On November 11, 1994, “Interview with the Vampire” was released in theaters. Based on Anne Rice’s 1976 debut novel, the gothic horror film starred many acting heavyweights, including Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Christian Slater, Stephen Rea, and Antonio Banderas. Additionally, the film also featured a 12-year-old Kirsten Dunst, who gained widespread recognition for her role as Claudia and earned the actress her first Golden Globe nomination. Frightening audiences with its exploration of the depths of evil, the film helped launch Dunst’s career and heightened Rice’s popularity as a novelist. Additionally, the film’s success in the box office led to many vampire-themed franchises to follow.
Although the film, directed by Neil Jordan, strays from certain plot lines in the book, the basic premise is the same. Interviewed as an older man, the moral vampire named Louis (Pitt) recounts his relationship with his unholy vampire partner, Lestat (Cruise), and how they created their vampire child, Claudia (Dunst).
The 1976 novel, “Interview with the Vampire,” on which the film is based started out as a short story written by Rice in 1969. Rice based Claudia on her own daughter who tragically died of leukemia at six years old. Perhaps a glimpse into why Rice became fascinated with vampires and blood, she shared that she had had a prophetic dream that her daughter was dying from “something bad in her blood” months before the illness was discovered. She wrote the book as a way to grieve the loss of her young daughter and explore the meaning of evil. Rice went on to become one of the most popular American writers in recent history. She has sold nearly 100 million copies of her books – on topics ranging from vampires to Catholicism – to date.
Departing from previous tropes about vampires that solely focused on their evil side, Rice humanizes the vampire characters. This technique is credited for inspiring the modern day genre of vampire stories, from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to the “Twilight” series.