Mention, PM Press Blog

Interview with the Vampire’s Jacob Anderson and Rolin Jones Wanted to ‘Achieve Vampire Grace’ for Louis- inspiration includes Black Metal Rainbows

By Allison Picurro
TV Guide

Anderson and Jones discuss the cathartic, ‘elegant’ Season 2 finale

[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the Interview with the Vampire Season 2 finale, “And That’s the End of It. There’s Nothing Else.”]

In the first episode of Interview with the Vampire, Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) asked Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) the first of many questions: “Where’s your coffin?” Louis curtly replied, “You’re standing in it.” He was referring to the dour Dubai penthouse he lived in with Armand (Assad Zaman), a baroque straitjacket that became as much of a self-inflicted punishment as it did a protective casing that closed him off from the rest of the world, his history, his own self. In the Season 2 finale, Louis breaks free: The last time we see him, he’s back in Dubai, but he’s redecorated, introduced color into the formerly monochromatic space, and surrounded himself with reminders of Claudia (Delainey Hayles) and his brother, Paul (Steven G. Norfleet). Crucially, Armand is nowhere to be found. It’s not a complete erasure of all he’s been through, but it’s an acknowledgment of the past that leaves room for a more hopeful future. 

Directed by Levan Akin, the finale takes its title from a line spoken by Louis about halfway through the episode. He tells Daniel what he initially believes to be the conclusion of his story: how Armand released him from the coffin in which the coven had buried him alive post-trial, how he got revenge on them for murdering Claudia. How he reunited — briefly, bitterly — with Lestat (Sam Reid) one last time in Paris before settling fully into his relationship with Armand. “And that’s the end of it,” Louis says. “There’s nothing else.” Daniel nods, turning off the recording. “End of session,” he agrees. Except for the fact that there are still about 20 minutes left of the episode, and Daniel has some follow-up questions: Can Louis explain a discrepancy dating back to New Orleans, about Lestat communicating with him telepathically post-transformation in that bar? How about the issue with the vampire Sam, whom Louis put in two places at once in his recounting of the trial? Or, wait, to quickly return back to New Orleans: How many soldiers did Lestat banish from the townhouse, exactly?

“You’re kind of repeating a beat of Season 1, right?” said series creator Rolin Jones. “Just another bit of great journalism gusto breaking through.” Jones told TV Guide that he and the writers had purposely planted inconsistencies in Season 1, which forced them to “sit there looking like sh–ty writers for a year and a half.” He promised the show’s creative team and the network that it would all pay off in the second half. “The amount of detail I had to tell everybody when we were first doing Episode 3,” he remembered. “‘This soldier thing is really, really important to Season 2. You don’t know. We’ve got to shoot it this way.’ I think that was one of those budget moments. ‘Why are we spending so much time?’ I was like, ‘You have to spend time on this!'”

Interview with the Vampire has never made a secret of the fact that Louis’ version of events might not always be accurate; Daniel has poked holes in his story before, using that same “great journalism gusto.” But the Season 2 finale cracks something open, pulling back another layer of Louis’ willful ignorance to Armand’s treachery: “He didn’t witness the play,” Daniel says of Armand. “He directed the play.” The script for the coven’s theatrical trial in the previous episode had Louis’ death written alongside Claudia and Madeleine’s (Roxane Duran); his life was spared by a last-minute act of mass mind control from Lestat — not Armand, as he’s spent 77 years claiming. 

With that revelation, the painstakingly maintained palace begins to crumble around Armand, the sword of Damocles falling: Louis knows the truth, and he’s mad as hell. Issuing one last warning to Armand to not touch Daniel, he rises from his coffin for the first time in decades. And on Interview with the Vampire, all roads lead back to New Orleans.

“You’ve never seen him in the present so Nola,” Anderson said of the immediate shift in Louis’ demeanor as he sits in the back of a cab, headed home despite the incoming hurricane the chatty driver warns him about. “I think he hits New Orleans and he’s grounded,” he added. “When he’s in that car, and he smells the New Orleans earth, I think that he is himself in a completely new way.” Anderson could relate: “I’m not from New Orleans, but the minute that I hit the tarmac, I felt a sense of being home.” He thought extensively about what kind of effect the change in location would have on Louis, comparing it to being “snapped out of hypnotism.” He focused primarily on Louis’ voice, which noticeably shed all traces of its Dubai austerity and returned to his younger self’s Creole accent. What could a present-day Louis, unchained from what Anderson called a “prison of his own making,” look like?  “It’s not all brainwashing and Armand f—ing around in his head,” he said. “He also has created this prison to contain himself as well.”

