We’re still over a month away from the 20th anniversary of Neil Jordan’s Interview with the Vampire, yet everything’s coming up bloodsucker. Years of griping about a certain sparkly vampire saga wasn’t enough to kill moviegoers’ bloodlust, as August brought news that Anne Rice’s popular series would be adapted for new adaptations of the pulp novels (adapted by her son, Christopher Rice), and this week brings the arrival of the new 20th anniversary Blu-ray of Jordan’s film.
The question, of course, is who will play Lestat. Rice thinks it should be Chris Hemsworth, while I’d fight to the death for Lee Pace to get the gig (his scene-stealing bits in the final Twilight film simply can’t be the only rakish Pace vampirism we see on-screen). But if Lestat’s cinematic legacy has taught us anything, it’s that Lestat thrives in the unexpected. In the early ’90s, Tom Cruise seemed like the worst possible choice for Lestat. Even author/screenwriter Rice railed against the casting, until the film premiered and she saw the actor’s performance. Cruise was downright perfect in the role, and Rice ended up retracting her earlier complaints.
Rather than casting with another unexpected male actor, what if Lestat was genderbent? It wouldn’t be the first time it’s been considered. On top of the fact that Lestat is a bit of an extension of Rice herself, she actually experimented with genderbending her characters. Before Jordan’s take, Hollywood was iffy with the themes present in the novel, so Anne turned Louis into a woman, modeled on famous trans people of the era. As she’d later tell Movieline, most of the character would stay the same, except the transgender twist would work with women’s rights in Louis’ era, where you could own and run a plantation only if you were a man. She envisioned Cher as Louis, while an editor wanted her to genderbend Lestat too and cast Anjelica Huston.
The precedent is there, both in Lestat’s history and Hollywood’s recent character genderbending, and this idea is bolstered by the sheer number of talented blonde actresses (and others who could be artificially colored) who could thrive in the role. Here are seven great options for a female Lestat, ones that hew closer to Rice’s original work (and move far away from the uber-aging of Jordan’s film, most egregiously with a 34-year-old Antonio Banderas playing a 17-year-old Armand).
Jennifer Lawrence is the popular choice for just about any and every role these days, but her age, charisma, action roles and dramatic talent make her the perfect choice for a female Lestat. As a woman who often gets cast to play characters older than herself, Lestat would be an opportunity for Lawrence to play her age while also making use of her particular mix of maturity and liveliness as Lestat is seen both as a new and aged vampire. Moreover, her star power is precisely what any and every production yearns for – the big name who will coax bodies into the cinema.
Sony Pictures Classics
Pulpy macabre storylines fit nicely into Mia Wasikowska’s wheelhouse. The actress is drawn to a mix of modern fare and period pieces that often relish in a darker, biting side of life. In fact, her work in 2013 brought two films very thematically in-line with Interview with the Vampire: Chan-wook Park’s gorgeously creepy thiller Stoker, and Jim Jarmusch’s own rock spin on vampires, Only Lovers Left Alive. The gig would allow her to continue with preferred themes while giving her the opportunity to mature a bit on-screen and not play the impetuous child.
Saoirse Ronan has already played a vampire, and for Neil Jordan, no less. Unfortunately, Byzantium didn’t exactly bring about the same resonance as Rice’s vampiric tale. Nevertheless, Ronan’s cinematic interests fall right in line with the tale of The Brat Prince. She’s been devilishly selfish, otherworldly, quirky, and played a deadly young assassin twice, and this would allow Ronan to play her age like Wasikowska, whilst moving beyond more juvenile narratives.
Evan Rachel Wood
Interview with the Vampire would fit into the strong darkness seen in many of Evan Rachel Wood’s best roles, but of course, the best example of her appropriateness is her time as the 500-year-old vampire Sophie-Anne in True Blood. Her vampire was old and cold, with a vein of bratty childishness in the very area Lestat travels to and finds Louis. She’s creepy and she has fun, which is precisely what Lestat needs.
Carey Mulligan’s work isn’t exactly the trajectory one would think of for a vampire movie, other than the fact that many have been period films. However, she’s already proved her ability to sing in 2011’s Shame, and is the type of skilled dramatic actress who can pull a Cruise and surprise the masses with something utterly atypical. It’s about time she got the opportunity to do so, while digging into something a little more mythical. It would be a risk, but one that could pay off in unexpected ways.
Dakota Fanning has acted in many films that thematically link to Lestat’s world, from a vampire (who sadly got to do little more than scowl in The Twilight Saga), to a real, headlining rocker in The Runaways, in a time not too long before Lestat formed his own band. The audacity of Cherie Currie holds a certain kinship to Lestat’s rock hero, and it would also give Fanning a chance to act in a world that’s presently eluded her – a fun, yet dark pulp fantasy that goes beyond a wildly maligned YA narrative.
If the film wanted to get truly adventurous, Rooney Mara is the way to go. The diminutive actress impressed many when she transformed into the badass Lisbeth Salander for David Fincher’s take on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. As Lestat, a human who becomes a vampire and suffers extreme highs and lows, she could further stretch her abilities to morph into character while giving a darker spin on the antihero.
Related Topics: vampires