What’s it like playing a vampire? What to Watch had a chance to speak with Interview with the Vampire’s Jacob Anderson (Louis), Sam Reid (Lestat) and Bailey Bass (Claudia) about bringing these iconic characters to life and their own go-to vampire movies.
What to Watch: "Anne Rice’s vampires are known for living in extremes, whether it’s anger, grief, love, lust, humor or hunger. I’m wondering what it’s like for you, as actors, to play characters who don’t have a middle ground. It’s always the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows."
Jacob Anderson: "That’s what you want, I think."
Sam Reid: "Yeah."
Anderson: "I think you can get into patterns of always wanting to justify a character’s behavior when you play a character. And it’s something that’s important so you can have empathy. But it’s also really fun to occasionally be like, 'I don’t know how I feel about that.' And then try to find your way through that, find your way into it. I think this happens in the horror genre quite a lot and I’m going to get in trouble for saying this probably because it will feel like a generalization. But there are certain archetypes that you have to check off in a lot of horror. Not Chekhov, but check off."
Sam Reid: [laughs]
Anderson: "There’s a lot of Chekhov plays… [laughs] But something about Anne Rice’s vampire that’s so special is that they do live in this incredibly complex, like a cosmic scale. They are everything at the same time."
Reid: "Yeah, I mean, they live forever. We know that about [her] vampires, that they’re immortal beings and I think she really hammers that home and I think that Rolin really beautifully picked up on it. The fact that they love forever, and endurance is a huge part of being a vampire. And it’s not only just endurance to survive, to not walk in the sun because you’ve had enough and you can’t go on. It’s endurance to make life interesting. It’s endurance to make every day that you wake up — or every night that you wake up — not the same monotonous, merry-go-round of existence.
"So they do make things extreme. They are dramatic, they are extra, they are a lot, you know, and you’re feeling a lot of things because they’re conscious, they’re aware that they are bad, they’re aware that they kill to survive. And there’s that constant push and pull between, 'Do I embrace it, do I enjoy it? Do I fight it and hate myself?' And that really just comes in over and over again throughout the books, particularly when you start looking at Catholicism and the older Children of Satan and all these elements. There’s that push and pull between what they should be doing as demons and what they could be doing as conscious, emotional beings. So yeah, it’s very extreme stuff but it’s super fun, all you sort of dream of doing as an actor, to be given the license to do it is very fun."
Bailey Bass: "It’s definitely freeing. It’s super freeing and exciting as an actor because the challenges are never ending. And I think a lot of actors really want a challenge. And because these characters are so complex and because they feel so much and so deeply, those challenges never stop. Like Sam was saying, every night has to be exciting and wanting to create something new. Especially with Claudia, because all her feelings are even more intense being trapped inside a 14-year -old body and her brain never fully develops. She’s always going off her first instinct. And that’s really exciting as an actor because I felt like I could never do anything wrong on set, which is always fun."
Anderson: "Yeah! And it’s rooted in humanity and rooted in things that we don’t want to reveal about ourselves. So you don’t always have to make a decision. It can be like you make choices, but it can be lots of things at the same time. That’s cool."
What to Watch: "It’s appropriate for a vampire show to debut in October with Halloween around the corner. Aside from Anne Rice’s world, do you have a favorite vampire movie, TV show or book?"
Reid: "I was obsessed with Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Gary Oldman playing Dracula when I was a kid. I loved that film and loved him in that."
Bass: "I’m a huge Twilight fan. I can say quotes from the movie. I’m absolutely obsessed with it. My whole family would binge it. I remember going to the movie theaters even though it was PG-13 and I closed my eyes through a lot of it but I love vampires and I love that I get to play a vampire."
Anderson: "I’ve been a big Bowie fan since I was a kid and I watched quite a few Bowie films ahead of this. It didn’t really come of anything, but I was trying to find figures to think about and link to the present day. I did watch The Hunger and The Hunger is amazing and there’s something quite 'Ricean' about it that’s very existential and questions lots of things. It questions aging and, more specifically, loneliness and that desperate grab for not wanting to be alone and if you want to be the opposite of alone with this person."
Reid: "And that goes really well with the reality of blood as well. I feel like you see a lot of blood in that film and you see the characters have to deal with it. Anne Rice talks about that all the time. Like, they’ve got to clean up after themselves as well. It’s a messy business being a sociopath and a murderer."
Anderson: "I’m not a fan of the ending in The Hunger, though." [Laughs]
Interview with the Vampire airs Sunday nights at 10 pm ET/PT following The Walking Dead on AMC, with new episodes streaming one week early on AMC Plus.
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Sarabeth joined the What to Watch team in May 2022. An avid TV and movie fan, her perennial favorites are The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, true crime documentaries on Netflix and anything from Passionflix. You’ve Got Mail, Ocean's Eleven and Signs are movies that she can watch all day long. She's also a huge baseball fan, and hockey is a new favorite.
When she's not working, Sarabeth hosts the My Nights Are Booked Podcast and a blog dedicated to books and interviews with authors and actors. She also published her first novel, Once Upon an Interview, in 2022.