As the storm brews threateningly, Louis is there on a mission to track down Lestat. (That, Anderson said, was also part of the decision to ditch Louis’ Dubai lilt: “Lestat doesn’t know him to have that voice.”) He follows a trail of dead rats all the way to a dimly lit shack, finding a destitute Lestat hunched over a slab of wood with piano keys carved into it, “rehearsing” by the glow of an iPad, which Anderson acknowledged as the first appearance of the real Lestat in two seasons. There are no pretenses, no words in Lestat’s mouth put there by Louis or Armand — just a pair of grieving ex-lovers being the most honest with each other they’ve ever been.

The idea to set their reunion — this, after all, is the first time they’ve seen each other since Louis made it clear he was choosing Armand after Claudia’s death — against a hurricane came to Jones out of a desire to shift the tone of Louis and Lestat’s reconciliation in Rice’s novel, which he saw as “nihilistic and as dark as it can possibly be.” He referenced King Lear as the precedent for such a narratively significant weather event, but also saw it as a metaphor for the storm of Louis and Lestat’s romance. “This is what their love was,” said Jones. “And here, in this moment of forgiveness and contrition, that they are at a calm, still, in the midst of all that, seemed just elegant and the way to be.”

The scene that follows, as the pair finally talk about Lestat saving Louis’ life at the trial and their shared anguish over Claudia, is almost unspeakably heavy. “It’s just this really vulnerable, honest thing between them,” Anderson said. “They just are like, ‘We are plagued with grief, and have been. We really tried to build this beautiful thing together, and we’ve destroyed it. We’re gonna have to live with that forever. But that grief is something that we share, and because we share it we’ll be bonded forever, on top of all of the other reasons that we’re bonded.'” That moment, Anderson said, was essential in making Louis’ sense of calm at the end of the episode feel earned. “I really liked the idea of Louis being like, ‘I never saw this as a gift because I didn’t understand it,'” he said. “He didn’t understand it until this moment, and how much of his life has — not been wasted, I guess, but gone past him. And now he sort of understands what he is. And he wouldn’t feel right in himself, he couldn’t be as whole and as peaceful as he is at the very end, if he didn’t find some kind of reconciliation with Lestat.”

On the night of the shoot, Jones said that the actors only had a couple of takes to get it perfect. “They arguably did not get enough takes to do that scene,” he said, owing to the typical time constraints while shooting. But Anderson and Reid made magic happen despite it all. “It’s just one of those things that when we turned on the camera, you could feel three years of their friendship,” Jones said. “I knew on this side of the camera I needed two takes. I was like, ‘Jesus, what just happened?’ But they wanted to stay there forever.” The scene concludes with the camera pulling back and the audio cutting out as the storm blows the windows in. We see Louis and Lestat speaking to each other, but we can’t hear the words. Jones shared that he still has no idea what Anderson and Reid said to each other. “I don’t know, to this day, I don’t know, nobody knows, except those two, what they said,” Jones said. “We wrote it in. That was the gift, to say, ‘You guys, not only your friendship, but where you’ve taken the characters, you should have something private for the rest of your lives. And go ahead, have it.'”

Sam Reid and Jacob Anderson, Interview with the Vampire
Sam Reid and Jacob Anderson, Interview with the Vampire Larry Horricks/AMC

Anderson demurred when asked for specifics, though he acknowledged it as one of a few Season 2 sequences that he and Reid found too big to talk about afterward, also noting that they didn’t discuss it much before shooting. “We only really talked about that specific moment kind of anecdotally,” he said. “The way we spoke about it was more about like, what should it mean? What should it mean between them? What would Louis really want to say if he was never going to see Lestat again? What does Lestat need to hear?” Lestat, Anderson pointed out, doesn’t say much. “I had to think about what Louis might want to say to Lestat,” he said. “I wanted Louis to surprise Lestat rather than Jacob surprise Sam.”

