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Has Hollywood Gone Batty?

August 29, 1993

Bravo to author Anne Rice ("Interview With the Vampire's Picky Creator," Film Clips, Aug. 22) for having the courage and honesty to publicly voice what thousands of her readers have been crying about for weeks: Tom Cruise is totally miscast as the Vampire Lestat.

Producer David Geffen is dead wrong about casting being solely a director's choice. As members of the moviegoing public are the ones whose money will dictate how successful the film is or is not, any of the film's financiers would be smart to listen to them (a great example of this would be the public's choice of Clark Gable for "Gone With the Wind").

If the screenplay remains true to its source in its dealings with the homoerotic relationship between the two lead vampires (as well as some subsidiary fangsters they meet along the way), I doubt that anyone could truly conjure the hopelessly hetero Cruise as a character actor strong enough to overcome his more-than-well-established screen persona of boy next door. His support from Geffen, himself only recently out of the closet, is curious, to say the least.

I find it ironic that the long-awaited transition of "Interview With the Vampire" from novel to screen is falling victim to another kind of bloodsucker--the Hollywood kind.

DAVE HUTCHINSON

Mission Viejo

P.S. Besides Jeremy Irons and Daniel Day-Lewis, how about three other fellow Brits for consideration, all with neck-biting experience? Gary Oldman has played gay men and king vampires with a lot of success. Or how about Julian Sands, from the low-budget wonder "Tale of a Vampire," just released on video? And of course there's always Ben Cross, who recently hung up his cape as Barnabas Collins in the "Dark Shadows" revival.

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Fans of "Interview With the Vampire," be they Cruise fans or not, must surely be aghast at his casting as Lestat. The milk-and-cookies star has neither the physical presence nor the range as an actor to effectively play the role.

Think of Dana Carvey as Dirty Harry, and you can see how implausible is the casting of Cruise as Lestat. Cruise flashing those fangs for the first time will likely engender unwarranted laughter from the audience, just as Carvey as Dirty Harry would saying "Make my day."

With the attachment of director Neil Jordan to the project, this book seemed destined to become a fully realized artistic success after languishing for 15 years waiting to be made. Jordan should be capable of properly tackling the homoerotic elements of Rice's sensual story, as he so ably proved with his tale of sexual ambiguity in "The Crying Game."

Cruise's experiment in stretching his acting range may be as painful for his audience to watch as Sylvester Stallone's pathetic forays into comedy have been. And with the potential for a $200-million box office due to the wide public regard for Rice's novel and the bunch-o-hunks cast producer Geffen has assembled, it is not likely that any changes will be forthcoming (as in Cruise realizing he is very wrong for the part and backing out).

Cruise as the Interviewer, yes. Cruise as Lestat (I'm still trying to stop laughing), no.

JEFF SOFTLEY

Los Angeles

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Are they out of their cotton-picking minds? Say it ain't so, Joe!

Back in 1978, when Rice's "Interview With the Vampire" was first considered for a film adaptation, there was a short-lived plan to star John Travolta as the tormented vampire Louis. Now that scheme is look back on as preposterous.

But here it is 1993, and fans of Rice's novel are forced to endure the same thing all over again, this time in the far more serious threat of Tom Cruise. Once again, the powers that be have decided to cast a young, "hot" actor they think will best pull in the big bucks, the character be damned (no pun intended).

But what was a bad idea in '78 is a bad idea in '93, and oh, what a character to sacrifice! Here is a character so strong and affecting that he renders poet, novelist and National Public Radio commentator Andrei Codrescu, your Aug. 8 cover subject, momentarily speechless, and causes this same, nominally sane man to state, with apparent conviction, that an imaginary being "lives" in the Lafayette Cemetery.

Where Hollywood has erred, I think, is in the casting of such a familiar actor in the role. Vampires in general, and Lestat in particular, get their kick from their alien-ness, from their difference from the mundane. Tom Cruise is too well-known, too famous and too, well, Tom Cruise to achieve the kind of chilling strangeness the role demands.

If seems so sad to me that the studios give so much weight to the opinions of test audiences once their films are made and the money has been spent. Just this once, it would be nice if they'd listen to their audience before the damage is done.

LAURA S. KING

Anaheim

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And I thought I was the only one offended by the selection of Cruise to play Lestat. Finally someone with sense speaks out. Thank you, Anne Rice!

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