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Lestat might be the most famous of Anne Rice's vampires. Not only does he have the sequel to Interview named after him (The Vampire Lestat); he has also been portrayed in two movies by two Hollywood hunks: Tom Cruise and Stuart Townsend.
While fans may love him, Louis sure hates him. HATES. There's no other way to express it. Why does Louis despise Lestat so much? Maybe he hates him because he's beautiful: Lestat is tall, fair-skinned, blond, and gray-eyed. But the most likely reason is that Lestat is also extraordinarily selfish, manipulative, and cruel.
Lestat plays with and tortures his victims because he believes in "vampire nature, which is killing" (1.354). Louis tries his hardest to shun his own vampire nature, so the fact that Lestat gleefully embraces his is a major turn off.
Before Lestat's dad dies, he reveals a crucial aspect of his son's character: Lestat wasn't always the cruel S.O.V. (son of a vampire) that he now is. He used to love books. He used to be nice. His dad says, "You have it all to live for, but you are [...] cold and brutal" (1.224). For someone who is practically blind, and who doesn't seem to have any idea that his son is a vampire, this is a pretty spot-on character analysis. Thanks, pops, for doing our work for us. We just wish we knew what changed. Does being a vampire inevitably bring about vampire nature over time?
Now that we've covered Lestat's cruel streak, we can talk about his selfish and manipulative sides. If "codependency" were a theme, we'd slap Lestat's face on it and call it a day. Louis even calls him out on it, saying that Lestat made him into a vampire because "[you] couldn't live by yourself. [...] It's you who need me" (1.263).
Lestat's so needy because he's a coward. He's so afraid to be alone that he'll do anything to keep people with him. We first see this with his poor father. The old man is a crusty shell of a human being, and Lestat keeps him around even though he hates his guts. Even Louis likes Lestat's dad more than Lestat does. Dad tells us that "Lestat would never play [chess] with him" (1.208). Not even that, Lestat? When Lestat has to flee Pointe du Lac, he knows his father won't make it, so he just… forces Louis to kill him.
Lestat's major mistake in his eternal life is the creation of Claudia. He does it for all the wrong reasons. Louis wants to leave him, so Lestat creates Claudia, because he thinks she will force Louis to stay. It's like if Cam and Mitchell on Modern Family were vampires on the verge of divorce and adopted a child thinking it would help them stay together—and then their child killed one of them. The moral of this story: if your relationship is on the rocks, having a child is a Very Bad Idea.
Claudia tries to kill Lestat by poisoning him and slitting his throat, but he manages to survive. So then Louis and Claudia burn Lestat—and their apartment—when he comes back to avenge himself. He survives that, too. Revenge being a dish best served cold (with a side of warm blood), Lestat shows up again at the Théâtre des Vampires in Paris. He kills Madeleine and Claudia, prompting Louis to take revenge and burn the Théâtre down.
Surprise, surprise: Lestat survives yet again. This time, however, he returns to New Orleans and spends his days being super pathetic. He won't even eat babies. He sits around in his beautiful house and cries about how hard it is to be a vampire. What's happened is that he's switched places with Louis, except instead of just being broody, he's also really whiny about it. He begs Louis to come back to him, but Louis has had it. He refuses. We guess we'll have to read the sequel if we want to know how Lestat overcomes his crybaby act.
But wait. We know that Lestat's been pretty much the embodiment of evil throughout the novel. Is this where that easy, swinging vampire lifestyle leads? To broken-shell-dom? We like to pick on Louis for being so broody and tormented, but maybe he really does have a point.