Interview with the Vampire 1×01 “In Throes of Increasing Wonder” is a big, bold declaration that creator and showrunner Rolin Jones knows what Anne Rice’s stories are all about. Likewise, the episode also establishes, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jacob Anderson is a new, yet true-to-form Louis de Pointe du Lac. And Sam Reid simply is Lestat de Lioncourt.
Throughout our coverage of this series, that last sentence will be repeated over and over again. And no, we won’t be sorry to be a broken record — at all.
This series premiere is, somehow, the exact perfect blend of something old and something new. Even the way the new information comes about — with Louis contacting the “boy” Daniel Molloy, to “revisit the project boyish youth prevented [them] from finishing” — is an ideal fit.
With its updated the time period, the main story of Louis’ transformation hits the right notes in Interview with the Vampire 1×01. And, in fact, the family drama at the center of the change is back to the written canon. Namely, Louis’ beloved, if frustrating, brother dies by walking off a roof. This is a departure from the previous film adaptation, which for some reason, introduced a dead wife and daughter.
That brings us to our other hero, who has also previously been somewhat of a villain in Louis’ version of events. And who, actually, always liked to maintain just a little bit of that villainous air even while painting himself the hero. That is, of course, Lestat de Lioncourt.
If Lestat’s characterization seems a little different than last time Louis told his story, it’s because he’s more Lestat than ever before. (Did we mention Reid is Lestat enough times yet? No? Well, have another.) Or, if you’re an avid reader of the Chronicles, this more complex version of the Brat Prince is simply the result of us all knowing more of his history.
Join us as we finally get to discuss Anderson and Reid’s portrayals of these epic characters in detail.
A man and his shame
The Louis we meet in modern times is, perhaps, not initially the Louis whose suffering, and guilt, and shame are constantly referenced in the books — both “his” and “Lestat’s.” Anderson’s depiction of modern-day Louis is, in fact, quite a bit more “preternaturally calm,” if I were to attempt to summon Rice’s own way of describing her characters, as he crosses one leg over the other, places his hands on his knees, and begins his updated interview with Daniel Molloy. Very little fazes him, no matter how cantankerous and combative Molloy is.
And, in fact, that very first image of Anderson as Louis is just…haunting. There is a strength and resolve about him that somehow fits what we always knew of the character while being a totally new feeling. It’s stunning in all the best ways. This Louis almost seems to have adapted the calm of another one of Rice’s characters. But perhaps that’s too much theorizing to get into for a premiere review.
But it takes very little time to start to see that unbothered air crack, particularly as we revisit Louis’ past.
Interview with the Vampire 1×01 establishes a Louis de Point du Lac, living in a world that doesn’t want any part of him. His business is not at all respectable. So, whether or not it keeps his family from immense suffering, they do not approve. And, while his very religious younger brother is the most bold about calling him out, he knows the whole family looks down on him.
He also has to deal with being a Black man in the early 1900s in America, where despite being “respected” — of a sort — at his business by all who enter, a drunken man can still call him the n-word and tell him to get his hands off of him. Or he can be offered a job “at 10 percent” with men throwing certain other variations of that word at him.
So, as Louis tells Daniel, he had to be “rougher” back then. “You had to be if you wanted to survive.” Sure, he may say that’s about not being able to look weak in Storyville, but it’s about so much more. He loved his brother “more than anyone on Earth” but was constantly at odds with him. Similarly, as he tells Daniel, “my business and my raised religion were at odds” with one another.
And he was a man of certain establishment and means…but still a gay, Black man — which society would not tolerate, much less embrace. He could get himself into white spaces, sometimes. But he was treated as less-than there. And around, and around we go with all the many aspects of this character battling against what the world wants out of him. What it demands that he be, even when it is impossible because it is not who he is or can be.
“It bears repeating I did not consider myself a homosexual man at the time.”
In order to survive, Louis even lied to himself. Now, he recognizes some of those lies, specifically as they related to his profession, and calls them out. But, there are still some places where he’s clearly grappling with who he is because the lies he told himself back then rooted themself in him so deeply. Even in modern times, he initially refers to his sexuality using a euphemism about “latencies…within me.”
So, there’s this constant battle raging inside of Louis. Even before he fell in love with a man. And far before he began to hate himself for his killing nature as a vampire.
So, yeah. That’s Louis. That type of internal war is all Louis is, no matter the time period and no matter what he may do for a living. While this is certainly different than Rice’s plantation-owning (ugh) Louis, the series’ version — and Anderson’s depiction — still most definitely imbue that same shame and self-loathing.
If anything, it’s heightened. And that’s perfectly fine with us. We kinda love it, actually.
…and then, there was that horrible moment when Paul died.
Certainly, Louis is not to blame. But it’s clear he still blames himself, at least partially. This, of course, makes his mother’s condemnation, her insistence that he must have said or done something on that roof, hit so much harder. And it creates more guilt for Louis. To the point where he clearly carries it with him even in modern times. Even after all he’s seen and done.
