Interview With The Vampire Is Seemingly Paying Tribute To The Late, Great Anthony Bourdain

Daniel, the journalist who transcribes the vampire Louis' tale of eternity in Anne Rice's novel "Interview with the Vampire" is one of my favorite characters in all of "The Vampire Chronicles." In the novels, he's a young man who is eventually "brought into the Blood" (read: turned into a vampire) by the cherubic vampire Armand. The turning changes him, and he becomes obsessed with minutiae, building elaborate and tiny city dioramas. Christian Slater gave a pretty decent performance as the young journalist begging for immortality in the 1994 Neil Jordan film adaptation, so when I read that Eric Bogosian had been cast as Daniel in the AMC series, I was extremely hesitant. How could the young, punkish Daniel ever work in a much older body? 

It turns out that casting Bogosian was a stroke of brilliance, and the series seems to have based the older Daniel on the late, great chef, writer, and travel host Anthony Bourdain, who died in 2018. In the series, Daniel is the same journalist that interviewed Louis in San Francisco decades before, but is now talking to Louis once more as an older, wiser man. His years of experience and hard living have left him jaded and sarcastic, but also more open to Louis' story without begging to be turned. Bourdain was one of the most punk writers and interviewers to ever live, so the inspiration makes a lot of sense. 

A tortured but brilliant soul

While there hasn't been any official confirmation that Bogosian's performance and the character's background are inspired by Bourdain, it's hard to deny the similarities. Bogosian looks a bit like Bourdain, but his voice and inflections are almost identical to the late chef's. His snarky sense of humor is also reminiscent of Bourdain's, as he comments on Louis's various exploits with refreshing candor. While Daniel isn't the one being interviewed, he occasionally shares snippets of information about his own life, and we discover that he's a former drug addict (Bourdain struggled with heroin addiction), he used to write about food and restaurants, and he's been married twice (same as Bourdain). 

Daniel is vital to "Interview" in every iteration because he's the interviewer, and by proxy serves as a representative for the audience. When Rice wrote her novel in the 1970s and Slater played Daniel in the 1994 movie, stories about vampires were still on the sidelines, mysterious and romantic. Like Daniel, audiences are more jaded to the stories now, and his jokes and reactions to Louis' grandiose retelling of things helps cement the story in a reality just like ours. He also injects some much-needed humor into the series, providing an important release valve during all of the violence and misery. Despite his sharp sense of humor, Daniel is slowly dying from Parkinson's disease, which makes his grim commentary all the more poignant. 

In memory of one of the greats

Here's the thing about Christian Slater's version of Daniel: he's nice to look at, but it's hard to really care about him much. The character is further fleshed out in the novels, which makes him more compelling, but he's not all that deep in the first book, which is primarily what the AMC series is based on. Making Daniel reminiscent of Bourdain (pictured above), who is instantly recognizable to many audiences, helps us empathize with him and get more invested in his involvement in the story. Louis (Jacob Anderson), Lestat (Sam Reid), and the other vampires are all immediately intriguing because they're beautiful supernatural beings, but Daniel is the one human character that balances against them. He needs to be able to hold his own, and a character with Bourdain's approachable but snarky attitude is perfect. 

One of Bourdain's greatest talents, and he had many, was his ability to get people to open up to him in interviews. His interview with former President Obama in Hanoi is the stuff of journalists' dreams, but he talked to people from all walks of life all over the world in his many years traveling for the CNN series "Parts Unknown." He was warm and affable, but was incredibly sharp, and his interview subjects grew to trust him and share more than they might have otherwise. He was one of the best at inspiring incredible empathy, and his influence on Bogosian's Daniel seems to come from a place of love. Considering Bourdain thought the best movie about food was "Ratatouille" and he had a strong sense of humor, he hopefully would have found the homage hilarious. 

The first season of "Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire" is streaming on AMC+.