Interview with the Vampire is an epic story of love, blood and the perils of immortality

Thursday: Interview with the Vampire (BBC2, 9pm)
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It might be hard to imagine but there was once a time when Tom Cruise didn’t inspire automatic, carpet-scraping awe.

Back in the early 1990s, when actors were being cast for the big-screen version of Anne Rice’s gothic horror novel Interview with the Vampire, she desperately wanted British actor Julian Sands for the role.

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Unfortunately, the A Room with a View star was not considered famous enough by the powers that be, and the plum role was handed to Cruise instead.

Claudia, Louis de Point du Lac and Lestat de LioncourtClaudia, Louis de Point du Lac and Lestat de Lioncourt
Claudia, Louis de Point du Lac and Lestat de Lioncourt

Rice did not beat around the bush making her negative opinion known, famously quipping the Top Gun star was: “no more my vampire Lestat than Edward G Robinson is Rhett Butler”.

Of course, Anne went on to fall under his spell the instant she saw him on screen, calling the actor personally to apologise and saying publicly: “from the moment he appeared, Tom was Lestat for me”.

It was far from the only problem to plague the film, directed by Neil Jordan. Cruise’s co-star Brad Pitt, who played Louis de Pointe du Lac, complained of being “miserable” during the shoot, which took place mostly in the winter and at night.

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Another ill omen was the tragic death of River Phoenix, who had been cast as journalist Daniel Molloy, several weeks before filming began.

It would be interesting to see what Anne, who died in 2021 aged 80 (she is nevertheless listed as an executive producer, alongside her son Christopher), would have made of this 21st-century reimagining of her seminal novel.

The glorious, seven-part drama follows Louis de Pointe du Lac, Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) and Claudia (Bailey Bass) and their epic story of love, blood and the perils of immortality, as told to journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian).

As for Louis, he is played by Jacob Anderson, arguably best known for playing Grey Worm in Game of Thrones and Vinder in the 13th series of Doctor Who.

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Chafing at the limitations of life as a Black man in 1900s New Orleans, Louis finds it impossible to resist the rakish Lestat’s offer of the ultimate escape: joining him as his vampire companion. However, all too soon, Louis discovers that his intoxicating new powers come at a violent price, while the introduction of Lestat’s newest fledgling, the child vampire Claudia, soon sets them on a decades-long path of revenge and atonement.

All the while, Louis struggles with who and what he is. “The humiliation of a human life in order to feed yourself is not something he enjoys,” Jacob said.

The series has already aired across the Pond and has whipped critics and fans into a frenzy.

Sue Deeks, head of BBC Programme Acquisition, is delighted to bring the drama to UK screens, describing it as “a sumptuous, sensual, complex and disturbing treat”.

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In a reassuring note for fans of the book (and perhaps the movie too), she added that the “series stays true to the gothic spirit of Anne Rice’s eternally popular novels, while sympathetically re-imagining her world for a new generation”.

It will be fascinating to see how the new version plays out. Who knows, maybe Tom Cruise is also a secret fan?

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