Fans of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and Prince Lestat de Lioncourt were thrilled when the author announced on Facebook Saturday that the television rights were back in her hands, and that she and her son Christopher Rice would be developing a pilot script for an open-ended series. “A television series of the highest quality is now my dream for Lestat, Louis, Armand, Marius and the entire tribe,” Rice wrote.
We just had to know more, so Rice hopped on the phone with EW to answer a few of our burning questions — like who she thinks could play the stunning vampire Louis, and who she’s dying to cast as Marius.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The news of a potential Vampire Chronicles TV series has been going crazy on the internet since you announced it!
ANNE RICE:I’m kind of amazed. I think we got something like 2,800,000 hits on the post, which surprises me. It’s still going. People are still logging on and sharing and commenting. It’s absolutely great to know people are that interested, and to have this kind of support.
It’s funny that the excitement can still surprise you after all these years.
It’s not just that, I mean, I’m very warmed by their enthusiasm, always, but I didn’t expect the blogs to pick it up, and I’m thrilled that they did, and thrilled that we’ve gotten such a wonderful response from the Hollywood community. It’s reassuring that we have a lot of interest, and [my son] Christopher and I are so eager to get to work on this, to get a pilot script written.
Have you started writing?
We’re in the planning stage right now. Emails are flying back and forth with all our different ideas about how we want to do it. Nothing is firm yet, except that we do want to start with the second book in the series, The Vampire Lestat. We want to start with him and his birth as a vampire, and go on from there. And at this point, tentatively, I see two seasons, maybe, to do the entire book.
But you’d want it to run for more seasons than that.
Oh yeah, we want to do an open-ended series that can just take it all the way. And you know, there are something like 14 books now, and ideally, we would love to bring [the series] up to the present time, to Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis or whatever book is next after that.
Why is TV the right medium for this?
TV is in a golden age right now. What’s being done in television is some of the greatest film art we’ve ever seen. Look what Game of Thrones has achieved. Look at Neil Jordan’s The Borgias. Look at The Crown on Netflix. I mean, the production values and the acting right now is just absolutely top quality in TV. And there’s much more room, I think, for innovation, originality, surprises, experimentation. It’s wide open right now. It couldn’t be a better time for any novelist to be adapting a book.
I really just don’t know enough about movies to talk about it with any depth. I’m not really a moviegoer anymore.
No, not really. I don’t go out to the multiplex much to see movies, but I do live and breathe TV. And I’ve had two pilots in the past that were done. The series weren’t picked up, but it was very exciting to me that we got that far with those ideas. And also Feast of All Saints, one of my books, was done into a series by Showtime. It was a number of years back, and it was before the huge jump in production values that we see today. But still, it was very faithful to the book, and I was very happy with it.
Is that your vision for this series, too, that it would stick pretty closely to the text?
Yes, I want to do it faithfully. That’s what the readers tell me they want. I want to take that approach all the way, and if I make innovations and changes, which inevitably I will, I want them to be completely in tune with the vision and the ambience of the Vampire Chronicles. I want to give them the situations they expect to see, and the characters that they expect to see. Again, I think TV is the ideal place for that.
Would you be involved in casting decisions?
We hope to be involved at every stage! I want to launch this in a way that my son Christopher is the executive producer at the helm of it and I’m sort of assisting him. He’s got the youth and the stamina and the vigor to actually take the leading role in this. At my age, I would rather assist him than be totally in charge, but yes, I think we would have a great deal to do with casting. We do not really want to let this out of our hands until we find the people that are most sympathetic to our vision for it.
In your ideal world, would you rather have it be something like Netflix, where a whole season is available at once?
I would love that. I think that is one of the greatest innovations we’ve seen in the last few years: The idea of putting out an entire season at once. Most of us were already marathoning everything, so to have it up front is incredible.
What would an actor need to have to play Lestat, in your eyes? You initially weren’t happy with Tom Cruise’s casting in Interview with the Vampire, but then he proved himself.
Tom Cruise did a wonderful job, yes. He helped make that character Lestat a household name and an international hero. With casting, first of all, I think with this character it’s very important that the actor look like the character. Because this character’s looks are so much a part of who he is: He’s six feet tall, he has blonde hair and blue eyes, and he’s known for those particular traits. So it would be very nice to have an actor that truly does fit that profile. And after that, I think it’s a matter of a character with a wild sense of humor, maybe an impish quality to him, and then athletic grace and strength.
Is there anyone you have in mind, or would you prefer an unknown?
This is an age in which fantasy film and fantasy TV have done so well, that there are all kinds of actors — in Australia, in England, and in America, and coming from other countries as well — that can play these kinds of characters, and can do period very, very effectively. And they can do the kind of diction that you need when you’re dealing with 18th century characters. I don’t think there will be any trouble finding an actor, at this point. Maybe it will be an unknown, maybe it will be somebody that’s already working and I just haven’t seen him yet. I honestly don’t know. Again, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.
What you said about the diction is really interesting.
You have to have someone who can pull off playing an immortal. If he’s supposed to be 200 years old or 1,000 years old, there has to be a subtle authenticity to that idea.
What would your Louis need to have?
Beauty. Great beauty. It’s Louis’ beauty that attracted Lestat to him, and I would hope it would be a beautiful actor like Matt Bomer. Somebody with that incredible beauty. Brad Pitt did a beautiful job in the original film, and he set the bar very high when it comes to physical beauty.
Would you want any of the actors from Interview with the Vampire to make cameos?
I don’t know! If they were interested, that would be a fun idea. But I have no idea if they would care or want to be involved in anything like that.
Is there anything else you wanted to say about the series?
Well there’s one other thing I might throw out there: I would absolutely love it if Matthew MacFadyen, the British actor, ever wanted to be part of this and wanted to play Marius. Marius is one of the pillars of the Chronicles — 2,000 years old — and I am an absolute, stoned fan of Matthew MacFadyen in Ripper Street and every other show that he’s ever done. Talk about quality TV — Ripper Street is just outstanding.
Hopefully he’ll see this and give you a call!
Wouldn’t that be fun? I’d love it.