Jacob Anderson on Gray Worm, Game of Thrones and his next move

JJacob Anderson was determined to play Louis De Pointe Du Lac in the new film. Interview with a Vampire The series in which he went through six rounds of auditions. Anderson previously claimed it was eight rounds, but today he says with a laugh that he may have “overestimated it.” Whatever the actual number, it highlights the deep connection he feels with Louis, an enterprising brothel owner making his way to 1910s New Orleans whose life is turned upside down when he meets the magnetic French vampire Lestat De Lioncourt (Sam Reid). It’s hardly a spoiler to say that Louis will soon join him on the dark side.

Anderson, who previously played Gray Worm, Daenerys Targaryen’s trusted advisor. Game of Thrones, has no hesitation in calling the controversial, code-switching Louis his “most significant role” to date. This is no small feat, considering Anderson also had a recording career as Stormzy-endorsed singer-songwriter Raleigh Ritchie, the stage name he formed from two characters in the Wes Anderson film. Royal Tenenbaums.

“As I was reading the pilot, I kept having this feeling in my chest—sort of a feeling of excitement (but also) a kind of feeling of dread,” he says. “And I think – to get out of the woo-woo territory – it was probably because I’m really reacting to the story and I’m really close to Louis.” Not wanting to sound too serious, Anderson mischievously adds, “Other than eating people, I’d say Louis and I are pretty similar.”

Interview with a Vampire my most significant role”

Warm and thoughtful from the start, Anderson speaks over Zoom from Prague, where the series’ second season is taking place. Interview filming resumed in September after a 10-week break due to the actors’ strike. The show is one of several hundred independent productions that SAG-AFTRA has allowed artists to return to as part of its “temporary waiver agreement.” Understandably, Anderson says he’s “very grateful to be back.” He’s not a method actor and quite reasonably notes that he can’t walk around “Louis all the time” when he’s off set because “that would really scare my daughter!” He got married in 2018 Discovery of Witches actress Ashling Loftus; two years later their first child was born.

Being Louis in front of the camera must be quite tiring. Based on the famous 1976 novel by Anne Rice. Interview with a VampireThe series is more extensive than the 1994 film adaptation starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, in part because it is also based on Rice’s subsequent books. When we meet Louie Anderson, he’s living in suffocating luxury in modern-day Dubai, where he’s desperate to share his life story with jaded journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian). This exquisite shot, taken from Rice’s novel, allows us to return to the story of Louis’s vampire origins in New Orleans, where he is courted and wooed by the coldly manipulative Lestat.

The series is also bolder and more outrageous because showrunner Rolin Jones has deftly recalibrated Rice’s period piece to make it more relevant in 2023. While the film refrains from depicting the central relationship as overtly sexual, the fierce homoerotic charge of Rice’s novel is on display here. bring to Front. The peak of the first episode is a visually stunning sex scene involving Louis, Lestat and sex worker Lily (Najah Bradley). “I feel like there wouldn’t be a story without that,” Anderson says of the two vampires’ sexual attraction. “I think the idea of ​​having (just) a ‘weird subtext’ (in Rice’s novel) partly comes from the film.”

Game of Thrones
CREDIT: Andreas Laszlo Konrath.

This Interview with a Vampire also benefits from what Anderson calls his “color-conscious” approach. In Rice’s novel, Louis is a white plantation owner living in the 1790s, but the series reimagines him as the head of a prosperous Black family doing business in New Orleans at the dawn of the Jazz Age. It’s a heady, hedonistic period that the series brings to life with gorgeous gothic productions. “It wouldn’t fit the demographics of New Orleans at the time if Louis wasn’t black,” Anderson says.

At the same time, changing Louis’ race adds new and fascinating aspects to an already complex character. “The idea that Louis is literally a powerful being, but that’s not enough to free him from the racism of 1910s New Orleans, feels really right,” Anderson says. This is another reason why Louis, who is trying to hide his sexuality from the world at large and is experiencing deep grief, never feels comfortable in his own skin. “He can play poker (with fellow businessmen), he can buy a club, but that doesn’t change how bigoted people perceive him,” Anderson explains.

Louis’s skin color also speaks to his relationship with Lestat, a Gallic dandy who exudes self-confidence. “In a literal, social sense, Lestat is much freer than Louis, but Lestat doesn’t understand what privileges and rights he has,” Anderson says. “And when I think about it, there aren’t many shows that look at race relationships in that way.”

