Based on Anne Rice's iconic novel,Interview with The Vampire follows Louis de Pointe du Lac's (Jacob Anderson) epic tale of love, blood, and the perils of immortality. In the year 2022, Louis reconnects with renowned journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) in hopes of telling the true story of his life. In this interview with amc.com we speak with Eric Bogosian about Daniel’s relationship with Louis, his bona fide ‘attitude,’ and why he decides to take the risk and revisit the past.
Q: We meet Daniel Molloy in the most 2022 way, through a commercial for his master class on journalism. It gives us a sense of who he is and what he stands for. He’s a straight talker, that's for sure. When you first read the script, what was your initial reaction and what drew you to Daniel?
A: Well, I guess the most prominent thing was that this character wasn't just going to be bookends. This wasn't going to be like, "Okay, so tell me the story" we dive into a flashback and then at the end of each episode, "Hmm, that was really interesting" and that's the end of it. Clearly the story that Rolin [Jones, EP and writer] wanted to tell, integrated perfectly with the Anne Rice story. They were braided together thematically, which I think was great because it enhances everything about vampiric immortality. In other words, Daniel like me, has aged and is at this point in his life when he’s starting to think, "Wow, how many more summers do I have left in my life? How many more times will I go to the beach before I'm not here anymore?" That really brings to the foreground the whole notion of immortality and it really enhances the relationship between him and Louis. It all gets more and more amplified.
Obviously, this is the story of Louis, Lestat, and Claudia and what happens to them over the decades, but it doesn't hurt to create this echo chamber, and that's what I think the relationship that Daniel has with Louis achieves. That really attracted me to the role because I like to do things that challenge me and are hard. I have to figure 'em out and there was a lot to figure out in this. Honestly, I don't think I had it all figured out, and I can’t even say all, until about halfway through shooting. Certain things were coming up during shooting that were very intense. I mean, if nothing else, one day Jacob said to me, "You know, my character knew you when you were young." Which is true and interesting! I mean, there probably aren’t that many people left Daniel’s life who knew him when he was in his 20s and this guy did. He remembers it all with vampire memory, so it's kind of a weird thing — Daniel’s meeting his younger self in a way. Anyway, it's a hall of mirrors and it's wonderful because there's so much to do in every scene. As simple as it is for him to say to Louis "tell me the story," but also of course challenge him all the time. I understand this character as a man who has to get the story. He wants the true story and that's a great thickener of the stew.
Q: Rolin took the source material and tweaked it in a variety of ways. His tweaks both to timelines and to the characters themselves, like you said really open the story up and allow it to dive into some heady subject matter like race, identity, sexuality. When it comes to "the boy" or in this case Daniel Molloy, he's a fully fleshed-out character and not just an interviewer. Can you talk a bit about crafting Daniel’s relationship with Louis on screen? There are so many snide remarks and so much attitude coming from Daniel’s side, but you can tell the two have a very strong connection, nonetheless.
A: Well, working backwards here, Daniel's attitude – let's just call it ‘attitude’ – is a defense mechanism. There are a lot of reasons why Daniel is out on thin ice here. It's a dangerous situation, not only because his life can be in danger, but because the story he's going after could make or break the rest of his life. It could end up being a huge success or it could be a huge failure. He could end up being buried in the sands of Dubai or something! They'd never find him. He could end up becoming a vampire. So, all of those things mean there’s a lot of risk going on there. Daniel's type and the type that I guess I am in real life — I mean I’ve certainly played enough characters like this — is a very sarcastic, cynical guy who uses language as a weapon or as his defense armor. I think it makes me right for the role and it also attracted me to the role.
In terms of the dynamic between Daniel and Louis or between me and Jacob [Anderson], I am a fan of Game of Thrones. When I was watching it, I did get particularly focused on Jacob. I think for people who aren't actors, the impressive stuff is always the very loud, angry yelling or crying or something like that. It gets everybody's attention. It gets you an Oscar. But the really hard stuff is the quiet, subtle stuff and Jacob was just terrific in Game of Thronesplaying Grey Worm. I would focus on this guy, like, "What is this man doing? This is really interesting. Look at all the passion that he's displaying and yet he's barely moving a muscle." That's very hard to do.