Some indeterminate amount of time in the future, Louis returns to Dubai. Jones and Anderson were both mindful of not completely sweeping away Armand’s influence on his life. After so much acceptance, more denial would have been false. Once again, Anderson said, it came back to Louis’ manner of speaking, as literal a manifestation of independence as anything. “He’s gone home, he’s found his voice again, or it’s just found him,” he said. “But he’s not gonna erase the last 70 years. He just finds something that feels comfortable in between, I think. But I didn’t want to go back to that interview voice. It didn’t feel right. It felt really odd to speak in that voice again.” The beauty of Louis’ evolution, as is typically the case on this show, also lives in the thoughtful attention to detail, from the integration of the color yellow into his wardrobe and decor — Claudia’s color — to the overhaul of his meditation room, previously a site of so much pain.

Jones called out the work of production designer Mara LePere-Schloop, saying that he and the writers built off the ideas she came in with. “This should be a room that doesn’t feel like this claustrophobic interview,” he remembered of the initial conversations. “[It should be] some place of release.” Claudia’s dress now hangs on the wall, as does a portrait of Paul, two items that were so important to Anderson in those final moments that he brought them up to the writers when he spoke with them between seasons. “I think that Louis would have never found peace if he wasn’t able to look at Claudia and Paul again,” he said. “He has to be with his brother again, and for it to not be a source of pain. And the same with the dress, these are images that have haunted him all this time, and I think for him to put it in his place of meditation — that room has taken a new significance.” If the penthouse itself was a coffin, Anderson saw that room in particular as a cage. “I feel like I’ve never really talked to anybody about the books, but that was always something that really disturbed me,” he said, referring to the floating bookshelves, which sat just out of Louis’ reach. “Louis, as somebody who loves reading and loves stories, symbolically, that shelf being up there is such an act of cruelty on Armand’s part.”

Notably, Anderson called out, the magnolia tree is gone, too. “Because the tree was Armand,” he said. Jones elaborated: “Very, very deep into Episode 4 — we kind of hint it again in Episode 6, but Episode 4, that magnolia tree is sitting there deep in the background while they’re on the bench,” he said. “And Armand, who I think put that tree there, that was the moment, the ‘Maitre,’ that’s the moment for him, and he built a tree, put that in this place that he’s tried to build on top of his, maybe, two cosmic lies.”

Still, freedom comes with a price. Daniel, whom Armand turned into a vampire off screen (“There’s clearly going to be seeds between Armand and Daniel going forward,” Jones promised), has published his book, the self-referentially titled Interview with the Vampire, which enrages the rest of his fellow vampires, who are hissing away on the vampiric network about Louis’ transgressions. “We worked really hard to try to see, can we achieve vampire grace for him?” Jones said. “Even if it’s through this guise of, the whole world wants to f—ing kill him. He’s still like, ‘Oh no, no, I am more in the now than I have ever been on this show.'” Louis issues a warning to them, inviting them to come find him in Dubai if they choose. For his part, Anderson didn’t want it to come across as a “f— around and find out” moment. He didn’t see Louis’ reconciliation with Lestat as an attempt to resurrect their relationship, nor did he view Louis’ final words as a violent threat to his fellow vampires. From Anderson’s view, that message is as much an invitation to “come and get me” as it is caution to “leave me alone.” Finally, Louis has reached such a place of contentment that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of him.

As for what this sets up for the recently renewed Interview with the Vampire? Jones said he’s most looking forward to the “dangerous and wild” shift the series will take on when Lestat — whose rockstar arc from The Vampire Lestat, the second novel in Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series, will be chronicled in the third season — shifts into the spotlight. He mentioned composer Daniel Hart‘s excitement around developing Lestat’s oeuvre and showed off his own collection of music books that he’s already using as inspiration for Lestat’s stage persona, which includes The First 21: How I Became Nikki Sixx, Black Metal Rainbows, The Art of Darkness: The History of Goth, and Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties. (He didn’t have his copy of Mötley Crüe’s The Dirt on hand, though he was quick to call it out as well.) Lestat did tell Louis he was going on tour, after all — a step up from the single performance he gives in the book. “It’s not particularly satisfying, is it? For one concert? For just there to be one concert between two books?” Jones mused.

For now, though, Anderson is as content to sit with Louis’ Season 2 ending as Louis seems to be. “It’s the one thing that I wanted for Louis by the end,” he said. “I wanted him to be able to be with himself, because he’s never really had that. And he’s not this mercurial mess at the end. I think he’s just found something that he can be and settle in.” In other words, a Louis de Pointe du Lac who can be alone with himself. “Yeah,” Anderson agreed. “And he wants to be.”

Season 2 of Interview with the Vampire is now streaming on AMC+.