A vampire tells his epic life story: love, betrayal, loneliness, and hunger.
It hasn't even been a year since a plantation owner named Louis lost his wife in childbirth. Both his wife and the infant died, and now he has lost his will to live. A vampire named Lestat takes a liking to Louis and offers him the chance to become a creature of the night: a vampire. Louis accepts, and Lestat drains Louis' mortal blood and then replaces it with his own, turning Louis into a vampire. Louis must learn from Lestat the ways of the vampire.
In 1791, plantation owner Louis outside New Orleans has lost his courage to live. He gets bitten by the vampire Lestat and is himself turned into one. He hates being a vampire and refuses to kill humans. Louis and Lestat turn a little girl, Claudia, into a vampire, and together they live on through the centuries.
This movie centers around two vampires. One longs for a companion, while the other cannot bear to kill humans to satisfy its hunger. It's about a vampire who gives a down-on-his-luck man a choice to either live eternally or die. The man's decision causes him to regret many of the things that he does in his life to come.
A night in San Francisco, during our time: A young journalist follows a man through the streets and they end up in an anonymous room. When the journalist starts to interview the man, the stranger tells him that he is a vampire, being over 200 years old. The journalist doesn't believe him, but after the man proves it's true, he tells his story: His name is Louis and in 18th century New Orleans he was 24, by this time owner of an estate and a widower already. One night, when he once again was destroying himself by drinking and other things, he was found by Lestat, a vampire, who bit him. But even after becoming a vampire, life wasn't fun for Louis until one night he met a little girl, Claudia, who would change his existence forever.
In 1791, plantation owner Louis De Pointe Du Lac is unhappy with the life he has, until Lestat De Lioncourt comes into his life. Lestat, a vampire, allows Louis to make the decision of either death or life as a vampire forever. And not until his decision is already made, does Louis realize what he has become. He refuses to take human life and is about to leave when Lestat, being the clever being that he is, turns a little orphan girl into a vampire to make Louis stay. The story is told by Louis in 1991 to an interviewer about the lives of himself, Lestat and Claudia through trouble, death, curse and love over the past 200 years.
- In modern-day San Francisco, reporter Daniel Molloy (Christian Slater) sets up recording equipment in a run-down, upper level apartment. He intends to interview Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) who claims to be a vampire. Molloy is skeptical until Louis brashly displays his supernatural gifts, moving swiftly across the room to turn on a light. Louis' skin is translucent and he oozes charm.
Louis begins his story in 1791 where he is a young plantation owner living on his estate in Louisiana. Having lost the will to live due to the deaths of his wife and infant child in childbirth, he squanders his wealth and gambles in shady bars, welcoming death. While wandering the waterfront, drunk and in company of a harlot, he is attacked by a vampire named Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise). The woman is killed and Louis is fed on, but allowed to live. Lestat has sensed Louis' dissent for life and returns to him to offer him a new one, giving him "the choice I never had". Louis meets Lestat in a cemetery where the vampire drains him to the point of death before offering him his own blood. Doing so transforms Louis into a newborn vampire and he is amazed at the change.
However, he quickly comes to regret his decision and finds feasting on humans immoral whereas Lestat revels in the pleasure of killing. As such, Louis begins to suffer and survives by feasting on rats and other small animals. Lestat lives with Louis at his plantation and the slaves begin to grow anxious by his presence. At a party, Lestat convinces Louis to seduce a wealthy but older heiress (Lyla Hay Owen) in order to drink her blood. While Lestat feasts on her powdered servant, (Lee E. Scharfstein), Louis attempts to feed but goes for the woman's irate poodles instead. Hearing the commotion and the woman's terrified cries, Lestat rushes over and snaps her neck and berates Louis.
In the interview, Molloy asks about vampire stereotypes; coffins, crucifixes, garlic, and stakes through the heart. Louis admits that most are nonsense, except coffins. Secure and comfortable, they are one of the only sensible things a vampire can rest in with no fear of the light.
During an evening at home, Louis has a rare moment alone with his servant, Yvette (Thandie Newton), who confides that she and the other slaves are concerned about their master and how he never eats or comes out during the day anymore. She comforts Louis but he takes her wrist and feeds from her. She screams and Louis suddenly has to stifle her. The other slaves, having grown suspicious of him over time, approach the mansion with torches to see Louis carrying Yvette's body out. Louis grabs one of the torches, tells the slaves their master is damned and that they should leave, and sets the mansion on fire. Lestat arrives and scolds Louis who seems bent on punishing himself for his sins. Lestat takes them to a mausoleum where they can sleep safely during the day.