I looked forward to working with this young man — I can say "young man" because he's my son's age — and I was not disappointed. He insisted on memorizing and performing everything that he says in the show so, even when you just hear his voiceover, he's learned those scenes and he's doing them with me. He's saying them to me, even if you don't see him doing that. He would draw me into his realm, and as a good vampire should, he almost would hypnotize me when we were working together. I would consciously think, while I was doing that work with him, "This feels amazing. I wonder if it's going to read," and I think it did read. He's a terrific presence. I mean, it's not for me to judge what Jacob is doing, but for me it was the jackpot that I look for when I'm working. To work with another actor who is not afraid. We have other actors on the show, although I didn't work with them, who aren't afraid to go places. Sam [Reid], he goes in with both feet. It's amazing. So here I am in these scenes with this young man and we're going there! We're going places. I'm looking into his eyes. I'm seeing reality. That is thrilling for me. It's like flying or something when you're with a scene partner who is unafraid to fully occupy the reality because that's all this is for me, is pretending. I just love to pretend to be somebody else.
Q: Were you a fan of the source material before becoming involved in the project? I’m reading it and I thought it was going to be an "easier" read than it is. It's pretty dense!
A: It's dense. It's very atmospheric and it's very sexual, almost to the point where you can't really do a lot of that stuff on screen. So yes, I was [a fan of the source material]. I read it when it first came out and I loved it. Interview With the Vampire is a great classic work. Anne Rice totally understands the world that she's inviting us into and she's a great storyteller, those things are her strengths. Those are the super muscles and for that alone I love the Anne Rice universe because she created a world. She did something else of course: she made vampires human! That was revolutionary. I've loved vampires since I was a little kid, but Bela Lugosi and Frank Langella were not human. They were Draculas. When Coppola did his version, which was actually after Interview came out, they continued to be otherworldly, weird, ghostly, scary, creepy guys, but this was a whole other thing. I also think it’s really about the atmosphere that she builds, the descriptive stuff. If you write fiction — and I have written fiction — it's very hard to keep it fresh after there's been so many descriptions over the years. You sit down to write it and you're like, "Man, this is not fresh." But she's always fresh. You want to know what's going to happen next. She always knows how to keep you interested, and if there's a moment when it starts to flag, all of a sudden, a new thing comes flying in. Well, Claudia for sure suddenly super-charges the story.
What makes things really interesting is when you bring Rolin into the mix. It’s like in classical music or in jazz, where a composer goes back and grabs a theme, which was already known, from somebody else and then redoes it and it becomes even greater. I really think that's what Rolin has done here. As a veteran writer in this realm — because I wrote for studios for a long time — I can't believe the focus and perfection that he brought to this project. He's thinking about the whole shape the whole time, and he's putting these seven episodes together and into next season. For me, writing is really hard work, whereas acting I love. I just love doing it and it's so much fun to try and break down a character, get in there, suit up and show up. All of that makes me deliriously happy. That's why I'm very happy right now, I don't have to be writing for the man anymore and I can do this and enjoy myself, which is what I wanted to do in the first place 50 years ago!
Q: Daniel has lived a rich life since his first conversations with Louis in 1973 and seems to have moved on from those encounters. It's Louis who reaches out to him by sending the letters and the tapes. There's definitely hesitation, and lots of emotions brewing in him when he presses play on that tape. You said it's a dangerous game, so what's Daniel going through emotionally when he decides to dive back into this part of his past?
