Interview With the Vampire Q&A — Jacob Anderson on Louis Falling Under Lestat’s Spell One Last Time
Based on Anne Rice's iconic novel, Interview with the Vampire follows Louis de Pointe du Lac's epic tale of love, blood, and the perils of immortality. Season 1 ends dramatically for Louis in both of his timelines, with big reveals on both ends. In this interview with amc.com we speak with Jacob Anderson about the challenges of playing many versions of Louis, Louis’s relationships with both Lestat and Daniel, and what Louis will have to come to terms with in Season 2.
Q: As an actor it must be so exciting to be able to play the same character at different points in their timeline, but also incredibly daunting too. How did you tackle building Louis from start to finish—from fledging vampire to a vampire that’s over 100 years old?
A: A day at a time. I had to approach it by setting out the parameters. I knew roughly where I wanted to get to, so I had to make sure that here, here, and here, there were pins that each signified a thing I had to hold onto. Once I had those then everything else could just be about who he was at that specific time. I know its a cliche for actors to say "oh it's a dream," but honestly how often do you get to play somebody through such a wide span of existence? We shot more or less in sequence in terms of eras, and that really helped me. That gave me license to do it a day at a time because if you hold onto the whole of his life even going into things that aren't in the first season, your brain would just explode!
I was like I know in 1910 he's a lot of different people and that's part of his human crisis is that he doesn't really know who he is because he's having to pretend to be all these different people. He could probably estimate that the version of him that you see with Grace and Paul is probably the closest to who he really is at that point in his life. But even then, he's having to put on a front with them. Essentially, he's their brother but he's also having to be the quote unquote man of the house. Then there's that middle portion where he's fitting in with Lestat and he's lost his family and a lot of his human attachments are gone and he's just reading a lot of books. I think the books are getting imprinted on him and on his language and how he uses it. I won't go through each time period, but it just became a process of each time we got to a new era. Making those decisions about what he held onto from previous eras and what he left behind.
Q: At the beginning when we first meet your character, his accent is very specific. His humanness comes through in that accent and then when we see him in the current timeline in Dubai, his accent has changed because he's over a hundred years old and he's not the same entity he was back then. I'm curious if things like that – accent, costuming – helped as ‘pins,’ if you will?
A: Yeah, they did. They definitely did. With costume, I started to get really comfortable in the Edwardian style with the high, stiff collars and wearing suits a lot. So then when I started to wear cardigans and the '30's silky jackets and things like that, it felt really out place. It didn't feel like the Louis that I'd built up to that point and I think that was really helpful. I think Louis's always a little bit out of time, whether he's ahead of it or behind it. I remember for Episode 6, which is the late '20's early '30's, he's wearing a dressing gown a lot and it just took me back to feelings that I've had when I've had bouts of depression and just not being able to get up. There were days I was sad and I would just read the book that Louis was reading. Between takes sometimes, I'd just sit on the chaise lounge and just read. I just felt like I couldn't move because of what I was wearing. It felt like a weight. It was really odd how that stuff gets into you. I'm not a Method actor or anything. It just does. It changes how you feel about yourself.
And in terms of acting, I loved the idea that he has little leaks, little spills, so in modern day Dubai, every now and then, the New Orleans creeps back in. It during moments of vulnerability, when he's talking about Claudia or when he finds himself hypnotized. When he's lost in his past it creeps back in again. Or it happens when he's talking about an anger that he had or a resentment. Those things come back in and it's like you can take the boy out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the boy type of thing. That was another thing, finding what a generalized accent was for him. I didn't want it to be completely generalized. I wanted it to feel like he was somebody that had spent time in New York, in London, in Paris and in all these European cities. He collected this accent; it was for him some sort of approximation of who he is. He's like, "This is just how I speak now, and I can settle into this." It's fun. It's really fun!
Q: Episode 7 is definitely about Claudia and Louis plotting Lestat’s demise, but there are some real moments of tenderness between Louis and Lestat especially at the ball. From Louis’ perspective was the ball part of his goodbye to Lestat? Meanwhile it seems that Lestat is seeing it as a goodbye to New Orleans...
A: I think the ball in particular is the height of when you see Louis falling back into the spell of Lestat. You see him getting lost, as he says he's going to, and he's maybe starting to have regrets or concerns about what they're doing and whether it's the right thing to do. I think it's definitely a goodbye and he knows that it's a goodbye, but I think his hunger delirium is a factor too. He genuinely thinks, "Well, maybe there's another way for us to do this," which is ultimately what happens. I think him sparing Lestat's life is, to me, more about him buying time for him and Claudia to get some space. He's like, "There’s no way that this man is going to let us out of his sights. We cannot leave without him. We can't really leave with him because it's just going to be setting up the same thing but in Buenos Aires or wherever." So, I think it's more about freeing Claudia, buying them a little bit of time, but having his cake and eating it a little bit too because he knows I think, whether it's subconscious or conscious, that Lestat will find him again.
Q: The relationship between Louis and Lestat is rife with complications, but at its core there's obviously a real connection there. What was it like crafting this tumultuous relationship on screen with Sam Reid? You two are quite good friends having come out the other end of Season 1.