Eventually they find a new dwelling in New Orleans but Louis remains despondent, refusing to feed on humans even when Lestat has them offered on a silver platter. In one instance Lestat brings home two prostitutes (Indra Ové and Helen McCrory) and toys with them before killing them, trying to entice Louis to give in to his nature; to end his suffering. Lestat's philosophy is one of pleasure out of necessity; they must feed, so why not have fun? He tries to persuade Louis to end his suffering, to no avail. Louis wanders the streets one night and stumbles on a sector infested with the plague. He discovers a little girl (Kirsten Dunst) weeping at the decomposing body of her mother. She runs to Louis for comfort but he is suddenly overcome with hunger and feeds from her. Lestat appears, laughing and celebrating Louis' break from abstinence by dancing with the girl's dead mother. Louis flees but laments that he finally felt what peace could be; by allowing himself to be a vampire.
He returns to the home he shares with Lestat to find that he's brought the little girl back with him, alive. Appealing to Louis' compassion, and to convince him to stay with him, Lestat turns the girl, making her a vampire, and names her Claudia. Louis resents Lestat for this, but comes to love Claudia as his own daughter. He and Lestat dote on her and shower her with luxurious clothes and dolls and Claudia grows into a talented killer, using her child-like charms to lure her victims. Lestat is proud of his apt pupil but, though time passes, Claudia remains a little girl immortal. When she finally realizes she can never grow old and look as other women do, she becomes furious. She demands that Louis tell her how she came to be and, after hearing the story, blames Lestat for her condition. She tells Louis that it's time for them to leave Lestat and devises a plan since Lestat would never let them go. On the basis of a truce, she fools Lestat into drinking 'dead blood' from two boys she overdosed with laudanum. Having fed from the dead, Lestat is incapacitated and Claudia slits his throat. She and Louis take Lestat into the bayou and dump his body in alligator infested waters.
They return home to pack, intent on leaving for Europe to start a new life, but Lestat returns, decrepit but alive, having fed on alligators and other animals in the swamp. He attacks Claudia for having been "a very naughty little girl" but Louis sets him and their home on fire. Louis and Claudia flee and make it to their ship in time to see the whole neighborhood aflame. They travel through the Mediterranean and across Europe seeking other vampires but never finding any. Eventually, they settle in Paris and, one night, Louis encounters a vampire named Santiago (Stephen Rea) who taunts him before meeting Armand (Antonio Banderas), a seductive vampire who theorizes that, after 400 years, he must be the oldest vampire in the world. Armand invites Louis and Claudia to live with him at his coven, the Thèâtre de Vampires where vampires pretending to be humans pretending to be vampires stage horror shows for humans, though they actually feast on unsuspecting patrons. Claudia is disgusted by their cheap theatrics but Louis is drawn to Armand by his charm and wisdom.
Santiago is able to read Louis' mind and suspects that he and Claudia murdered their companion, Lestat, of whom they knew - a taboo among vampires. Claudia is a taboo herself in that no vampire should create an undead child. With this knowledge, Armand tries to get Louis to leave Claudia to live with him. Louis is tempted, yearning to learn what he could not from Lestat. Sensing that he is leaving, Claudia demands that Louis leave her a companion and brings a woman named Madeleine (Domiziana Giordano) to their home. Madeleine has agreed to change for Claudia so that she can 'adopt' her. Louis reluctantly concedes. However, as soon as Madeleine completes her transformation, the Parisian vampires invade the home and abduct the three of them. They encase Louis in a metal coffin and trap Claudia and Madeleine in a well, open to the sky above. At dawn, Madeleine and Claudia are burned to death by the sun before Louis, freed by Armand, can get to them. Enraged and grieving over his loss of Claudia, Louis sets the coven on fire, killing most of the vampires. He escapes with Armand who, again, offers him a place by his side. Louis refuses.
Decades pass and Louis wanders the world dejected and alone before eventually returning to the United States and returns to New Orleans. One evening he finds himself visiting his old plantation and mansion, neglected and in ruin. There he discovers Lestat living alone, a shadow of his former self who cringes at car headlights and hasn't adapted to the new world. Louis pities Lestat and leaves him.
This concludes the interview with Molloy but, to Louis' disdain, Daniel only sees the potential power in being a vampire and requests that Louis turn him. Louis retorts that his life is nothing but suffering and, angered, leaves the apartment in a flurry. Daniel leaves the apartment, frightened by Louis' rage and drives off, playing a cassette from the interview. Moments later, Lestat appears like a bat out of hell and bites Molloy. Having gained some strength, he puts Molloy in the passenger seat and drives the car himself across the Golden Gate Bridge. He turns off the cassette tape, moaning over Louis' constant complaining and offers Molloy a choice; the choice he never had.