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Tom Cruise as Lestat in the 1994 film Interview with the Vampire

Lestat de Lioncourt is a fictional character appearing in several novels by Anne Rice, including The Vampire Lestat. He is a vampire and the main character in the majority of The Vampire Chronicles, narrated in first person.

Contents

Publication history

Lestat de Lioncourt is the narrator and main character of the majority of the novels in Rice's The Vampire Chronicles series. The Vampire Lestat, the second book in the series, is presented as Lestat's autobiography, and follows his exploits from his youth in Paris, France and cities surrounding to his early years as a vampire fledgling. Many of the other books in the series also follow his story, such as The Queen of the Damned, The Tale of the Body Thief, Memnoch the Devil, and also Blood Canticle.

Character development

According to Rice, the character of Lestat was largely inspired by her husband, the poet and artist Stan Rice, and shared his blond hair and birth date of November 7.[1][2] In a 2003 interview, Rice noted that the character had also taken on some of her own attributes, stating "Stan was Lestat; he was the inspiration. Perhaps it is best to say Lestat was Stan and me. He was Stan and what Stan taught me. Lestat was inspired by Stan, and then I became Lestat."[3] The name 'Lestat' was a misspelling of "Lestan," which Rice believed to be an old French name.[2] According to the characters themselves, who discuss the issue in Blackwood Farm, Blood Canticle and Memnoch the Devil, the name is pronounced "les-dot" "with a rather French flair."

Fictional character biography

Physical appearance

Lestat describes himself as six feet tall. He has blond hair that is not quite shoulder length, and that is rather curly, which sometimes appears white under fluorescent lighting. His eyes are gray, but they absorb the colors of blue or violet easily from surfaces around them. He has a short narrow nose,and a mouth that is well shaped, but has always been slightly large for his face. His mouth can look very mean or extremely generous, but always sensual. He has a continuously animated face. Lestat's fingernails (like those of all vampires in The Vampire Chronicles) look like they are made of glass.

Personality

Because of his boldness, enthusiasm, and defiance, Lestat's seniors refer to him affectionately as "the Brat Prince", a title of which he is very fond. He is very vain and concerned with fashion, and will pause mid-narrative to remind the reader what he is wearing. He enjoys performing on stage, which he does as both a mortal actor in Paris, France and a vampire in his rock band called The Vampire Lestat that he forms with a group of humans in the 1980s. Lestat is also fond of music: he sings, and he plays the piano and violin. Although he is illiterate as a mortal man, he learns to read and loves literature as a vampire. In one period of his life, he becomes a hermit and spends every night holed up at home, reading.

The first language that Lestat learns is French, although he "writes" his novels in English. In The Vampire Lestat, he notes that despite his French accent, he speaks English "like a cross between a boatman and Sam Spade" and is fond of slang.

Lestat is portrayed in the books as being bisexual,[4][5] and has male and female lovers as both a vampire and a mortal. He is attracted to whoever most interests him at the time. Most of his early experiences are with male companions; he himself explains this by saying the women in previous centuries simply weren't as interesting as men. Later in the series, Lestat offhandedly mentions that he is frightened of women and finds them extremely and egregiously distracting.

Throughout his long life, Lestat is plagued by common philosophical questions, such as "Are my actions good or bad?", "Is there a God?", "Am I in His plan?", "What happens after death?", and "What makes a person happy?" He finds himself more in love with humanity than ever before, despite his relationship with mankind being savage. For a while, he sees life as "the Savage Garden," filled with beauty and death.

Lestat exhibits a strong altruistic nature at several points in the series. For instance, after he first becomes a vampire, he sends large gifts to his family and friends, purchases the theatre where he once worked, and settles the debts of his old manager, Renaud. Later, after his brothers and family are killed in the French Revolution, he steps forward to care for his ailing father, the only survivor, despite their hateful relationship. Lestat also frequently hunts evildoers instead of feeding from innocent victims, although he does not always abide by this rule.

As a vampire, Lestat's abilities include telepathy, superhuman strength, and resilience. After receiving blood from several ancient vampires, including Magnus, Marius de Romanus and Akasha, Lestat's strength increases dramatically, and allows him to fly, perform feats of telekinesis and pyrokinesis, and survive exposure to the sun.

Although he is painted as an anti-hero in Interview With The Vampire, he is quick to defend his own behavior. In The Vampire Lestat, he spends much of the book telling people he is hardly the monster previous narrators have made him out to be. In much of the book, (and its follow up, Queen of the Damned), he is instead painted as a fun-loving hero who even leads the charge against Akasha, the vampire queen.

