Interview With The Vampire Turns 25 - The Hype, The Backlash, And How Brad Pitt Almost Quit - Independent.İe

Interview With The Vampire Turns 25 - The Hype, The Backlash

Interview with the Vampire turns 25 - the hype, the backlash, and how Brad Pitt almost quit -

Interview with the Vampire turns 25 - the hype, the backlash, and how Brad Pitt almost quit

16/11/2019 12:00:00

Interview with the Vampire turns 25 - the hype, the backlash , and how Brad Pitt almost quit

It was a dreary November in London and Brad Pitt was tired of hanging upside down. So he called his friend and, later, employer - studio mogul David Geffen. How much would it cost to st

Tom Cruise in Interview with a VampireFor Tom Cruise, things were looking up. The world's biggest movie star was delighted to discover that making Interview with the Vampire was considerably more straightforward than the hype that had preceded it. It is easily forgotten today just how much of a phenomenon the Rice novels were through the 1980s and '90s. She was a sort of sexually overheated JK Rowling, with Cruise's degenerate character of Lestat de Lioncourt fulfilling the Harry Potter role (Pitt's Louis de Pointe du Lac was more a Hermione and Ron Weasley rolled into one).

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There had been outrage when the all- American flyboy was unveiled in the Lestat role. Front and centre of the backlash was Rice herself. In the months before filming, she undertook a public campaign distancing herself from Cruise.Kirsten Dunst as Claudia in Interview With the Vampire

By the time Cruise and Pitt got to London, the former was simply glad to be working."When it first hit, it really hurt my feelings, to be candid about it," he told Esquire."Her [Rice's] venom hurt… You don't usually start a movie with someone not wanting you to do it. That's unusual."

In Rice's defence, Tom Cruise playing a decadent Eurotrash vampire was at the time generally received as one of the miscastings of the century. How wrong she and we all were. A quarter of a century on, Interview with the Vampire is an indisputable hoot.

Claudia from Interview With A Vampire (Kirsten Dunst).You truly would have to be as dead inside as Louis is to not enjoy a film that culminates with Cruise in a vampire wig ripping Christian Slater's throat out and driving into the night to the strains of Guns N' Roses covering 'Sympathy for the Devil'. It is one of the ultimate Cruise moments.

Rice was the first to recognise the error of her ways. The instant she clapped eyes on Cruise as Lestat, she saw the light. Later, she even took out ads in the Hollywood trade magazines acknowledging her error. But if she had taken the film incredibly personally, it was for understandable reasons. Rice had started the novel in 1973 from the bottom of an ocean of grief following the death of her five-year-old daughter from leukaemia.

Vampirism has long been served as metaphor for all sorts of forbidden passions. Rice amped the subtext all the way up. This carried through to the movie: there's a weird charge as Cruise, as Lestat, begins nibbling on Pitt's neck and offers to either end his suffering or sweep Louis away to life everlasting. He does so both tenderly and ravenously.

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Rice was, however, a canny business person as well as a heartbroken author. The novel was optioned before publication but languished for decades. Her suspicion was that the erotic tingle between Lestat and Louis was putting producers off. So she suggested gender-flipping either or both characters.

Brad Pitt followed up Interview with the Vampire with SevenCher and Anjelica Huston were her suggestions for the Louis part. But when Geffen asked her to write the screenplay, she instead settled on giving Louis a wife, to make clear his heterosexuality. In the end, Jordan rewrote Rice's rewrite, putting back in chunks of the book (and was miffed subsequently not to receive a screenwriting credit). He had restored, he said,"the little girl, and the blood, and the sex".

He wasn't the only one who seemed to understand, almost better than Rice, where the appeal of Interview with the Vampire lay. It was Cruise who understood that although Lestat was in many ways the villain of the piece - unlike the guilt-ridden Louis, he preys with impunity on humans - the character did not perceive his actions in those terms. Asked how it felt to play a bad guy for the first time, Cruise would shake his head. Lestat saw himself as the hero - saviour to Louis and protector of their 'daughter' Claudia. It's one of his smartest performances.

"I used the book as a reference for me," Cruise said."You have to read [it]... very carefully to find the clues to who Lestat is… his loneliness and his personal struggle. He recognises that Louis is a unique being. Lestat gives him the choice: that's something I felt very strongly about. He's really asking Louis, 'Do you still want to die?'"

Outside Rice's considerable fanbase, nobody quite knew what to make of Interview with the Vampire when it flapped its way to US cinemas on November 11, 1994. The era of the all-conquering franchises was still decades away. So the film was received as a curio, albeit a sumptuous one starring Hollywood's two biggest male leads.

It was a decent-sized hit, to boot. The film grossed $224m (€203m) globally on its $60m budget. Still, the lingering perception was that everyone involved was slumming it slightly. Pitt, as fast as his little A-lister legs would carry him, fled London to make Seven with David Fincher. Tom Cruise sought reinvention as an action hero in the original Mission: Impossible.

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By unspoken agreement, neither ever mentioned Interview with the Vampire again. And yet, a quarter of a century on, it glitters gaudily in both their CVs.The film is ridiculous but such a blast. It furthermore functions as ghostly foreshadowing of the superhero craze. Here are two of the great idols of the age giving themselves utterly, without irony, to a tale of caped weirdos defying the laws of the universe. They should be prouder of it and of the splash it created.


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