The film was released in November 1994 to generally positive reviews, and received Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction and Best Original Score. Kirsten Dunst was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film.
In modern-day San Francisco, reporter Daniel Molloy interviews Louis de Pointe du Lac, who claims to be a vampire. Louis describes his human life as a wealthy plantation owner in 1791 Louisiana. He had lost the will to live following the death of his wife and infant child; one night he is attacked by the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt while drunkenly wandering the waterfront of New Orleans. Lestat senses Louis' dissatisfaction with life and offers to turn him into a vampire, which Louis accepts prior to being transformed. But while Lestat revels in the hunt and killing of humans, Louis resists killing them, drinking animal blood to sustain himself. He is disgusted by Lestat's pleasure in killing and comes to suffer tremendously as a vampire.
Wandering the streets of New Orleans, amid an outbreak of plague, Louis can resist his hunger no more and feeds on a little girl whose mother has died in the plague. To entice Louis to stay with him, Lestat makes the girl into their vampire daughter, naming her Claudia. Louis has a pure love for Claudia, but to Lestat, she is a pupil, and she soon proves to be as fierce a killer as he. As thirty years pass, Claudia matures psychologically but still remains a little girl in appearance, and she's treated as such by Lestat. When she finally realizes that she will never grow old, she is furious with Lestat and tells Louis that they should leave him. She tricks Lestat into drinking the "dead blood" of twin boys that she killed by overdosing them with laudanum and she slits his throat. With Louis's help, she dumps Lestat's body in a swamp and the two plan a voyage to Europe. However, Lestat returns on the night of their departure, having drunk the blood of swamp creatures to survive. Lestat attacks them, but Louis sets him on fire and, in the ensuing chaos, they are able to escape, safely boarding the ship.
After traveling around Europe and the Mediterranean (but finding no other vampires), Louis and Claudia settle harmoniously in Paris. Louis encounters vampires Santiago and Armand by chance. Armand invites Louis and Claudia to his coven, the Théâtre des Vampires, where the vampires stage theatrical horror shows for humans, similar to the real Grand Guignol which existed in Paris from 1897–1962. On their way out of the theater, Santiago reads Louis' mind and suspects that Louis and Claudia murdered Lestat. Louis is tempted to remain with Armand and learn from him in a way he could never have done with Lestat. Claudia demands that Louis turn a human woman, Madeleine, to be her new protector and companion, and he reluctantly complies. The Parisian vampires abduct all three and punish them for Lestat's murder: imprisoning Louis in a metal coffin, and trapping Claudia and Madeleine in a room where sunlight burns them to ash. Armand does nothing to prevent this, but the next day he frees Louis. Louis returns to the Theater, killing the vampires including Santiago as vengeance. Armand arrives in time to help Louis escape the sunrise and once again offers him a place by his side. Louis, however, refuses Armand and leaves for good.
As decades pass, Louis explores the world dejectedly alone and eventually returns to the United States and New Orleans. One day he comes across Lestat, a shadow of his former self who hasn't adapted to the modern world. Lestat asks Louis to rejoin him, but Louis rejects him and leaves. Louis concludes the interview, prompting Molloy to offer to be his new vampire companion. Louis is outraged that Molloy hasn't understood the tale of suffering he has related and attacks him. When Louis vanishes, Molloy runs to his car and, while driving away, listens to his interview tapes. Just then, Lestat appears and attacks him, taking control of the car. Revived by Molloy's blood, Lestat offers him the option that he "never had" to become a vampire, as they drive over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Author Anne Rice adapted her 1976 novel Interview with the Vampire into a screenplay with French actor Alain Delon in mind for the role of Louis. Later on, when the film was made, British actor Julian Sands was considered to play the role of Lestat by Rice, but because Sands was not a well-known name at the time (being only famed for his performance in A Room with a View), he was rejected and the role was given to Tom Cruise. This was initially criticized by Anne Rice, who said that Cruise was "no more my vampire Lestat than Edward G. Robinson is Rhett Butler", and the casting was "so bizarre; it's almost impossible to imagine how it's going to work". Nevertheless, she was satisfied with Cruise's performance after seeing the completed film, saying that "from the moment he appeared, Tom was Lestat for me" and "that Tom did make Lestat work was something I could not see in a crystal ball".