A: Yeah, we were good friends when we were doing it and I think that's part of why it worked out for us! We didn't put too much emphasis on trying to figure everything out. The scripts are so beautiful, the writing is so dense and so full of life and detail that you don't need to discuss it too much. Obviously, we talked to the directors, and they'd have ideas and we'd have ideas, but I think, in terms of me and Sam finding it, I think we just paid attention to each other. We just trusted the writing, trusted each other, and it meant that we’d already be prepared for whatever was going to come up. We felt comfortable with each other, so we could try things and it felt safe. It felt like we could play around with body language and with eye contact and all these things. But it was unspoken, I think. It wasn't something that we spent a lot of time discussing. Everything's intentional to a certain extent, but there's this other thing that is just about instinct and listening really.
Q: And having the right scene partner where that happens.
A: Yeah, I felt really lucky! Sam gives you so much. There's so much to play off and I hope that I did the same for him. Our first day of shooting we did the opera house stuff, and I was so excited. It's the scene where he talks about loneliness, and I remember thinking even though I'd got to know him a little bit and we'd done a bit of rehearsal and we'd become friends by that point, I was like, "Oh wow, this is going to be really special! I'm going to get to do this every day. I'm going to get to watch this character come to life and respond to it." That's a gift. Sam Reid is a gift!
Q: Another incredibly important relationship for Louis is the one that he shares in the present day with Daniel Molloy. Why do you think that Louis believes Daniel is the right person for him to tell his story to? And why does he choose to reconnect with him in 2022 after that first meeting in 1973?
A: We thought about that a lot. I thought about it a lot, the why of it. And I think some of that stuff is stuff that I don't want to accidentally spoil. I think that there’s something really interesting about ‘why him?’ I kept making sure I had that in my head. Louis has read everything that Daniel's written up to this point. He also knew him when he was in his 20's and I think that there's something about this shared history that makes him a trustworthy candidate. He also knew a different Louis. He knew Louis at a different time, so there’s a degree of accountability that comes into asking somebody to revisit things with you, if they know you. I also think that to some degree this is a therapeutic exercise for Louis and it's much safer to do that with somebody who you have an intimacy with. There's a built-in intimacy to their relationship, plus he's a really great writer. I think whether it's intentional or not on his part, he trusts Daniel and I think that's ‘why him.’ Who else?
Q: In talking to Eric, he just absolutely loved working with you. He was blown away by your commitment to Louis. Can we talk about the fact that all the voiceovers you did were done without a script and usually to Eric, even though they were purely audio? Was that just to allow yourself to stay in character and continue to connect to Louis? I would assume some actors would just read it off the paper if it's just a voiceover.
A: They kept telling me that I could do that. [Laughs] At points somebody would come up and be like, "Do you want a teleprompter? Because we know this is going to be hard and it's going to be the middle of the night." But the truth is I'd learnt most of the interview before we started shooting. I can't imagine not doing that, to be honest. It's partly for me. I like being prepared. I want to really understand what the journey is. Especially as we're shooting this stuff that he's talking about, I wanted to really understand what the reflection was because what you see is based on what he says. It has to follow a specific course. Also, I just felt that was the most respectful thing that I could do for Eric. I love Eric and I was so excited to work with him. I wanted to do it properly. I feel like if you're going to do this, you have to do it properly. You have to go all in. And I decided that from the beginning. Also, it’s just my job, you know? I think I can make it sound all highfalutin, but it's your job to learn your lines and to know what you're saying. And Louis has such a beautiful way with language that I wanted to understand everything he said. I wanted to know what I was saying.
Q: Going back to that 1973 flashback, not only did we get to see the first encounter with Daniel, but it also provided our first huge realization about ‘Rashid’. Speaking of Rashid, I had a chance to talk to Assad and the way that season ends, he's just so excited to pick back up again. Can you talk about that final reveal at the end of Episode 7 and what that means for Louis's story going forward?
A: I guess it presents a new context to everything we've seen before in the interview. The fact that he's there. Why is he there and what have they decided? What were the parameters of this interview and why did he feel the need to pose as somebody else? There are lots of questions that I'm excited to get into. Some of those things I know. Some of those things I don't know. But my favorite thing about that final moment — which before Rolin and I spoke about it, as soon as I got the script, I was like, "There's something off about this. There's something just really wrong going on here. Louis is not okay at this point in the interview." Rolin talked about the final shot of The Graduate, and we did try it a few different ways. We tried that final moment. There are different versions that all add to the same conclusion. But yeah, it was really fun to just [be] like, "Okay well, what if the implication is this thing or what if the implication is this other thing or what if the implication is a little bit more ambiguous?" It was a very fun challenge. What it means for the future? People that have read the books obviously will have a little bit more information about that, but things change.
Q: What can you tease out about Louis's frame of mind heading into Season 2? He and Claudia have been through a lot.
A: Yeah. I think it's fair to say that now Louis is not in a particularly good frame of mind in either Dubai or the 1940's. And he has some explaining to do in both instances. I'm excited to explore what that betrayal means for his and Claudia's relationship. But also, what this other betrayal means for him and Daniel's relationship. In fact, Daniel has been disrespected. He’s been lied to. But Louis's got a lot of explaining to do! And I think that's really exciting. He can't really paint himself as this tortured hero anymore. There's more to it and that's so exciting.
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