|By AL J. Vermette
He stands noble and strong, fully aware of himself and the creature of the night that he has become.
Embracing his dark side, the vampire Lestat De Lioncourt emerges as one of the most feared and
commonly known vampire in both fiction and film, second only to maybe Dracula himself. He was birth out
of the mind of horror author Anne Rice who introduced him to the world in her 1976 gothic novel Interview
With The Vampire in what would become the series Vampire Chronicles. The book itself, her debut novel,
was based on her 1968 short story where a vampire named Louis talks about his life to a reporter. The
short story was expanded into a novel where she introduced her most famous creature creation Lestat.
Published by Knopf in both hardcover and paperback, Interview With the Vampire struggled at first to
gain a readership and was a low mark on critical reviews. However, once Rice followed Interview with
other books featuring her charismatic vampire, the series started to gain momentum. Although the
character of Louis is really the star of the story of Interview With the Vampire, it was Lestat that truly stood
out both in the novel and the popular movie with actor Tom Cruise in the role of Lestat.
The novel The Vampire Lestat is book two in the series and goes deeper into the creature's backstory
than ever before. The character himself is said to be based on Rice’s own husband Stan Rice who was an
artist and poet. The name of Lestat happened by accordant when Rice misspelled the word Lestan
thinking it was an old French name. After Interview and The Vampire Lestat, Rice followed with The Queen
of The Damned where the creature is brought into the modern world and becomes of all things a rock star.
Lestat’s backstory though is one of blood, gore, and overall vampire murder as he is said to come from
France and born in the year 1758. Born as an aristocrat, the seventh son, most of his family wealth is
squandered away by the time he is grown. Later in life when not of his own choice, Lestat is turned into a
vampire and thus starts life over as a monster trying to find his way in the world.
As a vampire, Lestat through an endless lifespan learns to read and becomes a writer, poet, and
actor. Later when in the 1980’s becomes the lead singer for a rock band. It’s after his coming to the New
World that he meets Louis and together, after he turns the young man into a vampire companion for
himself, the two later take in a child whose mother was killed by the plague. Her name was Claudia and as
he and Louis try to raise the newly turned vampire child as their own in a modern two father fashion, they
soon come to discover their need for blood and carnage matches even that of Lestat himself.
As discussed before, Lestat is only a bit player in Interview With The Vampire but truly shines in the
books The Vampire Lestat and Queen of The Damned where he carries the storylines. He is even seen
somewhat of a hero in Queen as he and other vampires battle the wicked Queens Akasha. Lestat has
been featured in 12 books to date with a 13th coming out in 2018. He is author Anne Rice’s most beloved
character and maybe the most widely used of her work. But this vampire’s exploits don’t end between the
pages of Anne Rice novels, this creature has appeared in two Hollywood features and even a stage play.
In 1994, Hollywood came calling for the rights to do Interview With the Vampire the movie. At first when
author Anne Rice heard about the movie deal she was thrilled until she heard of who was to play her most
loved vampire. When actor Tom Cruise was cast as Lestat, Rice was far from happy because of Cruse’s
all American boy good looks and image she could not see him playing her down and dirty vampire.
However, upon the movie release, Rice changed her mind and thought that he did a wonderful job playing
her Lestat. Brad Pitt played Lestat’s longtime companion Louis and with Christian Slater, Antonio
Banderas and a very young Kirsten Dunst rounding out the all-star cast.
The vampire Lestat returned to film with the release of Queen of the Damned with actor Stuart
Townsend taking on the role of Lestat. Unlike the earlier movie, this film had an all-new vibe to it and
although very well done, didn’t seem like it belonged in the same universe with Interview With The
Vampire. Townsend’s Lestat was a creature of the modern age, something we saw only minutes of Cruise’
s portrayal near the end of the film. Townsend’s vampire was that of the rock star Lestat and unlike the
older film where the vampire was more of the villain, here he came out the hero of sorts as he fights the
Queen of the Vampires.
The vampire returned one more time on the Broadway stage for a short-lived musical of all things in
2006. With music written by Elton John and the main role covered by stage actor Hugh Panaro, who
carried on the musical simply titled Lestat. Opening at the Palace Theater on March 25 and closing
production on May 28 of 2006 after only 33 previews and 39 shows. Although this may have been a loss
for the vampire Lestat, it was still a chance to see the creature in a live action performance for those who
were lucky enough to see the production while it ran on stage.
But you can keep a good…or evil vampire down for long as Rice is planning the release of her
thirteenth novel starring Lestat in 2018. The new novel Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat will
return the vampire to the front and center once again. Would it be nice too to see Hollywood take another
crack at the vampire maybe The Vampire Lestat movie? Why they jumped over that in the book series
from Interview to Queen, I don’t know. I’m sure we have not seen the last of this charismatic vampire.
|The Vampire Lestat