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A Conversation With Interview with the Vampire's Daniel Molloys, Eric Bogosian and Luke Brandon Field

The actors gave us the scoop on the grueling, revelatory fifth episode of the gothic drama's second season

Allison Picurro
Luke Brandon Field, Interview with the Vampire

Luke Brandon Field, Interview with the Vampire

Larry Horricks/AMC

[The following contains spoilers for Interview with the Vampire Season 2 Episode 5, "Don't Be Afraid, Just Start the Tape."]

It's been a long time coming, but Daniel Molloy's "odyssey of recollection" has finally taken him to San Francisco. The fifth episode of Interview with the Vampire's second season is the series' answer to a bottle episode, weaving its story between two timelines — 1973 San Francisco and 2022 Dubai — as it answers the question of what happened between Daniel (played by Eric Bogosian in the present and Luke Brandon Field in the past) and Louis (Jacob Anderson) during that calamitous first interview, the details of which have thus far only been vaguely alluded to. That's due to how little Daniel and Louis can remember of the night, but when Armand (Assad Zaman) leaves the two alone for the first time all season when he goes off to hunt, Daniel seizes his chance: "I want to know, for me, what happened between us," he tells Louis, who's reluctant to start poking at the details.

Together, Daniel and Louis piece together their shattered recollections of that evening in 1973, remembering how Louis told his story to a younger, drug-addicted Daniel before becoming incandescently furious when Daniel began pushing back on Louis' rejection of his nature. "You don't understand the meaning of your own story," Daniel said at the time, imploring Louis to make him into a vampire. In a violent scene that still wasn't the most harrowing moment of the episode, Louis attacked Daniel; Armand burst into the apartment just in time to save Daniel's life, but he and Louis argued viciously, with Armand's bitter reminders of Lestat (Sam Reid) and Claudia (Delainey Hayles) leading Louis to try to burn himself alive in the sun. In the present, Daniel and Louis realize their memories start to fade at the exact same point, which they discover is Armand's doing, and Daniel is able to deduce that Armand and Louis kept him in the apartment in an addled state for days before dumping him in a drug den.

Memory truly is the monster in "Don't Be Afraid, Just Start the Tape," an episode that forces Daniel to realize that his fateful night with Louis in San Francisco caused him more long-term damage than he thought. Bogosian and Field pull off a complicated double act as the journalist unravels his story across the decades, and the two Daniels reunited over Zoom to talk to TV Guide about all that went into it. 

Eric Bogosian, Interview with the Vampire

Eric Bogosian, Interview with the Vampire

AMC Network Entertainment LLC

We're here to talk about Episode 5, but I want to start by asking about Luke's casting process. Obviously there's the physical resemblance between you, but your performances also feel in sync in a way that isn't always necessarily the case when you have different actors playing the same character at different ages. I'm curious about when you first met, and if you got to meet each other while Luke was being cast.
Eric Bogosian:
Well, Luke, I think you know this, but when they had it down to like, three or four guys to play [the younger] me, they sent me — I don't know why they did this, but anyway, [showrunner] Rolin [Jones] sent me their stuff, what they had been doing, and I watched it, and it was just obvious. I have cast things of my own over the years. I don't know what looks like me or doesn't look like me or anything, I just said to Rolin, "You have to cast the best actor, and Luke is the best actor." That's all. It's obvious this guy has got everybody else smoked, and I didn't know about your background at that point. I didn't even realize I'd seen you before in the Nazi situation there. What's it called?

Luke Brandon Field: Jojo Rabbit.

Bogosian: Jojo Rabbit, right. It doesn't sound like a Nazi movie. Which you were brilliant in! I don't do any of my homework, anything I'm supposed to do. So then this guy's cast, we're in New Orleans together. He says, "Do you want to get breakfast together?" So we do. And the thing about New Orleans is it's so enjoyable to be there. You can pretty much go anywhere, walk anywhere. It's always great. So it was very pleasurable hanging out together. And I wasn't in any way analyzing you or thinking about anything. I mean, I saw that you had green eyes. That's about all I could pick up on. What did you do?

