Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for AMC Networks
Spoilers follow for episode three of Interview with the vampire“Is my true nature that of a devil?.”
In AMC’s sensual meta-revision by Anne Rice Interview with the vampire, Jacob Anderson’s Louis de Pointe du Lac is a creature of conflict. His transformation into a vampire is a physically and morally straining process, and in the latest episode, that tension boils over in a series of turning points for Louis. He realizes that despite their undying bond, he and Lestat (Sam Reid) are irreconcilable; he is rejected by his family, who accuse him of being one with the devil; and his murder of a racist councilman, although seemingly justified, sparks a violent backlash from whites and endangers the black community that Louis only wants to protect.
“It’s Louis trying to define who he is now. In episode two, he knows he’s not the same kind of vampire as Lestat; Humiliating a human life to support himself is not something he enjoys,” says Anderson. “This episode is about him realizing that he will never be human again. It’s about the responsibility of power and where you are powerless.”
These power struggles follow Louis across the series’ dual timelines. In the early 1900s, he and Lestat vacillate between adoration and dissatisfaction, and in the present day Louis feuds with journalist Daniel Molloy over changes in his story since their last interview decades ago (referencing both Rice’s 1976 novel and the 1994 film adaptation). ). Through it all, Anderson gives Louis a reflective inwardness tinged with raw vulnerability, the subtle shifts in his gaze and sudden outbursts of violence emphasizing the character’s complicated inhumanity.
This episode deals with the politics of respectability; I think of Louis telling Lestat not to use the word “vampire” in his workplace. There’s a willingness to fight between Louis trying to keep his head down and Lestat being as brazen as possible. How did you and Sam find the rhythm of these conversations?
Whoever starts the scene walks in with an energy, and we work similarly in that when you walk in, you want to know your goal. A lot of this depends on Sam and I listening to each other.
The scene that comes to mind is after Lestat and Antoinette have spent their night together. Louis has gone to get food and he is in this vulnerable position and he expects everything to be back to normal when he comes back. He is deeply disappointed to find that Lestat might bore him. Lestat is so much of what Louis left behind, and this episode is about the devastation of Louis’ human existence. He can no longer be this deferential businessman to these white bureaucrats when his business is shut down. He can no longer be the beloved paternal brother in his family. He notices, I do not have anymore. If I can’t have all these different parts of me, whatever I am now remains and I don’t know what I am now.
I think Louis is a monogamous creature. He wants a traditional family structure within this relationship with Lestat. Lestat says, “Yes, you can do whatever you want” – that drives him crazy.
Louis asks Lestat if he’s enough and Lestat laughs in his face. How did you play that moment?
I have to give Sam props. That unhinged laugh is something Lestat says about himself in the books. It’s something he can’t control. He bursts out laughing when he feels vulnerable, but Louis doesn’t know that yet. Louis is humiliated at this moment. At various points this season, one of them is stronger than the other and this is a moment when Louis is out of his power. He has the feeling that the ground is liquid.
You have said You might not have been able to play Louis if you hadn’t played Gray Worm on game of Thrones First, “You have to learn to be comfortable in silence, to do things with your eyes and not to rely on dialogue all the time.” Louis gives Daniel those little looks when the journalist questions his story. Did the Dubai scenes demand more restraint?
I built it in through all time periods. This episode is actually the start of Louis’ bookworm phrase; he buries himself in stories and that grounds him in his humanity. In the further course he goes much more into himself. I remember Rollin [Jones, series creator and episode co-writer] said to me before we got one of the episodes, “Just so you know, there’s a little less for Louis” because the episode was more of a Claudia and Lestat episode. I read it and thought: Oh no, there’s so much going on at Louis, even if you attest to it. As today’s interview begins to fall apart, it gives more freedom for those little moments when you can’t say anything because it would give more away. It’s a look that catches the eye of the audience. i love the stuff I probably prefer to tell stories with my face than with my voice.
Louis is so reclusive and haughty in this day and age that some of your line deliveries are really funny. “You hesitate, Rashid,” made me laugh.
He’s achieved a level of vampiric detachment, but how much of that is real remains to be seen.
