Mark Johnson on casting Jacob Anderson in ‘Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire’

Written by Anna Buss, produced by Joshua Farnham

Sam Reid (left) and Jacob Anderson in “Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire.” ​​ Photo by Michele K. Short/AMC Network Entertainment.

When award-winning executive producer Mark Johnson was tapped by AMC to oversee adaptations of Anne Rice’s 18 most relevant novels, he knew he would need to bust his talent spotting chops to help with the multi-series of Rice’s supernatural universe. 

One of the people he found for AMC’s first series “Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire,” was Rolin Jones (“Perry Mason,” “Friday Night Lights”), the show’s creator and showrunner. “He's extraordinary,” says Johnson, “he's one of those guys [who] surprises you in every page he writes, every decision he makes is unexpected.” 

Actor Jacob Anderson (“Game of Thrones”), who plays the tormented vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac in the series, agrees. “[Jones] writes with a lot of humility, [and] just seems to have such a skill with words,” he says. “[He] would drop off three scripts and be like, ‘Let me know what you think?’”

This new adaptation of Rice’s 1976 iconic and bestselling novel “Interview with the Vampire,” features Pointe du Lac telling journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) about his epic love story with Lestat De Lioncourt (Sam Reid) and Claudia (Bailey Bass), bloodshed and the perils of immortality. But differently from the 1994 Tom Cruise-Brad Pitt movie, “Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles,” in this new rendition, Pointe du Lac is a black businessman living and working in 1900’s segregated New Orleans.  

Johnson explains that being picked to oversee Rice’s universe has been extraordinary. “In true candor, I wasn't that familiar with all of her work and became familiar,” he says. “AMC has grand plans for the Anne Rice world.” 

While IWTV was being shot in New Orleans, filming overlapped with the network’s next series, “Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches,” and there are three other series based on Rice’s books being developed. “Then we have to figure out how, to what degree they all interconnect very much like the Marvel world, which characters may appear significantly or just incidentally and from one franchise to the other,” Johnson says.

For Anderson, who’s better known for his GOT’s character Grey Worm, becoming a vampire was a process. “I wasn't massively a vampire guy when I grew up. I was really scared of horror as a child,” he remarks. But now, he has embraced it: “I think there's something that I didn't quite realize that [is] related to vampires, this kind of searching. I'm a chronic over-thinker, and so is Louis de Pointe du Lac.” 

And adds, “I've read the majority of the books now, and they're all kind of on this eternal quest to figure out who they are and who they were, and, to what degree are they still human, even the ones that seem completely detached.”

The actor also explains that after not knowing his fate on GOT, but being on the HBO series until its end, he’s very committed to IWTV. “I am very much in love with this character, and the story that we're telling,” he says. “I'd be very excited to continue telling Louis’ story.”

“In this particular case, we actually had the cast number one and number two on the call sheet very early on, and we were able to build from that,” says Mark Johnson. Jacob Anderson plays Louis de Pointe du Lac in “Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire.” Photo by Alfonso Bresciani/AMC Network Entertainment.

Johnson says that Alan Taylor, who directed IWTV’s first two episodes was an early advocate for Anderson to be casted. “[Taylor] said, ‘You've got to see this guy,’” Johnson claims. Then, he and creator Jones took a look at him and found their Pointe du Lac. 

“Often a television show comes together at the last minute, even when we're not going to be able to shoot because we can't find this person,” Johnson says. “In this particular case, we actually had the cast number one and number two on the call sheet very early on, and we were able to build from that.”

Once Anderson was contacted to audition for the role, he recalls that he was sent the material and started reading the book immediately. But, one of the challenges was that the casting and reads were all done via Zoom from multiple time zones, with Reid being in Australia, Anderson in the U.K., and the rest of the crew, in Southern California, according to Johnson. 

And that made for an interesting chemistry read between the two lead actors who met on that Zoom call. “We both confessed to each other [and] eventually, we had spores of wool in our hands, kind of nervously off screen, we're just like playing with something,” he observes.   

At that moment, Anderson says that he felt the chemistry, even being that far apart. “I think there was just something about the way that Sam and I were communicating, even navigating each other, responding to each other,” he says. 

For Johnson and the rest of the casting crew, that connection was felt between their reads. “They're just nonsense, talking between the scenes, and you just say, ‘Oh, yes, I can see these two together’ as opposed to the formal actual reading of a scene and sort of the time you end up talking around it,” Johnson explains.

“I think there was just something about the way that Sam and I were communicating, even navigating each other, responding to each other,” says Jacob Anderson. Sam Reid and Anderson in “Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire.” Photo by Alfonso Bresciani/AMC.

Audiences have responded positively to the on-screen romance, with its first episode rating a 98% on rotten tomatoes, and AMC renewing the series for season two. 

Johnson says working on the series has been an incredible experience. “I really, really enjoy it,” he says. “I'm so proud of what we pulled off [and] I'm actively quite excited about the future.” 

Anderson, who’s also a musician, says he feels agnostic about both careers. “I just move towards what I'm excited about and what I feel is the best way to express myself,” he says. 

“Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire” streams on AMC+ and episodes are  released Sundays on AMC.




Kim Masters


Joshua Farnham