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Anne Rice's best-selling romantic horror tale about the origins of a centuries-old vampire inspired this popular, atmospheric chiller. One of director Neil Jordan's major Hollywood productions, the film stays close to its source material, retaining the frame of a young reporter (Christian Slater) interviewing a man who claims to be a 200-year-old vampire. The man, Louis (Brad Pitt), shares his story, beginning in 18th-century New Orleans with his first encounters with the charismatic and decadent vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise). Lestat converts Louis to blood-sucking and immortality, but Louis fails to adopt Lestat's cavalier attitude, instead tormenting himself with guilt over his new nature. The two vampires remain deeply, if reluctantly, connected over the years, while becoming intimately involved with others of their kind, including Claudia (Kirsten Dunst), a mature immortal in a young child's body. Fans of the novel raised numerous objections, particularly after Rice initially spoke out against the casting of Cruise as Lestat; further casting difficulties followed the death of River Phoenix, whose role as the interviewer was assumed by Christian Slater. Rice later recanted her objections, and the combination of thrills and gothic romance proved popular with audiences.