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‘Interview With the Vampire’ Boss, Stars Discuss Heart-Wrenching Finale, Season 3

[This story contains spoilers from the season two finale of Interview With the Vampire , “And That’s the End of It. There’s Nothing Else.”]

Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) may have completed his second interview with the vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) in Dubai, but the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist could not resist unraveling the biggest secret that underlied Louis’ strained, 77-year relationship with the vampire Armand (Assad Zaman).

In the season two finale of AMC’s adaptation of Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire, Daniel — with the help of the secret society known as the Talamasca, which investigates and monitors supernatural beings — discovers Armand’s biggest betrayal of Louis. Not only did Armand report Louis and Claudia (Delainey Hayles) for turning Claudia’s companion, Madeleine (Roxane Duran), into a vampire and for violating vampiric laws, but Armand also directed the show trial that was supposed to lead to the demise of all three at the Théâtre des Vampires in Paris.

The penultimate episode had ended with flashbacks to that fateful day: Louis is shoved into a coffin filled with gravel and locked in a crypt to die from starvation. And, in one of the most harrowing death scenes in recent memory, Claudia and Madeleine are burned to death by sunlight. While Armand has repeatedly maintained that he only had enough willpower to force the audience members to give the order to banish, rather than kill, Louis, Daniel pieces together that it was actually Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid), whom Louis and Claudia attempted to kill in New Orleans at the end of season one, who saved Louis’ life.

It’s a heart-wrenching twist that executive producer and showrunner Rolin Jones, who developed the critically acclaimed adaptation three years ago, has had in mind ever since he decided to split Rice’s Interview into two seasons. In the finale, under the guise of asking some follow-up questions at the end of their interview, Daniel hands Louis a copy of the script from his show trial in Paris — with Armand’s production notes scribbled in red pen in the margins. Louis’ hands begin to shake as he pores over each page, while Armand is left dumbfounded.

“It was one of my favorite scenes to shoot because it was very fun to modulate different states of relief and joy from Louis at just finishing what is essentially a really long EMDR session,” Anderson tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We had to work backwards from the reveal to get to a place where it would really take the air out the room. I remember flipping through the script trying to find a way to read something super quick, which I guess Louis can, but also feeling like I’m collapsing inside,” he adds. “I always feel like Louis knew. Since he was burning it all down, I think he knew that Armand was involved in a greater way.”

Zaman — who originally auditioned for the role of Louis’ servant, Rashid, in season one, only to discover that he was actually being tapped to play the love of Louis’ life, Armand — tells THR the big reveal is a real “gut punch.”

“I watched that last episode with my sister and when that reveal came, she threw a cushion at me. She was like, ‘How could you? We were fucking rooting for you, man!’” he recalls with a laugh. “She was devastated. But that’s kind of the effect, I guess, it’s supposed to have. It is quite tragic that that’s been a lie that’s lived for so long in this relationship.”

In the finale, after Armand secretly gives him some of his own blood, Louis hatches a plan to burn down the theater and kill the vampires responsible for Claudia’s demise. Head honcho Santiago (Ben Daniels), and actors Estelle (Esme Appleton) and Celeste (Suzanne Andrade), are among the few who manage to escape the fire. But that only makes the way they meet their end even more brutal.

“The joy of this show is that it’s very truthful about humanity. So you are always playing these high emotions. But it’s really fun when you get to add that extra layer of camp — of fun, of extremity. And that was one of those situations where, at the end of the day, you’re like, ‘What have I done with my day? Someone flew out of a manhole, and I chopped his head off,’” Anderson says with a laugh.

The actor relished the opportunity to play all the “different colors” of Louis’ grief over losing Claudia, with whom Anderson thinks Louis had a “really disturbing” relationship. “My feeling is that rage and sadness and a sense of longing all coalesce to create grief, as well as other conflicting emotions. I think they become grief, and then an extreme progression from grief is madness,” he says. “Louis says this thing in the episode about [how] he becomes grief, he becomes madness — or his grief and his madness become him. So that’s entirely what’s driving him.”

But interestingly, Anderson never saw those flashbacks as Louis exacting revenge: “It’s something slightly less emotional, almost. It’s a deadening of the senses; it’s a deadening of his emotions. He’s been starving in a coffin for God knows how long, screaming subconsciously. He’s reached a point beyond grieving, and I think he is just rage.”

