How Eric Bogosian Achieved a Lifelong Dream in AMC's Interview with the Vampire | Playbill

Special Features How Eric Bogosian Achieved a Lifelong Dream in AMC's Interview with the Vampire

The Pulitzer finalist dives deep on the shocking season two finale, his next stage project, and fans comparing him to Anthony Bourdain.

Eric Bogosian in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire Image Courtesy of AMC Network Entertainment LLC

Nearly 50 years ago, Pulitzer Prize finalist Eric Bogosian was gripped with a very particular fascination. “When I first came to New York as a young theatre intern, Frank Langella was doing Dracula on Broadway. I was there with a girlfriend, and we were probably in the last row of the balcony. And I felt like he was breathing down my neck,” Bogosian widens his eyes, suppressing a smile for dramatic effect. “That power, that energy that he could create, thrilled me.”

That titillating thrill embedded itself deep into Bogosian, awakening an inclination toward the vampire’s allure that has persisted for decades. “I love the eroticism of vampire stuff. I love these movies and plays more than anything. I petitioned Francis Ford Coppola to be in his Dracula, but unfortunately, I wasn't a big enough star,” Bogosian shrugs. “But he did invite me to the set, and I got to hang around with him and look at all the storyboards for that movie. That was really exciting.” 

As the years went on, Bogosian’s fascination crystallized into a specific desire for his career: One way or another, he was determined to play a vampire. “It's just always on my mind,” Bogosian smiles. “I think there's something about the power of a vampire. And hey, the biting the neck stuff is just sexy to me, so that doesn’t hurt.”

Eric Bogosian in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire Image Courtesy of AMC Network Entertainment LLC

Now 71, Bogosian is finally getting his wish. As Daniel Molloy, the sharp-witted journalist tasked with unraveling the tapestry of vampiric memory in AMC’s Interview with the Vampire, Bogosian spent two seasons flirting with the line between man and monster before (spoiler alert) finally being transformed into a vampire in the show's Season 2 finale.

Initially eager for immortality in his 20s, the young Malloy’s (played Luke Brandon Field) lived experiences appeared to have soured him on the idea by the time Bogosian’s elder Molloy first appears in Season 1. While (spoiler alert) his transformation at the end of Season 2 isn’t exactly the pinnacle of consent, Bogosian isn’t surprised Molloy took it in stride.

“When he says he doesn't want it in the first season, I don't think he trusts these guys very much. I mean, he could say, ‘Yeah, give it to me’, and the next thing you know, he's dinner. But really, deep down? He wants it. Those last moments of the last episode, you see how much fun he's having being awful. He's wanted to be this for a while, and he's gotten all this new energy. He’s fully been corrupted.” Bogosian laughs.

Eric Bogosian in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire Image Courtesy of AMC Network Entertainment LLC

Bogosian may not have immortal energy, but he’s certainly lived a vigorous life. Descended from Armenian genocide survivors, Bogosian came of age in Woburn, Massachusetts before attending the University of Chicago and Oberlin College. A vividly talented monologist, Bogosian has been one of the defining voices of the Off-Broadway scene throughout the last quarter of the 20th century through his shows Sex, Drugs, Rock & RollPounding Nails in the Floor with my Forehead; Wake Up and Smell the CoffeeDrinking in AmericaFunhouse; Men Inside; SubUrbia; and more.

In the late 1980s, Bogosian’s play Talk Radio launched him into public acclaim, far beyond the footprint of Off-Broadway. Serving as both the playwright and the star, Bogosian became a Pulitzer finalist for the play, which centered on a shock jock radio host and his increasing dependency on the American far-right movement. Bogosian later adapted the play for the Oliver Stone-directed film adaptation, in which Bogosian reprised his role; the film was one of the top grossing thrillers of 1988.

Eric Bogosian in Talk Radio Martha Swope/NYPL Digital Collections

“Look, I was an actor when I was a kid. I had a lot of great stuff happen at a certain point in the 1980s, and then it sort of went away,” Bogosian shrugs. After spending nearly 15 years as a writer within the studio system, Bogosian was inspired to return to performance in the most utilitarian of places. “One day, I got in a subway here in New York, and there was one of those subway sayings that said, ‘It's never too late to be what you could have been’. And I said, ‘Screw it. I love acting so much. I'm gonna get back in the game’.”

As Bogosian has kickstarted his performance career for the 21st century, he has found renewed fulfillment on screen (although he isn’t walking away from Off-Broadway by any means; his play Drinking in America was restaged at the Minetta Lane Theatre just last season). On the small screen, Bogosian has put in work as a major player in Law and Order, The Get Down, Succession, and Billions, while the big screen saw a vivid performance from Bogosian in the film Uncut Gems.

It is playing Molloy on Interview with the Vampire, however, that has given Bogosian a chance at a new life. “I only have 20 or 25 years left. But Daniel is starting from scratch. In a way, he's kind of reborn. He is in uncharted territory, he’s left his old life and legacy behind, and is given a fresh start. We don’t always get to do that, but he does.”

Eric Bogosian in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire Image Courtesy of AMC Network Entertainment LLC

That Molloy will now spend eternity in his mature body is a captivating contrast to the fetishization of youth that tends to permeate vampire stories. While Molloy’s dalliances have been contained to youthful flashbacks so far, Bogosian is looking forward to what may be in store for the newly energized present-day Molloy.

