“Interview With the Vampire”‘s Jacob Anderson Defends “Game of Thrones”‘s “Risky” Ending

Everett Collection / AMC/courtesy Everett Collection

Jacob Anderson had a huge year starring in AMC+’s new series “Interview With the Vampire.” The show quickly found itself an avid and loyal fanbase, something Anderson is no stranger to thanks to his six-season turn as Greyworm on “Game of Thrones,” which ended in 2019 with a lot of controversy. But despite the strong fan reactions to that final season, Anderson tells POPSUGAR that his feelings about it haven’t changed.

“I didn’t have strong feelings about the finale. I think everybody assumes that we all hated it,” he says. “That’s not the case at all. I remember when I first got the scripts for that final season, I was like, ‘There’s something kind of punk about this season. It feels risky.'” According to him, “Games of Thrones” always warned viewers that it was never going to go the way people expected. “And I feel like it was kind of fun. I enjoyed it and it was fun to make. It was full on, but it was fun to make,” he says.

What he didn’t enjoy was people’s response to it. “We were filming for 11 months in the snow and there were thousands and thousands of people worked so hard on [the final season],” he says. “And then for it to just, when it came out for people to just straight up be like, ‘You need to remake this. This is terrible. This is the worst thing ever.’ It was a little bit sad. But to be honest, I expected people to not like it, even though I liked it. I thought people were going to be annoyed by things.”

In “Interview With the Vampire,” which premiered last fall, Anderson plays Louis de Pointe du Lac, who’s turned into a vampire by the powerful and mysterious Lestat (Sam Reid). Based on Anne Rice’s novels (which also inspired the 1994 film with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise), the new series changes Louis’s story. In the original, he’s a white man who runs Louisiana plantations in the late 1790s. In the TV show, Louis is Black and a thriving business owner in 1900s New Orleans. He has to navigate racism from white politicians and business owners as he tries to carve out a niche for his family and community to thrive in – a quest that gets even more complicated when Lestat turns him into a vampire.

“I don’t think I’d ever read anything before that explored the kind of questions at the center of human existence in such a shame-free and explorative way,” Anderson explains. “But then at the same time, they’re vampires, they’re not humans.” Anderson says that exploration of human issues and complications is central to Rice’s novels as well. “It just felt very personal,” he says of the show’s appeal for him.

The show, he says, goes into “everything”: “Our relationships to sexuality, our relationship to our morality and our ethical and moral compass, our relationship to the elements and earth.”

“In the books, the vampires all couple up and they have these covens that often they’re not very comfortable in and they all feel like very dysfunctional families,” he says of the show’s domesticity. “And I think that this first season of our show very much functions as a microcosm of that idea. These are immortal humans, it’s just that they survive off the death of other humans.”

Anderson read all of Rice’s novels to prepare and he did some research into 1910s New Orleans and the red light district called Storyville. But he explains that that was a major challenge because there is very little historical record of that time period. “Weirdly, the thing that struck me the most about it was the fact that I couldn’t find very much. It was a really difficult period in time to research . . . even just finding audio from people that were alive or were the children of people that were alive at that time.”

“It strengthens the idea of this being a perfect time for vampires to operate in, and Storyville being a perfect place for them to hunt,” he adds. “It’s not an entirely forgotten part of history, but I think a lot of it was buried because of a perception of Storyville being this sordid part of the city.” But Anderson was particularly inspired by old photographs that he and costume designer Carol Cutshore found of Black men wearing suits at the time. “And I loved looking at those and just looking at how people stood, how people leaned on lamp posts or sat in a chair, how people wore their hat,” he says.

Viewers can clearly see that same sense of swagger and style in Louis – at least before he turns into a vampire. “He’s depressed and he’s just completely overwhelmed by his existence, like he questions it with every breath,” Anderson says of the change in Louis. He says playing depression is a huge challenge, but “in an acting way, I love that stuff.” “It’s like a challenge of trying to communicate what’s going on inside somebody’s head but through your face,” he adds. “And that’s a real challenge because most people are trying to hide those things and it’s just finding moments where it slips or where the cracks start to show.”

He continues, “And as somebody who manages or lives with mental illness, I completely understand that thing [where] there can be five things going on at the same time and you are trying to keep them all inside you and you’re trying to project something else. And I think that’s a big part of who Louis is.”

While the show handles very heavy topics, like trauma and grief, there are also a lot of moments of fun. “There was never a day where you’d do something that you’d done the day before,” Anderson says. “Every single day for five months, there was some new element thrown into the mix that we’d make that day – just insane. I was tired a lot of the time, but I just enjoyed all of it.”

The vast majority of filming took place at night – they’re vampires, after all – so Anderson says it was important for them to keep both their energy and their mood up. “And to be vampires in New Orleans through the night, you feel like you’re doing this thing in secret. And I think that just adds to the energy of it,” he adds.

One thing that helped keep things light was all the fake blood. The show uses four different types, and Anderson says none of them are particularly pleasing when they get in your mouth. But much worse than dousing himself in fake blood, he explains, was hot milk. In episode two, shortly after Louis’s vampire transformation, he had to pour “freshly boiled milk” over himself. “I could smell milk and it was going off in my nostrils for about a week,” he says. It was boiled to keep him from getting cold, but that didn’t help with the scent. “I actually said to one of the props guys, ‘Oh, so I guess oat milk and almond milk doesn’t really look like real milk on camera.’ And he was like, ‘Oh, we didn’t think of that. That would’ve been quite good.'”

Now, the crew is getting ready for season two, which will start filming in the spring and will adapt the second half of Rice’s novel – this time, hopefully, without any boiled milk. Anderson is ready to dive back into the fun. “You can’t take yourself too seriously. You take your work seriously. You don’t take yourself seriously,” he says.

“Interview With a Vampire” season one is streaming now on AMC+.

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