It is 1791, and Louis is struggling to cope with the loss of his wife and child, not caring if he lives or dies. The vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise) attacks him but also offers him a chance to be reborn. Louis decides to take him up on the offer and Lestat proceeds to transform him into a vampire. Lestat begins showing Louis how to live the life of a vampire: sleeping in coffins by day and preying on unsuspecting mortals by night. Louis is not comfortable bringing harm to humans, however, and opts for feeding on animals instead, defying all of Lestat's attempts to turn Louis to the vampire lifestyle. A despondent Louis finally succumbs and bites his faithful housemaid, killing her. He then burns down his estate, intending to perish in the flames, but Lestat rescues him and the two now-homeless vampires flee.
Renting a flat in New Orleans proper, the two continue to terrorize the public, with Louis still trying to refuse Lestat's ways. But Louis eventually gives in to his bloodlust and bites a young girl, Claudia (Kirsten Dunst). Lestat arrives at the scene and mocks him; Louis takes off, disgusted by his actions. Lestat later takes him back to the dying girl and Lestat transforms her into a child vampire "daughter" for himself and Louis, to prevent Louis from ever leaving him. Louis reluctantly accepts Claudia, but his scorn for Lestat grows.
Claudia, under Lestat's tutelage, soon turns into a sadistic killer, frequently toying with her victims before killing them, all the while developing a strong bond with Louis. Thirty years pass and Claudia is left wondering why she remains an eternal child. Lestat explains that she can never grow up due to the effects of the transformation, which she hates him for. She asks Louis how she came to be and Louis takes her to the place where he bit her 30 years before. Outraged, Claudia expresses her hate for him too and runs away, leaving Louis by himself in tears. However, Claudia returns and forgives him for the deed, knowing that Lestat was really responsible for her condition. She wishes for herself and Louis to leave Lestat but Louis says Lestat would never allow it. With that in mind, Claudia tricks Lestat into drinking blood from two dead children. Weakened, she slashes his throat. She and Louis dump his body in a swamp but he later returns, having drained the blood of crocodiles and other swamp life to survive. Lestat attacks them but Louis sets him on fire and flees to Paris with Claudia, leaving Lestat for dead.
In Paris, Louis and Claudia live in perfect harmony but Louis is still bothered by the question of how vampires came to be and if there are any other vampires on earth. But one night, while walking the streets, he is finally met by the vampires Santiago (Stephen Rea) and Armand (Antonio Banderas), who tells him that there are other vampires in Paris and tells him he knows the answers he has been searching for. Armand invites Louis and Claudia to his coven, the Theatre des Vampires, where they witness Armand and his coven dispatching of a terrified human woman before an unsuspecting human audience. Armand later takes them to his lair and offers Louis a place by his side, while secretly telling Claudia to leave him. Louis refuses to leave his beloved Claudia, however, and turns to leave. Armand warns him that his vampire coven knows about Lestat's murder and that it is forbidden for vampires to kill another vampire. Louis returns alone to Armand's lair, where Armand proceeds to reveal that Louis is a unique vampire in that he possesses a human soul and is connected to the "broken-hearted" spirit of the 19th Century. Louis becomes thoroughly smitten by Armand and resolves to leave Claudia at long last.
Returning to his residence, Louis finds that Claudia has brought home a human woman, Madeleine, with the intent that Louis turn her into a vampire to serve as a companion and protector before he leaves. Louis reluctantly gives in and transforms Madeleine, forcing Claudia to admit that they are now even and can part on good terms. Immediately after, however, the Parisian vampires burst in and abduct all three of them. They imprison Louis in a metal coffin and lock Claudia and Madeleine into an airshaft with an open roof. The next morning, the rising sun floods the airshaft and Claudia and Madeleine are burnt to ashes. Armand frees Louis, who searches for Claudia and is horrified and grief-stricken when he comes across her ashen remains. He returns that night to the Theatre and burns them all alive in their own theater as they sleep. Armand arrives in time to help him escape, and once again offers him a place by his side. Louis once again refuses, knowing that Armand choreographed Claudia's demise in an attempt to get Louis all to himself, and he leaves Armand for good.
