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AMC's 'Interview With the Vampire' series is less horror and more gothic romance
"I want to write a very excitable, aggressive, toxic, beautiful love story."
AMC has gone all in on Anne Rice, buying the rights to adapt her books into original series for the network and their streaming app, AMC+. The first to debut, on Oct. 2, is Interview With the Vampire from Rice's The Vampire Chronicles series. At Wednesday's Television Critics Association virtual press day for AMC, Interview With the Vampire showrunner Rolin Jones clarified the network's Rice ambitions to reporters, including SYFY WIR).
"AMC has bought all of the books and AMC wants to make all of the books," Jones explained, adding that Season 1 of Interview will cover half of the story laid out in Rice's Interview with the Vampire novel, which implies the ongoing saga of seasons could be quite large considering there are 13 novels in the Chronicles book series alone.
As for Jones' approach to adapting the book as a series, he shifted the book's timeline from 1791 in Louisiana to the heyday of the famed New Orleans Storyville red light district right at the turn of the 20th century. He said when he was tasked by AMC to pitch his take, they asked for the interviews between Louis de Lac (Jacob Anderson) and the reporter Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) to happen in our now, and for the series to look "big and grand."
"I came back to them and said, 'I don't think it's a horror show. I think it is a gothic romance. I want to write a very excitable, aggressive, toxic, beautiful love story.' And they were down for it," he recalled.
Using all of the Chronicles novels to build out the full story of Lestat and Louis in the series, Jones said he made sure to dig deeper into the arc of their ongoing relationship. "Let's see them really go through all the little obstacles and challenges of a relationship," he said. "Like Bogey and Bacall, with some fangs."
Also at the panel was actor Sam Reid, who plays Lestat the vampire who sires Louis, a role made famous by Tom Cruise in the 1994 movie adaptation. Asked what most influenced his approach to playing Lestat, Reid said, "What we do in this version of Interview With the Vampire is look at an entire series of books. When that film came out, [Rice] was still writing them so they didn't have perspective of the entire work. And now we do have that perspective. And so when we're looking at character arcs, we're looking at a much broader scale. So it is a different feeling than a 90-minute film."
Another character who is getting adapted differently from the book is Claudia, the 5-year-old Lestat turns into his eternal daughter. In the books, Claudia experiences a range of sexual and adult storylines that reflect her years lived as a vampire and not her visual appearance. The movie handled that by aging Claudia up to age 11 where she was played by Kirsten Dunst. In the series, Bailey Bass will play a Claudia stuck at age 14, right at the cusp of puberty.
Pilot director Alan Taylor said about the change, "Like a lot of people, I was in love with the Claudia from the novel. But what Rolin built out of it, by finding this other crisis point in a young girl's life and having that extend forever, became a really beautiful story to explore. I have two teenage daughters. And it's fascinating to think what would happen if this phase was extended for potentially eternity."
Jones also added, "For the Claudia fans, we do something really exciting structurally when she makes her entrance in Episode 3. I would say that we've set something up in her initial episode that I think will be exciting and thrilling."
Anne Rice's Interview With the Vampire premieres on October 2 on AMC.