Interview With the Vampire Director Reflects on Casting Tom Cruise as Lestat

Neil Jordan says the Top Gun star had "a lot in common" with the beloved vampire.

Before AMC adapted Anne Rice's iconic novel into its hit television series, Interview With the Vampire was a movie. Opening in 1994, the film was a box office success but it wasn't without backlash from devoted fans of Rice's original novel specifically when it came to the film's casting. The Interview With the Vampire film notably featured two of the biggest stars in Hollywood at the time, Brad Pitt as Louis de Pointe du Lac and Tom Cruise as fan-favorite "Brat Prince" Lestat de Lioncourt. Now, 30 years later, director Neil Jordan is looking back at the decision to cast Cruse as the beloved vampire after Daniel Day-Lewis turned down the role.

"The problem was the casting of Lestat," Jordan explained in his new memoir (via Variety). "Brad Pitt had agreed to play Louis and somehow assumed Daniel Day-Lewis would be playing Lestat, an assumption shared by Anne. I offered it to Daniel, who read it, and, as I expected, didn't want to play the character. A few years before he had confined himself to a wheelchair to play Christy Brown in My Left Foot. He would have had to sleep in a coffin for the entirety of this production if he followed the same practice. So, we moved on."

Jordan went on to recall that after he met with Cruise twice, however, he realized that the actor had a lot in common with Lestat — something that ultimately sold him on the choice of the actor for the role.

"I finally got it. He had to live a life removed from the gaze of others," Jordan wrote. "He had made a contract with the hidden forces, whatever they turned out to be. He had to hide in the shadows, even in the Hollywood sunlight. He would be eternally young. He was a star. He could well be Lestat."

While Cruise's performance as Lestat has since gone on to be lauded by both critics and fans of the film alike, at the time there was a good bit of backlash from fans of the novel and from Rice herself who was vocal in her criticism of the casting. Rice even at one point when on to call the casting "so bizarre" and even suggest that Pitt and Cruise swap roles. However, when she saw the finished film, her opinion changed and she later declared that "Tom was Lestat for me".

"Half of America, it seemed, had read Anne Rice's books and wanted a say in the casting of Lestat," Jordan wrote. "Anne herself took to the airwaves, saying that it was as if I had cast Edward G. Robinson as Rhett Butler. But she was wrong and was later big enough to admit it."

Christian Slater Was Surprised Interview With the Vampire Didn't Get a Sequel

While Interview With the Vampire was a box office success, the film ultimately did not get a sequel despite Jordan developing an adaptation of the novel's sequel, The Vampire Lestat.  It's something that Christian Slater, who played Daniel Molloy in the film, previously told Comic Book surprised both him and Cruise at the time, especially given that the film deviated slightly from the novel with Cruise's Lestat biting Daniel at the end.

"Tom Cruise and I were both surprised that Interview With the Vampire didn't get a sequel," he said. "That would have been fun. I mean, he did bite me at the end of that thing."

A second film based on Rice's The Vampire Chronicles was eventually made, though it wasn't Jordan's film. Instead, in 2002, Queen of the Damned was released with that film not seeing any of the stars from the 1994 return. That film, which combined elements of The Vampire Lestat and the third book in Rice's series, The Queen of the Damned, was both a box office and critical failure.

As for the latest take on Interview With the Vampire, AMC's series debuted in 2023 and stars Sam Reid as Lestat, something he previously described to Comic Book as being "the most fun thing to do".

"It really is the most fun thing to do. I can't tell you," Reid said. "It's so much fun because he's so complicated a character. And it's like a gift, the dialogue that we get to say is extraordinary. And it is so gratifying playing this character and, in this world, saying direct Anne Rice lines. It's incredible, because when you read it, it's very different to how it sounds in your mouth, I mean how it sounds in your head when you have to put the words in your mouth and you actually go, 'Holy sh-t, these people speak like this.' Because there's a lot of exclamation points and there's a lot of love. There's a lot of very extreme emotions in the book that when you translate it, they remain extreme, but you also have to put them in a sense of reality as well, which is a bit of a minefield to navigate. So, it's really, really fun. And the fangs are fun, and the contact lenses are fun, and everything is great."

Anne Rice's Interview With the Vampire airs Sundays on AMC.