The Cast of 'Interview With the Vampire,' Then and Now

8:30 AM 11/10/2019

by Harper Lambert

Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Kirsten Dunst starred in the movie, which first hit theaters Nov. 11, 1994.

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)  - Kirsten Dunst, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise - Photofest-H 2019
Warner Brothers/Photofest

In 1994, director Neil Jordan and screenwriter Anne Rice gave fans of Interview With the Vampire an adaptation to sink their teeth into. Based on Rice's 1976 novel of the same name, the drama-horror was headlined by a star-studded cast that included Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Christian Slater. It also featured early performances by actors who would go on to achieve major success, such as Thandie Newton and Kirsten Dunst.

Made on a $60 million budget, the film grossed more than $223 million worldwide and had the top weekend box office opening of 1994. Positive critical reviews helped Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles land Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for best original score, art direction and supporting actress. 

Nov. 11, 2019 marks 25 years since the cult classic hit theaters. In anticipation of the movie's silver anniversary, The Hollywood Reporter checks in with the actors who breathed life into the dead and undead characters of Interview With the Vampire.

  • Brad Pitt

    Today one of Hollywood's biggest A-listers, Brad Pitt toiled in obscurity for years before playing heartthrob J.D. in 1991's Thelma and Louise. After starring in a few poorly received films, his career took off with Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It. His performances in True Romance (alongside Interview co-star Christian Bale) and Interview With the Vampire confirmed his status as a rising star.

    In the film, Pitt plays Louis, a bereaved plantation owner who is turned into a vampire by Lestat. Though Pitt has described the shoot as "miserable," it led to appearances in Se7en and Two Monkeys the following year. For the latter, he received a Golden Globe for best supporting actor and his first of five Oscar nominations.

    In the early 2000s, he expanded into action films with Ocean's Eleven, Troy and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. He also co-founded a production company, Plan B Entertainment. From Moneyball to The Big Short to 12 Years a Slave, for which he won an Oscar, Pitt has found as much success as a producer as he has an actor.

    From comedies to dramas to everything in between, his body of work spans a wide range of genres. In 2019, he reunited with Inglourious Basterds director Quentin Tarantino for box office hit Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Pitt most recently hit the big screen in Ad Astra, which premiered at the 2019 Venice Film Festival before its theatrical release this fall.

  • Tom Cruise

    Tom Cruise, the cast's biggest name at the time, starred in Interview With the Vampire 10 years after catapulting to fame in Risky Business. As Lestat de Lioncourt, a sadistic vampire, Cruise plays the film's main antagonist. His casting followed a hot streak of critical and box office smashes, including Top Gun (1986), Rain Man (1988) and A Few Good Men (1992). His portrayal of a paraplegic Vietnam War veteran in Born on the Fourth of July (1989) garnered immense praise and a best actor nod from the Academy. However, Anne Rice publicly opposed Cruise's casting in Interview With the Vampire, insisting that he and Brad Pitt swap roles.

    Interview was followed by a slew of other hits in the late '90s, like Jerry Maguire, Eyes Wide Shut, Magnolia and the first of several Mission: Impossible films. In the early '90s, Cruise and former casting agent Paula Wagner created Cruise/Wagner Productions, which produced many of his major projects.

    From 2000 and on, Cruise has mostly starred in big-budget action flicks (Minority Report, War of the Worlds, Jack Reacher, Edge of Tomorrow) and thrillers (Collateral, Lions for Lambs, Valkyrie). In 2020, he will reprise his role in Top Gun: Maverick and has been confirmed to return for the seventh and eighth installments of the Mission: Impossible franchise.

  • Kirsten Dunst

    Not to be outshone by her more seasoned castmates, Kirsten Dunst was Interview With the Vampire's breakout star. At just 11 years old, she beat out the likes of Natalie Portman and Evan Rachel Wood for the role of Claudia, a dying orphan whom Lestat transforms into a vampire. For her gripping performance, Dunst was given her first Golden Globe nomination. That same year, she received rave reviews for playing Amy in Little Women. A string of comedic roles followed, among them 1997's Wag the Dog opposite Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman, 1999's Drop Dead Gorgeous and 2000's Bring It On.

