Interview with the Vampire (film)
|Interview with a Vampire|
|Directed by||Neil Jordan|
|Produced by||David Geffen
|Screenplay by||Anne Rice|
|Based on||Interview with the Vampire
by Anne Rice
|Music by||Elliot Goldenthal|
|Edited by||Mick Audsley|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$223.7 million|
Interview with the Vampire is a 1994 American drama horror film directed by Neil Jordan, based on the 1976 novel Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, and starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. The film focuses on Lestat (Cruise) and Louis (Pitt), beginning with Louis's transformation into a vampire by Lestat in 1791. The film chronicles their time together, and their turning of a twelve-year-old girl, Claudia, into a vampire. The narrative is framed by a present-day interview, in which Louis tells his story to a San Francisco reporter. The supporting cast features Christian Slater, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas and Stephen Rea.
The film was released in November 1994 to generally positive reviews, and received Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction and Best Original Score. Kirsten Dunst was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film.
Louis begins by describing his human life as a wealthy plantation owner in 1791 Spanish Louisiana. He had lost the will to live following the death of his wife and infant child; one night he is attacked by the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise) while drunkenly wandering the waterfront of New Orleans. Lestat senses Louis' dissatisfaction with life and offers to turn him into a vampire. Louis accepts and is transformed, but he rebels against killing humans, drinking animal blood to sustain himself. He is disgusted by Lestat's pleasure in killing and comes to suffer tremendously as a vampire. Louis finally succumbs to his hunger and kills his faithful house slave Yvette (Thandie Newton). Guilt-ridden, he tries to kill himself by setting fire to his house, but Lestat rescues him and they flee.
Wandering the streets of New Orleans, amid an outbreak of plague, Louis finds an ill little girl in a house who has not realized her mother is dead. He bites the girl, Claudia (Kirsten Dunst), whom Lestat later transforms into a vampire "daughter". Lestat hopes that Claudia's transformation will discourage Louis from leaving. As thirty years pass, Claudia matures psychologically but still remains a little girl in appearance. She has become a sadistic killer who closely bonds with Louis. When she finally realizes she will never grow up and have an adult body of her own, thus being trapped in the form of a child forever, she is furious with Lestat and finds herself deeply hating him for making her a vampire. She tricks him into drinking the blood of twin boys she killed by overdosing them with laudanum, knowing that blood from a corpse is fatal to vampires. This weakens him, and she slits his throat. Claudia and Louis dump Lestat's body in a swamp and the two plan a voyage to Europe. However Lestat returns on the night of their departure, having drained the blood of swamp creatures to survive. Lestat attacks them, but Louis sets him on fire and is able to safely board the ship with Claudia.
After travelling around Europe and the Mediterranean, Louis and Claudia settle harmoniously in Paris. Louis encounters vampires Santiago (Stephen Rea) and Armand (Antonio Banderas) by chance. Armand invites Louis and Claudia to his coven, the Théâtre des Vampires, where the vampires stage theatrical horror shows for humans, similar to the real Grand Guignol which existed in Paris from 1897–1962.
Claudia rightly accuses Louis of wanting to abandon her for Armand. She demands he turn a human woman, Madeleine (Domiziana Giordano), to be her new protector and companion, and he reluctantly complies. As punishment for Lestat's murder, the Parisian vampires abduct all three; they imprison Louis in a metal coffin. When freed by Armand the next night, he learns Claudia and Madeleine have been exposed to sunlight against their will and turned to ash. He returns to the Theater and avenges Claudia and Madeleine by burning the vampires as they sleep and bisecting Santiago with a scythe. Armand arrives in time to help Louis escape and once again offers him a place by his side. Louis refuses, knowing that Armand choreographed Claudia and Madeleine's demise to have Louis all to himself, and he leaves Armand for good.
As decades pass, Louis explores the world alone, still grieving for Claudia, before returning to the United States. In 1988, he returns to New Orleans and finds Lestat, a mere shadow of his former self. Lestat asks Louis to rejoin him, but Louis rejects him and leaves.
