Anne Rice On Tom Cruise
"I was particularly stunned by the casting of Cruise, who is no more my Vampire Lestat than Edward G. Robinson is Rhett Butler."
- The Los Angeles Times, August 23, 1993
"The Tom Criuse casting is just so bizarre, it's almost impossible to imagine how it's going to work, and it's really almost impossible to imagine how Neil, David and Tom could have come up with it. I have one question: Does Tom Criuse have any idea of what he's getting into? I'm not sure he does. I'm not sure he's read any of the books other than the first one, and his comments on TV that he wanted to do something scary and he loved "creature features" as a kid, well, that didn't make me feel any better. I do think Tom Cruise is a fine actor. [But] you have to know what you can do and what you can't do."
- an interview with Martha Frankel, published in Movieline (Jan/Feb 1994)
"The charm, the humor and the invincible innocence which I cherish in my beloved hero Lestat are all alive in Tom Cruise's courageous performance;"
- ad in Daily Variety September 23, 1994
"When the announcement was made that Tom Cruise would star as Lestat, I had deep reservations and severe criticisms. So did many many of my readers. I talked openly about this. A curtain thereafter divided me from the entire production, and with reason. Nobody likes to be criticized, and that includes movie people, too.
I understand and accept what happened. But to me, movies and books are not like sports. There is no immediate consensus on whether a player had scored a home run or a touch down. So it was okay to speak my mind on the casting, and I donít have any regrets."
"ON TOM CRUISE: From the moment he appeared Tom was Lestat for me. He has the immense physical and moral presence; he was defiant and yet never without conscience; he was beautiful beyond description yet compelled to do cruel things. The sheer beauty of Tom was dazzling, but the polish of his acting, his flawless plunge into the Lestat persona, his ability to speak rather boldly poetic lines, and speak them with seeming ease and conviction were exhilarating and uplifting. The guy is great.
I'm no good at modesty. I like to believe Tom's Lestat will be remembered the way Olivier's Hamlet is remembered. Others may play the role some day but no one will ever forget Tom's version of it.
(Let me say here that anyone who thinks I did an "about face" on Tom just doesn't know the facts. My objections to his casting were based on familiarity with his work, which I loved. Many many great actors have been miscast in films and have failed to make it work. I don't have to mention them here. Why hurt anyone by mentioning the disaster of his career? But we've seen big stars stumble over and over when they attempt something beyond their reach.
That Tom DID make Lestat work was something I could not see in a crystal ball. It's to his credit that he proved me wrong. But the general objections to the casting? They were made on solid ground. Enough on that subject. Tom is a great actor. Tom wants challenges. Tom has now transcended the label of biggest box office star in the world. He's better.)
Favorite moments with Tom:
Tom's initial attack on Louis, taking him up into the air, praised by Ca ryn James so well in the New York Times. Ah! An incredibly daring scene. The finest romantic scene in any film, and here please read the word romance as an old and venerable word for timeless artistic forms of poetry, novels and film."
"Back to Tom: other great moments.
Tom's bedside seduction of the dying Louis, in which he offers Louis the Dark Gift. Once again, Tom gave Lestat the virility and the androgyny that made both him and the offer irresistible. He was near blinding. I would have accepted the Dark Gift from him then and there. Only an actor with complete confidence and conviction could have done that scene or any of the others.
Tom's angry outburst in the face of Louis' repeated questions. His stri de, his voice both loud and soft, his frustration, his obvious discomfort, and inner conflict. Once again, Tom took over the screen, the theatre, the mind of the viewer. Immense power.
Tom riding his horse through the slaves' fire, and then turning the hors e around so that he could face the suspicious mortals. That was on a par with Errol Flynn and Rudy Valentino. It was on a par with the opera greats who have played Mephistopheles. Only a genuine "star" can make a moment like that, and I'm as confused as to why...just as much as anyone in Hollywood. Let's close this one out with one word: Grand! (No, can't stop talking about it.)
If I had to settle for one picture in this film, it would be that shot o f Lestat on horseback looking back at the suspicious mortals.
