HOUSE OF THE DRAGON. ANDOR. RINGS OF POWER. These blockbuster series have managed to debut in the past month. And while 2/3 of these managed to impress me, who would have thought the series debut that would blow them all away would be AMC’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE?
It’s a tall order to take the title of best new series debut away from a show like HOUSE OF THE DRAGON. But INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE managed to do so on its cast’s strength, the ingenious balance between faithfulness to Anne Rice’s world and words, and reinvention with originality. What is a very difficult, almost seemingly impossible paradox is skillfully handled by showrunner Rolin Jones and his team. Jones understands Rice’s characters, their relationships, and this world. He’s very cunningly laying down the groundwork for a universe that is even more expansive than the MCU, and doing so with as much success. It’s because of this knowledge and reverence that he’s able to read in between the untold details of Rice’s story, and set up and spin the events of the series in such a way that the original details he crafts exclusively for the series build into the incredibly important moments and motivations that encompass the journey of Louis de Pointe du Lac and Lestat de Lioncourt, as well as the viewers’ journey into THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES.
The first thing anyone will do, of course, will compare this to the 1993 Neil Jordan film with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. Rightfully so, as that was a terrific adaptation, which won over Rice herself. However, in doing very clever things like contemporizing the setting by a few decades and inventing a few details, like the family history of Louis, the show is able to introduce a lot of clever social commentary into the fold, while remaining engaging and faithful to the classic tale. It also allows the series to paint richer, deeper relationships that make much more sense with its two leads. It doesn’t hurt that said leads, Jacob Anderson and Sam Reid, are terrific interpretations of their respective roles.
While Brad Pitt’s Louis was terrifically morose and guilt-ridden, it was also a bit one-note. Anderson’s infuses a greater bit of personality and charisma to balance the remorseful pain and whininess of the character. Plus, he’s actually doing a creole accent, which Pitt never seriously attempted. You understand why a character like Lestat would become obsessed with him. Whereas Cruise’s Lestat was (and to a degree still is) the definitive live-action interpretation of the character, Sam Reid is also a lot more nuanced. We still get the devilish, ferocious lord of chaos that represents Rice’s marquee character, but in a more subdued performance, Reid also allows you to see why Louis would be drawn to the charmer that is Lestat. Reid balances the line between seductive and explosively, violently volatile incredibly well. And he also has a French accent (Not sure why neither character had accents in the film).
The first episode is beautifully paced and never dull. The second episode less so. But together, they really are well-done hours of television that beautifully and ably answer the question of why Louis would make the decision he makes. All while setting you up for a terrific events to unfold as we dive deeper into this world of angels and devils. Rice would be proud.
INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE is now streaming on AMC+ and airs every Sunday on AMC.