Due to Rice's perception of Hollywood's homophobia, at one point she rewrote the part of Louis, changing his sex to female, in order to specifically heterosexualize the character's relationship with Lestat. At the time, Rice felt it was the only way to get the film made, and singer-actress Cher was considered for the part. A song titled "Lovers Forever", which Cher wrote along with Shirley Eikhard for the film's soundtrack, got rejected as Pitt was ultimately cast for the role, though a dance-pop version of the song was released on Cher's 2013 album, Closer to the Truth.
Originally, River Phoenix was cast for the role of Daniel Molloy (as Anne Rice liked the idea), but he died four weeks before he was due to begin filming. When Christian Slater was cast in his place as Molloy, he donated his entire salary to Phoenix's favorite charitable organizations. The film has a dedication to Phoenix after the end credits. Eleven-year-old actress Kirsten Dunst was spotted by talent scouts and was the first girl tested for the role of woman/child Claudia.
Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles opened on November 11, 1994. Opening weekend grosses amounted to $36.4m, placing it in the number one position at the US box office. In subsequent weeks it struggled against Star Trek Generations and The Santa Clause. Total gross in the United States was $105 million, while the total including international gross was $224 million, with an estimated budget of $60 million.
The film received mixed to positive reviews among film critics. Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reports the film as holding an overall 61% approval rating based on 51 reviews, with a rating average of 5.9 out of 10. The site's consensus reads: "Despite lacking some of the book's subtler shadings, and suffering from some clumsy casting, Interview with the Vampire benefits from Neil Jordan's atmospheric direction and a surfeit of gothic thrills." The film holds a 59/100 on Metacritic. Praise from The New York Times's Elvis Mitchell and the Chicago Sun-Times's Roger Ebert was tempered by poor reviews in The Washington Post and Time magazine.
The film was nominated for two Academy Awards—for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo) and for Best Original Score, but lost to The Madness of King George and The Lion King, respectively. This film won a Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple for Pitt and Cruise, tied with Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone in The Specialist.
The film was released on VHS on November 21, 1995 and LaserDisc on June 6, 1996 DVD on June 6, 2000 and on Blu-ray Disc on October 7, 2008.
Interview with the Vampire (soundtrack)
The film's musical score was written by Elliot Goldenthal and received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score. "Sympathy for the Devil" was performed by Guns N' Roses.
Almost a decade after this film, an adaptation for the third book in the series, The Queen of the Damned, was produced and distributed once again by Warner Bros. Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt did not reprise their roles as Lestat and Louis. Many characters and important plotlines were written out of the film, which actually combined elements of The Vampire Lestat with The Queen of the Damned. The film was negatively received by critics, and Rice dismissed it completely as she felt the filmmakers had "mutilated" her work. During pre-production, Rice had pleaded with the studio not to produce a film of the book just yet as she believed her readers wanted a film based on the second book in the series, The Vampire Lestat. Rice was refused the cooperation of the studio.
In February 2012, a film adaptation of The Tale of the Body Thief, the fourth book in the series, entered development with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's film production company, Imagine Entertainment. It was reported that screenwriter Lee Patterson was going to pen the screenplay. However, Rice's son, Christopher, apparently had drafted a screenplay based on the novel that was met with praise from those involved in the developmental stage. Rice later confirmed that creative differences that were beyond those involved resulted in the dismissal of the project in April 2013.
In August 2014 Universal Pictures acquired the rights to the entire Vampire Chronicles. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci have been named as producers and the deal includes the aforementioned screenplay for The Tale of the Body Thief, written by Christopher.
A new film adaptation of the book has been written by Josh Boone and was announced in May 2016, with Boone suggesting actor Jared Leto play the role of Lestat. In November 2016, all plans for a theatrical reboot were scrapped as Rice announced she had regained the rights to her novels and intends to create a television series starting with The Vampire Lestat.