When talking about Cruise and Lestat, Jordan noted “an icy control and beauty.” That’s vampires in a nutshell, all the way back to Count Dracula himself. They’re alluring, but no matter how perfectly human they look, they see us the same way we mortals see cattle. Cruise as Lestat embodies that — he charms Louis, but when he can’t keep him or their daughter Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) under his thumb, he lets loose the monster inside.
Celebrity can be a hurdle for actors. If audiences can’t move past their faces, it can be harder for them to sink into the role. However, Jordan felt that Cruise’s fame would inform Lestat’s character:
“I also saw, I suppose, that Tom’s life — because he was the biggest star in the world at the time — he has to retreat to the shadows because he can’t expose himself too much. […] I saw kind of a parallel between the life of a vampire and the life of a very, very big star, let’s put it that way.”
Jordan felt especially satisfied with Cruise’s casting since he and his star won out over their naysayers: “Everybody said [Cruise] was miscast, he proved them wrong, didn’t he?” Yes, he did, for Cruise lights up the screen and stands out all the more opposite the more reserved Pitt.
Cruise’s Lestat even got Rice to issue a mea culpa; the author said he, “did a wonderful job” and “got the essence of Lestat, he got Lestat’s power and his charisma and his charm.” Sometimes, an author can be so close to their creations that they wind up blind to the genius of new interpretations. Thankfully, Jordan was there to offer a different vision.