‘Interview With the Vampire’ Cast Break Down Season 2 Premiere

SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers from “What Can the Damned Really Say to the Damned,” the Season 2 premiere of “Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire,” now streaming on AMC+.

On the set of AMC’s “Interview With the Vampire,” showrunner Rolin Jones and star Jacob Anderson had a nickname for Anderson’s character, Louis de Pointe du Lac. “We used to call him Cuddles the Vampire,” Jones tells Variety with a laugh.

But notice the past tense. “We wanted to break that,” Jones adds, and with the show’s Season 2 premiere, they definitely put it to rest.

The Anne Rice adaptation and anchor of AMC’s burgeoning Immortal Universe returns with Louis and fellow vampire Claudia (Delainey Hayles, replacing Season 1’s Bailey Bass) trekking across post-World War II Europe in search of ancient vampires. They aren’t on good terms. Claudia is still livid with Louis for not finishing the job in killing Lestat (Sam Reid), their creator and his lover, in the Season 1 finale before they fled New Orleans. So they roam, looking for a new place in the world among their own kind.

Welcomed as guests in a refugee camp in occupied Romania, they are there just long enough to gather intel on the local lore about vampires. They spot doorways wrapped with garlic, and bullet-ridden bodies intended to prevent undead resurrections. For Louis, with a nice buzz from a little vodka, the camp gives him the first relaxing evening he’s had in five years. But Claudia, ever the hunter, stalks the night in search of other vampires and finds an emaciated, corpse-like figure feasting on soldiers in the woods. He clearly isn’t getting sustenance from the meal, which Louis and Claudia believe is because the despair of war is tainting the blood.

Jacob Anderson as Louis De Point Du Lac and Delainey Hayles as Claudia.
Courtesy of Larry Horricks/AMC

The next evening, they awaken to the hysterics of a mob in the camp. Their kind host has been bitten, and the crowd fears she will turn into a vampire, despite her partner’s pleas for mercy and help from Louis. But Louis just watches, uncharacteristically devoid of compassion for the woman, whose head is chopped off while he turns his back and leaves with Claudia.

“In Episode 3 of Season 1, [Louis] says he is a vampire –– but not really,” Jones says. “Not until this moment. It was really cold. It was in the book, and it is really effective and stunning. And there was a round of notes with AMC about why that was important, and we stuck with it.”

Jones says the network was wary about leaving behind cuddly Louis, but Anderson was ready to shed that part of the character.

“He definitely leaves behind another part of his humanity in that moment,” Anderson says. “It is probably because it is like a facsimile of humanity to him now anyway. Like the photographs he takes [in upcoming episodes]. He is becoming a parody of himself, and he won’t embrace it. I think Louis is at war with himself all season.”

Louis and Claudia’s walkabout to find other vampires is a pivotal part of Rice’s 1976 novel, but it was left out of the 1994 film adaptation with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. Across Seasons 1 and 2’s 15 episodes, the series makes time to cover Rice’s entire book –– and then some.

“We always thought this would be a lovely little gift for fans, and it is exactly where it should be,” Jones says. “But we also knew it was going to have to function as a pilot for the rest of Season 2. So we really focused on the relationship between Louis and Claudia, and the mending of ways and how we foreshadow an inevitable ending but do it with a moment of grace.”

The moment he is referencing is the climactic exchange between the unorthodox siblings, when Louis reinforces his devotion to Claudia as they leave Romania behind and head for a new start in Paris. He is resolute that it is the two of them against the world. “If you were the last vampire on Earth, it would be enough,” he tells her. But lingering just out of frame for Louis is the spectral presence of Lestat, who has been haunting him as an embodiment of his guilty conscience since they parted ways. So who is Louis really talking to in that moment? He shoots a fleeting look at Lestat, but Anderson seems to believe Louis is locked in on Claudia when it counts.

“I feel like part of the point of it is that we don’t really know,” he says. “But if you were to watch Episode 1 again after watching [the end of the season], that would go some way to answering that question. In that moment, he’s definitely talking to Claudia.”