Field: I was analyzing everything that he did, how he drank his tea or coffee, and how he ate. It was a whole Bogosian show. When I first got the audition, it just said "Young Daniel Molloy." They didn't announce Eric at the time. I knew who Daniel Molloy was because I'd read the book and seen the movie, and I got the job, Rolin called me, and then he said, "It's Eric Bogosian." And I was like, "Oh! I know exactly who he is." I've seen Talk Radio within the last 12 months, and I watched Billions and Succession. So I was already in the Bogosian orbit. I was like, "Oh, that guy. OK, cool." And then we met, and breakfast was nice, but really, what was lovely was we had a really lovely walk around the city of New Orleans, and I'd never been there before, and we talked a lot about it. But it was really just like getting to know each other. Also, I love the '70s in New York, and I always love talking to him and hearing his stories about that. It also allowed me to put in a little bit of that to Daniel in the early '70s. Because obviously it's not the same person, but there is elements of it. It's always very interesting to hear about what New York or what America was like, '72, '73, '77, '78. To me, it's like a history lesson. It was fantastic.

Have you guys had many chances since, especially leading into this episode, to discuss Daniel and your performances?
Bogosian: Yeah, well, I've at least told him 10 times how much I love performance in this thing. I saw the script [for this episode], of course, before we were shooting anything, and I had to focus on my stuff first, which also turned out to be challenging. But when I saw his scenes, I was like, "Whoa. This writing is crazy. It's so good." And there was a part of me that thought, you know, I just don't know him and Assad that well. I mean, you have to be like, the best to pull off these scenes. And then when I saw it, I was just chilled, because to get that — especially the sort of climax of that scene, where they're both in profile and their faces blend into each other — I mean, everything is happening in that scene. It's the whole game, it's the writing, the acting, the theme, all of it is really working for me. To both of them, I've thrown them kisses a few times. And as I've said, it's permanent. I have a lot of theater background, and sometimes you want to go, "Wow, there was this show in 1998, but you had to be there." So it's great that it's been set, it's caught, it exists. Anyway, that's what I said.

Field: We're immortalized. It's pretty special.

Luke, how much of your performance comes out of instinct and how much of it is noticing specific details about Eric?
Eric and I had this conversation a couple of weeks ago in New York. Some of it was built out of what I knew. I never rewatched anything else that Eric did, but I would say I watched quite a lot of interviews back in the day of Lou Reed, just to kind of get what his gait and feeling was, and the subversiveness. We both discussed this at length, of what the the different machinations [were] of Lou in '73, and then in '83, and 2003, so that was helpful. But it was also to understand politically and sociologically what was going on in America at the time, and that I was very interested in, and the types of thing that Daniel would have been consuming and enjoying. Not just, you know, drugs and alcohol, but what he was listening to, what he was reading, what he was thinking about, what he wanted to write about. And that also informed a lot in terms of the way I portrayed it. And then also listening to Eric's voice, listening to younger Eric's voice, and also trying to work out within my own sort of, like, vocal box, getting [as] far, far away from my North London accent as possible.

Your voice is very different on the show.
Give us a sample of the voice of the show. Can you say something?

Field: Let me think about it… [in Daniel's accent] I'm a young reporter with a bright point of view. Very simple. Easy.

Bogosian: Wow. Wow.

Field: But there was one word — you don't know this! It's one word that would get me into the voice, and only Jacob knows. And the word is [in Daniel's accent] a--hole. I would be mumbling to myself, "A--hole. A--hole." I've never told this story. I've never told you, and I've never told another magazine. Thought I'd save it for you guys. But yeah, I would mumble "a--hole," all the time, and Jacob would say, "What did you just call me?" A--hole. And then I would walk away, and I'd be able to get into the voice. 