After taking out the coven, Louis, with Armand in tow, confronts Lestat at the dungeon tower that belonged to Lestat’s maker, Magnus, in Paris. “I think it’s very shocking for Lestat to see Louis come in and straight away assume that Lestat came back just to rehearse a play, to kill Claudia, to do some big vanity project,” Reid says. “I think Lestat just would’ve assumed that Louis knew that he saved him, because the rest of the coven would’ve known that Lestat saved Louis. The only person who didn’t assume it was Louis, and that’s really Lestat’s fault. He’s obviously hurt him so badly that Louis thinks that Lestat is incapable of doing that.”

In a final act of retaliation, Louis kisses Armand in front of Lestat. “Where your miserable life takes you, whoever you find to do your time with, whatever pale proxy of me … I’ll be with [Armand],” Louis tells Lestat. “I just wanted you to know that.”

“I think it’s really tragic, because it makes you question why Louis doesn’t want to speak to Lestat in that moment,” Reid says. “The first time you see it, you think, ‘No, he’s afraid to speak to him,’ or ‘he’s angry.’ But actually, he doesn’t want to speak to him because he doesn’t want to break his rule that he’s set up, which is, ‘No, I’m with Armand, in spite of Lestat.’ It’s pretty wild shit!”

Anderson argues that Louis did not enter his romantic relationship with Armand out of spite — he feels there was a genuine love between them, and Armand represented a “calmer” and potentially healthier partner than Lestat ever was. “But I think that scene in Magnus’ dungeon tower is the beginning of the spike in Louis and Armand’s relationship. I think he continues the relationship with Armand out of spite for the next 70 years. I think he’s making a point, he’s trying to hurt Lestat. There’s probably a self-destructive element to it as well,” he says. (But over time, the ghost of Lestat, as well as Armand’s web of lies, begins to wreak havoc on Louis and Armand’s relationship.)

Reid points out that in the original novel, Armand physically pushes Lestat out of a tower after the trial. But the writers have now chosen to incorporate Louis into that storyline — and Louis is now the one who pushes Lestat out of that metaphorical tower. “It’s no longer a physical fall, because we’ve learned that vampires do recover from physical falls. But a psychological fall is probably the most damage that you can do to these creatures that live forever,” he says. “It also means that there’s much more agency for our Louis in the show, and I think that’s fantastic.”

While adapting the first book, Reid admits that he was always looking to find ways to evolve Lestat as a character, considering that the audience only sees him in flashbacks (which may or may not be entirely accurate). “I think the fact that he doesn’t say anything in the tower, that he doesn’t stand up for himself, that he doesn’t tell him that he saved him, is the first step where you’re like, ‘Oh, okay, he might be learning something here. He’s not necessarily just following his loud vain M.O., and he is not being impulsive either.’ He’s thinking, ‘There’s no space in which this is going to work for me here. [Louis] is too angry. It’s too painful.’ So that’s a big development change for Lestat.”

During Louis’ interview with Daniel in the present day, Armand reiterated that, despite his powers of manipulation, there was nothing he could have done to stop Claudia’s death — but everyone now knows that is a lie. Although he never got to a point where he could personally justify Armand’s actions, Zaman says he understood his character’s desperation “to cling onto some form of reason for living. For Armand, his reason for living or carrying on was Louis, and you can start working out how someone, who isn’t necessarily a mustache-twirling villain, can do heinous acts.”

“I don’t think Armand thinks villainously, but he made these very consequential decisions because partly, he is immortal. He knows the worst outcome is fleeting because if [the truth] came out, which it does, and he was put to question, Louis might hate him for what he did. But over time, it might change because they won’t die,” he explains. “When you live forever, you are more capable of doing horrible things, maybe, because what you’ve got to deal with is time. If you’ve dealt with time already for that long and been through a lot, what’s another hundred years?”

