Interview with the Vampire’s Jacob Anderson on Playing Louis and How Walking on Set Got Him into Character

Interview with the Vampire's Jacob Anderson the research he did to help make his character, Louis, his own.

Jacon Anderson as Louis in Interview with the Vampire

“We had this backdrop… and I was like, “I’m just gonna take a walk around this backdrop.” And within a minute of walking down the street… I felt like Louis.” – Jacob Anderson

Anne Rice’s novel, the iconic Interview with the Vampire, is about to finish its first season and the ratings are so good, that AMC has already renewed it for another season. The story follows the book, where Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) tells journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) about his relationship to the vampire Lestat du Lioncourt (Sam Reid) and teenage vampire Claudia (Bailey Bass). 

Anderson and the cast, including showrunner and series creator Rolin Jones, were at this summer’s San Diego Comic-Con where they held a press conference to talk about their new series. Here, Anderson talks about the research he did, how he tried to make Louis his own and how walking around the set helped him get into character.

Can you talk about the show?

Jacob Anderson: I know this is quite a general thing to say, but I really mean it, I’ve never seen anything like this before in so many different ways. I think it’s quite a difficult thing… It’s quite a difficult show to categorize and it’s also quite a difficult show to compare. I don’t feel like I’ve ever seen these vampires before.

How did you research your role to make the character your own?

Jacob Anderson: The books are really great resources of research really. But I personally was very struck with the similarities that I have to Louis. Obviously, I think that’s what most actors do. It’s like a narcissistic thing you’ve got. That’s me.

I really feel like I understood him and that he understands me in a… In quite a deep way. And so, a lot of it, I think, was just that I just felt like between Anne Rice’s Louis and Rolin’s writing of Louis and then what I was bringing to it, you find something in the middle.

He’s the same Louis, but it’s like figuring out how somebody changes over that amount of time. Even in terms of voice and in terms of how he moves and does he have these little ticks. How does his accent change. Those kinds of things were really fun to figure out.

Can you talk about building the character of Louis for the series.

Jacob Anderson: We see Louis over the span of a century. My big thing for 1910 through to 1939 Louis was that in his human existence, he’s constantly having to code switch. So, it was like finding subtle ways for him to behave differently in different environments. And some of those, I think, would be kind of uncomfortable to watch especially as you get to know him. You kind of see why he feels this at that point and at the end when he becomes a vampire. I don’t know if it would be interesting for me to go through every single one of them.

I think something really beautiful and really truthful and really true that Rolin has done, and the writers have done with this show… and I believe that I’ve helped with, is that we all kind of wear masks. We all have to wear these different things. I mean, even now, I’m sitting here and I’m like, “Ahhh.” I’m really excited. I’m really happy to be here, but there’s all this other stuff. I’m at home and there’s all these people that exist in multitudes.

I love Louis in the book because he is this kind of… This representation of grief and melancholy. But I think if you did that the whole time, I think it might not work in this kind of format. But also, he’s really sad in the beginning. It’s just that he has to put on this mask of like, “I’m the man of that town.” Because it’s protection. And then when he’s at home with his family has to be like, “I’ve got everything in control.”

I think part of the crisis of his former existence is he’s constantly having to pretend to be all these different things. And I think that he’s a little bit hardened, our Louis, in the beginning. But then those layers start to… I think he’s a human going through an identity crisis who is handed an even bigger one in being turned into a vampire.

I was truly terrified… The day before my first day and there was a whole thing… I had a real crisis of confidence and we had to go into the studio and to do some kind of test and I was… Internally, I was like, “I don’t know if I can do this.” I thought I had just forgotten everything that I’ve prepared and thought about this whole time. And we had this backdrop that Mara designed and built in New Orleans and there’s this storyville and I was like, “I’m just gonna take a walk around this backdrop.” And within a minute of walking down the street, I was like… I felt like Louis. I was walking like him. It just completely loaded me with confidence and knowing that I could do it. And that’s Mara creating this incredible immersive environment that you can get lost in.

Did you watch the movie and to add or try something different to Louis?

Jacob Anderson: No. [laughter] No. No. But I’m not saying that in a shady way. It’s a great movie and I saw it when I was a teenager and I was kind of tempted to watch it before we started shooting, if I’m honest. But I didn’t, ’cause I didn’t want it to be a response to that. I feel like this… That we had so much already there to look at and get nutrients from. That just wasn’t one of the things.

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