‘Interview With the Vampire’: Assad Zaman Unpacks the Truth Behind Armand’s Lies

Note: This story contains spoilers through Season 2, Episode 8

In a show full of half-truths, skewed narratives and warped memories, no “Interview With the Vampire” character has been quite as slippery for audiences to get a handle on as Armand (Assad Zaman). First introduced under the guise of Louis’ (Jacob Anderson) loyal servant Rashid, Armand stepped out of the shadows at the end of Season 1 and announced himself as Louis’ longtime lover and a powerful, ancient vampire.

In Season 2, we glimpsed many chapters of Armand’s history after he joined Louis in spinning the narrative of Daniel Molloy’s (Eric Bogosian) “Interview With the Vampire,” but we’ve yet to really understand the character and what makes him tick. It’s a fact brought into sharp relief in the Season 2 finale, when investigative journalist Daniel brought another betrayal to light with the help of the Talamasca: Armand didn’t just hand Louis, Claudia (Delainey Hayles) and Madeleine (Roxane Duran) over to his coven to die, he didn’t just witness Claudia and Madeleine’s death at the trial, he directed the whole grim performance and then took credit for saving Louis’ life. Credit that was actually due to the long-villainized Lestat.

It’s another moment of shocking reversal for Armand, the same character who went into the sewers with Louis in Episode 3, fully intending to kill him on behalf of his coven, but instead walked out swooning harder than ever. Instead of killing him, Armand walked Louis home and shared a romantic kiss. Which is to say, he’s a highly changeable, oft-conflicted individual. That’s something Zaman thinks is just part of human nature.

“I think that’s so true to so many of us. I think we are quite changeable, actually. And what you’ve hit the nail on the head, with that flip in Episode 3 at the end, is that I think that is the microcosm of the revelation that we find in the final episode,” Zaman told TheWrap. “I don’t think that Armand is that mustache-twirling, conniving manipulator. He is a manipulator, for sure, absolutely. I’m not apologizing or excusing his actions. What he did is terrible, but he acted out of necessity and opportunity.”

“If you think to that decision,” he continued, “Louis and Armand, after the fire, go to see Lestat. And he knows Lestat knows what happened. Lestat was there. I don’t think Armand knew how this was all going to play out. I don’t think he saw that end game. It’s in that moment when Louis kisses him and Lestat chooses not to say that he was the one who saved Louis’ life, Armand just goes with it. He’s lost everything, and the love of his life has, whether it’s true or not, has chosen him, whether it’s for love or not, has chosen him, and he chooses to preserve his own existence with him and goes along with it. And that’s where this lie spouts into the life that we see them in in Dubai.”

“So yeah, it’s tragic. He is despicable. But I think it’s very human,” Zaman added. “I think a lot of us, I think we’ve all kind of been in those moments where it’s just living that lie has, in that moment, just been easier than confronting the truth. And so we go down that road. And then we face the consequences later.”

Series creator and showrunner Rolin Jones similarly said the writers’ room landed in a “very empathetic place for the character.”

“It came from actually reading that embankment speech that’s buried at the end of the book, when he just talks about how much he has thrown himself at Louis and Louis just couldn’t,” Jones said. “We were kind of moved by that, so we landed on the idea that he had two cowardly moments in his life. And that any lies after that were all to cover up those two, but that there were actually really, really sincere efforts to try to make up for it, to be better than that, and that he had.”

Jones noted how Armand’s journey also speaks to one of the show’s recurring themes: “We go back to something we’ve hit over and over again, is that — is the sum of your character your worst moments? And, yeah, sure, someone could go ahead and say, ‘F–k you, Armand, for the rest of your life because of that.’ And I guess that’s, you know, maybe part of the culture right now, which is all about finding justice and that retribution is everything.”

But Jones also hopes the show runs long enough to take audiences on a real ride with Armand’s character. “We have seven, eight years hopefully, on this show, if it’s all lucky, for contrition and for forgiveness everywhere,” he said.

Assad Zaman as Armand in "Interview With the Vampire" Season 2
Assad Zaman as Armand in “Interview With the Vampire” Season 2 (Larry Horricks/AMC)

The show’s Armand twist also introduces a new element that might be a bit of a shock to book fans — Armand didn’t just betray Louis in a way that led to Claudia’s death, he chose his coven over the love of his life and was willing to let Louis die along with her. And he didn’t save him after all; that was Lestat. It’s a different spin on the events, considering fans have long saw Armand’s decision to kill Claudia as a means to have Louis all to himself.

“It’s complicated with Armand and Louis,” Jones said. “Why the extra twist there? It was all about recovery of memory. It was always about how Louis was coming around, because it wasn’t, ‘Aha, I blame everything on Armand,’ or we would end it there. We have scenes after that. And for everybody, it’s about, generally, coming to — Claudia is a bit on the cusp of it before those events happen — but, where am I accountable for where I am in my life? What am I responsible for? What did I dupe myself into getting there?”

One thing Armand didn’t lie about? When he decided to choose his coven over Louis, according to Zaman. “I think that scene with him after the fire, where Louis asks, ‘When did you start lying to me?’ I think that is true. I think that is, he in that moment in Sacré-Cœur, that’s when he chose the coven.”

“And I think because he’d been urging Louis not to turn Madeline for so long. It was important for him. He has a great disdain for the turning of a vampire. It’s a big, big no for him, which makes this act later on, him turning Daniel, it makes it more quite extreme,” Zaman explained of the late-finale reveal that Armand turned Daniel Molloy into a vampire after Daniel exposed him at some point, off-screen. “I think that’s the moment where he chose the coven and he says that no matter how long they’d been together at that point, the coven had been his support, his life support and had been there for him, regardless of whether he liked them or not. One of his big, great flaws is that he chooses ritual, the safety of ritual, over what’s right, what is true. And he chose the ritual of the coven, he chose that life.”

Of course, as Zaman pointed out, that just makes it more “extreme” and surprising that Armand ultimately chooses to turn Daniel, and he said he expects the question of how that happened to be a big one in Season 3. “I think, Season 2, that one of the biggest questions was, what happened in San Francisco? And I think going into Season 3, one of the questions will be, what happened in Dubai? What happened after Louis left that penthouse between these two? Because I don’t think it was a snap moment.”

The good news is audiences will have the opportunity to peel back another of Armand’s layers and get some answers to those questions when “Interview With the Vampire” returns for the recently announced Season 3.

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