Mark Johnson, producer of ‘Interview with the Vampire’: “Obviously these vampires are gay”

Romance, death, fascination, blood, terror, immortality, loss… The novelist Anne Rice wrote about all of this in 1973 in ‘Interview with the Vampire’, a book that did not see the light of day until 1976. The success of literary fantasy has already had some audiovisual adaptations. To remember the mythical film starring Brad Pitt Y Tom Cruise in 1994 and with a script by Rice herself. Now a new one arrives in Spaininterview with the vampire‘, this time in series format and starring Jacob Anderson (‘Game of Thrones‘) Y sam reid. The project will premiere on AMC+ on January 12, but in the United States it did so a few months ago and has sensational reviews that place it among the best of the past year.

In the popular Rotten Tomatoes database, ‘Interview with the Vampire’ reaches a 99% rating from professional critics, with 75% from the public. “I never had any doubt how good the series was. You’re always nervous when reviews are going to come out because you don’t know if everyone will agree, but they had to like this one.says Mark Johnson, the producer of the series, in an interview with eCartelera, “I had never done something with such a good reception”. A surprising statement, since Johnson has produced works as recognizable as ‘Noa’s diary‘, ‘rain man‘, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia. The lion, the witch and the wardrobe‘ either ‘Better Call Saul‘.

The project tells the story of Louis de Pointe du Lac (Anderson), a man who will meet the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt (Reid), for whom he will feel an enormous fascination to the point of allowing himself to be turned into a bloodsucker. Thus, Louis will begin a new life that will last for more than 100 years and that he will tell, already today, to an old acquaintance, the interviewer Daniel Molloy. “It’s very satisfying in terms of entertainment. It has a very exotic and surprising romance, it has action…”indicates the producer, “But mostly it’s about two guys who happen to be vampires, not two actual vampires. I think the most important thing is that they connect with us. We can identify with what they’re longing for”.

'Interview with the Vampire'

vampire spell

These types of monsters have starred in stories for hundreds of years, both in literature and cinema and in the popular heritage. “Vampires Fascinate Us”Johnson says, “And while I wasn’t sure I wanted to do another vampire story, Anne Rice was so specific… In most stories, vampires are a separate creature, not human. In their story they are human, only it turns out that they are also vampires“.

The producer explains this great difference with respect to any other fable of the genre, arguing: They have the same purposes, weaknesses, and desires as humans. They are alone, they are looking for a family… They don’t even have to convince them to live forever because it’s heartbreaking, all the people important to them die and they don’t. There’s something unique about his vampires that I find very appealing”.

'Interview with the Vampire'

An electic deal

One of the great virtues of ‘Interview with the Vampire’ are its two protagonists, who project an incomparable chemistry on screen. “We searched for a long time”comments the producer about his two actors, “Sam we met first. Because it was the time of COVID we did the castings on Zoom and when we saw Sam Reid it was like ‘Oh my God, who is this guy?’ He had worked before but had never starred in anything. We immediately knew that he was perfect for Lestat.”. Next, they needed an actor Reid would resonate with for the role of Louis.

“We did several ‘chemistry reads’ [audiciones entre actores para encontrar la química entre ellos] via Zoom, because Sam was in Australia. We met several Louis from both the US and the UK. And Jacob Anderson we obviously knew from ‘Game of Thrones’, but he and Sam connected immediatelyexplains Johnson. “There we were like ‘they look perfect, but let’s keep looking.’ We just kept coming back to them so we realized we shouldn’t ignore the obvious”he affirms, delighted with the decision they made.

'Interview with the Vampire'

Switching the book and the movie

The ‘interview with the vampire‘ from 1994 has big differences with respect to this series, which according to its producer tries to update the book. We wanted to attract fans of the book, also of the movie, but we didn’t want to give them the same. Also, Anne Rice was an exceptional and revolutionary writer, but some things culturally would not be well regarded today. So we wondered how to stay true to what she wrote and make it work in the present. Thus, we have an African-American Louis, while in the film he is played by Brad Pitt. We can’t be more different”points out.

Even so, Johnson believes that the series remains much closer to the book than the film. Ironically, I think our series is more faithful to the novel than the movie, despite the fact that Anne Rice wrote the script for the film. We got very close to the spirit of the book, although there are obviously some changes”manifest. “As a producer, I’ve made a lot of movies based on books. And you feel a lot of responsibility not only to the readers, but to the author. You don’t want to change anything that would damage the source material. And thinking in terms of the audience, they don’t want anything radically either. different”it hits again.

'Interview with the Vampire'

Gay vampires?

One of the main changes that can be seen with respect to the film is that, on this occasion, the protagonists of ‘Interview with the Vampire’ are openly gay. The series boasts very explicit scenes that in the film were reduced to an unexplored subtext. “It is very important today not to go around the bush and make it evident”Johnson defends, “The show is a love story that involves anyone, straight, gay or whatever. It’s about two people who are clearly obsessed and hypnotized by each other. They may not be the best couple. But it’s about starting a family, about two people and their need to be together”.

Despite the applause they have received for showing it this way, Johnson does not agree with the conclusions that many fans and journalists have drawn about vampires and their homosexual tendency, where it has been said that bloodsuckers are gay by nature. . I don’t think vampires are always gay. I would say that most of them are straight because a very large part of their audience, or their readers, are young women, and there is something very sexual about vampires, or maybe pre-sexual.”suggests. “It doesn’t involve any close relationship but you do have a very attractive man coming up and attacking your neck. It’s very sensual, presexual stuff. Obviously the Anne Rice guys in ‘Interview with the Vampire’ are gay, but I wouldn’t say they are generally gay.” But I’m not an expert either”he concludes between laughs.

'Interview with the Vampire'

A long-running series

Even before the series premiered in the United States, the studio had already given the green light to its second season. “We are going to follow the book. We are going to Europe, It will be set mainly in Paris. They’re not going to be in New Orleans anymore, it’s not going to be an American story anymore. It will continue with the most important and hopefully compelling characters in the first season”confirms the producer, who believes that one of the great challenges of this first approximation was not to make his vampires something bizarre: “They had to be serious, real, relatable characters”.

In any case, Johnson also announces changes for the second season. “There will be big surprises, new characters and new challenges”, promises the producer, who even thinks further. And it is that he considers that they have found a story that can be established as one of the great television works of the moment for many years. “We can stretch out 4 or 5 seasons. Vampires never die!”sentence confident.

‘Interview with the Vampire’ premieres on AMC+ on January 12.

Mark Johnson, producer of ‘Interview with the Vampire’: “Obviously these vampires are gay”