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New ‘Interview with the Vampire’ takes a different twist in television form

New ‘Interview with the Vampire’ takes a different twist in television form

Just when you thought there couldn’t be another take on vampires, AMC has come up with “Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire,” a new look at the best-selling novel and Black lives in the 20th century.

Claudia, the child vampire, has been “aged up” for the series in order to become a part of the sultry action in Louisiana.

“When (Anne) did her adaptation for the movie, she sort of gave us a roadmap,” says creator/executive producer Rolin Jones. “She aged up Claudia to around 11. We thought there would be a third way to go about this and that is to lock Claudia in the chemistry of a 14-year-old.”

Bailey Bass, who plays Claudia in the new series, says there weren’t many pictures of Black children in the 1920s, so she had to imagine what the child vampire might be like. “She’s stuck right before puberty,” she explains. “She has all of those emotions for the rest of her life on top of dealing with the fact that she’s stuck in a 14-year-old body, even though she turns 20, 30, 40, 50.”

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Bass, who is also in the upcoming “Avatar” sequels, is 19. In the course of the series, she plays Claudia at different stages. Her coffin is pink with ruffles. “She doesn’t want to be this doll,” particularly when she’s ‘tween’ and ‘adult’ Claudia.” The environment, she says, “helped me embody Claudia every time I stepped into it.”

While Kirsten Dunst’s performance in the film version set a tone, it wasn’t something Bass remembered. “The movie came out before I was born,” she admits. “So when I auditioned, I watched it. I was grateful for Rolin’s writing because all of our characters have their own story within this much larger story. It really allowed us to do the research and expand on who they are in this world.”

Sam Reid, who plays the vampire Lestat (a role Tom Cruise played in the movie) liked what the film accomplished, “so I was very excited to be a part of reigniting it.”

When the vampire feature was released in 1994, Rice hadn’t finished writing the books, so actors “didn’t have a perspective of the entire work,” Reid says. “Now we do.”

Louis, played in the film by Brad Pitt, is now in the hands of Jacob Anderson. Like Bass, he’s approaching it from a different perspective.

“Louis was from a fairly well-to-do family and it’s part of Black history that doesn’t get represented much,” director Alan Taylor says.

“He’s somebody that, to some extent, feels cheated in this human existence,” Anderson says. “He can’t quite find his place and that sometimes manifests in rage.”

Like Jones, the actors say there’s room for a third interpretation of the novels – one that could be more sultry than the original.

Vampires, Taylor says, are elegant, beautiful and terrifying. “It’s that duality that’s eternally fascinating. You teach any human relationship and add time and it deepens the questions and the agonies and the absurdities that we explore about humanity. Vampires are fascinating because they let us talk about what challenges us as humans.”

“Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire” begins in October on AMC Networks.

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