All the actors playing vampires were required to hang upside down for up to thirty minutes at a time during the make-up application. This would force all the blood in their bodies to rush to their heads, causing the blood vessels in their faces to bulge out. The make up artists would then trace over the swollen veins creating the eerie translucent-skinned vampire look. Unfortunately for the actors, they would have to repeat the process several times over, as the blood would quickly drain from their heads. This, in part, accounts for the lengthy make-up process.
In an article released in September 2011, Brad Pitt revealed that he had a miserable experience while making this film. He complained of discomfort while wearing his costumes and colored contacts and being forced to play second fiddle to Tom Cruise, both on screen and off. He said at one point he called his friend and producer David Geffen and begged him for a way out. Learning that there was no way, he toughed it out for the remaining months.
In the book, the reason why Louis becomes depressed in the beginning of the movie is because he feels guilty about the death of his brother; not because he had a wife and child that died. In fact, he never had a wife in the book version.
Author Anne Rice wrote the original part of Lestat for the 1976 novel with Rutger Hauer in mind. The rights to the novel were optioned by Paramount for $150,000 before the book was first published. John Travolta was then earmarked to play Lestat but Dracula (1979), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), and Love at First Bite (1979) put the project into turnaround. By the time a movie was to be filmed, Hauer and Travolta had become too old to portray the ever-young vampire. Upon learning that Tom Cruise had been cast, she was quite disappointed and expressed concern that Cruise could not carry the part. After attending a screening, Rice wrote a letter of apology, quite pleased with Cruise's portrayal.
Stephen Rea studied French comedy and pantomime to prepare for his role as Santiago. The scene in which he dances up the tunnel wall and ceiling was inspired by Fred Astaire's famous scene in Royal Wedding (1951).
Kirsten Dunst shared her first on-screen kiss in this film with Brad Pitt, even though there was an 18-year age difference between them. In a subsequent interview, she revealed the scene had made her uncomfortable. She remarked: "I thought it was gross, that Brad had cooties. I mean, I was 12."
In the trailer, Lestat says to Louis, "You're a vampire who never knew what life was until it ran out in a red gush over your lips" as he takes the goblet with the trollop's blood to Louis. For some reason, this line was cut from the film.
The estate of Louis (Brad Pitt) in the beginning of the film was the historic Oak Alley Plantation located on the Mississippi River in Vacherie, Louisiana, which is near New Orleans. The plantation's "guest book" is on display and was signed by Pitt and Tom Cruise.
A gay subtext to the novel was omitted from the film; Lestat expects Louis to sleep with him; Lestat, Louis (and later Claudia) are a perverse family with Lestat as the father, Louis as the mother and Claudia as their daughter, etc. Anne Rice mentions "stone walls" in the novel, which could be an oblique reference to the gay rights movement of the same name.
There's a scene towards the end of the movie where Louis is watching Superman (1978) in a cinema. This scene doesn't appear in the novel because the book was written in 1976, two years before the film was made.
The scenes set on the riverfront in New Orleans (including the infamous "Chat Noir") were filmed on a false front built on the levee downriver from the actual French Quarter. The entire set was constructed around the old section of Jackson Barracks, a National Guard post.
Although the reporter gets a name in the film (Daniel Malloy), in the novel he's just known as "the boy"; he was also younger than Christian Slater. The book also refers to Louis as "the vampire" in the interview scenes.
The river scenes were done by removing such modern items as the Greater New Orleans Bridge and radio towers and replacing them with 18th century sailing vessels in post-production. The sailing vessels on the set were Alexandria and Gazela.
When LeStat and Louie are arguing at Louie's plantation, Louie says the help watch them eat from empty plates and drink from empty glasses. They only did that in the book in order to fool LeStat's blind father. They never would have bothered to do that otherwise.
It is stated in the books that the vampires (according to Anne Rice) shed blood tears, as all their body fluids are replaced with blood. In the film, however (e.g. when Louis remembers Claudia's death), they are normal human tears.
The original novel includes a scene where Lestat appears in the tunnels under the Theater des Vampires in Paris, to confront Louis immediately after Claudia's death. This scene was filmed with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, but was cut from the final film.