‘Interview With the Vampire’ Star Luke Brandon Field on Excavating Daniel Molloy’s Past: ‘A Visceral, Sublime Experience’

“I’m so proud of the show, but this episode is really quite special,” the actor told TheWrap

Luke Brandon Field as Young Molloy - Interview with the Vampire _ Season 2, Episode 5
Luke Brandon Field in "Interview With the Vampire" Season 2 (Larry Horricks/AMC_

In “Don’t Worry, Just Start the Tape,” Daniel Molloy finally gets his answers.

The past is always present in AMC’s “Interview With the Vampire,” though not always in the minds of its characters. The series adapts Anne Rice’s seminal vampire novel with an essential reinvention: The interview in Rice’s book already happened, in 1973 San Francisco, where it went calamitously wrong. In the series, a new interview is underway in 2022 Dubai, where the now legendary journalist Daniel Molloy interviews Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) once again, determined to dig up the truth he missed the first time, including his own.

Whether in 1970s San Francisco or decades later in Dubai, Daniel is the type of character who walks into a room with enough wit, empathy and probing curiosity to scratch through the practiced veneer of immortal beings hundreds of years his senior. But since the beginning of the series, the veteran journalist has also dealt with one big question he can’t answer, thanks to a gaping hole in his memory: what happened to him all those decades ago in San Francisco?

Season 2, Episode 5 finally answers that question in searing detail when Louis and the older Molloy (Eric Bogosian) pry open the past in Armand’s (Assad Zaman) absence. What starts as a flirty intro at a 1970s San Francisco bar turns into an engaged, occasionally fraught interview. Then, suddenly, a stretched-out series of nightmares when Louis attacks, Armand intervenes, and the immortal couple has a wounding knock-down-drag-out argument decades in the making, in which Molloy becomes little more than a pawn in their desperate power play.

Eric Bogosian plays present-day Molloy, one of the series’ many inspired casting choices. The actor, author, playwright and historian known for his wide-ranging resume, from “Talk Radio” to “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” lends the character his signature raw humanity and wry acuity — the perfect antidote to the pretense and grandeur of vampire melodrama. But that’s only half the trick of telling Molloy’s tale. Unlike Bogosian’s co-stars, who play the unaging undead, he can’t play his character in flashbacks, which means the production had to find an actor who could credibly bring Daniel’s singular qualities to life in the past.

Enter “Jojo Rabbit” and “The Flash” actor Luke Brandon Field. The British actor handles the task with a fitting blend of grace and grit, taking center stage in “Don’t Worry, Just Start the Tape.” Ahead of the revelatory episode’s debut, Field walked TheWrap through the highs and lows of Daniel’s first interview with the vampire, what it was like filming one of the most intense episodes of the series to date and what’s going through Daniel’s head during those haunting scenes with Armand.

Eric Bogosian is such a specific, distinct guy, and he’s sort of this East Coast icon in his own right. I think a lot of actors might be tempted to veer towards imitation in playing a role like this. So I’m curious, how did you approach younger Daniel so that you’re playing the guy and not the type?

LUKE BRANDON FIELD: I was well aware of Eric. I didn’t know when I first got the role, that Eric would be playing older Daniel. Then I found out and I already had seen “Talk Radio” randomly, the year before. I’d watched that, so I had an idea of Eric, I didn’t want to go too much into it, because as you say, you don’t want to do an imitation of him. Because who Eric was in the mid-70s, late-70s, early-80s is not who Eric is now. So you wanted to give the character dimension, and a gravitas and a breadth.

So really, I took elements of Eric and little machinations of him, little ticks here and there, and then also just sprinkled it with how I felt Daniel had this exuberance of youth, and vitality, and ambition and upward mobility, and kind of mix the two together. With also looking at, it was very important for me to understand, like, where Daniel was mentally in 1973. He’s a journalist. There’s a large socio-political context going on: Post-Watergate, Vietnam, he’s on the scene, he’s right in the middle of the whole counterculture. I think putting all those things together, understanding the context and the history of Daniel right then, having an idea of Eric but not overtly doing it, it allowed me to find, certainly, a voice and, certainly, a physicality and a mindset.

Also we both individually came to a very specific influence, at two very different times, which is Lou Reed. And there is elements of that. I watched a lot of interviews with Lou from the early 70s. And that also helped find this sort of aloofness, but yet joviality and excitement.

Luke Brandon Field behind the scenes as Young Molloy - Interview with the Vampire _ Season 2, Episode 5
(Larry Horricks/AMC)

This episode demands a lot from you, physically and emotionally. The highs are very high — and Daniel is very high — and the lows are very low. When I spoke with Eric, he described both Jacob and Assad as “beyond intense” in terms of how they perform. What were those days like on set? And what was it like playing those emotions and scenes with them?