That's such a perfect Daniel Molloy-ism, too.
Bogosian: The accents of the show are amazing. I mean, I think I'm the only person speaking in my actual voice. Some people have to do changing accents over time. Well, particularly Assad. He's doing French, he's doing all these different things. And Jacob changes his voice too, over time. We're not here to talk about this, but the thing is, when Delainey came in as Claudia — I mean, she had, like, a minute to get ready for that role, and she had to do accents, she had to learn all these languages, she had to do all this stuff, and boom, she's in there.

Field: Nailed it.

Bogosian: I think her first scene is flying through the air, killing somebody.

Field: I think we were all blown away by not just her performance, but her dedication. And she's so lovely, and just immediately fit into the family, so big props to her.

Assad Zaman and Luke Brandon Field, Interview with the Vampire

Assad Zaman and Luke Brandon Field, Interview with the Vampire

Larry Horricks/AMC

To get into the episode, can you talk me through how you both approached it? Eric, I know just from speaking with you and Assad previously that it was a really intense one for everybody.
It was pretty linear how we filmed it, which was really great. Rolin just said, the day before the read-through when it was the three of us, and [director] Craig [Zisk] and [writer] Hannah [Moscovitch], "Just approach it like an off-Broadway play." Imagine it's the late '70s, and roam, and enjoy it, and feel it out, and nothing is wrong, and we will be there to support you. Again, as I said, filming it relatively linear — Jacob and I, at the start, it's very sweet stuff, jovial, and then going into the madness and the craziness that ensues with Armand and the fight, I think it really helped us embed a confidence and a trust that we very much had.

Bogosian: I had to dive into these very deep emotional places. Different actors have different ways to approach these things, but sometimes if it's that deep, you don't want to rehearse it too much. You want to just find it when you're in the moment, which is what had to happen with me. Luke was crying in his scenes. I think my eyes got wet in a couple of scenes, but I was never — I mean, I don't know how to do that. But it was an adventure, an experience. For me personally, as an actor, it's very technical. Look, when I'm talking right now, I'm not remembering something that I memorized. I'm just talking. I don't even know where this all comes from, it just kind of floats out of my mouth. My job, I feel, as an actor, is to get those lines down so solid that I can be saying it the way I'm saying it right now, with all the rhythms and everything. Particularly, I have all these rhythms in my language. I'm very emphatic. And so I have to find that, and the only way to find that is to spend a lot of time with the script, which I do. And fortunately, we're with writers who are so secure in their writing — which does not exist, generally, in the realm of film stuff these days — that they don't change the script. They give you the script a couple of weeks or three weeks beforehand, and you learn it... Once I get it to that place, then my experience, my memory, particularly of reading that book and realizing — it was just like, pull the ripcord, and let's fall into this place. And that's what I did.

I love the moment where present day Daniel finds out he and Louis never slept together. I'm wondering if he's been operating under that belief through the entire interview. How much were you told about Daniel and Louis' history going in?
Well, I don't know how Rolin looks at all this stuff, but for me, it's like — I've written plays, and then you have a Q&A after with the audience, and the audience goes, "So what happened to these people after the play, after it was over?" And you want to go, "Nothing happened to them! They're characters. They don't exist. They only exist in the lines they say and the blocking that they do. There is no other thing." Now, of course, there's a whole realm of acting that's about every bit of backstory. And Luke has talked about thinking about what was happening in the '70s, and what kind of music I might have been listening to and all that. In this particular show, I depend a lot on my own personal experience, because it's very parallel to my own life. As we wander around in the vagueness of memory, which exists in my own real life — I mean, I don't actually remember everybody I've slept with. You're stoned all the time, and all that stuff! So I think it was just a big question. And I love reaction acting. It's my favorite kind of stuff. And if you're really in the zone, and you're really there, you could just let it happen. And I think that's what happened when we did it. It's a little bit of did we-didn't we, relief. And then doesn't he say, "We could right now, if you want to"?