At this point, Louis concludes the interview, declaring that his existence is empty, detached, and unfeeling. Molloy is shocked by this statement and openly declares his desire to have had Louis's experiences as a vampire. He asks Louis to transform him. Louis is outraged by Molloy's complete disregard for the pervasive suffering caused by vampirism outlined in the interview. Louis attacks Molloy but in the next instant, he vanishes. Molloy hurriedly runs to his car and drives away, feeling happy with his interview as he plays it through the cassette player. Just then, Lestat appears and attacks him, taking control of the car. Revived by Molloy's blood, Lestat offers him "the choice I never had" to become a vampire, as they drive over the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Tom Cruise as Lestat de Lioncourt
- Brad Pitt as Louis de Pointe du Lac
- Christian Slater as Daniel Molloy
- Kirsten Dunst as Claudia
- Antonio Banderas as Armand
- Stephen Rea as Santiago
- Domiziana Giordano as Madeleine
- Thandie Newton as Yvette
- George Kelly as Dollmaker
- Marcel Iureş as Paris Vampire 
- Sara Stockbridge as Estelle
Author Anne Rice adapted her 1976 novel Interview with the Vampire into a screenplay with French actor Alain Delon in mind for the role of Louis. Later on, when the film was made, British actor Julian Sands was considered to play the role of Lestat by Rice, but because Sands was not a well-known name at the time (being only famed for his performance in A Room with a View), he was rejected and the role was given to Tom Cruise. This was initially criticized by Anne Rice, who said that Cruise was "no more my vampire Lestat than Edward G. Robinson is Rhett Butler", and the casting was "so bizarre; it's almost impossible to imagine how it's going to work". Nevertheless, she was satisfied with Cruise's performance after seeing the completed film, saying that "from the moment he appeared, Tom was Lestat for me" and "that Tom did make Lestat work was something I could not see in a crystal ball."
Due to Rice's perception of Hollywood's homophobia, at one point she rewrote the part of Louis, changing his sex to female, in order to specifically heterosexualize the character's relationship with Lestat. At the time, Rice felt it was the only way to get the film made, and singer-actress Cher was considered for the part. A song titled "Lovers Forever", which Cher wrote along with Shirley Eikhard for the film's soundtrack, got rejected as Pitt was ultimately cast for the role, though a dance-pop version of the song was released on Cher's 2013 album, Closer to the Truth.
Originally, River Phoenix was cast for the role of Daniel Molloy (as Anne Rice liked the idea), but he died four weeks before he was due to begin filming. When Christian Slater was cast in his place as Molloy, he donated his entire salary to Phoenix's favorite charitable organizations. The film has a dedication to Phoenix after the end credits. Eleven-year-old actress Kirsten Dunst was spotted by talent scouts and was the first girl tested for the role of woman/child Claudia.
Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles opened on November 11, 1994. Opening weekend grosses amounted to $36.4m, placing it in the number one position at the US box office. In subsequent weeks it struggled against Star Trek: Generations and The Santa Clause. Total gross in the United States was $105 million, while the total including international gross was $224 million, with an estimated budget of $60 million.
Critical reception and awards
The film received positive reviews among film critics. Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reports the film as holding an overall 61% "Fresh" approval rating based on 51 reviews, with a rating average of 5.9 out of 10. The sites consensus reads: "Despite lacking some of the book's subtler shadings, and suffering from some clumsy casting, Interview with the Vampire benefits from Neil Jordan's atmospheric direction and a surfeit of gothic thrills." Praise from The New York Times's Elvis Mitchell and the Chicago Sun-Times's Roger Ebert was tempered by poor reviews in The Washington Post and Time magazine.
The film was nominated for two Academy Awards—for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo) and for Best Original Score, but lost to The Madness of King George and The Lion King, respectively. This film won a Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple for Pitt and Cruise, tied with Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone in The Specialist.
Almost a decade after this film, an adaptation for the third book in the series, The Queen of the Damned, was produced and distributed once again by Warner Bros. Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt did not reprise their roles as Lestat and Louis. Many characters and important plotlines were written out of the film, which actually combined elements of The Vampire Lestat with The Queen of the Damned. The film was negatively received by critics, and Rice dismissed it completely as she felt the filmmakers had "mutilated" her work. During pre-production, Rice had pleaded with the studio not to produce a film of the book just yet as she believed her readers wanted a film based on the second book in the series, The Vampire Lestat. Rice was refused the cooperation of the studio.
In February 2012, the fourth book in The Vampire Chronicles, The Tale of the Body Thief, entered a stage of development with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's film production company, Imagine Entertainment. It was reported that screenwriter Lee Patterson was going to pen the screenplay. However, Rice's son, Christopher, apparently had drafted a screenplay based on the novel that was met with praise from those involved in the developmental stage. Rice later confirmed that creative differences that were beyond those involved resulted in the dismissal of the project in April 2013.
In August 2014 Universal Pictures acquired the rights to the entire Vampire Chronicles. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci have been named as producers and the deal includes the aforementioned screenplay for The Tale of the Body Thief, written by Christopher.
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