That was and is my hero. That was and is my man. Lestat just won't be a fraid of anybody. He won't stand for it. He hates what he is as much as Louis, but he cannot do anything but move forward, attempt to make existence worth it, attempt to create. He knows the formula for success, and has no patience with the formula for failure. That's Lestat.
Tom's rage and obvious pain in the scene with the bleeding wench and the coffin, one scene from the book which I did not include in my script. it was probably put in by Neil Jordan. If Tom had not given so much depth to this scene, it might have been unwatchable. His desperation, his vulnerability, made it work, and he made himself in it the worthy object of compassion. No small feat! I found the scene, otherwise, to be disgusting.
The shot of Tom looking through the green shutters, and the falling rain knowing that Louis is somewhere out in the night. This was a gorgeous and eloquent shot. Again, it was the actor who gave it the depth in all the subtle ways that only he can do.
Tom's making of Claudia, and here I want to praise the entire trio...Tom , Kirsten, Brad... The scene is directed delicately and captures the intimacy, the blasphemy and the undeniable innocence and blundering of the human who has a supernatural gift to give and in his pain and confusion, chooses to give it, come what may. That's a scene for now, for our world of scientific and medical miracles, as much as any scene in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Tom pulled it off right to the last second.
Later, Tom's confusion when after bringing Claudia a doll, he sees Claud ia turn on him. About half of what I wrote for this scene in the script, or less, made it into the film, and I liked what I saw very much. I wish they'd gone on with the version of this scene that is in QUEEN OF THE DAMNED (see Jesse's discovery of Claudia's diary, and the entry describing what happened), but alas, what they did was great.
Tom's manner and expression on the dangerous night that Claudia comes to him and offers him her "reconciling gift." Close in on those two at the harpsichord. Tom is seated, I believe. Kirsten is behind him and apparently offers him the acceptance he needs so desperately. Scenes like this, with Tom, make this film work.
Every humorous scene Tom attempted was a complete success. The rat and the glass, I adored it. The humor added apparently by Neil Jordan -- the poodles, the piano teacher hitting the keyboard, the dressmaker biting the dust...well, I didn't adore all that, but Tom carried it off with true wit and style. And yes, its all right to laugh at those parts. We do every time we go to see the movie.
There are many other great Tom Cruise moments throughout the film. Many . But these are the ones I cherish now.
The readers calling me desperately want Tom to play THE VAMPIRE LESTAT. I hope he does. I hope I get to write the script for the movie. Tom's power, knowledge, skill, magnetism and artistic integrity are part and parcel of the success of IWTV, and there is no doubt that Tom would bring power and magic to TVL.
(Let me digress again. For those of you who haven't read TVL, it is not really a sequel to IWTV. It's a complete full novel on its own, beginning the Vampire Chronicles. IWTV was the truly difficult film to make. TVL will take commitment, money and immense faith as well as talent, but compared to IWTV, it is much, much easier to film. Lestat is the true hero of TVL. He is entirely sympathetic. The trick, I think, will be achieving a texture in that film that includes all of Lestat's adventures...from the snows of the Auvergne, to the boulevards of Paris, through the sands of Egypt, and through the visit to Marius' sanctuary, and on to the twentieth century rock music stage. The tales of Armand and of Marius all also excursions for Lestat essentially. I hope Tom makes the journey.)
One point: I am puzzled by what seems to be a discrepancy between the w ay Tom played Lestat, and the way my hero, Producer David Geffen, and others have described Lestat as a character. Did Tom on his own make this role a little bigger, brighter and more complex than anyone else realized it could be? I don't know. David Geffen called Lestat "nasty" when he was interviewed by Barbara Walters. Nasty? I don't get it. But David Geffen is my hero for getting this film made. No one else could have done it. So why quibble about what David said?
There is one problem created by the compelling charm of Tom's performance, obviously. Since he isn't all that nasty, why does Louis hate Lestat? How can he? Well, I'll take that problem any day over a more shallow solution. Tom his the right note. And Louis was Louis. Nothing could comfort Louis. The film got it."
-A much longer statement dated January 3, 1995, which was published as a separate booklet in Variety, was bound to be given away free at the Garden District Bookstore in New Orleans and was published in the Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club Newsletter.