Inside the Brutal ‘Interview With the Vampire’ Season 2 San Francisco Flashback

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[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Interview With the Vampire Season 2 Episode 5, “Don’t Be Afraid, Just Start the Tape.” It also contains discussion of suicide and domestic violence.]

Interview With the Vampire has revealed its version of the San Francisco interview. Louis and Daniel’s 1973 meeting serves as the setting for Anne Rice‘s original novel, but the AMC series changed the premise by setting its main interview in Dubai in 2022, 49 years after the first try went awry.

Eric Bogosian‘s Daniel Molloy has been experiencing memory flashes to that fateful encounter throughout Season 2, ones that have made him distrust Armand (Assad Zaman) more and more. But it’s what he and Louis (Jacob Anderson) didn’t remember that are the most revealing and tragic developments. TV Insider connected with the stars and creator of the episode, the first episode filmed for Season 2, to discuss how it was made and how it changes the course of the season.

Luke Brandon Field returned as young Daniel in the episode. He, Anderson, and Zaman had the gargantuan task of filming this episode first. This was done in order to give new cast member Delainey Hayles time to prepare after Bailey Bass‘ sudden exit from the series. “We were going to shoot [Episode] 5 and [Episode] 1 always together,” showrunner Rolin Jones tells TV Insider. “We were going to start with 1, and we had to get some time for Delainey to get into it, so we flopped them.”

They filmed the episode over about two weeks and shot the scenes in order of appearance to help ease in the actors, but there was no easing in for Zaman. Anderson and Field’s first scene was simply walking into the apartment. Zaman’s, on the other hand, was the fight with Louis when Armand says, “Lestat, Lestat, Lestat, Lestat!” Both of these were on day one of Season 2 filming, according to Field and Jones. “We threw him in the fire,” Jones says of Zaman. “He did well. He did really well.” Imagine being pushed off a cliff to find out if you can fly.

Assad Zaman as Armand in in 'Interview With the Vampire' Season 2 Episode 5 - 'Don't Be Afraid, Just Start the Tape'

Larry Horricks / AMC

“It was terrifying,” Zaman tells us. Jones broke the news two weeks before they started, but Zaman was more prepared than he thought for his first real day as Armand. “What I didn’t realize until I got to set on the first day was … so much of the prep had happened while I was in Season 1 in New Orleans. A lot of it was starting to ruminate in me in that year between Season 1 and Season 2, because I was consuming Anne Rice every day. Once we got there and started filming, it all came together quite nicely.”

“Now I’m really grateful that we did start with that,” Zaman continues. “For Jacob and I to start basically in the middle of a 77-year relationship with this huge argument was like a crash course into our dynamics. That was the first time we’d ever really bounced off each other. We were figuring each other out in that moment. It helped later on when we met each other again in Paris in that first encounter.”

Jones and director Craig Zisk created a theatrical feel on set to help the trio, who have all done theater before, feel like they were on familiar ground.

“Rolin basically said just treat it like an off-Broadway play,” Field shares. “‘Just go for it. Anything you guys need, you are supported.’ We felt that immediately. [We] really immersed [ourselves] into it, and we didn’t rehearse it. Some scenes we read before, but it very much felt organic and real and natural and my gosh, did we go on a journey?” He adds, “The atmosphere was electric at all times.”

Daniel was one of over one hundred men Louis lured home to screw and drain, all of whom lived with addiction. But he was the only one Louis let live. What started out as a flirtatious, drug-fueled interview that raked Lestat (Sam Reid) across the coals spiraled into devastation. As Anderson tells us, “Episode 5 is never a great episode for Louis.” (This is in reference to Season 1’s fifth episode, when Lestat physically abused Louis.)

The episode switches between San Francisco and Dubai, where older Louis and Daniel are trying to recall what happened in 1973 before Armand gets back from his elaborate hunt. After Episode 4 ended with Daniel hearing an enhanced version of his 1973 tapes provided in secret by Raglan James (Justin Kirk), the journalist had to know what happened in San Francisco.