Hayles says she believes Claudia takes his declaration to heart, in part because they witnessed a horrifying reminder that their immortality still has limits. Before leaving for Paris, they meet an aged vampire named Daciana, the mother of the primordial creature that Claudia had previously seen feeding and later blinds in a fight. Daciana kills her now-disabled child because he won’t be able to hunt anymore. As she muses about loss and her withering life, Claudia desperately tries to get her to come back to America with them and heal herself. Daciana seems tempted by the offer, until she throws herself into the fire –– taking her own life.

“When she meets Daciana, it is a wake-up call that she can live a happy life in a way and meet others,” Hayles says. “But I do think there is a looming feeling in her. Watching her jump in the fire, I think she knows in the back of her head, in a way, it is very hard to be happy.”

Anderson admits that scene was difficult to shoot because of what it means for Claudia’s outlook on life, and the selfish needs it exposes in Louis.

“It was so heartbreaking, for me, to see Delainey playing that moment and see the heartbreak in Claudia,” he says. “I think Louis wants her to be a version of happy. He wants her to be happy, and be what he needs her to be for himself.”

Courtesy of Larry Horricks/AMC

All the while, Louis is also batting away the persistent phantom of Lestat. He first appears during Louis and Claudia’s nomadic journey across Europe, delivering a chillingly affectionate threat about his plan for revenge on Louis –– “I’m merely waiting until you are happy. So hurry up.”

But Reid, who has been quite limited in what he can say about Lestat’s role in the new season after his supposed death, acknowledges the Lestat audiences see in the premiere is merely the version that lives in Louis’ head and he played him as such.

“So I was curious to think about how, if Louis is haunted by him, what version of Lestat is he haunted by?” Reid says “What part of Lestat is he remembering? And maybe it is the parts he doesn’t want to talk about. Maybe it is the bits he can’t forget. When you are watching Lestat in this episode, you are watching Louis have a conversation with himself. And it is hearing his internal dialogue reflected back by the person he potentially loves the most, but also feels the most guilt and self-hatred through.”

After a laugh, Anderson jumps in. “He’s my Jiminy Cricket. It was quite funny on set, because in that scene, I would turn around to look at what Sam was doing, and it was like having a parrot on my shoulder.”

While the march toward 1940s Paris occupies most of the premiere, Jones warns audiences not to underestimate the significance of the titular interview happening in modern-day Dubai between Louis, Molloy (Eric Bogosian) and the newly unmasked Armand (Assad Zaman).

“This idea that Louis was going to control this interview and harness this with a little bit of self-reflection, that is out the window,” he says. “The interview in Season 2, what happens between these three characters, is as important, if not more important, than what happens in the past.”

In the Season 1 finale, Armand revealed himself to be a 512-year-old vampire and the love of Louis’ life, a revelation that certainly shifted the dynamic of the room. Now, Armand no longer has to hide the influence he holds over Louis, who is still piecing together his own recollection of events from the last century. In the premiere, Armand begins sitting in on the interviews, offering up snide remarks and real-time amendments to Louis’ remarks, all of which Molloy adamantly disregards as off the record. Zaman says the verbal sparring with Molloy is Armand’s failed attempt at wrestling him into submission.

“At the end of the first episode, Armand sees it is not working anymore,” Zaman says. “He thought his presence as a vampire sitting at this table, who could kill Molloy any moment, was enough to scare him off or do what Armand wanted. But he is resilient.”

By the end of the premiere, Armand agrees to be an on-the-record participant in the interview, if only, Zaman teases, to exert control in new ways in the coming episodes. On the other end of the tape recorder, Bogosian says he drew from personal experience to explain why Molloy doesn’t bow to this new pressure on his interview.

“There are some uncanny parallels between me and this character,” he says. “I don’t like to be bullied. I was bullied as a kid, and now when I get bullied, I give what I get. Nothing sets me off more than getting bullied, and I can sense that Armand is trying to give me a little push and that is not going to get me to close up. It is going to set Molloy off, and be even more tenacious as they get into this.”

Whether in the past or present, fans of Rice’s book might see the season as a march to inevitable doom for these characters, who have been dancing around some very tragic events on the horizon. But as the season gets underway, Jones doesn’t think of it like that.

“This season is ultimately about contrition,” he says. “I don’t think it is about doom. We aren’t building to that. We are building a bunch of vampires with a lot of baggage who are beginning to turn inward and ask, ‘What am I responsible for?’ Louis thinks he had a good idea about why he had to do this interview, and I think he will come out of it this season with a very different understanding.”

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