FIELD: Initially, Rolin [Jones] said to us just treat it like an Off Broadway play in the 70s. Like, just go for it, feel everything. And of course, it’s very vulnerable. And it was the first thing that we shot of the season as well. I think we were all very apprehensive. We hadn’t done it in a year, we hadn’t seen each other in a year. And very quickly, the camaraderie between the three of us, that chemistry, is so powerful, and it’s so wonderful, and it’s so supportive. They’re such great actors. I mean, everyone on the show is beyond fantastic, but you have to raise your game. But because it’s at a certain level, I felt comfortable and confident yet feeling vulnerable at the same time with them. I knew that they were supporting me and I was supporting them, and you kind of just went with it.

As you say, the episode’s a rollercoaster, like the amount of emotions I think we all felt is really interesting. We shot it relatively linearly, the first scene that we shot the whole season was Jacob and I walking into the house, and there’s this innate sweetness at the start. It’s really fun, and raw, and rowdy and so much is going on, and Jacob and I were having the best time, we’re just laughing all the time.

And obviously by the end … especially that scene with Assad, when Armand tells me to rest. In preparation for that, you know, I think we were both super nervous about it because such an intense scene, we didn’t talk to each other. It was quiet. It was very still. He was listening to music on one side, I was listening to music. Usually, we’d run lines before. We didn’t do anything, and we just went into it. It was such a visceral, sublime experience. And by the end of it after we shot it, we hugged because we just like had gone through such a journey. I’m so proud of that. I’m so proud of the show, but this episode is really quite special.

How long did you guys film this episode for?

FIELD: I think it was two and a half weeks. We didn’t have a load of time to prepare, but I honestly kind of like that. Because I think if we overthought it, then maybe it wouldn’t have been as instinctual, and maybe we wouldn’t have had the same reactions. I think because we were thrown in, and it was this sort of melting pot, and it is a standalone episode — and obviously, for the guys, it’s a different time, it’s the 70s, it’s the only time they really get there — there was this wonderful enthusiasm and sensitivity towards it. And I love it. I love being in the 70s, I would do it all day long.

Assad Zaman as Armand and Luke Brandon Field as Young Molloy - Interview with the Vampire _ Season 2, Episode 5
(Larry Horricks/AMC)

You mentioned the “rest” scene, and I want to kind of zoom in on that moment. It’s a really haunting sequence where Armand is essentially coercing you into death and you’ve got this transition from pushing back against that to sort of falling into his death lullaby. Can you talk me through kind of Daniel’s headspace in that moment and the journey he goes on?

FIELD: I think there are two things that are going through his mind, were going through my mind at the time, which is, I need to fight this, even though there is this like lull that I’m feeling. You know, I remember feeling at the time that Assad was holding me and I felt jarred, but comfortable at the same time. There’s two things going on. One, Daniel’s got the biggest scoop he’s ever had in his life, and arguably the biggest scoop of the 20th century. He needs to tell that story. “I’m a young reporter with a point of view. I need to get out of this, you know, this is all well and good, but like, this is super important.”

Then the other thing is, he wants what they have. So I think there’s elements of he’s trying to prove his strength and “I can be like you.” But there’s this, like, “I need to tell the story and I need to do this for the rest of my life. I want immortality.” And it’s a really interesting juxtaposition between wanting to break free, and be strong and joining the ranks, but also, it’s so hypnotic. I felt hypnotized at the time.

I think that’s why I really felt a range of emotions when Armand is telling me to rest, because I had this inner fight in myself where I was like, “I don’t want to fall asleep. I want to tell my story and I want to do this with you guys. Like, I can be an asset. I’m great. I’m really good. I’m gonna prove myself.” That scene, in particular, I think is a lot of our favorites in the whole season. I know I had a long chat with Eric afterward. It’s so poetic. It just takes you on this journey, just in that one scene. We didn’t rehearse it before we did it and I broke down crying, because it was just so visceral and amazing. And I felt so looked after by Assad.

You touched on something else that really stood out to me, which is — and it’s commented on in the episode — Daniel wants immortality, despite the fact that he’s just heard the horror story of all horror stories from Louis. What do you think it is about Daniel that, through all of that story, he hears that and goes, I want this life?

FIELD: I think Daniel was around at a time when there’s a lot of decay, American society and structure is under a lot of questions, and I think he’s like, “I want better than this. I want immortality. I want to be around.” It’s not even about eternal youth. I think it’s just more about like, he is here on this planet to tell stories, to tell the truth. And if he can do that for the rest of his life, that’s his ambition. That’s what fuels him. That’s what wakes him up every day. And I think that really motivates him.

For me, going through that scene, that’s the first thing, every single time, every single moment I’m like, “Okay, I’m gonna rest, I’m gonna do it.” It’s like, “No, I have a purpose. I’m not just like some next guy, some schmo, that’s, you know, going to live this nine-to-five life. I have a purpose to be here and it’s my job to tell the truth. And if I can do that, and have immortality, then no one can stop me.” You know, are there elements of megalomania? Yeah, possibly, of course. I think so. Daniel’s ego in the 70s is very healthy. He’s bolshy. He’s indifferent. But he’s also sweet and vulnerable at the same time. So that also always goes through my head.

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