How the ‘Interview With the Vampire’ Makeup and Costume Team Created ‘Beautiful’ Vampires and ‘Elegant Bloodletting’

The first season of AMC’s “Interview With the Vampire” builds a textured, vibrant world, only to watch
it burn and bleed.

Anne Rice’s beloved story of long-dead vampire Lestat (Sam Reid) and his latest creation, Louis (Jacob Anderson), chronicles a relationship baptized in blood, fueled by passion and gutted by betrayal. Thanks to the series’ crafts teams, Louis and Lestat’s bond lives and dies (and lives again) according to a visually cohesive language that congeals around one thing — color.

Production designer Mara LePereSchloop and costume designer Carol Cutshall spent days with fabrics in hand, curating the color palette for the series, which shifts Rice’s 19th-century New Orleans story to the early 20th century and the city’s redlight district Storyville.

“Even though we are dealing with places like brothels, we thought of these spaces as sepia or black and white photographs,” New Orleans resident LePere-Schloop says. “That way, when we get into Lestat’s townhouse — this immersive and colorful space with art nouveau influences he brought from Paris — it is like you are diving into a new world. It parallels the transformation for these vampires. Their sensory experiences go into overdrive.”

In the beginning, Cutshall dresses Louis as the beating heart of the story, whose amber color changes as Lestat’s grip tightens around him.

“When he’s in his element, he becomes warm and golden,” Cutshall says. “That’s why when Lestat finds him, it’s like a moth to a flame. He glows in this gritty world.”

To ensure their love dances above the humanity around them, Cutshall put background extras in colors that made them look like sweaty cattle, while Howard Berger’s special effects makeup team gave them a
grimy glisten.

“Our vampires are not monster-y and in pale makeup,” Berger says. “They are the most beautiful people on Earth and then we made everyone else look kind of disheveled.”

But soon, icier colors and stripe patterns seep into their wardrobe as Louis begins to feel like an animal caged by his affection for his creator, lover and abuser.

Even their home comes to reflect their suffocating dynamic. LePere-Schloop didn’t initially know the
townhouse she created for Lestat would become a casualty of their violence by season’s end. But as they cohabitate and create a companion in Claudia (Bailey Bass), the shared coffins and romantic overtures give way to decades of clutter and resentments that start to crawl up the walls.

“Everyone thinks that it’s really hard for anyone in the art department to destroy sets, but honestly I kind of love it,” LePere-Schloop says. “It becomes this organic thing, it has a life cycle.”

LePere-Schloop and Cutshall weren’t alone in letting color guide them. Berger’s team cooked a shade of blood for every occasion, including human blood, dressing blood to cover actors, ingestible “mouth blood,” washable blood and vampire blood made with pearl essence to shimmer.

Whereas LePere-Schloop and Cutshall indulge in Lestat and Louis’ entangled opulence, subtly speak volumes when it comes to blood. “This was very elegant bloodletting,” Berger says. “It wasn’t a gorefest. This is life-sustaining. That’s what blood is to our vampires.”

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