Interview With the Vampire Works So Well Because of Daniel Molloy

Interview With the Vampire Works So Well Because of Daniel Molloy

If anyone has been paying attention to me over the past few weeks (there are, what? Three of you? Welcome! Join me) you might have noticed that I’ve been working through an all-consuming obsession with AMC’s new series, Interview With the Vampire. You might think to yourself, “wasn’t that a kind of cheesy, not-gay-enough movie in the ‘90s?” and you’d be right. But you would also be wrong. The new Interview is not just a campy reimagining of the original novel, but an incredibly decadent prestige drama focusing on race, queerness, and morality through the lens of vampirism. And it is, also, about Daniel Molloy.

It’s unfair to talk about Molloy without first giving a bit more background on the actor Eric Bogosian. Bogosian is currently a Hollywood staple; he’s been acting more than 40 years, first on stage and then on screen, starting with small roles in the ‘80s before becoming more and more in demand. He’s also a playwright himself and has authored a non-fiction book, Operation Nemesis. The book is an investigation into a 1921 assassination perpetrated in retaliation for the Armenian genocide which occurred in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. There is, I firmly believe, nobody else out there who could have been cast as Daniel Molloy, the investigative reporter who swims along the edges of Louis’ story, a shark in the water, drawn to the smell of blood.

Bogosian’s delivery emulates Anthony Bourdain, and his acting produces an unflinching, aggressive, direct interrogation within the show itself. Although he gets much less screentime than the “fucked-up gothic romance” at the heart of the show, his moments wandering the Dubai apartment, attempting to uncover the truth from underneath the veneer of defensibility, are absolutely unmissable. Bogosian’s energy — that of a world-weary recovering addict with a fuck-it-all attitude — brings Daniel Molloy from the bookends of the 1976 novel, Interview With the Vampire, and transforms him into an essential part of this story.

Molloy is the sole human protagonist of the story; he’s the one conducting the titular interview with the vampire. It is through his lens that the audience is constantly pushed to think about the story, to interrogate it, to engage with it on a critical level, and without Molloy acting as our moral framework the show would simply fall apart. It’s true that Louis, Lestat, and Claudia are necessary characters, but considering the options for writing Molloy into the new series — which could have ranged from a frame narrator bookending each episode to a shocking mid-season reveal — the fact that he is so present, and that his memory is also considered important, elevates the show from prestige drama to theatrical masterpiece.

In the original novel, Molloy is only referred to as “boy” by the vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac. He appears rarely, interjects only occasionally, and doesn’t really question the veracity of the accounting. At the end of the novel he begs for the bite and is turned away by Louis, only to be confronted by Lestat on his drive home. It is, to say the least, a messy first date. In the updated series, that interview between a young Daniel Molloy and Louis happened in the ‘70s, and the show is following Molloy and Louis’ second interview, in 2022. Molloy has had a successful career, and now he’s back, re-interviewing the vamp that got away. By giving Molloy history, not only with Louis, but with the audience who will understand the update, the writers have created a character that is not just important, but essential to the story, far beyond simply taking down a vampire’s dictation.

The reason Molloy is so important is precisely because he has a narratively impactful framework. The reason I love him is because he’s an angry old man who takes no shit and is clearly experiencing a repressed crisis of his sexuality while being continuously challenged to correct the most impactful professional failure of his life — which happened when he was 20. Daniel Molloy is a character on the verge of many small deaths, and everything about him is genuinely perfect.

One of the best parts of having Molloy being such an active interrogator in this show is the fact that he refuses to let Louis get away with telling the story through rose-coloured glasses. He does not fall for the seduction, he demands truth at the expense of emotional comfort, and he is willing to risk himself to get to the parts of the narrative that are the most painful. In the same way, his character demands that we question what we’re seeing and what we’re being told. By constantly reminding the audience of the subjective, interpretative nature of the show, Molloy endears himself to the audience, and creates an incredible narrative tension between our own desires to see Louis and Lestat through Louis’ eyes and how Molloy sees them.

If this were just another show, I would just congratulate the writers on their cleverness and move on. But this is Interview With the Vampire, and it has baggage. It has a book, dozens of other books, a film, and even a musical to contend with. With Molloy challenging Louis, the writers are also challenging fans to let go of their preconceptions about what Interview With the Vampire could be, or even what it has been in the past. To directly confront the meta-text of the previous editions of this story is a bold move, and combining Bogosian’s performance with a powerhouse writers’ room that gives him the absolute best lines has solidified Daniel Molloy as my favourite character.

He’s a mean old man and I love him! He’s an angry bastard and I wouldn’t trade him for the world. I adore Lestat and Louis; both Sam Reid and Jacob Anderson’s performances are incredible, but there is something undeniably compelling about a contrarian! Molloy looks at all this bullshit and says, out loud, to Louis’ face, despite knowing that he is In Danger, “bullshit.” And this story needs that. This story relies on calling bullshit.

There is one last reason that I love Daniel Molloy. The chemistry that Bogosian has with Anderson’s Louis is, frankly, unhinged. They dart around each other like ex-boyfriends, looking for ways to dig their nails into each other’s skin, hoping to draw blood. I cannot fully express why this tension is so incredibly, desperately sexy, but it is. And the fact that Bogosian and Anderson’s repartee can compete with Louis and Lestat literally floating in the air while fucking each other? Incredible. The power that Molloy has. The charisma Bogosian brings to this role. Unmatched. The fact that I am rooting for a septuagenarian to get railed when Louis is involved in a torrid, deeply erotic love affair with a very hot blond twink should tell you something about how incredible the scenes are between Louis and Daniel, and speaks to how wonderful Bogosian is in this role.

While Daniel Molloy is not the story, he is imperative to its existence and the show itself. Molloy’s interview is not static, he is not there solely to justify the existence of story, and he’s not there to blow smoke up Louis’ arse as he tells the story. His engagement, questioning, and nuanced, aged understanding of the story helps create a kind of Interview that challenges the characters and the audience within its richly layered context. Without Molloy, this would just be another fucked up vampire fuckfest. With him, Interview With the Vampire is a bloody, brutal interrogation of the text that refuses to let anyone — whether that’s Louis or the audience — stay comfortable for long.

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