Stuart Townsend rocks Lestat in Michael Rymer's Queen of the Damned
In Queen of the Damned, director Michael Rymer's upcoming movie based on two of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles novels, Irish-born actor Stuart Townsend takes a bite out of a role originated by Tom Cruise in the first Rice adaptation, 1994's Interview with the Vampire. Townsend plays Rice's most famous creation: Lestat de Lioncourt, an 18th-century French nobleman inducted against his will into the brotherhood of vampires.
Townsend appears opposite the late Aaliyah, the 22-year-old pop star and actress who died tragically in a plane crash last summer, and Marguerite Moreau, who will soon star in the SCI FI Channel's upcoming miniseries Firestarter: Rekindled.
Australian-born director Rymer faced the challenge of not only following up the previous movie, but also compressing the events in Rice's The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned into a single film. Townsend, Rymer and producer Jorge Saralegui took a moment recently to speak with Science Fiction Weekly about Queen of the Damned, which opens Feb. 22.
[With Stuart Townsend]
Stuart Townsend, how did you feel about the opportunity to do this and how do you avoid the cliches?
Did you ever worry that Anne Rice fans might not like you in that role?
Did you feel you were stepping into Tom Cruise's shoes?
Really? Why?Townsend: Because it would be a drag. ... I mean, why do we all watch movies? Reality is pretty mundane. But we have great imaginations. So there's plenty of beautiful things in this world, but I don't think I'd like to be around them forever.
What was it about the character that made you want to play him?
Had you read the whole series of Vampire Chronicles books before?
What was it like shooting the rock concert scene in the rock quarry? Did they have you up in a rig [to fly]? Was that scary?
How long did it take to shoot that scene?
Was there any discussion about you vocalizing any of the music or songs yourself?
Can you talk about working with Aaliyah? What was that like?
Her death was obviously a shock to everybody. Did you ever ask yourself whether they were ever going to release the film?
Did you do any dialect coaching for this to change your accent?
What did you specifically bring to the character of Lestat?
Even though this was a totally different movie, did you go back and look at Tom Cruise's performance?
Did you ever speak to Anne Rice about this?
[With Michael Rymer and Jorge Saralegui]
Michael Rymer, Stuart Townsend said that you got him drunk to do that concert scene.
Jorge Saralegui, how did the two of you hook up?
Do you both have the same sensibilities about the genre?
How did you decide what to use from the books?
Did you get any input from Anne Rice?
What about the physicality of Lestat? I understand that the hair is a controversial issue.
How do you deal with that kind of stuff?
Saralegui: Actually, the truth is that we were going to make him blond.
Didn't you release pictures of Townsend as a blond?
Did you ever think about getting Tom Cruise back again for this movie?Rymer: I think when I came on it was pretty clear that Tom Cruise was not going to reprise this role. He had no interest in it. He had taken a lot of hits for doing it in the first place. I think as a courtesy he was [offered the part].
Has Anne Rice seen the film yet?
And what was the response?
Saralegui: She also cleared the use of her name. Which you probably see now in the materials. Not on the one-sheet, because that was already out. But now it's Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned. That was her offering it to us after seeing the movie, so that kind of speaks for itself.
What was it about the whole universal mythos that made you want to do this?
Was there ever an intention to make this even sexier than it is?
Saralegui: It's a very sensual movie without showing a whole hell of a lot. And I think that's sort of the vampire thing.
What was [Aaliyah's brother] Rashad's involvement in terms of the looping process?
When you heard about the death of Aaliyah, what was your reaction?
Was there any part of her role that was left unfinished?
What was it about her that made you choose her for the part?
Saralegui: She really wanted the part. I spoke to a journalist a little while ago who interviewed her in Canada when she was doing Romeo Must Die, and he asked her, "What's next?" And she goes, "I don't know, but I'd love to play a vampire." Which is kind of amazing. She loved vampires and she knew a lot about Egyptology. So Akasha was ideal for her. She really wanted it and really pursued this guy [points to Rymer].
Rymer: [In] the audition process I made her do Lady Macbeth and Oscar Wilde's Salome. I gave her things that experienced actresses would say, "I'm not going to do that. Are you crazy?" ... She had every opportunity to freak out and go, "No, this is too hard." Or "You don't really want me." She just plowed through every obstacle.
Her accent was kind of interesting. How did that come about?
Would you do another one of the Vampire Chronicles books?
The music is such an important part of this film. How did you decide what kind of rock star Lestat should be and what kind of music to use?
Source: www.scifi.com by By Patrick Lee and Cindy White (scificom link currently down)