Lustrous period detail and sexy vampires make this interview a treat

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Ageing journalist Daniel Molloy sits despondently on his couch, watching a cheesy commercial for his own journalism course. His face and posture speak volumes, of a man out of whom the stuffing has been kicked one too many times. Sadness and ennui suffuse the scene, when the phone rings, and Molloy is suddenly drawn back, to a man who he first interviewed half a century ago, and who wants to be interviewed again. But while in the intervening years Molloy has become an old man, now fighting Parkinson’s disease, his subject has not aged a single day …

Thus begins the new adaptation of Interview with the Vampire, a dark, lush, sensual and gorgeous series that flutters with leathery wings in the spaces between remake and reimagining. Although comparisons with the 1994 Tom Cruise-Brad Pitt film are inevitable, the makers of the show have gone back to Anne Rice’s 1976 source novel and twisted the story in certain different directions from that movie. In the book, Louis, the titular vampire played in the film by Pitt, was a slaveholder converted to undead status by Lestat (Cruise) in the 1800s. In the new series, Louis is an African-American brothel owner in New Orleans in 1910, played by Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm in Game of Thrones).

Happy family: Bailey Bass as Claudia, Jacob Anderson as Louis De Point Du Lac and Sam Reid as Lestat De Lioncourt.Credit: Pari Dukovic/AMC

The change in setting as well as the race of the main character brings a whole new dimension to the story. At the start of his story, as told by Louis to Molloy, he is a successful businessman, with a certain measure of acceptance in the city, but still looked down upon and disrespected by New Orleans’ prominent white men, as well as meeting the disapproval of his family for his chosen line of work. When the mesmeric Lestat arrives from France, he can therefore play on Louis’ sense of resentment at his place in society and his yearning for higher things, as well as the young man’s hidden sexual desires. But it is grief at the sudden and tragic death of his brother that will finally prove the trigger for driving Louis entirely into Lestat’s thrall, and hence to the blessing and curse of immortality.

Anderson is excellent as Louis, bringing a confident swagger with a bubbling undercurrent of anger to his mortal days, turning to an explosion of grief and despair; while in the role of narrator in the present day he embodies eerie calm, a sense of total control of his surroundings, the undercurrent now one of regret.

Opposite Anderson is Australian actor Sam Reid as Lestat, a fearsomely beautiful young man who radiates frightening and irresistible power. One could say that Reid is a little over-the-top in his portrayal, but then Lestat is an over-the-top character. A refined gentleman of old-world charm and sophistication who is yet a fierce and primal beast, he commands the screen, and the attention of whomever he has fixed his eye on.

Interview with the Vampire is a sumptuous production, lustrous period detail filling every inch of the screen. There is no holding back on the sex and violence: this is a show concerned with death and desire, and it depicts both with a blend of beauty and brutality. Vampires in this world are sexy, but there’ll be no soppy Twilight mooning here: Lestat pounces on what and who he wants, and when he kills it is with savage strength and satisfying lashings of gore, all the more effective for the switch from gentility to frenzy that defines his character. A show for lovers of blood and passion and the beauty that can come from the exploration of monsters.

Interview with the Vampire, ABC, Friday, 10.10pm, or all episodes on ABC iview.

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