”They might as well have cast Cher,” said one Anne Rice fan upon learning that Tom Cruise would play the vampire Lestat in the movie version of the gothic best-seller. Funny thing is, Cher was once up for the role. In fact, at one time or another, more than half a dozen Hollywood hotshots could have been Lestat. Among them:
Seventeen years ago Rice wrote her melancholy vampire tale with the actor, now 49, in mind. But she told EW in February, ”He might be too old now.”
Paramount bought the rights to the novel in 1976, and one year later offered the project to Travolta — who had just done Saturday Night Fever, making him one of Hollywood’s hottest male stars. But for some reason the movie never came to life. Rice has said that ”Travolta never really wanted to do it.”
After Travolta, Gere is the other late-’70s star most associated with the project, but his early-’80s career dive nixed his chances of getting Vampire a green light.
Mentioned in conjunction with director Adrian Lyne as a possible Lestat during Julia Phillips’ affiliation with Vampire, but Phillips parted company with Geffen — and Mel moved on to high-concept fare like Lethal Weapon.
After Geffen took control of the project in the mid-’80s, he toyed with retooling the role for his friend Cher — but she was a big fan of Rice’s work and put a stop to it.
On the basis of his song ”Moon Over Bourbon Street” (an homage to Rice), the brooding British rocker was considered for the role of Lestat in a proposed Broadway musical based on the novel.
Talked about as the possible replacement for Day-Lewis until just a few weeks ago, Irons — who played Claus Von Bulow like a bloodsucker in Reversal of Fortune —didn’t stand a chance once Cruise threw his hat into the ring. — Additional reporting by Pat H. Broeske and Casey Davidson