I remember going to see Interview with the Vampire twice in the theater in 1994. That was a big deal to a 15-year-old without a lot of money to spend, but there was something about it that compelled me to go back. The film was actually on my radar long before it hit the theaters. Back then there wasn’t a lot of gay content in mainstream movies, so when something even remotely homo-adjacent came out I was on it. I read an interview that Tom Cruise did with Vanity Fair where he talked about Interview being homoerotic. The reporter also referred to Cruise’s character, Lestat, as a “bisexual bitch god”. That sold me immediately. I went in for the gay parts, but actually ended up loving the movie as a whole. It was beautiful, gothic, and exciting. Plus, I was invested in the well-written characters. The other day, I watched the film for the first time in awhile and enjoyed it all over again. Unsurprisingly, this vampire story still holds up 25 years later.
Backing up for a minute, Interview is based on Anne Rice’s wildly popular novel of the same name that came out in 1976. I read it years later, after seeing the movie, and loved it too. In the book, Louis recounts his suspenseful story of living as a vampire for the last 200 years. Rice quickly sold the movie rights, but the property languished in development hell for years. At one point, John Travolta was set to play the part of the interviewer. That would have been a different take. With a different Scientologist. Finally, in the 90s, the movie was greenlit with Cruise attached to play Lestat. Rice wasn’t having it. She thought Mr. Top Gun was completely wrong for the part and told anyone that would listen. Before this, Cruise always played the hero and Lestat is way on the other side of the spectrum. He’s ferocious and manipulative. Hello, bitch god. Cruise dove head first into the role, though, with platinum blonde hair, a lithe body, grand mannerisms, and a haughty affected accent. He truly became Lestat and made you forget about his good guy movie star persona for a moment. After seeing a cut of the film, Rice ate her words and praised his performance. Sidenote, when Cruise made Collateral, a decade later, there was so much hype about him playing a villain for the first time. Um, not the first time, people. Then there’s Brad Pitt as Louis. He has famously spoken about how miserable he was while making the film, mainly because of the long months of shooting in the dark and the painful contacts he had to wear to get those vampire eyes. The misery shows in his performance. But that’s a good thing since Louis is the Debbie Downer of vampires. He literally whines through the entire movie about not wanting to kill people. The guilt eats him up. Dude, did you not know what keeps the undead…undead? Kirsten Dunst rounds out the cast as Claudia, the little girl turned vampire. She’s amazing as a precocious bloodsucker and earned a Golden Globe nomination for her work.
Going back to the gay content, there’s a good deal of it throughout the film. Some is overt while other moments are more subtextual. Lestat desperately wants Louis, but we never see them actually getting it on. The scene where he turns Louis, leaping on him and thoroughly sucking on his neck, is quite sensual though. Also, the two sort of become a couple after they turn and raise Claudia as their own. Like a gayer 1800s version of My Two Dads. Later in the movie, Louis and Armand (Antonio Banderas doing his best Dracula impersonation) have an almost kiss. They get so close. You just want them to go for it already, but this was 1994. The camp factor is pretty strong as well. Almost every line out of Lestat’s mouth is full of shade. One of my favorites is aimed at Louis, “You whining coward of a vampire who prowls the night killing rats and poodles!” Then there’s the coven of vampires in Paris that are pretending to be humans pretending to be vampires. Very Victor/Victoria. And, Claudia’s tirade when she discovers she’ll never be able to grow old or change her little girl appearance, screaming and feverishly cutting her hair, is standard diva behavior.
Interview ended up doing very well in ‘94. It was the number one film the weekend it opened and went on to make over $200 million at the box office. A sequel starring Cruise and Pitt, based on Rice’s The Vampire Lestat, was talked about but never happened. It would have interesting to see where the story went. But the memories of the original are more than enough to sustain me. Repeatedly.