The roles of Santiago and Armand, European vampires who further introduce Louis to the dark world of their bloodthirsty culture, were filled by two gifted European actors, Stephen Rea and Antonio Banderas, both with noted recent screen appearances. Rea, who was Oscar-nominated in 1992 for his leading role in Jordan's "The Crying Game," and Banderas, who received critical acclaim for his role in Jonathan Demme's "Philadelphia," appealed to the filmmakers as ideal choices to carry the demands of their roles.
Christian Slater, who joined the cast of "Interview With The Vampire" following the tragic and untimely death of River Phoenix, was cast as The Interviewer following his moving performance in "Untamed Heart," which underscored his versatility and talent.
Jordan notes, "Christian's Interviewer, Malloy, actually represents the modern world in the film. He's kind of a streetwise, smart-talking kid who doesn't believe in this world of mythology, but is slowly drawn into it, slowly taken over by it, until he wants to become a part of it."
With his cast in place and a top-notch crew of behind-the-camera talent, Jordan was ready to make the long-held dream of "Interview With The Vampire" into a reality.
"We tried to do everything for real in this picture," says Woolley. "When the script says New Orleans, it's New Orleans, and when it's Paris, it's really Paris. And you can't fake the Golden Gate Bridge."
"I think it's very much a horror film, and very much a fantasy movie," says David Geffen. "It creates its own fantastic world through design, through the look of the picture, through costumes, through make-up. We've created beings that don't exist either in other films or in other literature except in the context of this movie."
"Interview With The Vampire" takes place in three cities on two continents and spans five time periods over 200 years. Production designer Dante Ferretti, who trained as an architect, built 65 sets on seven sound stages at Pinewood Studios outside London, and refitted almost two dozen practical locations in New Orleans, San Francisco, London and Paris. A huge outdoor waterfront city was also constructed on the Orleans Parish levee at Jackson Barracks, the New Orleans headquarters of the Louisiana National Guard.
Jordan says, "We tried to stay true to each period, but we also had to convey a specific and different visual world for the picture. So, we created an overripe kind of atmosphere. Everything is slightly too rich, slightly too decorated, slightly too baroque, and that is very particular to this book."
Principal photography began in New Orleans at the elegant Oak Alley Plantation, located near Vacherie, Louisiana, which serves as the Pointe du Lac family home. The plantation was first constructed in 1812 and rebuilt in the 1840s after an extensive fire. After further refurbishment in 1871, it sat in disrepair for approximately 50 years, until expert renovators restored it and opened it for tours.
The filmmakers were constrained by the limitations of shooting in and around the plantation, since it has been designated an historic monument. For instance, as Louis, bearing a torch, enters the house from a veranda, the flame was immediately doused inside.
The interiors of the scene were later shot on one of the sets constructed at Pinewood Studios in England, giving the illusion of continuity while leaving the landmarked plantation unharmed.
Other plantations in the area used as locations include the original slave cabins at Laurel Valley near Thibodaux, and the gardens at the stately Destrehan, the oldest documented plantation house left intact in the Lower Mississippi Valley. The outdoor tavern where Louis and Lestat watch a presentation of the Comedia del'Arte was built at the unrestored Home Place in Hahnville, Louisiana. In addition to the stately homes along the Mississippi, more than a dozen ships of various shapes and sizes were used on the river, among them the graceful Tall Ships Gazela of Philadelphia and the Alexandria, out of Alexandria, Virginia.