Lestat de Lioncourt  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Lestat de Lioncourt (pronounced les-tät with a rather French flair, according to Blackwood Farm and Blood Canticle and page 151 in Memnoch the Devil) 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.

Lestat is the seventh son of the marquis d'Auvergne and was born in 1760, in Auvergne, France in a castle belonging to his ancestors. Despite his apparent highborn background he grew up in relative poverty; his ancestors squandered the family riches. As the youngest in the family, Lestat stood to inherit nothing.

Perhaps the most pivotal moment in his mortal life was when the towns people came to him about the wolves coming into the village frightening all the people. In this encounter he was nearly killed by the pack of 8 wolves he was hunting in the mountains surrounding Auvergne. He returned home a different person, determined to follow his own path.

He goes into a deep depression about his encounter with the wolves and the meaning of life, and with a friend, Nicolas, he leaves Auvergne and heads for Paris, intending to become an actor. During a performance, he attracted the attention of an ancient vampire named Magnus, who would watch him and soon abduct and hold him prisoner.

As a vampire

Finding Lestat, Magnus makes him a vampire, against his wishes. However, Magnus, weary of life, commits suicide soon after by throwing himself on a huge bonfire, 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.

Lestat has always been a very lonesome creature. In his childhood the only member of his family that he had any connection with was his solitary mother. Gabrielle de Lioncourt was a beautiful woman of Italian descent from whom Lestat inherited his blond hair and good looks. Gabrielle was the only member of her family who could read and often immersed herself in her novels, neglecting the mundane life around her. Lestat both admired her and hated her for this, yet he was the only person of her family she could also confide in so they developed a silent but strong bond. For this very reason Lestat made Gabrielle his first vampire companion when Gabrielle came to Paris in search of Lestat, wishing to see him before she succumbed to her fatal disease.

Lestat also made his mortal best friend, Nicolas de Lenfent, a vampire as well. Nicolas, having fled Auvergne with Lestat to come with Lestat to Paris, knew him very well and they were very close. They both worked at a small theatre called "Renaud's", Lestat starting off as a stage hand and then to his surprise became star of the show and Nicolas as a violinist in the theatre's small orchestra. After Lestat was abducted and made a vampire he tried to distance himself from his mortals friends and family but still provide for them. He bought Nicolas an apartment and many other luxuries, such as a Stradivarius violin, with his newly acquired "coin of the realm". The whole time Nicolas was very suspicious of Lestat and his new life and that suspicion grew when Lestat disappeared with his mother the night she came to visit and Gabrielle returned magically healed. Lestat eventually gave into the love he felt for Nicolas and made him a vampire as well after saving him from the coven of religious vampires, the self-proclaimed Children of Darkness, which were led by the powerful vampire, Armand. After Nicolas rejected Lestat as his new maker and sunk into madness and Lestat collapsed Armand's coven, Lestat bought Renaud's old theatre and gave it to Armand and Nicolas to do with it whatever they wished, while he and Gabrielle left Paris to explore the world.

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?", "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.

In the space of only a few centuries, Lestat becomes one of the most powerful of all vampires, surpassed only by the most ancient ones who age in the millennia. This is in part because the blood he receives from Marius, one such ancient, is incredibly powerful, and because he has a relationship with the vampire queen Akasha.

Because of his boldness, 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 is attracted to whomever 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 that interesting. Later in the series, Lestat offhandedly mentions that he is frightened of women and finds them extremely and egregiously distracting.

One such male companion is Louis de Pointe du Lac, a young Creole from New Orleans whom Lestat turns into a vampire in the 18th century 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 his own book and says it was rather because he fell "fatally in love" with Louis.

Their relationship starts badly with mistrust and half-truths, though Lestat gradually comes to regard his friend as a kind of student, albeit one who often resists his "teachings" on killing and living life as a vampire. There is a certain element of feelings implicit in their relationship, but whether it is actually consummated is a matter of debate.

