On this day in 1994, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, the big-screen adaptation of Anne Rice’s best-selling 1976 novel, opens in theaters around the United States.
Directed by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, The End of the Affair) from a screenplay written by Rice, the film starred Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Antonio Banderas and Kirsten Dunst. Rice was initially critical of the decision to cast Cruise in the role of the worldly anti-hero Lestat; she stated that the actor was “no more my Vampire Lestat than Edward G. Robinson is Rhett Butler.” However, the author was reportedly pleased with the finished film. Interview with the Vampire, which had been highly anticipated by Rice’s legions of fans, proved to be a big box-office success.
Interview with the Vampire proved to be a breakout film for the 12-year-old Kirsten Dunst, who played Claudia, a child vampire who kisses Brad Pitt’s character Louis. Dunst later went on to star in such films as The Virgin Suicides (1999), which marked Sofia Coppola’s directorial debut; Bring It On (2000), Crazy/Beautiful (2001) and The Cat’s Meow (2001), in which she portrayed actress Marion Davies, the companion of famed media mogul William Randolph Hearst. By then one of Hollywood’s leading young female stars, Dunst won the role of Mary Jane, the object of Peter Parker’s affections in the blockbuster movie Spider-Man (2002) and its equally profitable sequels, Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Spider-Man 3 (2007). Among Dunst’s other film credits are Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Wimbledon (2004), Elizabethtown (2005) and Marie Antoinette (2006).
The other main cast members of Interview with the Vampire--Pitt, Banderas and Cruise--had all established their acting careers at the time of the film’s release. Pitt had appeared in such films as Thelma & Louise (1991), A River Runs Through It (1992) and Kalifornia (1993), while Banderas’ credits included The Mambo Kings (1992) and Philadelphia (1993). Cruise was the biggest star of the three, having already made such critical and commercial box-office hits as Top Gun (1986), Rain Man (1988) and A Few Good Men (1992).
In 2002, Queen of the Damned, a second movie based on Rice’s vampire books, was released. The film featured a different cast and director from Interview with the Vampire and was a box-office disappointment. In 2006, a musical titled Lestat, featuring music by Elton John and based on Rice’s writings, had a brief run on Broadway.