In my initial screening of this series, some part of me thought Louis ought to be “more emo.” Not moreso overall — just sooner. But, on a second watch of Interview with the Vampire 1×01, I’d actually disagree with myself there.
Either way, certainly by the time we get to Paul’s death, we’ve landed at the full Louis effect, so to speak. That gutting battle raging within him, which Anderson depicts so incredibly well in the scenes where Louis’ mother blames him, and again when Lestat is calling him but he wants to grieve alone, is classic Louis de Pointe du Lac. And then some.
How the series so perfectly establishes such an excellent characterization in just one episode is beyond the mind. And, of course, Interview with the Vampire 1×01 doesn’t just give us the true spirit of Louis. There’s someone else here, ready for an introduction.
A courtship with the Brat Prince…or perhaps the Devil
Sam Reid’s Lestat’s very first appearance in Interview with the Vampire 1×01 may be brief. But it is all it takes for us to know that, yes, this is Lestat. We may “meet” him immediately after Louis, again, tells us he “couldn’t look weak” since “you never knew who was watching.” But make no mistake: All Lestat’s watching did was make him fall in love. That thirst for Louis is there, from that initial glimpse, straight on through the full episode.
And then, there are all the many, many aspects of this character that we get here. Lestat is the Brat Prince, dressed in his old world finery, which he must replace with a more modern fashion once insulted. He also just takes great pleasure in toying with the men at the card game, boldly mentioning a “six-foot variety” of rat that’s to blame for the recent string of “fevers.” (Which, of course…are just all the deaths he’s getting away with.) He’s smug and flashy, obsessed with fine things and having fun just because he can.
Which, speaking of fine things: Lestat’s passion for music comes up, again and again. On first meeting, he tells Louis that he was headed for St. Louis but got off the boat because the music drew him in. And, as part of their courtship, he takes Louis to the opera.
Then, there’s another great nod to book lovers that fits in with Lestat’s obsession with the arts: When Miss Lily asks about his music box, something inside him comes alive. Lestat’s excited that she likes it, boasts about having composed it “for a young violinist I once knew, a boy of infinite beauty and sensitivity.” And, of course…that violinist was the other great love of his life, Nicolas. Nicki.
We even meet the vulnerable Lestat, the mama’s boy, who cloaks that vulnerability in smugness, with a twist of rage and even a tantrum here or there. He tells Louis’ family of how his mother gave him “every advantage in life.” He also mentions her giving him his first Mastiff.
But it’s Paul’s question about whether or not Lestat is “one with Christ” that tells us, clear as day, that this series’ Lestat is the one. It’s him who carried us through the majority of The Vampire Chronicles. He tells Paul how he “came to know Christ in a monastery” and wanted to be a priest. And he recalls the readings with such passion, romanticizing them before our very eyes.
But, of course, his father — “a vulgar man” — wouldn’t have it.
“And so he and my brothers conspired to pull me out, lock me away. Where between beatings, starvations, and the failure of Christ to intercede the beatings and starvations, I slowly forgot all about the testaments, Assisi, Aquinas, Erasmus — all of it. And so, to answer your boring question, there is an ocean between Christ and myself.”
It’s, more or less, straight out of The Vampire Lestat.
Through this dinner scene, as Lestat unveils his pain, we get an absolutely stunning performance from Reid. It’s a place where he morphs from that Brat, to the boy who loved his God and his philosophy, straight to this pure anger and hatred for everyone and everything who robbed him of what he once loved.
And, of course, we also see him as the murderer, the monster. Pure evil.
There’s the way he toys with the man putting out the street lamps, causing them to reignite so the man’s terrified…before dying a brutal death, anyway. Or his flaunting his ability to project thoughts into Louis’ mind as some sort of way of seducing him.
And, of course, Lestat is at his most utterly devilish and terrifying in the final moments of Interview with the Vampire 1×01, blood all over his mouth, church in flames…
It’s here that Reid brings pure horror to the moment. But he also has that way he casually cracks his neck and barely puts forth any effort in stalking after a man who’s desperately trying to escape (“preternatural calm” comes back to mind, actually).
And sure, he shows his true brutality and power in the moment he shockingly, horrifyingly punches through that man’s head.
But then…the longer he pleads with Louis, the more he seems to be begging. And by the time he gets to telling Louis he loves him, Lestat has softened to the point of just that — exuding nothing but pure, intense, desperate love. He is almost small here, barely moments after being so huge.
Make no mistake about it: Lestat has always been all of these things — this monster, this man obsessed with music and fashion, this questioner, and — yes — in deep, immortal love with Louis de Pointe du Lac.
We could talk about the lusty scene these men shared, especially with the way Lestat flirted and taunted Louis throughout. But, for as hot as it was — and make no mistake, it was — it’s nothing compared to the difficult, complicated, troubled love between the two characters.
