Director Neil Jordan explains Interview With The Vampire’s controversial Tom Cruise casting as Lestat and the actor’s parallels to the character.
Neil Jordan, director of 1994’s Interview With The Vampire adaptation, has explained his controversial decision to cast Tom Cruise as the vampire Lestat. Based on the bestselling 1976 novel by Anne Rice, Interview With The Vampire follows the story of Brad Pitt’s 200-year-old Louis de Pointe du Lac as he recounts his life as a vampire to a modern day reporter (played by Christian Slater). When Cruise was first cast opposite Pitt as his vampiric sire and immortal companion, Rice famously argued against the decision and recommended several other options to producers, including British actor Julian Sands.
Most recently Jordan spoke with /Film off the back of his latest release, the Liam Neeson-led crime thriller Marlowe. During the conversation, the topic turned to his 1994 vampire film, and his decision to put Cruise in the role of Lestat de Lioncourt. Suggesting that the star’s enormous fame could help inform his portrayal of the character, the director highlighted the parallels between being celebrity and an immortal blood sucker. Check out his comments below:
I also saw, I suppose, that Tom’s life — because he was the biggest star in the world at the time — he has to retreat to the shadows because he can’t expose himself too much. […] I saw kind of a parallel between the life of a vampire and the life of a very, very big star, let’s put it that way.
Why Cruise’s Casting Was Controversial (& How He Proved Everyone Wrong)
Since Cruise first brought Lestat to the screen, his character has gone on to be played by both Stuart Townsend in 2002’s Queen of the Damned and Sam Reid in the most recent AMC television series. There was a time, however, when followers of Rice’s original works took a great deal of interest in who would ultimately be the first actor to land the role of her famous Brat Prince. With plans for a film adaptation of Interview With The Vampire stretching back to even before the first book was officially published, speculation was rampant among Rice’s readership by the time Jordan took over the reins in the early ‘90s.
When Cruise was first announced to be tackling the role, many suggested he was grossly miscast, even the original author herself. Suggesting that Cruise’s casting was “so bizarre; it’s almost impossible to imagine how it’s going to work”, Rice even once suggested that Jordan swap the roles and have Pitt tackle the role of Lestat instead. Jordan, however, was confident in his decision and forged ahead regardless, and Cruise would eventually go on to prove his doubters wrong.
Imbuing Lestat with an effortless sense of charm and self-assured arrogance, the Mission: Impossible actor would even convince Rice that he was the right man for the job despite her very public and vocal misgivings. When Rice finally saw the finished film, the author and many of her readers quickly retracted their earlier statements, with Rice even calling the star to apologize and admit that she was wrong. Now, years later, Cruise’s performance in Interview With The Vampire still remains one of his most memorable outings in an extraordinary career spanning four decades.