Decades pass, with Louis exploring the world alone. He later returns to New Orleans and finds Lestat, still alive but a mere shadow of his former self. Lestat asks Louis to rejoin him, but Louis rejects him and leaves.
At this point Louis concludes the interview, which Malloy, the interviewer, cannot accept. He asks Louis to transform him so he can see what is truly like to be a vampire, but Louis throttles him in a fit of rage, nearly killing him, and vanishes. Malloy hurriedly runs to his car and drives away, feeling happy with his interview as he plays it through the cassette player. Just then, Lestat, who had apparently been hiding in the back seat, attacks him and takes control of the car. Revived by Malloy's blood, he then offers a dying Malloy "the choice I never had" as they drive off into the San Francisco night, taking out the cassette and turning on the radio, which is playing "Sympathy for the Devil."
River Phoenix originally was cast for the role of the interviewer, but he died 4 weeks before he was due to begin filming. When Christian Slater was cast in his place, he donated his entire salary to Phoenix's favorite charitable organizations. The film has a dedication to Phoenix after the end credits.
Johnny Depp turned down the role of Lestat.
|Louis is grief-stricken over the death of his wife and child.||Louis is depressed and blames himself for the death of his brother.|
|After Lestat 'sires' Louis, they sleep in separate coffins.||In the novel, Louis and Lestat initially share a coffin.|
|When Lestat comes back after Claudia has tried to kill him, he comes alone.||When Lestat comes back for his revenge, he has made another vampire that helps him with it.|
|Lestat never appears in Paris after Louis sets him on fire in New Orleans.||Louis encounters Lestat among the vampires from the Théâtre des Vampires that captures Madeleine, Claudia and Louis.|
|Claudia cuts off her hair in a fit of rage in order to try and change her appearance. It grows back immediately afterwards.||Lestat's mother does this in "The Vampire Lestat" after Lestat changes her into a vampire in order to save her from death.|
|When Lestat drinks from the twin boys Claudia has given him as a "gift" (both have been drugged with laudanum, Claudia says she used "brandywine"), he is severely weakened as drinking "dead blood" has negative effects on vampires.||It is not the dead blood that weakens Lestat, it is the fact that Claudia has drugged them with absinthe and laudanum.|
|At the end of the film, Daniel the interviewer is attacked in his car by Lestat, who says. "Don't be afraid. I'm going to give you the choice I never had."||Daniel leaves Louis intending to seek out Lestat in New Orleans. He is turned into a vampire by Armand in The Queen of the Damned.|
|It is implied that Claudia and Louis travel to various countries without finding any other vampires, this being shown through Claudia's sketches. The character Morgan and his wife are absent from the movie.||Louis and Claudia find a race of mindless vampires in Transylvania.|
|After the burning of the Théâtre des Vampires, Louis rejects Armand and travels the world alone.||After the burning of the Théâtre des Vampires, Louis and Armand travel the world together, until parting ways in New Orleans.|
|There is no mention whatsoever of any of Lestat's family.||Lestat's father is still alive, yet blind and near death.|
|Lestat viciously kills the prostitutes in the hotel room, which in turn upsets Louis, making him wander the streets of New Orleans in a depressed daze, until he comes upon Claudia and feeds on her.||Lestat kills the prostitutes in the hotel after Louis feeds on Claudia. Claudia is in an orphan hospital, on the verge of dying from her wounds when this scene takes place.|
|Claudia appears to be around 11 years of age when she's turned into a vampire.||Claudia is said to be no older than 5 years old when she's turned into a vampire.|
|The Vampires cry regular tears and do not sweat.||The Vampires in the books weep tears of blood and their sweat is also tinged with blood.|
|After Louis burns down his manor, he and Lestat seek refuge in a "filthy cemetery". Babette is absent from the movie.||After Louis burns down Pointe Du Lac Manor, he seeks the help of a beautiful plantation master by the name of Babette. He convinces her to give him and Lestat shelter from the sun. The next night, she attempts to kill Louis, thinking he's from the Devil himself.|
|Armand appears as a fully-grown man with black hair.||Armand is described as a youth of approximately 16 years, with auburn hair.|