Let’s take you back to 1994. It was the time of grunge and flannels shirts. Tom Cruise was known to light up box offices as a grinning race car driver, pilot or lawyer. When it was announced he was going to play the “Brat Prince” vampire Lestat in Neil Jordan’s original adaptation of Anne Rice’s beloved novel, Interview with the Vampire, fans were perplexed. And Rice was not happy. He was too jovial, too bro-y, too short. But he did an amazing job, famously winning over not only fans, but Rice as well. Then, in 2002, Stuart Townsend played Lestat in Queen of the Damned, and very little about that movie worked out at all.
So casting for the recently teased new Interview with the Vampire, and a potential series based on Rice’s series starring Lestat, The Vampire Chronicles, will likely be equally controversial. Director Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars, New Mutants) has a tough job ahead. Based on Rice’s descriptions, Lestat should be about 6'0" tall and appear to be in his early 20s (his age when he became a vampire) with curly blonde hair. He looks sensual, always animated and charismatic – he absolutely has to have a commanding presence.
With all that in mind, let’s take a stake-through-the-heart stab at naming 12 Actors Who Could Play Lestat.
12 JARED LETO
We’ll start with the actor that director Josh Boone recently tweeted his support for, Jared Leto. There’s no denying the Oscar winner has just about everything you’d want in a Lestat. Just look at that face, those eyes, the pale skin. Physically, he’s almost got the whole package. Aside from the height, that is. Leto is generously listed at 5’9”. Then again, height didn’t seem to be a big issue for 5’7” Tom Cruise.
And we all know that Leto has the acting chops to pull off such a nuanced, charismatic character. The guy can play just about anything. Plus, there’s his rock star experience fronting Thirty Seconds to Mars (Lestat becomes a rock star in the third book, Queen of the Damned). Our main issue with Boone’s choice is his age. Leto is 44 now, the oldest on this list, and would be at least a year or two older by the time filming begins. If the first film is successful and launches a series, he’d likely be in his 50s by the time they get to the fifth book, Memnoch the Devil. Unless Leto is turned into an immortal himself, he’s got to start looking his age at some point.
11 MATT SMITH
When British actor Matt Smith was first cast as the 11th Doctor on Doctor Who, it was met with a similar reaction to that given Cruise when he was cast as Lestat. Who was this kind of funny looking kid taking over this iconic role? And the same could happen if Smith was cast as Lestat. He’s certainly not as stereotypically pretty as Lestat “should” be, he doesn’t have that thin nose. But he has the greyish eyes, the strong jaw and he has a fascinating presence, not to mention the pale, vampiric complexion.
While he projected kind of a geeky, bowtied look as the Doctor, we saw him flashing a darker side in his brief role in Terminator Genisys. But most of all, he has that sparkle in his eyes, that playfulness that Lestat has to have. At age 33, he’s still young enough that he could believably play the role for a few years, if the series has legs.
10 LEE PACE
At 37, Lee Pace is getting a little up there to play a 200-year-old vampire who appears to be 20-something. But we know he can get away with it. It was actually his performance as Elven king Thranduil in The Hobbit film series that inspired his inclusion on this list. Pale-faced and intense, with angular features, Thranduil was also immortal and displayed his intensity with a range of emotions, from kindness to anger.
There’s also the not-so-minor fact that he played the vampire Garrett (not exactly the most vampiric name, but there you go) in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. He wasn’t unlike Lestat: he could be by turns likable, rebellious and hot-headed. At 6’5”, Pace is the tallest actor on this list, and five inches taller than the literary Lestat, but that height can work to a charismatic vampire’s advantage.
9 DOUGLAS BOOTH
Physically, 24-year-old British actor Douglas Booth has just about everything you’d want in Lestat. A former model, he’s definitely pretty enough to play him, and he's just about the ideal height for the role at 6’1”. In an interview with Vogue, he spoke of enjoying being the center of attention, and if he can project that on screen, he’d make a great Lestat.
But that’s the big question: Does he have the chops to believably portray all the nuances of the character? It’s easy to dismiss him as a pretty boy, but he played a convincing Boy George in Worried About the Boy, and he showed some impressive charisma in The Riot Club. But the part that has most prepared him for Lestat is his bratty role as Titus in Jupiter Ascending.
8 MATT BOMER
Put a blond wig on Matt Bomer, and there’s no doubt he’s got the Lestat look: the jaw, the mouth, the eyes. Even macho man Channing Tatum admitted to getting lost in Bomer’s eyes in his Reddit AMA: “I don't know what they are made of outside of dreams and rainbows and amazingness but it truly doesn't matter.” That’s a key quality for our Lestat. And he can sing, too, which would bode well if the series comes around to adapting the vampire’s rock star turn in The Queen of the Damned.
Bomer even played a vampire of sorts in this past year’s American Horror Story: Hotel. There’s really only one downside to casting him as Lestat: his age. He turns 39 later this year and would be well into his 40s for subsequent films. Sure, he appears to be aging well, but it could be a concern.
7 ALEXANDER SKARSGÅRD
If you have a really convincing vampire on your resume, that automatically gives you a pass onto this list. And 39-year-old Swedish thespian Alexander Skarsgård played arguably the most consistently intriguing and entertaining vampire on True Blood for seven seasons. As Eric Northman, he was often portrayed as the villain, but clearly had a heart as well, with an intense well of emotions.
