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.
Christian Slater was given the role of Malloy, upon the death of River Phoenix, who was originally supposed to be Malloy. Slater donated his 250,000 dollar salary to two of Phoenix's favorite charities.
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.
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 twelve."
Anne Rice wrote Lestat in the 1976 novel with Rutger Hauer in mind. The rights to the novel were optioned by Paramount for $150,000 before the book was published, and John Travolta was earmarked to play Lestat, but a glut of vampire films at the time with Dracula (1979), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), and Love at First Bite (1979) put the project on hiatus. By the time the film was in preproduction, Hauer and Travolta had become too old to portray the ever-young vampire. (Ironically, Hauer would later portray a vampire in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992).) Upon learning that Tom Cruise had been cast, Rice was livid and stated Cruise could not carry the part, calling the casting "so bizarre; it's almost impossible to imagine how it's going to work" and "the worst crime in the name of casting since The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)." Rice recused herself from the production and did not view the film until a producer sent her a VHS copy. Rice was so impressed by Cruise's performance that she wrote him a letter of apology.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 family. Anne Rice mentions "stone walls" in the novel, which could be an oblique reference to the gay rights movement of the same name.
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.
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.
Due to Anne Rice's fear that her novel was not being adapted because Lestat and Louis could be perceived as homosexuals, at one point she rewrote Louis as a woman, and considered Cher for the role. While eventually the role went back to being a man, Cher would write along with Shirley Eikhard a song for the movie's soundtrack, "Lovers Forever", that wound rejected by the producers and eventually released on Cher's 2013 album "Closer to the Truth".
Antonio Banderas also voiced Armand in the Castilian Spanish dubbed version of the film. Unlike the rest of the cast, whose Spanish voice actors dubbed their respective characters in Barcelona, Spain, Banderas dubbed his own voice in Los Angeles, California,
The film was a subject of controversy due to inspiring a real life crime shortly after the film's theatrical release. On November 17, 1994, a man named Daniel Sterling and her girlfriend Lisa Stellwagen watched the film together. The next day, Sterling stabbed Stellwagen seven times in her chest and back and sucked the blood from her wounds. Fortunately, Stellwagen survived the multiple stab wounds and Sterling was arrested. He claimed in court that the film influenced his plan and the jury convicted him of attempted first-degree murder, among several other charges.
Lestat tells Louis that eating rats is a good way to stay alive if you're "in a ship for a month at sea." This is a reference to Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, in which Dracula hides on a ship belowdecks and survives by eating rats until he can arrive in London.
Four of the cast have starred in films directed by Barry Levinson. Tom Cruise in Rain Man (1988), Brad Pitt in Sleepers (1996), Christian Slater in Jimmy Hollywood (1994) and Kirsten Dunst in Wag the Dog (1997). Coincidentally Jimmy Hollywood and Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, were both released in 1994.
Although the film's tagline "Drink from me and live forever" is never said by any character on the film, it would eventually be used in the chorus of the 1996 song "Transylvania" by the Japanese band Malize Mizer ("Drink from me and live forever" is the only phrase said in English during the lyrics of the song, whereas the rest of the lyrics are sung in Japanese).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
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.
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.