Yes, Louis' like, "We could right now." There's also a really funny moment where young Daniel whips his shirt off in front of Louis, and then it cuts back to Daniel in the present day.
I love that beat because now everybody thinks I look like Luke with his shirt off, which is all I want in a life is to look that good.

Field: Thank you. Thank you.

With moments like that where your performances rely on each other in order to pay off, what kind of direction are you getting?
Obviously, we shot it separately, so it's just like, stay in that moment. The constant is Jacob, and Assad, who you see later on. I think we just just rely on intuition, and also, to echo what Eric said, Jacob and Assad are so great, and so fantastic, and just to work with them, I feel like it just brings you to an amazing level. I certainly felt that in the first season in San Francisco. I'd never met either one of them before. We didn't know each other. We're all English. They didn't even know, I came with an American voice, they didn't realize I was from London, but immediately I just felt like the first scene I did with Jacob, I was like, "Wow, this guy really brings it. He's focused." He's there to play, but he also knows this character inside out, and he just makes you go further up, really, very quickly.

Bogosian: I'll tell you a Jacob thing. We're not here to talk about Jacob, but the thing is, when we started the second season, he went, "Wow, I just killed myself so bad last season." He goes, "I can't go there again this season." And I was like, "OK, whatever." And then he goes further. He went further and doubled down. Forget the blood tears, he's really there in agony in a lot of these scenes, and he showed up again more. And so anyway, there is a technical aspect. There's a lot going on. Forget me. Luke, in his scenes, in all of that torture and everything — yes, there's torture, there's emotional torture and there's psychological torture, but he's going through — well, you should talk about it. There's the wire work, or whatever it was you guys were doing.

Field: Yeah, so there was wire work in terms of pushing and pulling and prodding, and then when I'm stuck in that horrible position, which is terribly painful — luckily, I had a very small, thin chair, which they managed to green screen out, which was very fantastic — but it was still very painful. And I don't know, maybe I'm a masochist and I was just unaware of it, but I wanted to feel this pain, because I don't want to phone it in. If I'm going to feel pain, then I'm going to have to sell it. The drama school I went to, they were like, "Use your real emotions, feel it." When you finish, when they yell cut, you go off the stage and you start listening to music or checking the Arsenal score, but in that moment, you are feeling the pain. And I think that was super important. And we did. I think we all went through various amounts of torture and pain, and we enjoyed it. So what does that say about us?

Bogosian: Luke! I never asked you. Were your thighs killing you like, two days later?

Field: Yeah, oh, they were burning. They allowed me to have a massage, but—

Bogosian: Fire.

Field: But fire! I thought I needed a Zimmer frame, I mean, I could barely move. I think I was watching Love Is Blind at the time, so I finished all of it, which is embarrassing to say. But my girlfriend at the time came over and she was like, "We're going to watch Love Is Blind and you don't have to move." But yes, really, really awful.

Eric Bogosian, Interview with the Vampire

Eric Bogosian, Interview with the Vampire

AMC Network Entertainment LLC

I'm curious about both of your impressions of Daniel's dynamics with Louis and Armand, then and now.
For me, it's an evolving relationship [between Daniel and Armand] that begins with puzzlement, then it turns to distrust, and it will eventually move toward hatred of the most ultimate level. What's also interesting is that Assad and I were stationed, we were living very close to each other in Prague, and we spent a lot of time with each other. So there were two characters, completely separate. There's this very sweet guy, and then there's this evil character who is wonderfully created with a lot of looks. I [haven't had] that many roles where it's done with staredowns. As opposed to Luke's introduction to this character, which is nothing but sheer hell from the get. So as I learn what this guy did to me, that moves my relationship to him into deeper and darker waters. I think that one of the more challenging things was, when [Armand] returns from killing that knucklehead and he finds me and Louis hanging around, and the camera goes to our reaction [to] him coming into the room — sometimes there's certain things that are kind of challenging for an actor, and I had to kind of seethe. But come on, there's a limit. Luke, don't you agree? You don't want to billboard it, but you have to show it. You're not feeling that. Well, I guess I was kind of feeling that emotion. Later, we have scenes, I get really angry at some point. Yeah, it was really funny. My director — I guess he'd never seen anything that I've done, and he goes, "Eric, now, I know you're a really sweet guy, and you're very mild-mannered and everything, but you have to get really angry in the scene." And I'm like, "Sure, yeah, OK. That I can do. I do it all day long." I'll leave this now, I'll go on the street and I'll get in a fight with somebody in about two minutes.

