Anne Rice: Interview With the Author of Interview With the Vampire
Q: I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you this: Have you ever strapped on a double-dildo and fucked your husband, Stan?
A: [Much laughter] No, I haven't. But if I had, I probably wouldn't tell you. Well, maybe I would tell you, Martha, but the answer is that I never, ever have.
Q: Who straps on the dildo in the movie? That's all I want to know.
A: [Laughter] I don't know. I assume it will be Dana Delany, but I don't know if they'll show that. I made the decision to sell them the rights and then I backed off, because I'm not a collaborative artist. I can't stand throwing my heart into a script and then having people change it. Now the Beauty books I wouldn't sell, because I don't trust anybody to do those in a way I would necessarily approve of. They are total pornography.
Q: Have you watched a lot of pornography?
A: I don't care for it very much [so] I haven't watched a lot. My husband has a large collection of really wild pornography.
Q: What kind of stuff?
A: Oh, all kinds of funky X-rated films, homemade X-rated films, tapes made by lesbians, things like that.
Q: How do you feel about women who say that pornography degrades them?
A: Pornography is not the problem. And taking away pornography is not going to solve the problem. Pornography has its place in exploring the imagination. I would love to see women write more pornography. And men, too. I think through pornography we could understand more about our really basic fantasies. And I think our fantasies are a big mystery. I think the violence against women has to do with men, and I don't think they need any pornography to help.
Q: So you didn't believe Ted Bundy when he said that pornography drove him wild?
A: Ten minutes before he got electrocuted, he thought, Well, I'll make one last stab at getting out of here. He was trying to give some indication that he was worth studying if they'd just keep him alive, and I'm really glad they executed him.
Q: Where do you do your research? Have you been involved in S&M or do you have access to people who are heavily into it?
A: Only after the books were published. I was invited out a few times by some people in San Francisco and I did meet an interesting woman who had a whole armoire of whips and dildos and things. But the rest of it is my imagination. Oh, I have my friend John Preston, too. He's a gay pornographer, and my closest friend. But our relationship is mainly that of two writers. Other than that, I don't really know anybody else who's into S&M.
Q: You say you watch a lot of movies, so let's talk about the ones that you thought were erotic.
A: I've been influenced by films. I watch them so much because I'm a very slow reader, and when I want to unwind, I put a movie on. I find Tom Berenger and Kurt Russell just delightful to look at.
Q: Tom Berenger, huh?
A: Yeah, Tom Berenger has the greatest neck and chest. When I was writing The Witching Hour, I would take time off and watch Someone to Watch Over Me, just to base the character Michael on Tom Berenger. One of the sexiest things I ever saw was him walking around the apartment with the gun in Someone to Watch Over Me. I just loved it. Another movie I loved is Last Rites, where he plays the priest from St. Patrick's Cathedral. That scene where he gets into bed with that jezebel--I cannot sit still and watch that. I didn't think it was a great film, but I thought he did a fantastic job.
Q: Have you ever met him?
A: No, no. But when The Witching Hour came out, I asked CAA to send him a copy and say, "These characters are based on you."
Q: And you never heard from him?
Q: Did you even go see Sliver because he was in it? That would show real devotion.
A: I saw it on disc. I thought it was very interesting. Again, it wasn't a great film. He's generally better than the films he's in.
Q: Did you watch him in At Play In the Fields of the Lord?
A: I was waiting for him to take his shirt off. I knew that would happen. But when he took off everything, I almost died. Kurt Russell is worth watching, just to see his arms. He was good in Backdraft. I thought that was a hilariously romantic film. You talk about male romance... A River Runs Through It was a fishing romance, Backdraft was a fireman's romance. As I get older I like looking at those kind of men. I just adore Arnold Schwarzenegger, I'll watch him in anything.
Q: Tom, Kurt... and Arnold?
A: I've written a book called The Mummy, and I wish--we have people interested in it and it's moving very slowly--but I wish Arnold Schwarzenegger would play that role. See, I think coming out of the wrappings as Ramses the Great with that terrific voice and that gorgeous physique, it'd be great. It would be something totally different for him. I've yet to see him in a film that I thought was really as good as he was. You know, he does films that I think are very easy for him. I'm sure he works extremely hard, but I would love to see him really have a juicy role.
Q: I'm sorry, but this Arnold thing, I can barely believe this.