Daniel played the interview audio he was meant to have deleted, and the air left the room when they realized that neither of them had any recollection of what they were hearing. They kept on excavating their memories until every detail possible was unveiled. Through this, they discovered that Louis attempted suicide after his fight with Armand by stepping into the sun. Armand saved him, but neither of them remember it happening. Their memories of San Francisco have “the same edit,” Daniel said.

Anderson explains how Louis was driven to such an act. “He’s essentially an addict at that point,” he explains. “He’s like a heroin addict through blood. He finds people that have addictions and drinks them. He’s in a very, very, very dark place.”

Louis and Armand are “barely functioning as a relationship,” Anderson adds. “They’re very distant from each other. Louis is on a very destructive [path].” It’s the sum of his trauma over what happened in Paris, plus a long lifetime of unprocessed pain.

Jacob Anderson as Louis, Luke Brandon Field as Young Molloy in 'Interview With the Vampire' Season 2 Episode 5 - 'Don't Be Afraid, Just Start the Tape'

Larry Horricks / AMC

Louis’ suicide attempt does happen in The Vampire Chronicles book series, just not in the first novel. This is plot pulled from book 7, Merrick. Jones explains pulling from Merrick for Season 2.

“It is something that we thought in our timeline, actually works very similar to where it works in her [Rice’s] timeline,” he says. “We just have slightly different things that are going on. But if you put that between what happened in Paris and where we are in Dubai, you can justify our decision about it.”

Armand is also not involved in the San Francisco interview in the first book. His chilling interactions with Daniel in 205 are the closest things book fans have gotten to an adaptation of the beloved “Devil’s Minion” chapter of The Queen of the Damned (book 3), which is about the journalist and Armand and written from Daniel’s point of view. Field knows the chapter and is hopeful he’ll get to play it out one day.

“That’s an amazing story. It’s out there. I know a lot of people love it,” he says. “I’ve met a lot of people who’ve read the books and they’re like, this chapter is incredible. And to me, that’s a logical way of going” next. He also brings up the fan theory arguing that Armand is actually Alice (Daniel’s first wife) but Daniel was made to forget. “It’d be wonderful to explore that as well,” Field shares.

One major reveal from the episode is that Lestat is alive in 1973. In the 1940s Paris timeline, Louis and Claudia believe him to be dead. As Louis writhed in immense pain (his entire body was burned by the sun), Armand called Lestat telepathically. It seems that Armand is both trying to punish and care for Louis in this moment. Lestat telepathically spoke his message to Armand, and Armand recited it for Louis to hear. It’s a concerned and loving tone, and in his message Lestat confessed he still loved Louis but Armand won’t say that part out loud. Louis is resistant to hear any of it.

Reid tells TV Insider he was in the room with Zaman, Anderson, and Field when reciting these lines. It was also his first scene filmed for Season 2. Reid and Zaman agree that this “call” is the closest thing we’ve gotten to hearing the real Lestat in the series. Every moment before this was a memory of Lestat from Louis or Armand’s point of view.

“The telephone you hear in Episode 5 is probably real Lestat,” Reid says, or at least “it’s the echo of the guy,” he notes. He admits it’s a confusingly “meta” plot detail to work out. “It’s complicated because who’s hearing that?” he asks. “I was like, ‘Rolin, so does Louis hear Lestat?’ And he was like, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Does Lestat’s voice come out of Armand?’ He said, ‘No, he translated it.’ I said, ‘Then how do we hear him?’”

All that’s certain is Louis could only hear Armand’s voice in this moment. Reid says the lack of response terrifies Lestat, who screams out Louis’ name in fear as Armand cuts the line. “He doesn’t hear [what’s going on] because Louis doesn’t respond,” Reid explains. “The thing is that Lestat for all intents and purposes thinks Louis is dead.”

This being the first glimpse of the “real” Lestat is “something that we really talked about quite a lot,” Zaman says. “Where are we in that moment? Because in Dubai, this is Daniel and Louis supporting each other to reveal their memories. This is not being recounted by anyone. This is almost happening in real time. I think it’s real. It might be the first objective voice of Lestat that we get in the show.”

