Interview With the Vampire: Rae Dawn Chong on Florence's Complicated Relationship With Louis (Exclusive)

On AMC's Interview With the Vampire, Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) is in many ways a man caught between different worlds. Not only are there the issues of race and status in the series' turn of the 20th century New Orleans setting, but he also has the challenge of being pulled between his new life as a vampire and his still-living human family. As is the case with many families, the Pointe du Lac's have their own complicated relationships — particularly between Louis and his mother, Florence. Played by Rae Dawn Chong, Florence de Pointe du Lac has something of a difficult relationship with her son from the moment we meet the family in the series premiere and it's a relationship that only continues to become more difficult as Louis falls in with Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) and the tragic death of her son, Paul. Speaking with about this week's episode, "The Ruthless Pursuit of Blood With All a Child's Demanding", Chong talks about Florence's relationship with her son and how this week's episode changes everything for Louis.

Warning: spoilers for "The Ruthless Pursuit of Blood With All a Child's Demanding" beyond this point.

Last week's episode saw Louis and Florence have what might be the most tense — and in some ways most honest — confrontation to date when Louis arrived at the Pointe du Lac home in the evening to drop off gifts for his nieces. Florence confronted her son and essentially called him the devil while it became clear that not only has he become completely estranged from his human family, but they fear him as well. This week, Louis gets word that Florence has died, prompting him to make another visit to the family home for her wake, a visit that is another tense and painful experience for both Louis and his sister, Grace.

We asked Chong about how she approached playing Florence and her complex relationship with Louis and she explained that for her, she had to realize that Florence does have her particular sense of favoritism towards her children and how that influenced the matriarch's relationships.

"I think my approach was to be as present as I could, and also, I realized I do have favoritisms. I do favor Paul for one reason because I think he's fragile, but I think he's also psychic and very religious. You know, when you have that child that's special, so I think she favors him. He's not as strong as Louis or my daughter," Chong said. "But then I admire Louis because he does a good job of making sure we're under a roof and we have our needs met. So, like all matriarchs, I'm present, grand in my scope of love, and also from the era and the time I came, probably all my relations except the European ones would be from slaves. So, we're strong stock, we survived that horror, and now we're Creole and all that adds to this layer of what I call resilience. The more you're terrorized, if you're lucky, you use it to your benefit and that gives you tenacity and perseverance and you get a soul muscle that we all need just for the human condition."

Chong also explained that with Florence's death, she thinks that his eternal life is going to lead him to a different perspective — and it's the idea that while he may have "everything" with the freedom of eternal life, he's going to ultimately end up learning about loneliness and all he's lost.

"I think with Louis, now that he's eternal, I think all the things when you have that much free time, you will go back and miss that texture, and that he always had me. No matter what was going down, I could hear him, and that is something we miss," Chong said. "And I think Rolin [Jones, series showrunner] will be able to show that, and I may come back in flashback because of that, just to give us a break from the drone of what they're always up to. You can only kill and bite and f-ck so much before you need to have a sense of from whence we've come. I know that whenever someone passes away, I don't necessarily get sad about the fact that they've croaked. I get sad about the fact that I don't get to have them as a reference and an anchor. There are many people who have passed on in my life that I miss, not so much because I wanted them to live forever, although I did, but because I no longer can use them to reflect back and ask them questions about life. So, I think Louis is going to have those moments and I think that who he is because of his family, and I think that's the paradox of the vampire. You learn about loneliness."

Interview With the Vampire airs Sundays at 10/9c on AMC.