Who Is Lestat de Lioncourt?
From Interview with a Vampire to Queen of the Damned...
The points I make in this will solely be based on the films alone. The films themselves even contradict each other. I am simply here to analyze how the films portray my favorite fictional character: The Vampire Lestat.
When we are introduced to the character, we see that Lestat de Lioncourt was a French nobleman in the late 18th century. He was transformed into a vampire in the winter of 1788. He is taught how to live life as a vampire by an ancient, named Marius. Lestat hates keeping his identity a secret and feels he should be able to tell everyone that he's a vampire. While living with Marius, he discovers the secret crypt which holds Queen Akasha and her King, and unintentionally awakens her.
Lestat is cocky, self-centered, and constantly on the hunt for a living being. He is manipulative and likes to play with people. He has total disregard for all persons other than himself, and comes across as a person who has to be in control.
In 1791, Lestat meets a young man by the name of Louis de Pointe du Lac. Louis has suffered the loss of his family and feels that life is pointless. Lestat comes to the hopeless Louis and decides to turn him into a vampire. Although Louis chose to be a vampire, he can't seem to come to terms with taking a human life. He desires to remain human and this frustrates Lestat, who insists he must kill indiscriminately and feed. Lestat often lashes out, verbally abusing Louis for being a coward who won't accept his vampire nature. Fearing Louis will leave him, he turns an orphan child, Claudia, into a vampire so the two of them might raise her as their own.
In Queen of the Damned, it is revealed that Lestat is musically gifted and, in modern times, is a famous rock'n'roll sensation. At this point in his life, he's not so worried to find a companion. Instead, he merely feeds on humans and doesn't bother with turning them into vampires.
Lestat is played by Tom Cruise in Interview with a Vampire and Stuart Townsend in Queen of the Damned. Each actor's portrayal of Lestat is entirely different to one another. Cruise's Lestat is vibrant and charming. He craves the admiration and affection of others. Cruise's version is also much like Anne Rice's portrayal of Lestat in her novels.
Townsend's Lestat is darker, more apathetic, although he remains true to Lestat's arrogant personality. Like Cruise's Lestat, he desires to be heard, but not so much seen.
INSPIRATION FOR THE CHARACTER
When creating the haughty character that is Lestat, Anne Rice was inspired by her husband, Stan Rice. So much that she, at one point, considered naming him Lestan.
The films do not portray Lestat in the same way as the books. Tom Cruise portrays Lestat as being more dandified and sophisticated, whereas Stuart Townsend's Lestat is rough and dark. Cruise's Lestat is a man who wants the finest of everything. He is focused on superficial appearances. There are a lot of homoerotic undertones in Cruise's portrayal as well - just like in the novelization of Interview with a Vampire - but the film portrays him as being more sexually ambiguous. He seduces both men and women alike. Although he may feed on women more often, the novel even mentions that Lestat has a soft spot for young males.
Lestat has similar qualities in Queen of the Damned, but is rather different. Townsend portrays Lestat as a heterosexual, androgynous man. He only seems to show interest in women. In Queen of the Damned, Lestat is very open about being a vampire - much to the disapproval of his fellow vampires.
In Interview with a Vampire, we see that Claudia has attempted, on multiple occasions, to assassinate Lestat (with the help of Louis, of course). Despite these brutal attempts - which went from slitting his throat to setting him on fire - Lestat seems to have some type of ability that allows him to survive it all. He spends the next couple of centuries wallowing in his own misery in New Orleans. The world is changing as modern times approach, yet he remains hidden, yearning to return to his former glory. The last time we see Lestat is in San Francisco where he has a run-in with Louis while lurking in the shadows.
However, in Queen of the Damned, Lestat has spent the past 100 years asleep in his crypt. So how did he encounter Louis in New Orleans? This second portrayal is more true to the novelization, where he remains underground in a trance-like state, waiting to die as the world passes by around him, until he hears the sound of a local rock band which causes him to rise and take his spot as their new lead singer. Lestat's unique sound and presence helps catapult them into the mainstream media.
After surviving multiple assassination attempts and defeating Akasha, he disappears into the London night with his new girlfriend, Jesse.
Although there are many contradictions between the films and novels, the character of Lestat de Lioncourt remains the same. He is self-centered, arrogant, and seeks to be heard. Over the years, he seeks companionship and some form of admiration. Lestat is a wonderful creation of Anne Rice's and has become a classic fan-favorite.