While certainly no great fan of Tom ("Far and Away") Cruise, I couldn't help but laugh at the fervor created by his appointment as Top Gun Bloodsucker Lestat in "Interview With the Vampire" (Letters, Aug. 29, and Film Clips, Aug. 22).
Do these fanatics from Central Casting actually believe vampires exist? Is there really a cast-in-stone role model for a flying bat? Would Gary Oldman's teeth chomping on a neck truly be more realistic than Cruise's canines, or even David Letterman's?
Are the mediocre scribblings of Anne Rice even worthy of such scrutiny? And finally, would these protesters ever indulge in such "Risky Business" as hiring Julian Sands (?!?) over Cruise if they were David Geffen stockholders?
With zany priorities like these, it's no longer a mystery as to which imbeciles are sinking their fangs into our nation's diminishing maturity level.
Amazing. Simply amazing.
Not one day of shooting is in the can, not even a frame of film exposed, and already "Interview With the Vampire" is the box-office flop of the decade. I don't think there have been such dire predictions of disaster since Nostradamus was at the top of his form.
I'll admit that Tom Cruise was not the first name to spring to my mind when people mentioned Anne Rice's vampire novels, but I pride myself in having a flexible mind-set. I see no reason why Cruise can't pull off the role if given half a chance. For those who see him only as a lightweight Hollywood pretty boy, I need only recommend "Born on the Fourth of July."
Will Cruise make a credible Lestat? I can't say, any more than all those now crying foul can rightly say that he will screw it up, or that another actor would do a better job. All I can say is that we should wait until "Interview With the Vampire" sees the light of day before we drive a stake through its heart.
I can't resist weighing in on the casting of Cruise as Lestat. Unlike those whose opinions were printed last Sunday, I am willing to give Cruise the benefit of the doubt and let him prove that he can play such an unlikely and demanding role. (Remember the uproar by angry fans over the casting of Michael Keaton as Batman?)
Now that Hollywood has shown such daring by putting Cruise in a role unsuited to him--now that the movie has so courageously jeopardized its profitability by alienating its core audience--will the entertainment industry make room for braver casting in the future?
While it give an Asian actor the opportunity to open a lead Asian role on Broadway? Will it cast a Latina actress as Frida Kahlo in the Mexican painter's film biography? Will it consider making a movie about American Indians with Native American actors in the starring roles?
Or does Hollywood's definition of "non-traditional" casting simply mean mismatching a well-known star with a well-known property?
As a professional author, I have great respect for the talent and ability of Anne Rice. However, I strongly disagree with her very public criticism of the actor chosen to play a role in the movie based upon her book.
She sold the rights to her work to people who make movies for a living. They in turn are risking millions of dollars to make the movie. That is their business, and their gamble. It is unethical for her to blind-side them with such a complaint, and possibly damage their chance at success, after she took their money.
If she felt so strongly about what actor plays what character, she should have negotiated this in her contract when selling the movie rights. Failing to do so, she should endorse and support them, or at minimum keep her mouth shut, and do better next time.
Although I agree with Anne Rice concerning the casting of Cruise as Lestat and certainly respect the opinions voiced by others, the simple fact remains that "Interview With the Vampire" is going to be made the way Hollywood decides it's going to be made.
We can at least take comfort in the fact that Neil Jordan is directing. In addition to such great films as "The Crying Game" and "Mona Lisa," he has to his credit "The Company of Wolves," perhaps the finest werewolf film ever made. And as everyone knows, the werewolf is a supernatural cousin to the vampire.
P.S. Since everyone else is tossing out casting suggestions, I may as well add mine: Christopher Lambert. He has the looks, the height and a ready-made French accent.
I felt like I'd been slapped when I heard Cruise would play Lestat.
There is a person who walks this Earth who was born to play this part, and that person is none other than Christopher Walken.
If anyone has a doubt, I refer them to the movie "The Comfort of Strangers." The physicality, the jaded worldliness, the "out there" eroticism--Walken's got it all!
Sinewy, European, androgynous? How about David Bowie?