‘Interview with the Vampire’ is a brilliant gay fever dream

In the final moments of the premiere of AMC’s Interview With the Vampire reboot, Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) is turned into a vampire by Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid). As Louis sucks the open wound of his maker, he hears relentless twin drum beats.

Then, Louis opens his eyes for the first time as an immortal being. “And it was then that I realized,” he recalls over a century later to the journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian), “the drum was my heart, and the other drum had been his.”

I watched this scene — and practically the entire episode — with my hand clutched over my own heart. The poetic dialogue combined with powerful acting, the New Orleans scenery, and a swooning score left me breathless. 

That feeling didn’t stop with the first episode. Interview with the Vampire conveys a toothsome gothic romance while re-imagining elements of the original text in thoughtful ways. 

I haven’t yet read Anne Rice’s 1976 novel, on which this series is based. But I have watched the 1994 movie adaptation, starring Tom Cruise as Lestat and Brad Pitt as Louis. Unwittingly, I picked it as a themed watch this October before I knew the reboot existed. 

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Once I became aware of the show, I wasn’t too interested in watching it. I enjoyed the movie enough, but erroneously thought I’d had my fill of Rice’s vampires. The film’s shying away from the queer subtext of Louis and Lestat’s story didn’t impress me, and I wasn’t keen on immersing myself into a story about a plantation owner, which Louis was in the novel and movie.

But snippets of the show from its fandom on Twitter and Tumblr intrigued me. In this version, Louis is a Black Creole pimp in 1910s New Orleans. Not only that, but he’s canonically gay.

https://aquilaofarkham.tumblr.com/post/696771309357678592/new-interview-with-the-vampire-show-good-new

The host of the pop culture podcast The Afternoon Special, Bobbi Miller, is a fan, but she was apprehensive when she first heard about the new adaptation, as she held the movies (the 1994 one and 2002’s Queen of the Damned) in high esteem. When she watched the show’s trailer, however, she was immediately in love.

“Not only was it hot,” she told me in a DM, “but I could tell that this series was seeking to do something different with the story (especially with the casting of a Black man as Louis), and I was hooked.”

Sel, a fan who runs the No Context Lestat de Lioncourt (@nocontextlestat) account on Twitter, had a similar experience. “I saw the Comic-Con trailer of the show the day it was released,” he said over DM, “And seeing how unapologetically queer and interesting it was, as a queer person myself, I became OBSESSED.”

I myself watched the first episode and had the familiar squee of my heart/mind that I hadn’t in eons, perhaps since I was in the One Direction fandom on Tumblr years ago. It’s a sensation of pure delight, an excitement that I felt watching not only sex scenes, but also the other dizzying dramatics, whether they be verbal spats or vamps hunting their latest murderous meal. 

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The updates to the story — which include moving Louis’s timeline up more than a century — are sensible and done methodically, with today’s audience in mind. The change in Louis’s character, for instance, allows for discussions of race and glimpses into what life was like for Black Creole people in the early 20th century. The explorations of love and toxicity between Louis and Lestat expand upon Rice’s queer-coded work; the show isn’t shy about sex or detailing the quandaries of the vampire lovers. 

Vampires are inherently sexy creatures. Their kills require a level of intimacy: Vampires have to touch you and put their mouth on you, often in private settings so they don’t get caught. Throughout the season, Interview with the Vampire shows this dance of seduction and murder. In addition to actual sex, Louis and Lestat share private moments, from the combined beating of their hearts to sharing a bed coffin. 

Jacob Anderson, a Black man, sits next to Sam Reid, a white man, in 1900s outfits on the set of "Interview with the Vampire."
Louis and Lestat in “Interview with the Vampire.”
Credit: Alfonso Bresciani / AMC

As the season goes on, the darkness of their gothic romance only heightens. There’s lots of death and blood-tears from the vamps; I lapped up the blood-tears and begged for more. With only seven episodes, the show was all killer (literally), no filler.

Another element of the show I enjoyed was the titular interview, which is also altered from Rice’s text. The interview in the book and movie still happens here, but decades before this season’s story begins. Forty years later, a now world-weary journalist named Daniel (Eric Bogosian) interviews Louis a second time, adding a richness to their relationship that didn’t exist before. Where Daniel was unfocused before, he pushes back with pressing questions now, adding fresh tension.

If you’re a purist, you can always turn to Rice’s book. It’s undeniable, however, that AMC’s version injects new flavor and nuance into the story. What was missing from the movie, I found in the series, and then some. 

Interview was renewed for a Season 2 before it even premiered, and with good reason. It’s the latest Tumblr darling, with fan art and theories proliferating the platform (and Twitter as well). “The fans of this show are so in tune with the characters and the themes, and it’s very fun to see all the discourse,” Miller said. 

“It’s a really special thing happening right now,” she said of the fandom.

As all of Season 1 is now available on AMC+, Sel believes more people will flock to the fandom before Season 2. While we’re waiting, fans can catch Mayfair Witches, another Anne Rice adaptation, on AMC in January. 

For now, though, we can rewatch Season 1 in all its glory. As a bisexual person, I was thrilled by the queerness of the show, and other fans felt the same.

“I’m just really grateful that the show is unabashedly queer,” Sel said. “I’m not used to seeing myself represented on the screen often.”

Interview with a Vampire is now on AMC+.

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‘Interview with the Vampire’ is a brilliant gay fever dream