Spoiler Alert

Fans of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, be it the novel or the film, knew the current AMC version was barrelling towards one horrible event since the show began. That is the death of the child vampire Claudia (Delainey Hayles), and her newly made vampire companion Madeleine (Roxane Duran), at the hands of the vengeful Paris coven who operates the Théâtre des Vampires. It’s a heartbreaking moment in the novel, and the series did it justice, while tweaking a few details. Here’s each medium handled Claudia’s executionm in the novels, film, and ultimately, in the second season episode “I Could Not Prevent It.”

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The Death of Claudia in Anne Rice’s Novel, Interview with the Vampire

In Rice’s 1976 novel, when the Paris coven discovers that Louis and Claudia broke the Great Laws of the vampires by attempting to murder their maker, the Vampire Lestat, they capture them and hold them in a sort of trial for their crimes. Their star witness is Lestat, who survived their murder attempt in New Orleans years prior. Lestat eventually discovers his progeny fled to Paris, and follows them there. Once the coven discovers that Louis and Claudia broke their laws, they capture them and put them on trial. Of course, it’s trial with a predetermined verdict.

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When the coven deems them guilty, they execute Claudia, the chief architect of the crime, and her new companion Madeleine, via murder by sunlight. They leave them alone in a well, until the sun rises and burns them both to ash. The sun rises, and all that remains of Claudia is a tattered yellow dress, covered in ash. The coven gives Louis a different punishment, as they bury him alive within the theater in a locked coffin, meant to slowly drive him mad, and eventually, starve. In the book, all of these events take place in the late 19th century.

How the 1994 Film Version of Interview with the Vampire Handled Claudia’s Death

Warner Bros.

In the film version, the trial is nonexistent, and the Paris coven merely proceeds to the verdict—guilty. The coven leaves Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) and Madeleine (Domiziana Giordano) alone in the well, with the sun rising and burning them to ash. However, in the film version, both Claudia and Madeleine burn together and their bodies form an ashen sculpture. A sculpture that collapses into dust with the slightest touch. It’s a visually striking effect, but one made just for the film. Claudia’s dress does not survive the sun any more than Claudia does in director Neil Jordan’s big-screen iteration.

Claudia and Madeleine’s Death in Interview with the Vampire on AMC

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In the series, the Paris Coven captures Louis, Claudia, and Madeleine. Their kangaroo court trial is actually a matinee performance at the Théâtre des Vampires. The human crowd watches the spectacle of suffering, as the court deems each vampire guilty for attempting to murder Lestat. The coven only gives Madeleine a special dispensation, as Louis made her after the murders. However, she chooses to die with Claudia. Louis is buried within the walls of the theater catacombs. This is after the “jury,” a.k.a. the crowd of mortals in the theater, are telepathically manipulated to give Louis a different sentence than death — exile. Did the Vampire Armand (Assad Zaman) save Louis’ life? Did he plant the exile verdict in their minds? That’s the assumption, as that is what occurs in the book and the film. But perhaps the series will go down a different route.

Instead of executing them in a well, Claudia and Madeleine are murdered on stage, in front of the horrified theatergoers. She threatens to come back from the afterlife and murder each and every person in the audience. The vampire Santiago (Ben Daniels) then opens a skylight that only hits the two female vampires on stage with rays of sunlight, as they writhe in agony and turn to ash. Lestat (Sam Reid) watches, with tears in his eyes as the vampire child he created, and later condemned to death, burns away to nothing. Just as in the novel, all that remains of Claudia is her yellow dress.

Claudia’s Original Fate


The original ending of Rice’s novel had Claudia live, finding happiness with a group of vampire children like herself. But Anne Rice’s editor believed the novel called for a tragic ending. And she was right. So Rice rewrote the entire second half of the book, with Claudia’s death as the emotional climax of the novel. It’s easily the moment Louis’ tragic tale hinges on. Claudia never comes back to life in later novels. Yet she remains a haunting presence in the minds and hearts of Louis and Lestat for eternity. We imagine that in Interview with the Vampire the series, this will remain the case.