‘Interview With the Vampire’ Stars Eric Bogosian and Assad Zaman Unpack the Tension Between Daniel and Armand: ‘We Are Dancing’

“Now I’m in the forefront, and I guess this dance becomes a little bit more dynamic,” Zaman told TheWrap

Eric Bogosian and Assad Zaman in "Interview With the Vampire" Season 2 (AMC)

Note: This article contains spoilers from “Interview With the Vampire” Season 2, Episode 2.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more captivating duo than Eric Bogosian and Assad Zaman — a fact audiences are quickly beginning to realize in “Interview with the Vampire” Season 2. I learned it first-hand at the Television Critics Association press tour in February, when I sat down with the eloquent, passionate pair to discuss the return of AMC’s celebrated Anne Rice adaptation.

Interview With the Vampire” acts as both a sequel to and a retelling of the events of Rice’s book, picking up with the Vampire Louis (Jacob Anderson) decades after his first interview with bumbling young journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian). In the series, he wants another go at telling his tale, so Louis invites Daniel — now a man in his 70s and an accomplished, experienced reporter to boot — to his fancy digs in Dubai, where they conduct another interview.

Enter Zaman’s Rashid, seemingly the household servant who tends to Louis’ every need. In the Season 1 finale, he was revealed as the ancient, petulant vampire Armand. That gives the interview all new stakes in Season 2, shifting the power structure in the room and unfolding an electric dynamic between Daniel and Armand as they grapple with one of the series’ core underlying themes: “memory is a monster.”

I want to start with the power dynamic in the room that you guys have been playing for two seasons now. Because I feel like so much of what’s going on in that room is about power, who has it, who we think has it and how that perception changes with time and context. I’m curious for both of you. Do you guys think that Daniel holds any power in that room? Or is he playing power? Because we feel it as the audience, but he’s wildly outgunned.

Bogosian: Well, I mean, I can’t speak for Armand’s character, but Armand wants to have everything. He wants to know what’s going on at all times, and Daniel is a bit of a wildcard because you don’t know what Daniel knows. I mean, Daniel might upset the apple cart. He’s got a fine little thing going with Louis, and let’s just leave it as it is. And then, here comes this guy asking all these questions.

[To Zaman] I mean, I think at some point, you say that you didn’t want the interview in the first place. Right? And Louis instigated this interview. So I think in that degree, I have some power of intellect, if nothing else.

What’s kind of funny, since you brought up the question, is of course, we’re three people who come from very, very, very different backgrounds. I am a New Yorker, I’m an American guy that’s been around in the 20th century. He’s from like, a million years ago. Well, not a million, but about 500-600 years. And Louis is from about 200 years ago, or so, you know, we have different backgrounds. And in that regard, if you don’t really know somebody, they can be a threat.

Zaman: I think, just to pick up on that point, because of their backgrounds, because of what we want, we’re in discrepancy already. Because I said in the first episode, if I come into the interview, if I curate it a little bit more — because I feel Louis’ lost control, then we can curate it in a way that all we get from Daniel Malloy is “What happened next?” And so that we can tell our story. “You can tell your story, and you can make it what you wish.” But he doesn’t have control over what you tell, we tell you. And all he will say is ‘What happened next? to move the story along.”

That’s Armand’s goal. I think because of that, we are dancing. I mean, we’ve been dancing in Season 1. As Rashid, we did this dance, but I was in the background. But now I’m in the forefront, and I guess this dance becomes a little bit more dynamic.

Bogosian: But I don’t trust this guy. And the minute that he says we’re going to do it this way, then I know that there’s probably a reason why we shouldn’t be doing it this way. Because if he recommends it, then there must be something wrong. I’m just very suspicious. And I think I said this before, but it’s like, I vibe people, and I’m vibing that this guy, something isn’t right here. And I’m going to find out what it is. Unfortunately, it’s to my own peril. Because, you know, these guys are killers, and I can be killed.

Well, speaking of peril and power, you know, you have that moment last season, where you say you don’t want to be turned into a vampire. Do you think that’s his whole inner truth that Daniel doesn’t want that? Do you think that was a “f– you” to Louis in the moment?

Bogosian: You know, it’s funny, because I do make a very clear argument in the first season why I don’t.

And it’s sort of convincing.