Lestat is certainly that as well: occasionally a villain – and blood-sucking vampires are certainly evil by nature from a mortal perspective – but also perpetually aswirl with intense thoughts and feelings. At 6’4” he could play a truly domineering Lestat, and his ruggedly handsome looks and blue-green eyes definitely don’t hurt his cause.
6 EZRA MILLER
Okay, 23-year-old Ezra Miller appears to be busy with a franchise or two of his own. He just cameoed in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as The Flash and is poised to continue to speed across movie screens in 2017’s The Justice League Part One and 2018’s The Flash. He also has a role (possibly a recurring one) in the wizarding world prequel, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. So he might be a little too preoccupied to slip on the Lestat fangs.
Nevertheless, there is evidence that he could make a solid Brat Prince. He’s got the full, sensual lips Rice describes in her novels, the angular features, his age is ideal, and he stands about 5’11”, close enough to Lestat’s height. And, while an actor should be versatile enough to play any type of sexuality, Miller has described his sexuality as fairly fluid, which he could draw on for Lestat, who identifies in a similar way. Sure, his eyes are brown, but that’s an easy fix with a pair of contacts.
5 IAN SOMERHALDER
So, Mr. Somerhalder, what do you think qualifies you to play an iconic vampire? “Um,” Ian Somerhalder might respond, “maybe seven seasons of playing a vampire on TV.” Yeah, that’s a pretty good item on the ol’ resume if you’re going to audition for Lestat. Indeed, Somerhalder, all mesmerizing blue eyes and square jaw of him, has played the vampire Damon Salvatore for 156 episodes of The Vampire Diaries on The CW – although he’s said the show will end after next year’s eighth season. His character has been described as an anti-hero, much the same way Lestat has.
There’s little doubt Somerhalder could pull off a solid Lestat, but, as with some of our other choices, the age factor comes into play here. While he may be free for the project(s) once The Vampire Diaries is over, he’s now 37, which is already about 16 years older than Lestat was when he turned. For reference, Cruise was 32 when the original film was released and Townsend was 30 when he played Lestat.
4 JAMIE CAMPBELL BOWER
There are images of Jamie Campbell Bower floating around the internet that can’t help but make us say, “Okay, case closed. He’s totally Lestat.” His face, with its pretty boy handsomeness, striking blue eyes and flowing blond locks, couldn’t be much closer to the appearance Rice describes in her books. Physically, it only gets better: he’s just 27 years old and an even 6’0” tall.
On top of that, he’s got some vampire experience, as the ruthless ancient vampire leader Caius in the Twilight series. Caius even sported the whitish blond hair of Lestat. The only real issue with Campbell Bower is whether or not he’d want to take this on. He hasn’t done a whole lot on screen since 2013’s The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and has been busy working in theater and with his band, Counterfeit. But, of course, the musical experience would work well for Queen of the Damned, when Lestat goes rock star.
3 NICHOLAS HOULT
Nicholas Hoult has the pale British complexion of a vampire, not to mention the mesmerizing, piercing blue eyes of Lestat. Our big question, though, is whether or not he’s fierce enough to play the role. The former child actor, now 26, who broke out at age 12 in About a Boy, has certainly played some heroic roles. He was Jack the Giant Slayer and continues to play Hank McCoy/Beast in the X-Men franchise, including the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse.
He recently dug deep into some darkness as a murderous A&R rep in Kill Your Friends, and before that he showed some light in the undead as a lovable zombie in Warm Bodies. At 6’2”, Hoult is taller than you might expect and just might have what it takes to have a long run in a Vampire Chronicles franchise.
2 JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS
At 38, Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a little on the old side, but we still think he’d make a fierce Lestat. Throughout his career, he’s played many intense, charismatic characters, from his breakthrough in the 2000 mini-series Gormenghast to King Henry VIII on The Tudors. This is not to mention, of course, his take on the ultimate vampiric role: as Dracula in the short-lived (10 episodes) 2013-14 NBC series, Dracula.
Physically, he’s certainly got the goods, standing about 5’10” with an intense, blue-eyed gaze and a long, angular jaw. We have no doubt at all that the combination of his skills and looks would result in a mesmerizing Lestat on the big screen.
1 TOM HIDDLESTON
There’s no doubt that Tom Hiddleston can play a charismatic villain – which is not to say Lestat is a villain; he’s a vampire, but he’s complicated. Just look at his portrayal of Loki in The Avengers and Thor movies, which he’ll reprise in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok. Loki, like Lestat, is playful but capable of horrible things.
Classically trained in the U.K., Hiddleston is now 35, so he still has a window of youth to play Lestat, and makeup can always dab out the crow’s feet. We can easily see his face, with his blue eyes, framed by a flowing blond wig, transforming him into a convincing Lestat. And his slim 6’2” frame fits the part as well. Despite his age, we’re giving Hiddleston the top spot here because he qualifies on every other level and arguably has the most bankable name at this point – other than Leto, but his age is even more of an issue.
Who do you think should play Lestat in the upcoming film series? Let us know in the comments.