History

Lestat was born on November 7, 1760, as the seventh son of the marquis d'Auvergne in the Auvergne region of France. Only two of his brothers survive to adulthood. While they are technically aristocrats, the de Lioncourt family's fortune has been squandered, and they live in relative poverty in their feudal castle. Lestat's mother, Gabrielle, is the only literate member of the family. Lestat's father is blind and spends his days playing chess.

Lestat's relationship with his father and brothers is bad - he tells his mother "I dream sometimes that I might kill them all. I kill my father and my brothers in the dream. I go from room to room slaughtering them as I did the wolves.", and he attempts to escape from them several times, first by asking to remain at a monastery, and later by running away with a troupe of traveling players. In both instances, he is returned to his family. Encouraged by his mother, who sells her family heirloom jewels to purchase horses, guns, and mastiff dogs for him, Lestat takes up hunting, and soon becomes the family breadwinner.

The townspeople of Lestat's village request his help with a pack of wolves that are terrorizing the town. He rides into the mountains and kills the entire pack of eight, losing his horse, dogs, and nearly his own life in the process. Although his bravery wins him the respect and admiration of the villagers, who present him with a lush red velvet cloak and boots made from the pelts of the wolves, he goes into a deep depression.

Prodded by Gabrielle, he eventually leaves Auvergne with friend and lover Nicolas and heads for Paris, intending to become an actor. During performances, he attracts the attention of an ancient vampire named Magnus, who later abducts him and transforms him into a vampire.

After turning Lestat, Magnus commits suicide, leaving Lestat to fend for himself without any kind of guidance. Lestat finds himself heir to nearly inexhaustible wealth, and begins an adventure that leads him all around the world.

Relationships with other characters

Despite his charisma, Lestat is portrayed as a lonesome individual. In his childhood, the only member of his family who he had any connection with was his mother, Gabrielle. She is the only member of the family who could read, and she often immersed herself in novels, neglecting the mundane life around her. Lestat both admires and hates her for this, yet he is the only person of her family she can confide in; they develop a silent but strong bond. For this very reason Lestat makes Gabrielle his first vampire companion when she comes to Paris in search of her son, wishing to see him before she succumbs to consumption.

Lestat also makes his best friend, Nicolas de Lenfent, a vampire. They both work at a small theatre called "Renaud's". Lestat starts off as a stage hand and then, to his surprise, becomes star of the show when he steps in for another actor. Nicolas becomes a violinist in the theatre's small orchestra. After Lestat is abducted and made a vampire, he tries to distance himself from his mortal friends and family, but he still provides for them. He buys Nicolas an apartment and many other luxuries, such as a Stradivarius violin, with his newly acquired "coin of the realm". Nicolas is suspicious, and stands by his story that Lestat was abducted from their room at night, calling out to Nicholas. Lestat eventually gives in to the love he feels for Nicolas and makes him a vampire as well after saving him from the self-proclaimed Children of Darkness, a coven of vampires led by Armand. Nicolas rejects Lestat as his new maker and sinks into insanity. Lestat collapses Armand's coven, buys Renaud's old theatre, and gives it to Eleni and Nicolas to do with it whatever they wish, while he and Gabrielle leave Paris to explore the world. Unhappy with life as a vampire, Nicolas burns himself in a bonfire, leaving Lestat scarred with the corruption of his friend's mind.

Another fledgling and long-term companion is Louis de Pointe du Lac, a young Creole from New Orleans, whom Lestat turns into a vampire in 1791. For almost a century, Lestat and Louis live, travel, and kill together. Though Louis claims that Lestat made him into a vampire because Lestat merely wanted his fortune, Lestat refutes these claims in the following novel. He points out that he was heir to a vast fortune well before meeting Louis, and says that he fell "fatally in love" with Louis, and that he reminded him of Nicki.

Lestat and Louis "adopt" a dying orphan named Claudia in 1795. Lestat turns her into a vampire in order to tie Louis to him. While Lestat spoils Claudia and tries to teach her how to behave like a vampire, she largely ignores him and reserves her love for Louis. In 1860, after 65 years of living together, Claudia rebels and tries to kill Lestat by giving him two dead boys poisoned with absinthe and laudanum, then cutting his throat and stabbing him in the chest. With Louis' help, she dumps him in a swamp near the Mississippi River. After Lestat comes back and assaults them with the help of a young pianist he has converted, Louis flees with Claudia. In desperation, they burn down their French Quarter house while Lestat is still inside.