A: He’s thinking "is this going to be worth it, what am I getting into here?!" He’s asking himself if he’s making the right choice. Is he being stupid? He wants to go over the situation carefully. But really, he knows what he's going to do. He has no choice. He's always going to choose the path not taken. He's always going to do the dangerous, risky thing. He’s like "what's going on here, they're telling me to go get on a plane, they're telling me to go to this place." What’s Louis thinking? Is he thinking, "I'm going through this elaborate thing to bring him to Dubai so that I can kill him?" Well, probably not. I mean, why would he do that? He could kill me right now if he wanted to. So that must not be what's going on. So, what is he doing? That'll become the subtext to this whole season: "what's really going on here and what are you up to and what do you want from me?" But in the very beginning Daniel’s weighing "am I walking into a trap, am I doing something stupid because of my own egotistical nature?" Daniel Molloy isn’t the kind of guy who retires and then goes and sits on a beach. He wants to be in the game until the day he's dropped into the ground, so that's all he's thinking about. At the end of the day, that's all that really counts. He's gonna do it even if it's dangerous.
He wants the full story.
A: Well yeah, sure. I mean, there's the natural curiosity. I think the best journalists think, "I'm going to get that story, I'm going to get it, I'm going to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’ because that's the way I roll." I'm not that kind of person, but I've met enough journalists to know that they'll dog it until they can get all of it and they don't rest until they can get it. So, he's got that whole thing going on there. And of course, there’s the brass ring. There’s the possibility that he does get the story and it makes him world famous and all kinds of s–t. But I have to say that as a person in my 60’s and someone who was powered by ambition my whole life — certainly since I got to New York in '75 — ambition is a funny thing. When you're young, you don't even question it. You just want it. You just go after s–t and you're just burning for it. You're always pissed off when you don't get the thing you want and you're just always barreling forward. In your 60's you start to go, "And why am I doing this and what is it I want here? What is it that I think I'm going to get at the other end of this endeavor? Am I going to get a lot of money? Eh, I don't really care. I mean, is money really what it's all about? Am I going to get really famous?" I mean, I'm 68 years old. Who gives a s–t? That's not in the game anymore. For some people ambition becomes some essential part of their personality, so even if they get the thing, they still won't be happy. I think that's pretty much Daniel Molloy. I'm absolutely certain of that.
Q: So much happens in Episode 1 that really sets the stage for the rest of the season. We learn about Storyville, about Louis’ relationship with his family, his reckoning around his own sexuality, and of course his first encounters with Lestat. We also learn that Daniel is, in his own words, "an old man" with Parkinson's Disease who's very much in touch with his own mortality. There's just so much more to unravel throughout Season 1. But what are you most excited for viewers to experience as the season continues?
A: I've seen the whole season and my takeaway is the amazing presence of these two men and their relationship with each other. Now, I was there witnessing, even though I didn't have any scenes with Sam [Reid]. You know, we were shooting a ton of stuff all at the same time. And the bond between these two actors and then how they translated it into this amazing relationship on screen, it's pretty cool! There’s nothing canned in this show. Everything you see feels fresh and alive. It’s almost like the actors themselves don't know what's gonna happen next which is so great to watch! And then all of a sudden in comes Bailey [Bass] with this nutso energy. It's just terrific and it's like the frosting on the cake. It's great! I think it's all the characters and the relationships that people will take away.
Having said that — I mean, I can't say it's just one thing — because the design of the show is so gorgeous. Mara [LePere-Schloop, production designer] did such a great job. This could be something that people could take for granted. I don't know that everybody notices what they're looking at when they're watching television, but what these guys did in terms of the look and feel, vibe and texture of this show, which I think totally honors Anne Rice, is great. It becomes immersive and that's what you want. You want to forget that you're watching something that people made and there should be times when you're talking to the TV set like, "Why did you say that?" or "Why did you do that? Don't do that! Wait, don't walk down that alley!" Not to mention all the action and the blood and everything, which is so cool. I’m so thrilled to be part of something where the work came out so well, and everybody was top shelf and really lovely to work with.
New episodes of Interview with the Vampire air on Sundays at 10/9c on AMC. Full episodes are available to stream on amc.com (with a cable provider login), the AMC apps for mobile and devices, and a week early on AMC+. AMC+ is available at amcplus.com or through the new AMC+ app available on iPhone, iPad, Android, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku. AMC+ can also be accessed through a variety of providers, including AppleTV, Prime Video Channels, DirectTV, Dish, Roku Channel, Sling, and Xfinity. Sign up for AMC+ now.