Interview with a Vampire
Jacob Anderson in Interview with the Vampire. CREDIT: BBC

Although Anderson has been acting since 2007, when he moved from Bristol to London to pursue a music career, he says that “a few years ago he wouldn’t have had the confidence to play Louis.” When asked why, he seems caught between being open and protecting his privacy. “Honestly, there was a big part of me that thought I would be a complete failure playing this role,” he says. “It’s hard for me to talk too specifically about the similarities that Louis and I have, but for example, there are things in this show (where) I thought, ‘I don’t know if I can go there without coming together and unifying.’ Louis is too much together.

Louis’ existential doubts seem to strike a chord—or perhaps strike a nerve. “He believes he’s a monster because of the choices he’s made and the guilt and the things he’s repressed,” Anderson continues. “And like I said, I can’t exactly relate to this vampirism part, but I feel terribly aware of how human and fallible I am every day. I do feel shame and guilt about things that I probably should feel shame and guilt about. The difference (between us) is that I go to therapy. Louis’s therapist on our show is Daniel.”

Anderson is equally modest when it comes to his acting career, which began with guest spots on television in Accident, Doctors And Shellsas well as supporting roles in British films, including the 2010s. Chats and 2011 Demons never die. He admits he’s been “busy and busy” since he was 17, but surprisingly adds: “Weirdly, I feel like I’ve been trying to avoid performing for 20 years.” Not very successful NME assumes. “I wanted to write and direct,” Anderson counters. “I didn’t want to play—like, I didn’t want to be looked at. I wanted to write songs and just do it. But in the end I did the opposite.”

“I didn’t want to act, but in the end I did the opposite.”

Anderson laughs at his own somewhat ironic career before explaining that music and acting satisfy his fundamental need for self-expression. “I write every word of my songs—it’s like I’m exorcising something,” he says. “As for acting, I wouldn’t do anything at all if I didn’t have a really personal connection to it. I don’t audition often because it’s not about wanting to work.” Instead, acting is an outlet that often proves therapeutic. “I was a fairly introverted child, but I had a lot of energy that I didn’t always know what to do with,” he explains. “And acting releases that energy. This exhausts him.”

Because he’s spent years trying to juggle these two forms of expression, Anderson admits that he hasn’t always felt “present” in his acting career. The latter skyrocketed in 2013 when he landed the role of Gray Worm in Game of Thrones, an experience he still hasn’t “got used to” despite portraying it for six seasons. “The experience of making this show was very different from how it was perceived and internalized by the people who watched it,” he says. “It was such a big deal, but it never seemed that big to me because the way we did the show seemed pretty small.”

Anderson shared most of his scenes with a “close-knit” group of actors, including Emilia Clarke (Daenerys), Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) and Conleth Hill (Varys). He didn’t fully appreciate it Game of Thronesof epic proportions until he watched completed episodes featuring dozens of other actors with whom he rarely shared scenes.

Game of Thrones
As Gray Worm in Game of Thrones. CREDIT: Sky/HBO

In his third year on the show, he went into Raleigh Ritchie mode to release his debut album, You’re A Man Now, Boy, an impressive alt-R&B collection that featured the Stormzy collaboration anthem Keep It Simple. . Anderson responded in kind, featuring on “Don’t Cry For Me,” a powerful reflection of his landmark 2017 debut Gang Signs & Prayer, for which he joined the rapper on stage at Glastonbury in 2019. a schoolboy sense of artistry – if you look at the way he does things and the structure of his releases, they’re the same as Bowie or Elton,” enthuses Anderson. “He can create forever because he has such a sense of real musicality.”

Raleigh Ritchie’s second album, Andy, a tender and introspective album named after his grandfather, came out in 2020 after the pandemic gave Anderson time to focus on music. Today he says portraying Louis is “too challenging” to inspire many songs, although he has started to “dabble a bit”. Both of his previous records evolved organically after he “fiddled around for a really long time,” so he thinks it might take a while before a clear concept takes shape. Although “Andy” was initially intended to be a project dedicated to “unity”, with different artists on each track, it ended up lacking any special features and feeling “even more personal” than his first record.

“So, who knows what the third thing will be?” he is thinking. “I’ll probably write something about parenting, but it might end up being about Prague!” He laughed heartily, a welcome reminder that Anderson had certainly found a way to separate himself from Louis De Pointe Du Lac.

Interview with the Vampire debuts on BBC Two tonight at 9pm – the full episode is available now on BBC iPlayer

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