6. As it turned out, Cruise knew exactly what he was getting into and, though reportedly “deeply hurt” by Rice’s initial criticism, he grabbed the role by the jugular, reading all of her books, learning piano, losing weight and soaking up the atmosphere in Paris with then-wife Nicole Kidman to get a jump on Lestat’s hedonistic lifestyle ahead of the start of production.
Of the source material, which is told from Louis’ point of view, “you have to read it very carefully to find the clues to who Lestat is,” Cruise said in 1994.
And in the end, he turned Rice—and, according to the author, he turned all the readers who were initially outraged just as she was.
“I think Tom did a wonderful job, I really do,” she acknowledged in a 1994 interview. “I too was shocked in the beginning and I was very much against it, but Tom Cruise really did read the books, I think, and he got the essence of Lestat. He got Lestat’s power and his charisma and his charm. He got all of that across in the movie. He had great skill in that performance, I think, and great power.”
Rice noted that the only problem was that Cruise was too damn charming. “Since he isn’t all that nasty, why does Louis hate Lestat? How can he?” she also mused in 1994. “Well, I’ll take that problem any day over a more shallow solution. Tom his the right note. And Louis was Louis. Nothing could comfort Louis. The film got it.”