Few young actors are ballsy enough to risk comparison with Tom Cruise's vampire Lestat in 1994's Interview With the Vampire. Wes Bentley, Heath Ledger and Josh Hartnett all turned down the starring role in Queen of the Damned, the upcoming movie version of the Anne Rice novel in which Lestat becomes a rock star whose anthems bestir the mother of all vampires from her beauty sleep.
Irish-born Stuart Townsend, who was spotted by director Michael Rymer when he starred with Helen Mirren in a West End production of Tennessee Williams's Orpheus Descending, did not. "The only similarity with this movie and Interview With the Vampire is that it's an Anne Rice book--the look and feel of it are totally different," explains Townsend. "Playing a vampire is like getting dressed up for a Halloween costume ball," continues the actor, who has already appeared in a bunch of indies like last summer's Wonderland. "It's a little glam, a little camp and very removed from who I am. The bigger kick is playing the vampire-as-rock-star. I had to get up and perform in front of 3,000 people, lip-synching to loud, angst-ridden Korn songs and prancing around in tight snake-skin pants. I shat myself because I was so out of my comfort zone, but it was the best night of my life." Queen is slated for a fall release, but Townsend stars this month as the lothario who charms the pants off Kate Hudson, her two sisters, her mother and her brother in the Miramax comedy About Adam. Which means that in one year, Townsend is playing two very successful seducers. "It's very strange I get cast that way when the reality is so different," he says, laughing. "But if all of a movie's characters fall in love with a guy on-screen, the audience falls in love with him, too."