Robert Downey Jr. Talks to Universal About Biting Into Lestat

By  · Published on August 18th, 2009

Bloody Disgusting is reporting today that Mssr. Robert Downey, Jr. is chatting up the idea of playing the vampire LeStat in Universal’s reVAMP of The Vampire Chronicles by Ann Rice. Apparently audiences have gone vamp-crazy over the last couple years. Drac-tastic media is beginning to saturate our senses in an abundance unseen since Christopher Lee made about a dozen films a year for Hammer back in the 70’s. I heard this deal hinges on how glittery they will require Downey to be on screen.

What does this mean for movie geeks? You know, those of us who don’t consider Twilight to be the ultimate in vampire fiction (i.e. those of us with fucking brains)? This is a great piece of news. I am very much looking forward to the amount of range and depth Downey can bring to the role. Lestat is not a namby emo vampire whose whole existence is designed to provide masturbatory fodder for tweens. No, Lestat is a real vampire; introspective, deadly, and brandishing a charm that makes him irresistible despite the decade in which he wakes. Depending on the framework of the new Chronicles, this film could be brooding and existential or unhinged and retrospective….or both!

The Vampire Chronicles is actually a series of books that includes Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, Queen of the Damned, and The Tale of the Bloody Thief. We’ve already had incarnations of the first and the penultimate entries so it is unlikely too much screentime will be given to them. But the entirety of the Vampire Chronicles is just as much about the historic context of vampirism as it is about the vampire characters themselves. If we begin with The Vampire Lestat, we’ll be treated to the story of that iconic vampire awaking in the 1980’s to become a rockstar! Damn, if only we could find an actor who understands the complexities and pitfalls of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll! What will be most interesting about this will be seeing a modern, retrospective look at the 80’s in a vampire film. Imagine black, Gothic costumes and sets in a decade defined by pastels and neon! I am also hoping for an investigation of vampire history that will be entertaining enough to get Twilight fans in the seats and emotionally/philosophically challenging enough to make them question Edwards undead credentials.

Robert Downey, Jr. is one of the greatest actors of our time. Fuck yeah I said it! The man can play anything from a high school bully to Charlie Chaplin; a coke addict to Iron Man! He brings a measure of empathy to every part and his charm and wit seem inborn. I have seen him pull off menace and I have seen him exude sorrow. I know he has all the acting chops required to bring us a fantastic portrayal of one of the greatest vampires ever written. The plus? We won’t get a giggly, effeminate Lestat who has to stand on platforms to be as tall as the other actors (not pointing any fingers Tom). The one conceivable drawback? I don’t know, do you not like snarky vampires?

As always, we’ll keep an eye on this story as it develops. What do you think of Downey Jr. as Lestat?

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Longtime FSR columnist, current host of FSR’s Junkfood Cinema podcast. President of the Austin Film Critics Association.