Bogosian: Yeah. I mean, if you live to be 120 years old, that means that your kid is gonna be 100 years old. And I mean, who wants a 100-year-old kid, right? Or a 95-year-old kid?

But I think everyone’s afraid of death. I mean, that’s kind of obvious. And the more I’m around these guys, the more I understand. And we’ll explore this in this season, not only from my current perspective, but we’re going to go back to that time when I first met them. And we’re going to see what it looks like from the perspective of the young Malloy.

So it’s been something that’s been bouncing back and forth in my head all this time, and I think it would be natural. I mean, if I asked you do you want to live forever? I think you have to give it some serious thought. Yeah, you want to do it, right?

Well, I think I’m more on the “I don’t want to watch everyone I love die” side of things. So it is sort of convincing. But as you say, at the root of all humanity is also “I don’t want to die.”

Bogosian: In the books, it says that vampires will sooner or later kill themselves, because they end up in such a completely different context than the context they grew up in, that they can’t relate to anything anymore. And they go crazy. And they throw themselves in the fire, right? But yeah, I would say, just like any normal person, I’m equivocal about things. And I would guess probably what you said, that the original “get out of here” thing was maybe as reflexive as it was thought through. Like, “Well, f— you. Don’t tell me who I am. Or don’t tell me what I want. You don’t know.”

So, there’s this elephant in the room with your characters from the books that I’m going try to talk around, because I really don’t want to spoil it for anyone or spoil the show for myself. My question is more, when there is an elephant in the room, can you help but let it impact you as an actor? Do you have to in some way, adjust around the elephant? Is it the Russian bear problem?

Zaman: I find, personally, you can use it to your advantage. Just acknowledging it and knowing is enough, and kind of honoring it. Especially with this writing, I find it’s very easy to just go with the given circumstances in the moment. It is so well written. And, you know, the dynamics, the subtext and the text, the scene itself is so rich, that those I haven’t found the the knowledge or the subtext of what we know or don’t know about Armand and Daniel Molloy, it doesn’t really bother that much. Because I think the writing is kind of going there anyway, I find it quite easy to sort of ignore it, by knowing that it’s going in through osmosis in some way.

And then you’ve got an amazing team of people who are creating it as well. I mean, I think we haven’t talked enough about people in the background, the editing and the writing.

Bogosian: A lot of it has a lot to do with the editing,

Zaman: Oh, the editing, I think completely. Because they’re picking up those nuances. And I think Rolin has a keen eye to go, “OK, I know in the future, this look Malloy gives Armand is going to be very significant, years down the line. And we want to want to pin that. Don’t ask too many questions about it, but we want you to remember it.” I think you can do that with Season 1 as well.

Bogosian: I do everything I can to not be acting at any particular point, and sometimes I’m supposed to be indicating some level of suspicion or whatever. And I’ll kind of throw out some stuff, and try to do it as lightly as possible. Like I just said, you know, you get the editors come in and they grab that little tidbit, and it helps shaping it. But for the most part, my stuff is always I’m reacting to these amazing performances of these guys. I mean Jacob is beyond intense. And [Assad] is also intense. But also he is juggling layers and layers and layers of deception. I mean, he’s got the job, I don’t even know how you do that. So I can just react to the way they’re laying it out in the moment.

Only near the very end of the season will I have to really play my three layers at the same time. And it was a little challenging for me. It’s just not my … you know, there’s a thing, in terms of acting, where you can become a very polished and very clever actor who knows how to indicate all these little bits and pieces. And I admire actors who can do that. I see them doing it and I go, “Wow, that guy really knows how to do that.” But on the other hand, there’s a rawness to a new actor, or an untrained actor who’s really willing to just throw emotion out there. I feel like at this point in my game, I’m sort of somewhere in between the two and I want to be in the moment. And the more shaping I do, the less in the moment I’m going to be.

But this is a very skilled gang. A number of people who have those abilities … the young version of me, because he’s in very intense scenes in the middle of the season. I mean, Luke has all that stuff. He can be so emotionally in the moment, but also he has total control over every little — if his eyebrow goes up halfway, I think it’s all conscious, but it’s very seldom. And that’s beautiful. Oh, and Santiago. Ben. Ben is like… it’s all shaped, all the time. He’s like the total “muahaha” bad. He’s got that stuff.

“Interview with the Vampire” airs Sundays on AMC and streams on AMC+.

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