[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Interview With the Vampire Season 1 Episode 4, “The Ruthless Pursuit of Blood With All a Child’s Demanding.”]
Eric Bogosian plays Interview With the Vampire‘s voice of reason in investigative journalist Daniel Molloy. AMC‘s adaptation takes place 50 years after the San Francisco interview painted out in Anne Rice’s classic tale; both Daniel and Jacob Anderson‘s Louis de Pointe du Lac feel that was a bust. So the vampire offers him a do-over, assuming the Parkinson’s-riddled Daniel will want another chance at this story. As Bogosian explains below, he very much does. But Daniel is not to be “f**ked” with, he warns.
In Episode 4, which aired October 23 on AMC, Daniel is given unfettered access to fledgling vampire Claudia’s (Bailey Bass) diaries. Louis, her vampire father, is dead-set on Claudia’s wisdom and talent being the primary takeaway from the readings (ah, a classic parent unable to look at their own child’s flaws). But Daniel isn’t buying it. He challenges Louis’s perspective on every front, asking the hard questions the vampire perhaps didn’t think he had the wisdom to pose.
Here, Bogosian breaks down what Daniel is thinking through his interview with the vampire, plus what to expect as the relationship between Daniel and his “unreliable narrator” Louis evolves over the course of the season.
Daniel’s kind of the moral voice of reason throughout this, challenging Louis’s dynamic with Lestat [Sam Reid] and in Episode 4 especially, questioning Claudia’s existence. What’s going through his head as he reads through Claudia’s journals?
Eric Bogosian: Well, you brought up journalism, and I think in this particular facet of the show, that’s key. Daniel has to cut through the bulls**t. The Claudia diaries are a puzzle, and he has to use his whole brain to solve the puzzle. And I’ll tell you, as you get older, your brain doesn’t work as fast, but you have a lot of experience that you can bring to the party. He’s been doing this for a long time, and he has to break it down and put the pieces together. That becomes pretty much my whole action through that whole thing.
Weirdly though, there’s the other aspect, which is that he senses Louis is an unreliable narrator to begin with. Whatever’s going on with Claudia, there’s also this other backdrop of the, shall we say, codependent, dysfunctional relationship between Lestat and Louis. So he’s got a lot on his plate, a lot of puzzles to figure out.
Daniel also questions Louis’s assistants in his Dubai penthouse in Episode 4. What does he think of them, in terms of how they play into Louis being an untrustworthy narrator?
It’s funny. I was on a detective show for a long time, Law & Order, and any detective is, I would say, exactly the same as Daniel. They have to be constantly raking in information — good, bad, sideways, it doesn’t make any difference — and then sort it out later. All information is good information. A person doesn’t have to be telling you the truth for you to learn something from what they’re telling you. You can learn from their lies.
I did an investigative book years ago about things that were happening in Turkey around the Armenian genocide [Operation Nemesis]. There’s been all kinds of denial over the years, but the thing is, the denial itself has within it the seeds of the truth that needs to be found in these stories. And so [Daniel] wants to hear everything. He’s constantly absorbing this. What that means is at the end of the day, two minds are wrestling through this entire series. Louis may be a vampire, but that doesn’t mean he’s a genius on the highest level. And I think very much Daniel thinks that he’s Louis’s equal and is up for the task of prying the true story out of this guy.
Where is Daniel’s head at through all of this?
This is gonna keep moving toward a very intense conclusion, all of which is [creator/showrunner] Rolin Jones doing this crazy juggling act like one of those guys who juggles chainsaws while they’re running. He’s honoring the Anne Rice story, the Anne Rice characters, the Anne Rice quotes, while also creating this other story at the same time that is woven into it so it all sort of ends up at the same place.
There’s a lot going on about ambition for me. There’s nostalgia, the young me and the passions that the young me had, regret, my f**ked up life, the possibility of maybe striking it rich with this story, and there’s fear. Maybe I get killed in the end? There’s fear either of them killing me or my Parkinson’s reaching a point where I can’t really do anything anymore. I’m immobilized by it.
My own personal history is in many ways parallel to the Daniel Malloy story we tell in this show. I had a pretty rambunctious 20s where I was ready to do anything, go anywhere, walk into any building, and follow anybody anywhere to see what was happening. That was just where my head was at, and then I had my moments as a writer, as a creator where I had celebration. There’s the days when you think, “Well, I guess everybody’s forgotten about me now. So now I’m just like an old guy.” All of these things are Daniel’s story, but they’re also my story. I get to use that when I’m playing Daniel, and then not have to think about it, so I can really deal with what’s going on in this scene that we’re shooting.
You can definitely see Daniel wants a third act for his career, but to me, this story is the one that got away. An actual vampire would be the craziest scoop of all time to report. For me, it’s almost less about the ambition, because it seems like he’s not going to let this story get away from him this time. He’s going to be on his best foot.
