New Blood: Delainey Hayles Unpacks Claudia’s Evolution in ‘Interview With the Vampire’ Season 2

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Delainey Hayles loves night shoots. “I’m not really a morning person,” the actress said. Fortunately, it’s a good quality to have when you’re playing a vampire, and Hayles is playing one of the most unforgettable blood-suckers of them all, taking over the role of Claudia in Season 2 of AMC’s riveting series adaptation of “Interview With the Vampire.”

It’s a role that has taken her to “crazy,” “insanely beautiful locations,” including a castle featured in Episode 1 that “looked like the scariest thing in the world.”

“Bats were flying around the top of it and I thought to myself, ‘Oh, this is crazy. I’m so fortunate to be here to shoot in all these crazy places that are so fitting for the show,'” Hayles recalled. “It looked like vampires were in the walls of the castle.”

Jacob Anderson, Delainey Hayles and Assad Zaman in “Interview with the Vampire.” (Larry Horricks/AMC)

One of Anne Rice’s most iconic character creations, Claudia is “infant death” no more in AMC’s riveting series adaptation. Aged up and reimagined as a Black teenager-turned-vampire turned in early 1900s Louisiana, Claudia’s reinvention was one of the central changes that made the first season such a distinct, intentional and thought-provoking adaptation of Rice’s seminal vampire novel.

In Season 2, which picks up with Claudia in World War II Europe, the character is reborn again with the arrival of Hayles, who inherited the role when Bailey Bass departed the series. But that’s not all that’s different about Claudia in Season 2. According to the actress, who brings her own spin to the role, the character is older, wiser, and perhaps even a bit more empathetic.

Hayles watched Season 1 “multiple, multiple millions of times,” but the pillars of her Claudia came from the novel. “I pulled my Claudia from Anne Rice’s writing,” Hayles said. “I think the way she writes is incredible and extremely descriptive. I was able to get a clear vision of Claudia, and how I was going to play her.”

Hayles also had a more surprising, personal reference point for her interpretation of Claudia — her grandmother’s dolls.

“My grandma had these porcelain dolls she used to put on our sofa. I was a kid back then and I found them very, very creepy, but when I was reading the Anne Rice books, that was where my mind went. So I got a very clear vision of how I was gonna play Claudia and what she’s like. She’s kind of unsettling in a very beautiful way.”

Producer Mark Johnson echoed the focus on a character-first approach during an interview with TheWrap at the Television Critics Association press tour in February.

“You wanted to protect the character, and you wanted to have a woman in a little girl’s body and feels cursed by that, and cursed by the fact that she had been given this vampire life and almost not been allowed to die,” Johnson said. “And yet it’s her determination that drives, in many ways, the second the second season.”

Delainey Hayles
Delainey Hayles (Credit: David Reiss)

Indeed, in Season 2, without the threat of Lestat imminently looming over her, Claudia is freer to pursue her own passions. She’s also gained newfound maturity, traveling alongside Louis in her unwavering quest to learn more about the secrets of vampirekind.

“I understood that Claudia is older this season so I kind of wanted to bring that element to it,” Hayles said. Not only is she older, Hayles says Claudia is also a
“very, very small bit” more like her pensive, more soft-hearted father/brother figure, Louis.

“She’s got more life experience now,” Hayles said. “It’s been her and Louis for so long that you kind of absorb your surroundings, in a way. So I think she has a bit more Louis to her this season.”

How so? “As she’s gotten older, I think she’s experienced empathy a bit more,” Hayles explained. “I’m not saying that she didn’t have it in Season 1, but she was very blood-hungry, very pull-the-trigger straightaway. Whereas now, she thinks about things a bit more before she does or reacts, which I think is a very Louis policy rather than Lestat policy.”

Jacob Anderson and Delainey Hayles in “Interview With the Vampire.” (Larry Horricks/AMC)

Even as the world of “Interview With the Vampire” opens up in the new episodes — exploring Europe, introducing Old World Vampires, and glimpsing beyond Louis and Armand’s home in the present-day — the bond between Claudia and Louis remains a pivotal, central tenet of Season 2.

Naturally, that means Hayles spends much of her screen time with Jacob Anderson, the “Game of Thrones” star who plays Louis de Point du Lac in the series adaptation. Anderson was there for her audition, her first day on set and her very first scene of filming, and Hayles praises her co-star for being “so supportive.”

“I first met Jacob in my audition,” Hayles said. The pair read from a dialog scene featured in the second episode of Season 2. “I was acting with him and everyone in the room kind of disappeared. And then I realized that’s what it should feel like. So yeah, I was kind of starstruck meeting Jacob, and then acting with him.”

Hayles says Anderson had her back “every step of the way,” and it was no different when he spoke with TheWrap, enthusiastically singing Hayles’ praises alongside co-star Sam Reid, who plays Lestat.

Anderson thought back to that same scene from Hayles’ audition. “I remember we did it without looking at each other,” Anderson said, “I would look at Delainey, and I’d notice that she wasn’t looking at me. It just felt so comfortable. It felt lived in.”

He recalled thinking, “She’s doing it, she’s Claudia.”

“She walked in, and she just had so much confidence, and just was so intelligent, and just did the most amazing performance, and we all became so obsessed with her,” Reid said.

“It’s a really layered, detailed, beautiful performance and I think this season, a lot is Claudia’s season,” Anderson said.

“She’s the heart of the whole thing,” Reid replied. “And even Louis and Lestat, Claudia is their glue. It’s the glue that tore them apart, and the glue that kept them together, and Claudia is the thing that they will always share.

Though there’s nothing but affection and kind words between the trio, the same certainly can’t be said for their characters. Especially after Louis and Claudia conspired to kill Lestat, their mutual maker, in the Season 1 finale, “The Thing Lay Still.” The second season deals heavily with Louis’ trauma after his bloody, bitter breakup, but Hayles says Claudia also carries trauma of her own.

“I think it’s traumatic in a different way,” Hayles said. Louis and Lestat — and all their undead dysfunction — were Claudia’s first view of a relationship.

“It’s when you have parents and you watch them growing up, and you know, they might argue. Then you later in life learn that you argue the same way as them,” Hayles explained. “I think it’s a case of she thinks ‘I would never ever subject someone to that, or do that, or subject myself to that, but it’s it’s a cycle.”

See how the cycle continues when new episodes of “Interview With the Vampire” debut Sundays on AMC and AMC+.

The post New Blood: Delainey Hayles Unpacks Claudia’s Evolution in ‘Interview With the Vampire’ Season 2 appeared first on TheWrap.