A: Arnold's not what he seems. That's what I've been telling my mother-in-law. You've got to watch his films. The guy has this great sensitivity. The voice is beautiful. The mystery of that voice, and the compassion in his face, and the gentleness at the core... that's what does it. It's not what you think. The reason I wanted him so badly to play Ramses, too, is the voice. That's a very sexy thing to me, men's voices. I think Berenger's voice is just great. But to really refine this answer: Berenger is about the most erotic thing in film. I really do look at his films just to look at him. Someone to Watch Over Me is almost hard to watch, it's so erotic... it's Berenger porn!
Q: What other movies do you find sexy?
A: I thought Henry & June was very sensuous, and I particularly liked Uma Thurman. I thought Last Tango in Paris was wonderful. I think when you go back to Last Tango and films like that, the films of today seem very tame. That was a wild phase in film. Pretty Baby was a shocking film for me. I saw it again recently and felt uneasy, because of the way it uses Brooke Shields. I thought the TV show "Beauty and the Beast" was tremendously sexy. Linda Hamilton was wonderful and Ron Perlman is great. I think he could play the Mummy, too.
Q: You like the oddest actors.
A: They're all hunks. To me, this is not a superficial thing, this is a very deep, sensuous thing. At this point in my life, in novels like The Witching Hour, I'm describing that kind of man. I never did it in my earlier novels. I was describing Eric Roberts--whom I also love--or, you know, some ethereal figure that is part angel, part male. I'm really enjoying expanding in this way. This is just the pornographer in me talking, but I would love to make a film with Berenger.
Q: So, you hate Hollywood, but you love movies.
A: I love film, and I think my feelings about Hollywood are pretty much the feelings of many, many writers. You know, you go there and you think so much can be done, and then you start to discover how many people are messing around who don't know anything.
Q: What about Daniel Day-Lewis? Would he have made a good Lestat?
A: If he had played Lestat we wouldn't be in this dilemma, but he turned it down. Even then, I suggested to Neil Jordan that it be reversed, that Daniel Day-Lewis play Louis and Brad Pitt play Lestat, but I don't think he agreed with me. I'm not even sure he understood me. Neil Jordan, by the way, is extraordinarily nice, one of the most gentle, kind human beings. In fact, I fear for him in Hollywood. I don't know how somebody decent can survive with those panthers out there. I don't know.
Q: You haven't mentioned Bram Stoker's Dracula. What did you think of it?
A: I didn't care for it. I didn't think it was sexy at all. But I love Francis Coppola. I thought The Godfather was great, and I was hoping he'd give us a Godfather of vampire movies. But I don't think he took it seriously. He thought it was a fun thing that he could do anything with. And he did anything. He'd show a great image, and then everything would go wild, and the power of the image would be lost. And then another great image would come up, and it would be lost, and I just didn't get it. And why he chose for Gary Oldman to look like Glenn Close, I have no idea.
Q: Was Tim Burton ever going to do Interview With the Vampire!
A: No, but I did write a script last year, a remake of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, and we wanted very badly for Tim Burton to do that. I did have one meeting with him. He was very charming. I think he later decided not to do the project, but I have tremendous admiration for him.
Q: So, just to make sure the record's straight, what's the biggest reason Tom Cruise is no good to play Lestat?
A: I don't think I've ever fallen under the spell of an actor when the voice wasn't a big component, and of course the very sad thing about Tom Cruise is he does not have that kind of distinct voice. How is he possibly going to say those lines? How is he gonna exert the power of Lestat? Over and over in the books, I say, you know, Lestat's voice was purring in my ear, or the voice was like roughened velvet, and here's this actor with no voice. I don't know how it's gonna work. Maybe he will drop out.
Q: Are you a loose cannon? Are they trying to tell you to shut up already?
A: No, I got one call in the very beginning. Actually, my readers had been screaming for several weeks before I started. Some people were blaming me. "How could you let this happen?" So finally, when I was contacted by the L.A. Times, I said what was on my mind. After about three weeks of trying to live with it, I was sitting at my desk and I real¬ized I was just so angry at Neil Jordan that he'd let this happen, that I couldn't contain it any longer. I finally erupted in a conversation, but it had already blown like Vesuvius. It's not my doing. David Geffen doesn't know who Louis is or who Lestat is. Perhaps David's never even read Interview With the Vampire. I didn't ever get the impression that he had. Maybe at some point somebody read it to him, or he's heard the tape. They want you to believe in Hollywood that you need them, that they can change your life, and I think they're afraid of writers in some ways because they think they can't control us. There's a point where we can walk away. We don't need them, you know. If they say to me, you'll never eat lunch in this town again, my answer would be, do you promise? I don't want to ever eat lunch in this town!
Martha Frankel interviewed Christopher Walken for the December 1993 Movieline.
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