Q&A: Christopher Rice Dishes on the Vampire Chronicles TV Series

Christopher Rice
Photo Credit: Cathryn Farnsworth

Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles series has captivated fans for years. We first meet the vampire Lestat in Interview With a Vampire and last year Anne continued his story with Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis. And now we are happy to report that Lestat, and a multitude of other characters from the series, will be gracing your TV screen! We spoke to author and executive producer Christopher Rice to learn more ...

It's been reported that you and your mom are adapting her Vampire Chronicles for TV. Tell us everything! How did it happen? Where are you at in the process right now?

It’s a very exciting time for us, and for Lestat. For many years following the last two film adaptations of The Vampire Chronicles, all of the subsequent novels remained in development for big-screen adaptations. There were at least a dozen different creative approaches about how to proceed. Many exciting people were involved at one time or another, or they expressed strong interest in being involved. Throughout most of this process, TV simply wasn’t what it is now. There was no Game of Thrones yet to set the benchmark on what was possible with adaptations of a dark, long-running book series. When all of the rights reverted back to us, we realized that the market now allowed for (and devoted fans of the books were clamoring for) a detailed, long-running series that explored every nook and cranny of The Vampire Chronicles world. So that’s what we’re committed to. As soon as the story broke that the rights had reverted, we were deluged with serious interest. Just deluged. Beautiful, impassioned emails came in from some of the best people in Hollywood, some of them very unexpected. And we’re going to sit down with them as soon as we have the pilot script written. We’re working on it now. First, I had to finish my latest novel, a romantic suspense thriller, Burning Girl, which Thomas & Mercer (Amazon Publishing) will release in Winter 2018.

Why do you think TV is the right medium for this series right now? What do you see as the benefits of a TV series over a movie?

Well, there’s the time factor, for one. The first horrible thing a writer and director has to do when they’re sitting down to adapt a novel for a feature film is decide everything that has to be cut. And it’s usually a lot. In TV, we won’t have the problem. You have the wonderful luxury of deciding not to get to things too fast because you don’t want to burn through your content. It’s the polar opposite of deciding, for instance, how do I cram Lestat’s fourth adventure, Tale of the Body Thief, into a two-hour action film that also reboots the franchise? That’s the task I had with Universal Pictures. You’re forced to make agonizing choices. And it’s how you end up with changes to original storylines that frustrate fans of the books. In TV, we’re largely free of those dilemmas. But also, this truly is the golden age of television. Truly. Look at all the content providers. What Netflix and Hulu and Amazon have done to the industry is amazing. And HBO is still going strong, and hits like This is Us on NBC prove that networks can still deliver a certain type of quality product that counterprograms against darker cable fare. When The Vampire Chronicles were first sold to Hollywood in the 70s, a faithful TV series of any kind would have been inconceivable.

Lestat, Louis and the whole tribe are such beloved characters. What can fans expect from this iteration? Have you thought yet about casting?

They can expect Lestat. Lestat. And more Lestat. And they can expect to visit the world of the books they love through his eyes and his point of view. They can expect casting faithful to the characters as they’re written in the books. But Lestat, as he’s introduced to us in the novel,The Vampire Lestat, will be the driving force of the entire series. The core of it all. We’ve launched a Facebook page devoted to conversations with readers about what they’d like to see on the series. It’s a verified Facebook page, the only verified page for The Vampire Chronicles. We can’t respond to every comment, but we most certainly read every one, and ask various questions to keep the conversation going. It’s been a wonderful experience for us so far.

What's the best part about working on this project with your mom?

Her trust. The trust she shows in me. Over the years, many people have tried to come in and warp the Chronicles to suit whatever the trend is in Hollywood at the time. “We need them to be superheroes.” “We need the Talamasca to be crime solvers who carry guns.” “We need them to kick box.” Mom’s had to deal with that for years and years and every time she’s had to come up with a respectful way to say, “Those aren’t my vampires.” So for her to be willing to put her faith in me as a creative partner on this is no small thing.

What have you been watching on TV that inspires you for this new show?

Oh, the list goes on and on. Penny Dreadful, Game of Thrones, The Borgias. Those are really the top three. I was such a huge Penny Dreadful, fan. I marveled at the way it combined soulful, emotional depth with true horror. So much of horror now is sarcastic torture porn that’s just about watching characters we don’t like get offed in ever more gruesome ways. Barf. The Vampire Chronicles series is in large part a historical saga of a race of supernatural beings that spans centuries, so any series that successfully combines attention to period detail with a propulsive, far-reaching narrative is very inspiring to me right now.

We certainly can't wait for that series pilot! We'll keep you updated on the progress of the Vampire Chronicles series as the project unfolds. In the meantime, you can find more paranormal goodness on our Everything Paranormal page!