I am inclined to applaud when producers make television shows more inclusive. When they cast actors of various ethnicities. And that includes casting characters of ethnicities different from what those same characters may have been in source material.
There’s no indication, for example, that “House of the Dragon’s” Velaryon family is Black in the book, “Fire and Blood.” But there’s no indication they aren’t. So casting Black actors as Velaryons is not just fine, it’s kind of great. Particularly because it’s not a plot point, it just is.
And yet … I was troubled to learn that Black actor Jacob Anderson (“Game of Thrones”) had been cast in the new “Interview with the Vampire” series as Louis de Pointe du Lac. Nothing against Anderson, but in Anne Rice’s novel, Louis was born in France in the mid-18th century and immigrated to Louisiana, where his family owned a plantation. Lestat de Lioncourt preyed on Louis’ family slaves after turning Louis into a vampire in 1791.
Yes, there were Black people who owned slaves, but this seemed stretching the Rice reality to the breaking point. At least to someone who’s as obsessed with her vampire and witches novels as I am.
I should not have worried. There have been some major changes to this version of “Interview,” beginning with the time period. This adaptation takes place in 2022, as opposed to the mid-1970s. And the flashbacks begin in 1910, about 120 years later than the flashbacks in the book.
So, no, Louis doesn’t own a plantation or slaves. In this update, he’s believable as a Black man in the early 20th century South, and the frustrations created by that provide him motivation. The TV series captures the spirit of the novel without being a slavish recreation of it.
Creator/writer/executive producer Rolin Jones said that when AMC executives “tasked” him with turning the novel into a series, there were “a number of things they wanted — make it here and now, make it big and grand.” And the series certainly seems headed in that direction.
It is absolutely gorgeous to look at. The sets and costumes are amazing.
Jones said he doesn’t look at “Interview” as a horror show, but as a “Gothic romance. And I want to kind of write a very excitable, aggressive, toxic, beautiful love story.”
At least in the five episodes screened for critics, this “Interview” skillfully slides along the knife’s edge between Gothic horror/romance and over-the-top campiness.
No spoilers here for those of you who haven’t read the book or seen the 1994 Brad Pitt-Tom Cruise movie adaptation, but in the new series Louis once again meets with writer Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian). They first met in the 1970s, when Louis told the young reporter his life story and it was published as “Interview with the Vampire.” Now, it’s almost half a century later and Louis meets Daniel — now an unwell old man — for a second time with a promise of not just an update on his life ... er, uh, death — but corrections to the narrative he first shared.
(This differs from Daniel’s fate in the later novels.)
In flashbacks, we see Louis as the angry son of an upper-class Black family in 1910. We see him meet and fall under the spell of Lestat (Sam Reid), who turns Louis into a vampire.
The two have great chemistry, which drives the story and makes even the most unbelievable scenes weirdly believable. Let’s just say they work. And fans of Rice’s books should be pleased.
You could even argue that the TV series improves on the book in at least one way. In the novel, Louis was morose and often annoying. We saw Lestat through Louis’ eyes, and he was not the character we later fell in love with. We didn’t start to get the full picture of him until Rice’s second book in the Vampire Chronicles, “The Vampire Lestat.”
In this TV series, “You get a more nuanced version of him. which Anne certainly developed over 18 books,” Reid said.
Other changes are coming. The character of Claudia, the child vampire who first appears in episode 3, has been aged up — again. She was 5 in the book; 10 in the 1994 movie; and she’s 14 in the series (played by 19-year-old Bailey Bass). It was one thing to have a decades-old vampire with adult desires be trapped in the body of a 5-year-old in the book — that’s not something you’d want to try to pull off in a TV show.
But even huge fans of Rice’s books, if they just open their minds a bit, will enjoy this adaptation. It’s certainly true to the spirit of the book. And, like the book, it’s violent, bloody, shocking, sexy and profane. It’s rated TV-MA for a reason. For a lot of reasons.
Season 1 of “Interview with the Vampire” corresponds roughly to the first half of the book; season 2 will correspond to the second half of the book. And AMC’s plan is to give us a lot more than that. Not only is an adaptation of “The Mayfair Witches” scheduled to debut in a month, but AMC has the rights to the two “Witches” sequels and 14 more vampire books.
The plan is to make all of them into TV series. So we could be talking about new shows years from now.
But one at a time. “Interview with the Vampire” is worth checking out, even if you’ve never read one of Rice’s novels.
As for the adaptation of “The Mayfair Witches,” well, I have some serious concerns about that one …
The premiere of “Interview with the Vampire,” which runs 79 minutes, airs Sunday on AMC — 8:06 and 11:31 p.m. on Dish and DirecTV; 11:06 p.m. and 2:31 a.m. on Comcast. “Interview” will also stream on AMC+ beginning Sunday.
‘Studio C’ turns 10
BYUtv’s sketch comedy show “Studio C” celebrates its 10th anniversary with its 181st episode — streaming Sunday and airing on Monday — which will feature John Heder (“Napoleon Dynamite”) as a guest star.
You could argue that “Studio C’s” best days are behind it, and I wouldn’t argue with you. Which may be why original cast members Jason Gray, Dalton Johnson, Garet Allen and Arvin Mitchell are rejoining the show. And original cast members Jeremy Warner and Natalie Madsen will direct episodes. And “compilation episodes” will feature sketches from past seasons.
The 10th anniversary episode will start streaming on the BYUtv app on Sunday at 12:01 a.m. MDT, and will air on BYUtv on Monday at 5 p.m. MDT.
The actual 10th anniversary of the show premiere is Saturday, Oct. 8, but … close enough.
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