Louis and Claudia flee to Europe. Lestat follows them, and meets up with them at the Théâtre des Vampires. Claudia dies from sun exposure while Louis is held captive by Armand and his followers. Armand leaves with Louis, finally feeling that he has had his revenge on Lestat for ruining his coven.

At the turn of the 20th century, Louis once again discovers Lestat living in New Orleans in a weakened state. Louis turns his back on him in pity and disgust. This version of events, however, is also refuted by Lestat, who made no mention of contact with Louis in that era, though he had been visited by Armand and freely admits that his memory of this period is fragmented. Louis and Lestat reunite in the 1980s with a new understanding, only to be caught up and briefly separated again in the events that are detailed in The Queen of the Damned, though in later books Lestat refers to Louis as his lover.

Lestat has a disdain for rules and order, and states, in The Queen of the Damned, that he has always had to be his own teacher. He openly disregards and refuses to show fear to Armand, the leader of the Paris coven, even when confronted with the possibility of execution. The only immortal Lestat appears to openly respect and defer to is Marius. Lestat seeks him out as a mentor in the late 1700s, leaving him messages across Europe and Asia until Marius decides to reveal himself. While Lestat eagerly learns from Marius, he also openly breaches many of the rules Marius seeks to impress upon him, such as the prohibition on revealing himself to mortals. Such behavior inspires Marius to refer to Lestat as "the damnedest creature" and nickname him "the Brat Prince." Lestat sought Marius out to be his teacher but the relationship turned out also to be a father-son relationship. In the book Blood Canticle Lestat falls in love with a witch of the Mayfair clan named Rowan Mayfair who shares the same feelings towards him. Rowan asks Lestat to turn her into a vampire but despite the feelings toward one another he painfully chose not to, because she is a guiding figure in the Mayfair family and he cannot take her away from it. In Queen of the damned Lestat choose the talamascan Jessy to be his lover and to spend eternity together.

Fledglings

Another possible fledgling, an anonymous musician, is mentioned briefly in Interview with a Vampire and Queen of the Damned. However, the identity of this character is not clarified, and he is never mentioned again in the Vampire Chronicles.

Appearances in other media

Lestat appears as a major character in both motion picture adaptations of The Vampire Chronicles novels. In Neil Jordan's 1994 film adaptation of Interview with the Vampire, he is portrayed by Tom Cruise. In the 2002 film adaptation of Queen of the Damned, he is played by Stuart Townsend.

On stage, Lestat was portrayed by Hugh Panaro in the short-lived Broadway show Lestat: The Musical composed by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Drew Sarich, who played Armand (and previously Laurent), played Lestat for two performances in New York when Panaro was out sick.

Lestat is also portrayed by a costumed actor at the annual "Les Temps des Vampires" Coven Ball in New Orleans managed by Suzanne Quiroz, Anne Rice's former personal assistant and president of the Vampire Lestat Fan Club. Rice mentions these parties in the "Special Features" section of the Interview with the Vampire DVD, and for years visited them personally, but now sends a video greeting to the guests every year from her home in California. Rice sponsored the Memnoch Ball in 1995 (as she mentions on the DVD) and it was held at St. Elizabeth's, a property she owned at the time.

Lestat became the name and focus of a gothic rock band in Cleveland, Ohio, signed by Jevan Records.

Lestat became the name of a famous Mexican Pro Gamer.

Lestat is real name of the show dog, a Pomeranian, who plays Mr. Muggles on the NBC tv show Heroes.

In the episode of the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer titled "Buffy vs. Dracula" (season 5 ep 1), Buffy, talking to Dracula, says: "This isn't just a fanboy thing, is it? 'Cause I've fought more than a couple of pimply, overweight vamps who called themselves Lestat."

References

  1. ^ The Vampire Companion. Katherine Ramsland and Anne Rice. Ballentine, August 1 1995 ISBN 0345397398
  2. ^ a b "Other Incarnations Of the Vampire Author" Stewart Kellerman, The New York Times, November 7 1988
  3. ^ "Embracing Anne Rice" Toni L.P. Kelner, Romantic Times, November 2003
  4. ^ The Gothic World of Anne Rice. Gary Hoppenstand, Ray Broadus Browne. 1996, Popular Press/University of Wisconsin. ISBN 9780879727086
  5. ^ The Roquelaure Reader: A Companion to Anne Rice's Erotica. Katherine M. Ramsland, Anne Rice. 1996, Plume, ISBN 9780452275102 Page 67.

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