Alexandra Daddario delves into the mind of Anne Rice for ‘Mayfair Witches’

Alexandra Daddario
Alexandra Daddario plays Dr. Rowan Fielding in ‘Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches.’
Alfonso Bresciani / AMC

Author Anne Rice has a huge following for both her books, and their adaptations—the latest of which comes again from AMC, who recently delved into the New Orleans based writer’s works with the revamp of ‘Interview with the Vampire.’

Starring Alexandra Daddario (‘White Lotus’) along with Harry Hamlin, Jack Huston, Tongayi Chirisa and a talented cast, ‘Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches’ is based on a trilogy of novels by Rice as part of AMC’s ongoing project of building the author’s creative universe.

The first book of the Mayfair Witches saga was the 1990’s ‘The Witching Hour.’ Playing a young neurosurgeon, Dr. Rowan Fielding, (Daddario) tackles the main character of the story who undergoes life-changing instances within the first two episodes with her adoptive mother passing away and her unknown but overwhelming powers starting to come to a head. To discover more about herself and her birth family, Rowan heads to New Orleans to uncover some secrets, but ends up uncovering a whole lot more.

Daddario took this role on with a lot of care, taking the time to delve not only in to the books by Rice, but also Rice herself. And to dive a little deeper into it all, the actress sat down to discuss more on ‘Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches,’ which premieres this weekend on AMC/AMC+.

What was it about this show that made you want to join this project?

I loved the people working on the project, I love AMC. I [also] had never read Anne Rice, and as a huge reader, I was shocked that I had missed [her] somehow. So, I was really intrigued to dive in and learn more about her and why she tells these stories and dive into this fascinating character that she created. It just seemed like a really fun learning experience as well as a really cool project.

Alexandra Daddario
Alexandra Daddario as Dr. Rowan Fielding in ‘Mayfair Witches’.Alfonso Bresciani / AMC

What can you tell me about your character, Rowan?

Rowan is an accomplished woman who has a lot going for her, but she’s a mess and she becomes an even bigger mess through circumstances out of her control in the first two episodes. I was intrigued by how someone deals with all of that—to be a mess, but also together at the same time. That just creates a really fascinating character because you don’t know what she’s going to do next.

You spent a lot of time before filming learning more about Anne Rice herself and reading past interviews with her. What were some interesting points that you learned?

I learned a lot about why she wrote these stories, and her relationship with the church was quite fascinating to me. She talks a lot about her belief in God…She had such a deep understanding of things that almost seemed in contradiction to each other. I was really intrigued by that. I’m hesitant to speak for her because she says it so much better herself, but she was in and out of the church—she lost a child, who was I think was the age of four, and her understanding of why would that happen? She had other issues in her family that made her relationship with the church complicated [as well.]

She was obsessed with ghosts and the afterlife and death and with women embracing who they really were. I was shocked to hear that she had written series and series of erotic novels, [but] after reading ‘The Witching Hour’ I understood better. She was really into women embracing their sexuality and being whoever they wanted to be.

What benefits did learning about Anne Rice have on you playing Rowan?

‘The Witching Hour’ is a huge book. It’s over a thousand pages and it deals with a lot of different themes, and sometimes it’s dealing with things that you go—where did this come from? This is so out there and so complex. It’s just the way my mind works. I was fascinated by her and why she wrote these books and how she came up with these thoughts and who was she. Because you can’t help, I don’t think, but put some of yourself into the characters. When you’re building a character [you think]: Who was she and what was her relationship to these different subjects? I wish that I could ask her questions. I have a lot of questions for [Anne.]

How was it shooting this magical type of show in such a spiritual place, New Orleans?

I’ve shot there before, it’s a really amazing place. The people take really good care of each other, and it’s a city with tremendous history, it’s very spiritual. People believe in ghosts and that the city’s haunted and then there’s this intense tourism at the same time. It’s a really interesting thing. And it’s Anne Rice’s city, so we got to shoot something that felt really authentic to the city, every street she wrote about is real. New Orleans is an incredible place, there’s nowhere else like it in the U.S. at least and I don’t think we could have shot the show anywhere else.

Alexandra Daddario
Pictured are Alexandra Daddario as Dr. Rowan Fielding and Harry Hamlin as Cortland Mayfair.Alfonso Bresciani / AMC

The revamped ‘Interview with the Vampire’ is also in the Anne Rice/ AMC universe. Will we be seeing a crossover at all?

I think that’s the intention, but no one’s spoken to me directly about it. I’ve more heard about that intention from stuff on the internet or, maybe in passing we’ve talked about it. I know that this is a big world for the network, and one step at a time. But, I think that would certainly be fun for me.

Overall, what do you hope this show brings to audiences?

I hope that people are entertained, but I think there are real issues [in it.] A lot of these stories that we tell are very human things, but then you put these great powers on them because life can feel, during these times of transition and craziness, like you’re in a storm and you have powers when you’re trying to figure stuff out.

I also think there’s something very relatable about a woman who really has a lot of her stuff together but is also a mess. I’ve always felt when I’m in that place you sort of feel, well how is this possible? Am I faking everything? I think it’s a really, really relatable story as far as you can be both—together and a mess— at the same time and work through things. I hope that it gets people reading about Anne as well and reading her books. We all went in with the best of intentions and I really tried to build the character authentically to her.

Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches‘ will debut Jan. 8 on AMC+ and AMC.