Lestat and Louis "adopt" a young orphan named Claudia in 1795, and Lestat turns her into a vampire despite Louis' objections, in order to tie Louis to him, who wishes to leave Lestat. While Lestat spoils Claudia and tries to teach her how to become a vampire, it is Louis she truly loves, and ignores Lestat on several occasions, something he resents greatly. In 1860, after 65 years of living together, Claudia struggles with the reality of what she is, an immortal who will never grow into a woman.

Claudia rebels and tries to kill Lestat by giving him a dead boy given poison, who appears merely unconscious from feeding (Anne Rice officially stated that drinking dead blood won't kill a vampire), then cutting his throat and stabbing him multiple times in the chest, and, with the help of Louis, dumps him in a swamp near the Mississippi. After he comes back and assaults them with the help of a young pianist he has converted, Louis flees with Claudia in desperation by burning down the French Quarter house they lived in, horribly disfiguring him and boarding a ferry to Europe. After Claudia and Louis escape Lestat, Armand, the leader of a coven of vampires, briefly takes Louis under his wing, slipping information to him about his feelings and the rules of the vampires.

Stated in Interview, in spring of the year of the interview (though in spring 1988 in the film version), Louis once again discovers Lestat, who is again 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 says that he had no contact with Louis in that era, although he had been visited by Armand around that time. Whatever the truth, Louis and Lestat reunite in the 1980s, only to be caught in the events that are detailed in The Queen of the Damned.

Lestat also tends to gloss over his faults and exaggerate (or make up) his virtues. This is confirmed in the book The Tale of the Body Thief, where Louis attacks Lestat for constantly claiming in his books that certain events move him to tears. Louis sarcastically remarks that although he knew Lestat for more than six decades, he did not remember him crying at all.

Lestat in other media

Lestat was played by Tom Cruise in Neil Jordan's 1994 film adaptation of Interview with the Vampire. The movie also starred Brad Pitt as Louis, Kirsten Dunst as Claudia, and Antonio Banderas as Armand.

Stuart Townsend played Lestat in the 2002 film adaptation of The Queen of the Damned, co-starring R&B singer Aaliyah as Akasha. In this adaptation, Lestat was not only a vampire but also a rock star (an aspect of his life which does appear in The Vampire Lestat, but is not dealt with at any real length until the next book, The Queen of the Damned).

Opening on Broadway in March 2006, with a pre-Broadway opening in December 2005, and running until May 2006, Lestat: The Musical features music by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The role of Lestat was performed by veteran Broadway actor Hugh Panaro. An Original Broadway Cast album was recorded in May 2006 a few days before Warner Bros. Theatrical Ventures announced the show would be closing the following week. The OBC was originally set to be released on July 22 by Mercury Records but has since been delayed indefinitely.

The pre-Broadway version of the play that had been performed in San Francisco had superior special effects and was closer to the novel. In general it is the more loved adaptation of the play.

Lestat was parodied on the Fox television show American Dad! in episode 25, which first aired September 17, 2006. The character Roger the Alien was on a date with a gothic girl, while claiming to be Lestat - dressed in 18th century apparel, and speaking with a French accent.

Lestat is also portrayed (currently by Brant Johnson) at the yearly Coven Party in New Orleans known as "Les Temps des Vampires" (managed by Suzie Q., Anne Rice's PA). Anne Rice mentions these parties in the "Special Features" section of the Interview with the Vampire DVD, and often visits them herself, although she didn't in 2006 due to personal illness. Anne Rice sponsored the Memnoch Ball some years ago (as she mentions on the DVD), but it is unclear if she has sponsored others.

Also, the song "Love Blood" by guitar virtuoso Steve Vai (released on the album "The Elusive Light and Sound Vol.1) was written with the character of Lestat in mind. It was slated for use in the 1994 film, but never made the final cut.


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Lestat de Lioncourt" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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