Even in just this first episode, it’s clear everyone involved in this series understands both how to deliver on what Anderson and Reid’s — or Louis and Lestat’s — chemistry promises to offer and just how all-consuming and vital — how central to everything, including the occasional hatred — that love is to Rice’s characters.
Interview with the Vampire does not shy away from the fact that this is a romance. A dark and often twisted one, yes. But one that has meaning, not just to the characters within it. But, perhaps most importantly, to everyone who has ever found themselves devouring what’s on the page.
More on Interview with the Vampire 1×01
- Fittingly for a series that features someone like Lestat, who is an art snob, Interview with the Vampire makes sure not to skimp on the lavish scenery and the gorgeous soundtrack.
- Someone has himself a good ol’ vampire bite scar…Hm.
- “Why get any closer to the bug if I don’t need to?” I wish more of y’all still thought like Daniel. Anyway.
- The tapes from the beginning…that playback? If the dialogue sounded familiar, it’s because it is. In fact, it’s on the page. Page 5, to be exact, if you have the same paperback version I grabbed off my shelf to look for it. Yeah, we’re that kind of Anne Rice nerd.
- Similarly, all that beautiful dialogue at the end, as Louis describes the beating heart? Bottom of page 20. Last paragraph on the page. Of course something that gorgeous and poetic came from her.
- “That’s the sun out there. Where’s your coffin?” “You’re standing in it.” Ok but hear me out: How do we know anyone in that house is who, or more importantly what, they say they are…if technology…
- Rashid…Does anyone else have thoughts? Especially given his…his look? No? Ok then.
- This Daniel is so blunt. “An old man, with all the triggers that come with it” indeed.
- Ok but can we talk about that laugh right before Louis starts to tell the story? Dear God. Sign me up.
- “He stuck it in my shit box!” Ok that’s new.
- Louis’ sister…with the shade. “A month from my wedding day, and what do I dream about? Dancing in my husband’s arms? Children running in the yard? No. I dream of what a quiet breakfast might look like.” I love her.
- “Plenty of brooms down at the Mayfair sisters’ home.” PAUL KNOWS. “He’s calling me a witch, Maman!” GRACE ALSO KNOWS. They all KNOW.
- “…we may all look alike to you people…” 10/10, no notes.
- “You’re his destiny, Louis.” “Destined to be very good friends.” Sure, if that’s what we’re calling it now.
- “Let the tale seduce you, just as I was seduced.” Um. Done.
- Get you someone who looks at you the way Lestat constantly looks at Louis. But especially how he does in that club.
- Lestat’s Mastiffs! Mentioned! Here!!!!!
- “You saying I got shame?” Uh. Yeah.
- “The Earth’s a Savage Garden.” In episode one.
- I mean, why not levitate and get yourself a Little Drink while finally getting that slow burn to turn into a full-blown inferno?
- “You could be a lot of things in New Orleans, but an openly gay negro man was not one of them.”
- The tap dancing scene. They were so good. Who’s the choreographer? A fangirl wants to know.
- “That was the last sunrise I ever saw. Perhaps the kindest thing the Dark Gift has given me.” Someone say…Dark Gift? Understood the assignment and did the damned homework.
- The pain and angst when he talks about that last sunrise. Anderson is so good here.
- Lestat, sweetheart. Control those golden locks; get them to stop billowing in the wind. This is a funeral procession, not a photoshoot.
- “I love you, Louis. You are loved.” He’s so earnest here.
- The single blood tear.
- “…the end…the beginning.”
Thoughts on Interview with the Vampire 1×01 “In Throes of Increasing Wonder”? Leave us a comment!
Interview with the Vampire airs Sundays at 10/9c on AMC, with episodes releasing on AMC+ the same day.
I was so thrilled to read your review! You summed up my feelings toward ALL of this, lol. A very long-time fan of Anne Rice here and (I think like pretty much everyone) have been unsure how this endeavor would turn out. They have surpassed my expectations in every way. I will be following your reviews and again- thank you for capturing the large and small details (omg, the Mayfairs!) that convey how much genuine love went into making this show. I feel like they have honored Anne, her creation, the fans that have been here and help new people discover this world.
Thank you! Anne’s books have been a big part of my life since right after that first film adaptation came out almost 30 years ago (what even is time???), so I’m very protective of all of it. I definitely went into this equal parts wary and excited, and so far, the excitement part paid off.
I’m having such a blast trying to find lines in the books after I hear them in the show and think they might be hers. They almost always are, and I *love* when the official show twitter shares some of the “show vs. page” snippets. And I have THEORIES about one particular character that I’m trying to sprinkle into the reviews as they come…As a warning to all, I will be utterly insufferable if I was right. 🙂
For me, the biggest struggle will come with Claudia, but I’ll wait to really delve into that until after episodes 4-5 are on tv (whereas you can already stream 4 on AMC+, if twitter chatter is anything to go by).