Jacob Anderson Dives Deep into the Darker, More Spectacular Season 2 of 'Interview with the Vampire'

In an exclusive interview, Anderson discusses the second season's grand scale and emotional depth, and drawing on James Baldwin and Gordon Parks for inspiration.

“Interview with the Vampire,” AMC’s adaption of the Anne Rice novel, won raves for its frightfully good first season––a seven-episode escapade that made subtle queer undertones from the books pronounced and made a main character, Louis (Jacob Anderson), the tormented lover of bad boy Lestat (Sam Reid), Black. After immersing viewers into Louis and Lestat’s millennia-stretching gothic romance, “Interview with the Vampire” returned for its second season on May 12, picking up where we left off: with Louis and his daughter/sister Claudia (now played by Delainey Hayles) on the run after Claudia, fed up with Lestat’s abusiveness and low-key racism, tried to kill Lestat. If you thought Season 1 was a doozy, Anderson tells, hold on to your crucifix. Season 2 takes things to a whole new level. 

“I think the tone of this season is a lot of spectacle,” Anderson says, “It has a grander feel to it. It's also a lot darker. If you love these characters, prepare to have your heart broken.” 

The action starts with Louis and Claudia smack dab in Ukraine, of all places, ravaged by WWII. That’s a wild choice, considering the present moment, but Anderson says the setting wasn’t about making a political statement but rather remains true to the book. Louis and Claudia are hiding from the dangerous Lestat and looking for “old world” vampires in Eastern Europe. Still, Anderson says, the time and place are loaded with meaning. “I think having them in WWII is kind of a perfect metaphor,” he says. “Where Claudia and Louis are at, they're in this strange hangover period, trying to figure out how to recover from this hugely traumatic event.  Human war takes its toll on them, and the blood is bad here because people are hungry and suffering. The whole world is trying to rebuild from a war, and that's what Louis and Claudia are doing, too.” 

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As Louis and Claudia go on their quest to find more vampires––Lestat had been the only one they knew back in New Orleans, thus giving him a perverse power over them––one of the big twists from last season moves the series’ action forward. Previously, we were led to believe that the dude always up under Louis while he recounts his story for journalist Daniel  (Eric Bogosian) was Louis’ assistant, Rashid (Assad Zaman); it turns out, as we learn in the last bits of Season 1, that Rashid is actually Louis’ 514-year-old vampire lover, Armand. Season 2 traces how they met: Armand is the director of an over-the-top cabaret theater, Théâtre des Vampires, in 1940s Paris, where a troupe of vampires lure unsuspecting human prey under the guise of cheeky performances. 

There’s a ton of eye candy in the form of costume and makeup, exquisite set design, and, of course, a lot of blood and gore. However, as Louis took up photography as a hobby, we got glimpses of him as a kind of artsy Black Renaissance man. The vibe isn’t accidental, either: from the 1920s through the 1950s, scores of Black artists, writers, and performers found refuge and freedom in the City of Light–-Josephine Baker, Richard Wright, James Baldwin among them–-escaping overt racism in the States and discovering that, in Paris, they could be seen for their creative talents and not just the color of their skin. Anderson says he used that romanticized period of Black history to inform this stage of Louis’ life. 

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“That period with Paris specifically was seen as a safe space for Black artists,” he says. “Louis talks about being welcomed there and not being a victim of America's particular brand of racism. Especially if you have a gift, if you're exceptional in some way, you have a space here, and that's not lost on Louis.” Anderson says the team had discussions about this ultra-specific slice of representation, and he even lobbied to take it further than what’s seen on screen and make the subtext even more overt. “I wanted Josephine Baker in the show,” he says. “There was a point early on when we were talking about what Season 2 would be like, Louis was going to make friends with [famed photographer] Gordon Parks and be kind of like his human companion. There wasn’t time, but there's some inspiration from him and James Baldwin’s experiences in Paris.” 

A very different time for immortals, for sure, but those legendary Black artists influenced how Anderson thought about Louis––giving viewers a peek into what it might’ve been like to be a Black expat then, truly seen for who you are and what you offer to the world rather than just what you look like. Through Louis, Black viewers see something pretty much all of us can relate to a Black person trying to find and express their humanity in a world that wants to ignore it. Of course, the darkly comical irony is that Louis is not human, but that’s part of what makes “Interview with the Vampire” so fun and deliciously mischievous to devour. 

“I think the overarching message is about embracing who you are, or being comfortable with who you are––your true nature,” Anderson says. “What is that? And how can you find a way to feel comfortable with yourself, all of the things you've felt and feel? That's Louis’ journey this season.” 

“Interview with the Vampire” airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC and AMC+, with new episodes on AMC+ weekly.

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