Field: That's an exclusive. I think obviously, at the start, when [Daniel] meets Louis, he's so intrigued, because someone just presents themselves as a vampire. And then the other part of it is he can score, you know? That's what he initially is looking for, is to score, and I think it's heaven, or a little bit of heaven, sprinkled in with a lot of hell. With Armand, it's interesting. I rewatched the first season, and that moment when Armand first pops into Mary's in San Francisco — the way that I played it, and thought at the time was he was sort of quite taken aback by it. Like, who is this mysterious figure? Is this Louis' boyfriend? Who is he? Is this his flatmate? He glares at me and stares at me. It's like he's looking into my soul, and it is a sort of very uncomfortable shift from this quasi-pseudo-flirting between Louis [and Daniel]. [Louis] has just bought me a drink, and he invited me back to the house. So I'm completely unsure. And then, [Armand] just ripped into me and is going through my past. "You did this in high school, and you were like this with your father and your parents, and you did this." And it's like, how does he know all of this stuff? Who is this crazy, crazy demon? But by the end of the episode, he's sort of lulling me into this sense of death. Eric and I have discussed this, and Assad — it's such an incredible scene. It's so well written. Assad is so mesmerizing. And I remember when we were doing it, I did feel a lull. It felt like I was under some sort of paralysis, where I was just listening to the words, just wanting to fall asleep, but at the same time having this small fight in me, because this is also the scoop of the century. Doesn't matter how whacked out I am on drugs. I'm still a journalist, as he says, [in Daniel's voice] I'm a journalist with a point of view. This is amazing. No one has ever heard this. I just uncovered something. Whether or not anyone will believe me is a different story, but nevertheless, I have a story to tell. No one's discussed this. So it's amazing to see how the relationship grows, and then, obviously, harking back to the modern day in Dubai and what Eric has to go through on a weekly basis.

Bogosian: Part of this episode, it reveals that [Louis] has done this hundreds of times to other young men, and he's killed them. He's a serial killer that we love, that we have these warm feelings towards. What a weird hat trick that is to pull that off, because as Raglan James says to me, "It's the other one you should be afraid of." It's hard to remember that, because Jacob is so sympathetic-feeling. But he's a nasty piece of work, particularly in this context of the San Francisco bars. It's horrible, what he's doing. I think Anne Rice and Rolin and Hannah, they create this stew of philosophical problems that if you want to sit there and think about them, there's a lot that's going on. Even the simple thing which is brought up in the first season: Do I want to stop having Parkinson's and live? And I answer the question, at that point. But again, it brings to light — I mean, you guys are too young to think about this, but I'm in a realm where my cohort is getting older and people have issues like this, like Parkinson's or whatever, and it's like, OK, so what would the alternative be? We're all just really healthy and we live forever? And how does that work? You say you want to live forever, but you're 85 forever and you're in a nursing home forever. How fun would that be?

Field: I was actually just thinking to myself, Eric, if you could choose, if you had that, what age would you choose?

Bogosian: I know the answer, because I've had all these ages. 45 is the best. That's the bomb.

Field: That's what we've got to look forward to.

Season 2 of Interview with the Vampire airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.