‘Interview with the Vampire’ Season 2 review: Theater, romance, and bloody good TV


Right from its opening seconds, you know Interview with the Vampire Season 2 is for the theater kids.

A red title card pops up against a black background, informing us that “the role of Claudia will now be played by Delainey Hayles.” The message here is twofold: First and foremost, the card is a clever device to address Claudia’s recasting, as Hayles takes over the role from Season 1 Claudia actor Bailey Bass. But it also sets the stage (literally) for the season’s theatrical leanings, reading like a new casting insert you’d see in a show program.

Just as Hayles steps into Claudia’s shoes and makes the role her own, so too does Interview with the Vampire lean into its own theatricality this season, thanks to the arrival of the Théâtre des Vampires. Not only does this new coven treat us to some gloriously staged set pieces and laugh-out-loud theater kid drama, it also provides an outlet for Interview with the Vampire to delve deeper into its themes of performance and deception. What follows is a bloody good time — with sides of twisted romance and tragedy, of course.

Interview with the Vampire takes a theatrical turn in Season 2.

Claudia from "Interview with the Vampire" sings onstage while wearing a frilly blue dress.

Delainey Hayles in “Interview with the Vampire.”
Credit: Larry Horricks / AMC

Interview with the Vampire continues to remix the story of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, picking up in the wake of its shattering Season 1 finale. Vampires Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) and Claudia (Haynes) have murdered their maker, the much older Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid). Now, they roam Europe in search of other vampires like them, with every dead-end discouraging the already isolated Claudia more and more.

Their search eventually leads them to the Parisian Théâtre des Vampires, led by the vampire Armand (Assad Zaman). Here, vampires hide in plain sight, masked only by the thin guise of a stage play that is equal parts riveting and horrifying. Every performance is a series of darkly comedic mini plays, where actors interact with carefully planned projected films. It’s Georges Méliès meets Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow casts — the latter comparison is particularly apt given the Théâtre des Vampires’ cult following. In a delightful bit of world-building, these devotees paint their faces white, wear fake vampire teeth, and bring special umbrellas to avoid being sprayed with the company’s fake blood.

The highlight of each show comes at the very end of the play, when lead actor Santiago (Ben Daniels, devouring his every scene) chows down on a member of the public. The ensuing feeding frenzy makes the rapt audience unknowingly complicit in every death, adding a perverse layer of satisfaction for the vampiric performers.

Louis and Claudia from "Interview with the Vampire" walk down a dark street, wearing warm winter coats.

Jacob Anderson and Delainey Hayles in “Interview with the Vampire.”
Credit: Larry Horricks / AMC

Claudia is instantly smitten with the Théâtre, its rituals, and the sense of belonging that comes with being part of a coven. Louis, on the other hand, does not wish to be bound by the coven’s rules. While he strikes up a romantic relationship with Armand, his detachment from the Théâtre as an entity causes friction — especially with Santiago.

The scenes within the Théâtre des Vampires are among the highlights of Interview with the Vampire Season 2, offering up laughs alongside the enchantingly executed play. Take Armand giving an annoyed Santiago notes on his performance, or the morbid backstage cleanup required for shows where someone get murdered every night.

But aside from these much appreciated theatrical gags, there’s a deeper kind of performance afoot this season. Louis and Claudia must pretend not to know Lestat, as the truth could risk endangering their lives. Their web of lies strains their relationship, just as Claudia’s efforts to join the coven push against Louis’s fraternization with humans at artists’ soirées. Is he performing the idea of humanity in an effort to get close to it, or is he merely an observer?

Interview with the Vampire Season 2 dives deep into memory.

Daniel from "Interview with the Vampire" sits in front of his laptop, wearing a gray button-up and glasses.

Eric Bogosian in “Interview with the Vampire.”
Credit: Larry Horricks / AMC

The art of performance is very much on display in Interview with the Vampire‘s present-day storyline as well. Journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) continues his interview with Louis, now with Armand at his side. But while the two claim to be the loves of each other’s lives (much to Daniel’s annoyance), their partnership balances precariously on its own share of deceit. Daniel pokes and prods at their accounts, making for one of the show’s most delicious — and dangerous — new dynamics.

There is so much to love in the trio of Daniel, Louis, and Armand, especially in Daniel’s many cutting remarks aimed at Armand or at Louis’s occasionally more melodramatic storytelling. But Interview with the Vampire rises to a new level of intrigue when Daniel interacts one on one with Louis, or one on one with Armand. In these bouts of verbal sparring (or sometimes even collaboration), astonishing secrets and repressed memories come to light, re-coloring everything we thought we knew about Armand and Louis’s relationship.

“Memory is the monster” has been a common refrain in promotional materials for this season, and that is especially true during Louis’ scenes of recollection. Claudia hangs between him and Armand like a ghost, while his and Daniel’s first interview in 1973 claws at both their psyches like a beast waiting to be set free.

But if memory is a monster, the biggest of them all is Lestat, who lingers in Louis’s memory both in the present and in the past. Even in death, he haunts Louis, walking beside him in a dark Parisian park, taunting him during his early flirtations with Armand, coming between him and Claudia. Are these apparitions just Louis’s imagination, or is there something more corporeal to this Lestat?

Anderson delivers a wrenching mix of grief and horror in these scenes, while Reid ranges from playfully indignant to raging at the reminder that Louis killed him. Half of the pairing may be dead, but their chemistry makes them one of television’s most compelling and dysfunctional couples. This isn’t to say Louis and Armand aren’t fascinating: They certainly are, especially as Armand becomes slipperier and harder to read. But so much of their dynamic also revolves around Lestat, who intrudes upon their relationship like a splinter lurking just below the skin. The more Louis picks at his own memory, the more Lestat threatens to burst through, undergirding an already exceptional season of TV with an exhilarating throughline of tension. Like the devotees of the Théâtre des Vampires, you’ll find yourself lapping up this season’s surprises and coming back week after week for more.

Interview with the Vampire Season 2 premieres May 12 on AMC and AMC+.

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