“Look, I don't know about other people, but my libido has never gone to sleep, and I'm ready to rock,” Bogosian smiles. “Anne Rice is sexy, and we reflect a lot of that in the show, that carnality. I'm all for it when it's lyrical, which it is in this show. Louis bossing Armand around, Claudia bringing her friend into the fold, it is all super erotic, but it's eloquent. There's a lot of kissing. There's a lot of killing. I don't know how physical I'm expected to get next season, but maybe that'll be the next thing that I've never done before.”

While Molloy is just now venturing into the kissing-and-killing side of the show, Bogosian has already crossed into unknown territory in the visceral vulnerability between himself and Jacob Anderson’s Louis.

“We've discovered it as we've been shooting the scenes,” Bogosian explains, referring to the unlikely friendship that has blossomed between Molloy and Louis. “You can't take away Jacob's immense charisma. When I'm sitting there with him and he's telling me the story, Jacob doesn't do voice over. He learns all the scenes, and then we shoot them with him telling these mesmerizing stories to me, and I'm getting hypnotized by Jacob. We can really fly. I mean really, this guy has such magnetism.”

Eric Bogosian and Jacob Anderson in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire Image Courtesy of AMC Network Entertainment LLC

As Molloy leaves the Dubai penthouse and ventures out on an immortal life of his own, Bogosian can’t help but laugh at the idea of sitting down for a follow up interview with Lestat de Lioncourt, the central instigator with whom Molloy has yet to interact.

“His first question? Why didn't you tell Louis what was going on in the hole after the aftermath of the courtroom debacle? If Daniel were to sit down with Lestat, he would be kind of in awe of this myth that has been created, up to this point. He'd be sort of taken aback for a minute, just to say, ‘I don't even know where to start with you’.” Bogosian throws up his hands, eyes twinkling. “I mean really, where do we even start?”

Though Interview has been renewed for a third season, Bogosian isn’t a fan of prognosticating. “It's funny the way all this works for me. I live in the moment that I am being presented via the script. When I do plays, whether I'm in it or I wrote it, we have these Q&A's, which Off-Broadway theatres love, and they'll ask questions like, ‘What happened to those people after the end of the play?’ And it's like, ‘Well, the play is over. They’re not real.’ I sit with what’s in front of me on the page, and until I get further pages from Rolin [Jones, the showrunner, who’s also a Pulitzer finalist].”

Eric Bogosian and Assad Zaman Alfonso Bresciani/AMC

Bogosian shrugs, smirking to himself before venturing into Molloy’s offscreen transformation anyway. “I mean look, Daniel and Armand [played by Assad Zaman]. Armand has certainly got reason to be pissed off at me. And he's been told to lay off, and then he just can't help himself, and he jumps me somewhere along the line. Now, he could have killed me, but maybe it's even more fun to ‘doom me’ to the dark gift. Maybe we just got really drunk together one night and said, ‘What the fuck, let's do this.’ I don’t have any answers yet either.”

READ: How Assad Zaman Is Bringing The Théâtre des Vampires to Life in Interview With The Vampire

As a new legion of fans have descended upon Bogosian thanks to his performance on the AMC drama, so too have comparisons to the late Anthony Bourdain. While Bogosian and Bourdain’s upbringings were vastly different, their similar physique and blunt delivery have inspired numerous fans to make connections between the two.

Anthony Bourdain Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

“I'd say both of us owe tribute to Lou Reed, in terms of black leather jackets, curly black hair, and that certain tone of voice that’s sort of baked in sarcasm,” Bogosian states, cocking his head to the side as if shaking loose a memory. “People mention this Anthony Bourdain stuff to me all the time. And there is something to Daniel being an investigative journalist, and the amount of courage that that requires, and the courage Anthony Bourdain obviously had…That's Daniel's DNA, and I think it was Anthony Bourdain’s too. When he would jump off a cliff or drink a bottle of alcohol that had a snake in it, he could have died right then and there, but he had to find out. I think that is what people mean, when they say we’re so similar; they mean the character. I wouldn’t drink that bottle, but Daniel would if that was what it took to get the story.”

In between seasons of Interview with the Vampire, Bogosian is spending his time working on a new version of his 100 Monologues series—a slate of monologues Bogosian wrote and performed Off-Broadway between 1980 and 2006. In recent years, Bogosian has been steadily inviting a wide range of artists to record each monologue as a way of preserving the performance of them outside of Bogosians own memory.

Jo Bonney and Eric Bogosian Heather Gershonowitz

“We now live in a world where we are immortal,” Bogosian explains, referring to the creeping, amber-like preservation of the internet. “One of the nice things about delivering a performance on screen is that it is captured. No one can take that away from you. And that is a kind of immortality, I think.” Since the 100 Monologues began in 2013, 79 monologues have been released to the public, performed by a varied slate of artists including Peter Dinklage, Michael Shannon, Natasha Lyonne, Winona Ryder, Sebastian Stan, and more.

Bogosian isn’t just redeveloping his previous work; there is new material on the horizon. “I’ve been working on a two-hander with a beautiful actor named Patrick Ssenjovu,” Bogosian shares. “That may show up on the boards sometime in the next year or so. And I’m spending as much time as I can with my grandson, Leon. He’s two and a half, and he’s just joyous. We were at the Museum of Natural History yesterday and he was introducing himself to people… He has no fear. He knows more at two and a half than I knew it at eight or nine, or maybe even 20. We old folks think we know everything, and try to boss people around. But when you’re young you know things we’ve forgotten. And I’m doing my best to remain teachable for him.”

Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire is now streaming on AMC+.

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