The real tragedy of this part of the story, as Zaman frankly puts it, is that Armand “doesn’t give a fuck about Claudia.” Sure, they may have gotten to know each other through Louis in Paris. “But that’s nothing compared to the years and years and years he spent with the coven and with the Children of Darkness before that, and with [his maker] Marius before that, and with the children in Marius’ home, who were his actual comrades, before that,” Zaman says. “Someone who’s so consequential to Louis is completely inconsequential to him, and that’s what I think you see in that last episode. That’s why he let her die.”

After learning that Lestat saved him in Paris, Louis decides to visit his old stomping grounds in New Orleans, where he notices a fledgling vampire collecting rats in a hurricane for Lestat to feed on. Before long, Louis comes face-to-face with his ex-lover, who has been living in New Orleans (and presumably in squalor) for decades.

“What happens to Lestat in that period of time [before Louis discovers the truth] is he slowly becomes a shell of himself,” Reid explains of the first present-day scene between the lovers. “I think Louis has time to connect with his vampiric self, and all these things that are beautiful and powerful and give him heaps of agency in his life. Whereas Lestat is kind of reconnecting with the things that are connecting to humanity, which is music and isolation, and [he’s] made memories. I think a few things have happened in that New Orleans hovel that we might see at a later date that explain a bit more of his mental state.”

While the final version of that reunion is deeply heartfelt, Jones confesses that his first draft of that emotional scene was not very satisfying, but the writers’ strike prevented him from making any revisions: “I was really panicked that we were going to have to shoot it. And then the actors’ strike happened and we had a little bit of time left.”

After the strikes ended last fall, Jones called up both Anderson and Reid to discuss what they wanted their characters to get out of their reunion. In the end, they decided to “make the scene more about contrition and forgiveness,” Jones reveals. “I think we had Lestat’s side pretty down, but we didn’t quite have Louis’ side. So there was a really lovely kind of interaction between all of us about what that was all about.”

Louis thanks Lestat for bestowing the gift of vampirism on him, even though he has spent much of the last century believing that it was a curse. “I think the culmination of this story is that Louis has found his vampiric self, and I don’t think he could really get there without reconciling with Claudia’s death and [his brother] Paul’s death, and without acknowledging to Lestat that [becoming a vampire] was a gift,” explains Anderson. “I think it could be read as just a pure thank you or an apology, and I don’t think it’s solely either one of those things. I think it’s an acknowledgement of something [deeper].”

Lestat mentions that he, too, cannot get the image of Claudia dying in front of him out of his head. “Claudia is going to be the biggest mistake Lestat has ever made in his entire life — not the fact that she’s alive, but the fact that she died,” Reid explains. “The death of Claudia is going to be the thing that haunts him forever, and I wish that he did save her. I’m not sure if he knew that he could, but the fact that he saw her look at him with a pure connection at the end [of episode seven] — and the two of them did share a connection at multiple times in their lives. I think he’ll never get that image [of Claudia dying] out of his head.

“I think what it does is it also sets us up for a relationship with a haunting of Claudia and Lestat that is quite exciting,” he posits. “We’ve got the potential of not letting Claudia go because Lestat has not got any closure there, and he has a lot to atone for. He has done some really terrible things, and I think a wonderful motivation for a character going forward is shame.”

The long-awaited conversation reaches a fever pitch when Louis and Lestat, who both assume a lot of the responsibility for what happened to Claudia, share a passionate embrace. Jones says Anderson and Reid improvised the dialogue between their hugs — and they have not shared those words with anyone else.

“We said something that only Sam and I know, and it was scripted like that as well: ‘Jacob Anderson as Louis says something to Sam Reid as Lestat that only they will know.’ But it was in character,” Anderson reveals.

“We always knew that we had a moment to take back these characters for ourselves,” Reid adds with a grin. “There’s so much discourse around who did what to whom and how this happened and how they should feel about each other, and I think it was nice for us to have the opportunity to just close it off and know things about them that other people don’t know.”

And although Jones says that he doesn’t think the characters are “about to get back together and have a steamy love affair” anytime soon, Reid thinks Louis and Lestat won’t be able to “stay away from each other at all,” partly because he believes the “cataclysmic” nature of their relationship is “what makes good television.”

“It’s also a part of their M.O. to hurt each other — that’s a big part of how they show love to each other. They destroy each other’s lives and then they build them back up again,” Reid says of where he thinks the characters will go from here. “Hopefully, I think Lestat has learned