This distance is contrasted earlier in the episode when Louis attempts to visit his family and is confronted by his mother. You’re wearing sunglasses in this scene, so we can’t see your eyes; How did you integrate them into your physical performance?
They help, probably in the same way they help Louis. He wears the sunglasses not only to hide his eyes or their change, but also to protect himself from vulnerability. There was a lot of body language in that scene. He walks in like he was there yesterday and not in years. It falls apart as the scene progresses and at the end he puts the gift down really gently. He’s like a wounded animal, sneaking away and then running away.
The sunglasses, if I mean that literally – you can’t see anything. [Laughs.] I also wore my lenses under my glasses just in case Rae Dawn [Chong, who plays Louis’s mother Florence] she was about to undress when she says, “There he is.” And she didn’t, which I thought was an interesting choice. It’s like, i see through you It’s not just about the cosmetic changes. There’s something in your mind that’s bothering me. But as soon as you go into an unlit area, it’s just blackness. Walking up the stairs in those glasses was a nightmare.
Louis finally accepts his vampirism when he attacks the councilman. On a thematic level, do you believe that the end justifies the means? And on the practical side, can you talk about the preparation for that scene and the anger Louis is giving in to?
This scene marks the first time you see an early echo of modern-day Louis. If he’s the reluctant vampire–as he’s called in the Vampire Chronicles community, or the human vampire–he’s just a vampire after all. But it’s a very human moment when he says, “Maybe I’m being arrogant,” and he slices it up. The irony of that moment is that it’s a very human instinct that makes him say, “I’m a vampire.” It’s about resentment and revenge. It’s not detached.
If he thinks violence justifies the end, no, I don’t think he does. This is a big lesson. There are implications to this one action. No magic can save him from a racist American, a racist America, a racist society. In this regard he is powerless. He can’t act with impunity just because he’s a vampire, because he’s a black vampire. And he doesn’t like violence either. For him, that is part of the central conflict. He only needs the product of violence, he needs blood.
As much as Lestat scoffs at racism and says Louis after the councilman’s murder, “I’m proud of you, nice job,” he doesn’t seem to grasp the larger racial implications of why Louis did it and how people will react to Louis. a black man who did this.
I think some of Lestat’s behavior is racist, but he’s actually not racist. He is ignorant in a very special way. He’s very, very old. Also, he doesn’t see the world through a human lens. He sees that Louis acted out of a vampiric impulse. He completely misdiagnosed this act and what it was about.
The episode ends with Louis rescuing Claudia, whom he calls his “salvation,” from the fire that white people are spreading through town in retaliation for the councilman’s murder. What did this scene mean to you?
All the fire was real. They improved it a bit, but they built a set that you can set on fire. I want to say it was tough and obviously it was dangerous and you have to be responsible and safe, but it’s also my childhood dreams that come to life: to run into a burning building and be my weird version of Bruce Willis is. It was a lot of fun, and not only do you get paid for it, but you get to pretend you’re a vampire jumping into a burning building. [Laughs.] I loved it.
Tied to Louis’ morality is his decision to stop eating people and start eating animals. I’m curious how that was shot – the cat, the rats.
I’ve kept real rats in various places but Tami Lane and Howard Berger [of the makeup department] had these little rat dolls. They are like dog toys, so you could bite them or crush them. They have really elaborately embossed hair. They’re like little bean bags, hacky sacks, hacky rats, hacky sack rats. I bite them whenever you see me biting a rat. They have really detailed faces and tails, but the VFX team added CGI-ed movement to the tail and face. I had something handy to bite, but the hair gets stuck in my teeth. It gets stuck behind the fangs. You have blood in it too. I swallowed water for days to get fake blood and rat hair out of my mouth.
The cat too – it was a real cat that I grabbed. There are two cats: there is a cat that is full of beans like the rat, but it is a very realistic black cat modeled after the real cat they used. With the real cat, there comes a point where I have the cat on my back belly up in my hands and shot it from behind, so it should look like I’m biting the cat and then drinking from it it. But I just tickled his stomach with my face. [Laughs.] It was like the baby. I smiled at the baby in a way that looked like I would eat the baby if the camera caught it. But the baby only saw me grin at him.
This interview has been edited and shortened for clarity.