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Any time a novel is adapted from the page to the screen, some liberties need to be taken in order to make the source material work for an entirely different medium. Sometimes those changes are cosmetic and sometimes they can be foundational. In the case of Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, which premiered on Oct. 2 on AMC, the 1976 book has been given an episodic overhaul by showrunner Rolin Jones that includes changing up some character arcs, locales and even time spans to freshen up the overall narrative and honor Rice's full The Vampire Chronicles mythology.
With the first two episodes of AMC's Interview with the Vampire now available, we've highlighted some major differences between the book and the series that make for some fascinating changes to the stories of vampires Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) and Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid), and their circle of friends and enemies.
Daniel Malloy Has a Much Bigger Story
In Rice's novel, the interviewer, Daniel Malloy, is a relatively passive listener to Louis de Pointe du Lac's life story. In the series, Malloy is now a much bigger player in the narrative. Aged up and given a very salty attitude, Eric Bogosian embodies Malloy as a man reuniting with Louis with a professional and personal axe to grind. As a young reporter with addiction issues, Daniel didn't get much, nor does he remember much, of his first interview with the vampire. Now, 47 years later, Malloy has Parkinson's so there's a palpable ticking clock with regards to his own mortality.
Bogosian says of his character, "He is a lot closer to who I am in real life. I’m a veteran of my life and so is Daniel. What does that mean? It means that when Daniel/me goes after the story, it’s with a lot more experience, savviness, and just knowing how to get the story, how to cut through any kind of duplicity that Louis may be throwing my way. It evolves into a struggle between the two of us, of me trying to find the truth."
From the Plantation to Storyville
Readers of the book will remember that Rice's narrative about the origin of Louis begins in 1791 as the owner of an indigo plantation in Louisiana. Despondent over the death of his brother, a suicidal Louis meets Lestat and is turned on the property. He then struggles to feed off humans and tries to exist on animal blood until Lestat's behavior prompts the slaves to revolt and incite an uprising. Louis then burns down his family's ancestral home.
Showrunner Rolin Jones says in 2022 he wasn't interested in telling a plantation story, so he knew that he needed to find a better place and time to set Louis' origins. He chose the infamous New Orleans Red Light district known as Storyville. A destination for gamblers and drinkers, not to mention a prostitution hot-spot, Louis is one of the only Black entrepreneurs in the area. In the wake of his father's death, Louis supports his mother and two adult siblings financially, maintaining their upper middle-class life through the success of his brothel.
The de Pointe du Lac Family
While the death of Louis' brother in Rice's book is a life-changing moment for the character, the series actually gives the de Pointe du Lac family far more story real estate and impact on Louis' life. Paul de Pointe du Lac (Steven Norfleet) is fleshed out as a devout Catholic who has serious issues with sin and Louis' lifestyle, and seems to suffer from mental illness. The audience gets to know him before he makes his dramatic exit from the world right in front of Louis. There's also Louis's mother, Florence de Pointe du Lac (Rae Dawn Chong), who is a genteel matriarch happy to turn a blind eye to Louis' lifestyle until Paul commits suicide. She then blames Louis for everything wrong with their family. And then Louis' love for his sister, Grace (Kalyne Coleman), affords the audience a look at the softer side of the man who often puts on a tough facade to exist in his city.
Director Alan Taylor says that Louis' ability to compartmentalize the two halves of his life sets the stage for his vampiric future. "Louis was from a fairly well-to-do family and it’s a part of Black history that doesn't get represented that much," Taylor says of how they frame the de Pointe du Lac's in the series. "Him going to the streets and becoming a tough guy who could hold his own in the business he’s in was a bit of a performance for him. So, there's already layers in Louis, even in the early part of the story, that then just deepen over time."
Lestat Gets a Voice
The whole narrative construct of Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire is Louis telling Malloy his life story. And that means the audience learns about Lestat only from the perspective of Louis' long, complicated, bitter relationship with the vampire who sired him. For showrunner Rolin Jones, that was a perspective that just would not work for a TV series. "If we followed Anne's basic version of it as a strict point of view, and Louis was just a jilted lover, that's a really uncomfortable way to introduce a series," Jones tells SYFY WIRE. "Imagine saying that the first season was total bullshit?"
It's only in Rice's other novels that readers get Lestat's point of view on their relationship, and it becomes clear they certainly have different points of view about how things went down between them. Jones says by giving Lestat more agency in telling his own story in the series, audiences get a more Rice authentic portrayal of both Louis and Lestat which only became clearer as The Vampire Chronicles novels were released. "I'm just trying to work backwards from what it is in the late novels, and sort of canonize that and come back and revisit this and go, 'Okay, with the extra time that we have to tell the story, let's see them really go through all the little obstacles and challenges of a relationship."
New episodes of Interview with the Vampire air on Sundays nights on AMC.