You’ve just triggered something that I didn’t even think of in the course of this, and I think you’re absolutely right that it is bigger than ambition. It is Ahab chasing the whale. [Laughs] You say the one that got away. Well, that was the biggest one that ever got away in American storytelling. And Ahab with his infirmities is going to get himself out there and get that whale. I love that.
San Francisco Daniel, as we hear him on the tapes, seemed interested in becoming a vampire. What’s 2022 Daniel’s perspective on this now, especially given his health status?
The question is sitting there so big, and it’s always sitting there, that Daniel has decided that he is going to push back by not acknowledging the question. I think it really comes down to that. It’s just too easy. We will address this at one point explicitly in dialogue, but it’s like, “Oh, you think you think you got me. I’m all sick and old, and here you are. It’s right in right in front of my face, immortality. You think you can f**k with me by tempting me with that. So, you know what? I’m not even gonna think about it at all. I’m gonna just put it aside.” Unfortunately for Daniel, that’s not gonna hold. It can’t hold, because every day he creeps closer to his demise, and so he will eventually have to face it.
One of the operative things between me and Daniel — it’s in the script, but it’s also my interpretation of Daniel — is I refuse to be bullied. I was bullied when I was a kid, and anybody who pushes into me, I step right back into them. It’s just the way I am. Daniel is very much that, and it comes in the very first conversation we have in Episode 1.
It’s like, “don’t start that stuff with me. You wanna talk, you wanna tell me your story? Tell me your story. But don’t try and intimidate me, don’t try to threaten me, and don’t try and tempt me off the path with all this other stuff. We’re not here to talk about that.”
He says it: “We’re not here to talk about me. We’re here to talk about you.” As a seasoned journalist who knows about all kinds of diversionary tactics, he’s hip to all of this, and he has immediate responses to all of it. It’s just like, “Yeah, no, I’m not the young guy you could f**k with. You can’t f**k with me.”
Clearly, I’ve got some bias here, but I’ve always thought investigative journalists are rockstars in that way. They could be interviewing a literal vampire and not be afraid to challenge the vampire, you know? Or in a non-supernatural sense, they challenge very powerful people that could royally mess with them.
And more so today than ever before. They took a guy and they chopped him into pieces for God’s sake. If journalism isn’t about this today, and it’s not me, OK? This is a place where I am completely not the character. I’m not a journalist, and I would never risk my life to get the story, but I’ve been around some serious journalists who will do that.
That absolutely inspires my character in this show. This is what I’m playing when I’m making believe I’m somebody else. It’s the stubborn, fearless guy who’s gonna get that story. And he’s physically threatened in the very first episode when Louis comes flying across the apartment. You see the fear in my eyes, but it doesn’t make any difference. The minute I feel the fear, at the same moment, I feel the push to push back. It’s something that’s in my DNA. I was around a lot of scary stuff when I was a kid, and I really had no way to deal with it other than to step right up into it. If you let that stuff push you around, then you’re dead. You’re dead duck.
Speaking of fear, how much does Daniel trust Louis 50 years later? He could have easily killed him in San Francisco, but he didn’t.
He doesn’t trust him at all. I’ll be getting ahead of our story if I tell you how this all resolves itself, but he does not trust him at all. What he does sense is that there’s something going on here that is bigger than the story he’s being told, and he has to try to figure it out.
I really love the character of Paul in this first episode. Just like in the scene where Louis goes from having a knife up to Paul’s throat one minute, the next minute they’re just hanging out, tap dancing together, and other stuff, Daniel and Louis also go in and out of sync. There are moments when we sense in each other a kindred spirit, a sense of sadness and aloneness, and then we kind of see each other, which is also something that comes up in the very end of the first episode. “He saw me,” Louis says, and that speaks to a sort of profound loneliness or isolation that these characters feel. And then it’s a vibe. It’s never like they become some bonded buddies or anything like that, but there is a vibe of “I see you, you see me” kind of thing going on.
It’s interesting to see how TV shows handle COVID, whether they act like it didn’t happen or they make it part of the plot. What do you think about the inclusion of the pandemic in this narrative?
Well, sadly it still works. I don’t think anybody could know when we were shooting and when they were writing this that we’d still be in it now, even as the show is being watched. It’s a part of our reality. I think Susan Sontag a long time ago wrote a book called Illness as Metaphor, and I think we do understand that whatever the f**k COVID is, it’s about something more than COVID. It’s about some kind of worldwide malaise, a worldwide problem.
There’s nothing wrong with having that as a backdrop to our story, because let’s face it, there are a million stories out there that have been told. We don’t have to keep telling the same stories all the time. We have to tell the stories that speak to us today. This total contrivance of vampires and everything, there’s a reason why it speaks to us. To have that disease sitting behind it all I think just makes it a more complete metaphor for our life today and our challenges today that we can’t understand. If we understood them, we wouldn’t have to make stories about them. We make stories so that we can throw rocks at the cave paintings.
Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire, Sundays, 10/9c, AMC and AMC+