Minnie Driver Talks Playing a Formidable Vampire Leader in The Lesser Dead (Exclusive)

Echoverse's first scripted podcast series, The Lesser Dead, debuts on Monday, March 27th exclusively on Wondery+ with the adaptation of Christopher Buehlman's darkly comedic novel of the same name bringing to listeners the "wild-and-wooly" world of 1978 New York City, embedding listeners in a colony of vampires lead by the formidable Margaret McMannis. Narrated by one of her clan members, the eternally young 19-year-old Joey Peacock (Jack Kilmer), the clan finds themselves facing a dangerous new adversary that forces the unconventional family to come together before it's too late.

In The Lesser Dead, Academy Award nominee Minnie Driver plays Margaret McMannis and ComicBook.com recently sat down with Driver to talk about The Lesser Dead, her character, and playing the formidable female leader of a vampire colony in a genre where the vampire leaders are so often men. 

Nicole Drum, ComicBook.com: What was it about The Lesser Dead that drew you to the project? 

Minnie Driver: It's just such a great story. I mean, it really is. It's the same way that I would look at a piece of television or a movie that I'd want to be involved with. It's just such a good story. I love the idea of there being a narrative and a narrator that you follow. And I love the idea in a dramatic podcast that you are kind of generating the images in your own head whilst listening to these actors spin a story. I mean, it was great. It's a good yarn. That's why I did it.

You mention that you kind of have to imagine the story. I know that anytime I listen to a scripted podcast it reminds me of the old radio serials my grandparents would talk about where the audience really does have to participate in that we're making the movie in our heads as the actors use their voices. What kind of challenge does that format present for you ask actor?

I mean, it's not challenging. It's not challenging because you don't have to worry about, I can't stress enough how being in hair and makeup and having to look a certain way on film and television is a giant pain in the ass. And you are constantly maintaining that through the day. And when you're working maybe a 16-hour day, the expectation that you look really beautiful by 8:00 PM when you've been up since 4:30, 5:00 is absurd. So, the pressure is really off.

Being able to just focus on the text and the creation of this character without worrying about how you look was so... It was so wonderful. And coming from the UK where we really have this very long-standing tradition of radio plays, there's a show called The Arches, which I think is the longest running show of any kind in the UK. It's been on since before I was born. So, I am... It's very familiar. It's very familiar territory.

And I think now we're living in this world where people are listening to audiobooks. People are listening to things. They're using podcasts of, they have this huge media exchange now. And I think people are getting more and more used to these stories existing in their head and then them generating the stories, the images. So, it's very cool to be part of that. And I know people are really going to enjoy this just because it's a cracking story.

One of the things that I thought was really interesting about The Lesser Dead is that a lot of vampire stories, we get male vampires in charge. But your character, Margaret, is the leader of her own colony. This is a woman in charge as a vampire. Tell me a little bit about Margaret.

It's so funny to me that you just said that. Yeah. It's always dudes who are in charge. When, you know what... I don't understand what anybody thinks that how they would be in existence without a matriarchy, like without a mother. Like that is, it's not the, you know, even in the chicken or the egg scenario, it's still a female who is laying that egg.

So, the genesis of like the ancient mother, the ancient vampire female is so, it's so brilliant. And so, it's so cool because there is this like ancient quality. The ancient protector of, and the mother, she's the mother of this whole flock, but she's not a mother. She's just utterly terrifying. But she is the protector of these vampires and keeping them safe has that element of maternal nurse to it.

It's really interesting and really cool. And like, I'm happy to be, I mean, I can't say because the horror and vampires, it's not a genre that I'm really familiar with. But you're right. I can't remember in a movie a super matriarchal female vampire at all. So, it's pretty cool to be potentially at least one of the very few in existence.

And she's a great character, Margaret. You know, I loved her. I loved that character. It's deep and weird, and not just terrifying. That there is something quite sort of schlubby and sort of house wifey about her, like with her flip-flops. But it's like you cross her, she'll eviscerate you like literally and figuratively.

It's also interesting that you've done such a wide range of things your career and I know recently you've done a lot of adaptations. I'm thinking like Cinderella, Rosaline, and now we've got The Lesser Dead which is itself an adaptation and also kind of a period piece. Are there any specific adaptations or stories that you would like to take on next?

Oh gosh, that's an interesting question. I mean, but there are so many. I would love to be part of a properly reimagined Shakespeare. I would love to be in, I mean any number of Shakespearean movies. I know they're difficult and they don't always work, but when they do, they're amazing. I think they're the best stories.


He had it figured out. He just knew he had to be entertaining because that was all they were doing. That wasn't anything else for people to be entertained by at The Globe. That was just, you better have a cracking good story or people are going to start hurling, you know, rotten fruit and feces at you. So, make it good.

The Lesser Dead premieres Monday, March 27th on Wondery+ for subscribers. Sixty days after its premiere, the series will be available on all podcasting platforms.

Will you be tuning into The Lesser Dead? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.