Anderson disagrees. He says that this Lestat is still the memory version, except now “it’s Daniel’s memory of what he heard through the door and Louis’ memory of what happened.” He notes that Daniel’s interview tape has cut out at this point. The only reason we’re seeing these memories is because Daniel and Louis are digging them up. While it’s the most objective perspective of Lestat so far, Anderson says “the only objective thing in the show really is Dubai. We’ve never met Lestat.”

“It hurts my brain sometimes to figure out the layers” of this show, Anderson admits with a smile.

Daniel, meanwhile, is passed out on the floor in the next room after Armand put him through hours of psychological and physical torture. Every time he tried to get up, Armand said “rest” and Daniel lost control of his body. Even though you couldn’t see Daniel in the shot during this call, Field was still in the next room acting passed out to continue the theatrical feel. Filming this scene was the first time he met Reid.

“It was trippy because I’m in the other room knocked out. It’s this omniscient voice that’s somewhere in the ether, which is just around the corner,” Field shares of hearing Reid’s performance. “It was a really great touch to have him there.”

Assad Zaman as Armand and Luke Brandon Field as Young Molloy in 'Interview With the Vampire' Season 2 Episode 5 - 'Don't Be Afraid, Just Start the Tape'

Larry Horricks / AMC

Zaman says that Louis’ suicide attempt has defined Armand’s life ever since. “One of the really specific and tragic things about that is the knowledge that Louis hurt himself has been there from San Francisco up until [Dubai]. He has carried that on his own,” Zaman explains, adding, “The implications really hit home in Episode 6. I don’t think he realized how painful that memory or that feeling has been. To hold onto that on his own, to know that the love of his life got to a point where they felt so alone that they had to hurt themselves, I think only people who have been through that kind of thing can understand what it feels like to feel like they were the problem or they should have been there to fix it.”

Why did Louis give Daniel this interview in the first place? Was it a test to see if Lestat was alive and would come back if Louis made a scene? Anderson says Louis is trying to “numb” his feelings, and that’s not something he can do with Armand.

“A few things are true. Perhaps there is a subconscious thing of Louis trying to reach Lestat or trying to wind him up. I don’t think it’s necessarily that he wants him to come back. He’s terrified by the idea of seeing him again,” Anderson explains. “But there’s also a real loneliness to Louis, particularly then. He’s really lonely [in San Francisco], and he’s lonely in Dubai. He’s really lonely in his relationship. Talking to Molloy, he finds somebody who he can just get all of this stuff out with. There’s always stuff that’s sitting in him, and he’s trying to numb it out.”

Older Daniel now has to live with the knowledge that the last 49 years of his life were defined by a memory edit by Armand. Young Daniel doesn’t remember almost being killed by Armand, nor does he remember Louis saving him, but Field says his character only wants to be immortal even more after this. As Armand tries to convince him to die, Daniel says he’s “a bright young reporter with a point of view” who deserves to live. But he doesn’t just want a mortal life — he’s fighting for a chance at immortality.

“What if I’m immortal, then I could do this for the rest of my life,” Field says of Daniel. “That’s the inner fight that I was feeling at the time in that scene specifically. It’s so entrancing, it’s so easy to die. It feels good. It’s like a warm blanket. But no, I have so much more that I want to accomplish in my life and I want to be immortal. I want to be there with you. He’s so swayed and charmed by Louis.”

The same can’t be said for older Daniel. Bogosian says the return of these memories changes the Dubai interview. There’s a reignited sense of purpose, but not to be immortal. “He’s going to break the back of the story if it kills him,” Bogosian tells us. “And he can’t really deal with all that. His whole life is wreckage, and it has a lot to do with what happened that week. I don’t think he really is dealing with it. He’s putting all of his effort into figuring this sh*t out.”

Welcome to the second half of Interview With the Vampire Part 2. It’s a doozy.

Interview With the Vampire, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC, Streaming Sundays on AMC+

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or dial 988. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

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