for all eternity. The three form a chosen family—something else that makes the series feel inherently queer; and for Louis, who’s struggling with Lestat’s libertine attitude and the ethics of vampirism, his love for Claudia is a life raft in a roiling sea.
None of this would work without the immense talent of the series’ central cast, led by Anderson in a career-making performance. He’s been steadily making his way through supporting roles in popular series ranging from Game Of Thrones to Doctor Who to Broadchurch; but with Interview, the actor proves that he’s more than ready to headline his own series. He believably plays all the stages of Louis’ life, as he moves from dissatisfied human to wide-eyed young vampire to jaded, extravagant immortal.
He’s a wonder when he shares the screen with Bogosian, who’s more than happy to pop the balloon of Louis’ romanticism. The veteran actor’s world-weary, no-bullshit energy is vital to the success of Interview; his modern cynicism grounds a series (literally, considering one scene involves mid-coital levitation).
Lestat is easily the trickiest character to play, considering it would be all too easy to descend into sex-god vampire caricature. But Reid kills it, playing Lestat as a magnetic psychopath who can turn on a dime from light charm to terrifying abuse. He’s also, vitally, very funny; you have to be to sell lines like “You can endeavor on an experience that feels like eating syrup while riding on the wind.”
He finds his match in Claudia, who radiates chaotic charisma from her first moments onscreen. Bass is a breakout here, tracing her character’s arc as her murderous, childish delight (“You suck ’em like frog legs and burn ’em like trash,” she enthuses of her early kills) evolves into world-weary existential horror.
It’s fair to ask whether, at this stage of the game, we need another entry into the blood-bloated vampire canon. But AMC’s Interview is a novel thing; it does for bloodsucker drama what HBO’s Watchmen did for the superhero genre, reclaiming an old story for a new, more enlightened generation.