    She proved her dramatic chops playing a child prostitute on ER and starring in Peter Bogdanovich's The Cat's Meow. Along with box office hits such as the Tobey Maguire-led Spider-Man, Dunst has received considerable praise for her performances in independent features like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Melancholia. She frequently collaborates with writer-director Sofia Coppola, appearing in all but two of her films.

    Dunst scored a second Golden Globe nomination for her work in the anthology series Fargo. Currently, she stars in Showtime's On Becoming a God in Central Florida.

  • Christian Slater

    Until four weeks before shooting began, River Phoenix was set to play Malloy, a journalist who interviews Louis about his life story. When Phoenix died unexpectedly, Christian Slater replaced him and donated his salary to Phoenix's favorite charities.

    Like his co-stars, Slater was well-known prior to appearing in Interview With the Vampire. As a child, he acted in Broadway productions and soap operas before playing young outlaw Binx Davey in 1985's The Legend of Billie Jean. Slater shot to fame when he appeared opposite Winona Ryder as J.D. in 1988's Heathers. The dark comedy's success led to a slew of film roles, such as the lead in the Quentin Tarantino-penned True Romance and an outlaw in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

    Following Interview With the Vampire, Slater worked in multiple genres, from big-budget thrillers like Broken Arrow to romantic dramas like Bed of Roses. In the 2000s, Slater earned spots in hit television shows The West Wing, Alias and The Forgotten and lent his voice to animated characters in Robot Chicken and Archer. He was awarded a Golden Globe in 2015 for playing the eponymous role in Mr. Robot, which he also produces.

  • Thandie Newton

    After making her debut in 1991's Flirting, Newton won a number of small parts, including Yvette in Interview With the Vampire. A house slave who is murdered by Cruise's Lestat, her character appears in the film only briefly.

    Newton's career took off four years later, when she was cast as the lead in both Jonathan Demme's Beloved and Bernardo Bertolucci's Besieged. She reunited with her Interview assassin Cruise for Mission: Impossible II before taking on the silver screen as Makemba Likasu in ER. She won critical acclaim, including a BAFTA award, for her performance in the Oscar-winning Crash.

    Splitting her time between television and film acting, Newton has played characters like Condoleezza Rice in 2008's W. and Val in last year's Solo: A Star Wars Story. In her most recent and most lauded role, Newton starred as robot-turned-rebel Maeve Millay in HBO's Westworld, for which she won an Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations. She will reprise her role in the futuristic drama's third season in 2020.

  • Antonio Banderas

    Rounding out the supporting cast is Antonio Banderas as Armand, ringleader of the Parisian vampire coven. Prior to Interview With the Vampire, the actor/singer/producer appeared in several Spanish films throughout the 1980s. He broke into Hollywood after director Pedro Almodóvar cast him in several projects, including the critically acclaimed Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! More recognition came from playing Tom Hanks' love interest in the 1993 AIDS drama Philadelphia.

    From the late '90s to the early 2000s, Banderas worked across various genres, from action movies Assassins and The Mask of Zorro to thrillers like Femme Fatale to musicals like Evita. His work in the Broadway musical Nine garnered him a Tony Award nomination. Banderas also voiced the swashbuckling feline Puss in Boots in multiple sequels and spinoffs of the Shrek franchise.

    This year, he reunited with Almodóvar for Pain and Glory, nabbing the Cannes Film Festival award for best actor. 

  • Stephen Rea

    A few years after scoring an Oscar nomination for best actor, Stephen Rea reunited with his Crying Game director Neil Jordan for Interview With the Vampire. In it, he plays Santiago, a mind-reading vampire whom Claudia and Louis encounter in Paris.

    A veteran of Irish and English theater, Rea appeared in several stage and television productions before gaining international fame for his role in The Crying Game. Since then, he has worked consistently in film and television. Of his 130-plus performances, notable credits include Finch in V for Vendetta, Lieutenant Viktor Burakov in Citizen X and Sir Hugh Hayden-Hoyle in the TV miniseries The Honourable Woman, for which he won a best supporting actor BAFTA award.

    Rea is now working on two new TV series: The Stranger and Flesh & Blood.