If you read Anne Rice‘s trilogy, “Lives of the Mayfair Witches,” the character of Lasher makes an appearance in the first novel, The Witching Hour, and is described as “a slim, pale, elegant figure with dark eyes and dark hair and a hypnotically seductive power over any [of the Mayfairs] reckless enough to entertain him.”
This imagining is personified in the physical embodiment of Jack Huston, who portrays the demon spirit bound to the Mayfair witches for hundreds of years and preys on one particular witch — Rowan Fielding (Alexandra Daddario), who he wishes to procreate with in his attempt to rejoin the living.
While fans of the book are no doubt satisfied, Huston himself chose to avoid the novel and instead focus on Esta Spalding and Michelle Ashford‘s adaptation of the material. He relied on their interpretation of Lasher to bring the character to life in the eight-episode series Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches, which is now streaming on AMC Plus.
Huston is a leading man with character-actor chops who comes from a family of impressive acting stock — his father is actor/writer/director Tony, his aunt is Anjelica, his uncle is Danny, and his grandfather was the classic film director John. Huston has carved out a diversified career for himself with roles such as severely disfigured World War I marksman-turned-hitman Richard Harrow on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire; American poet Gerard Malanga in Factory Girl; the lead singer of a rock band in Not Fade Away; a mobster in American Hustle; the title character in Ben-Hur; RFK in The Irishman; former Gucci America president Domenico De Sole in House of Gucci; Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph in Manhunt: Deadly Games; and author Jack Kerouac in Kill Your Darlings, to name just a few.
Above the Line spoke with Jack Huston via Zoom video from his home in Los Angeles, where he was preparing to enjoy a weekend off from the upcoming movie I’m Beginning to See the Light, a drama that he’s currently shooting at a lighthouse in Cambria, California. He described the scenic location as “a gorgeous place surrounded by whales, elephant seals, and sea otters,” though the film itself tackles dark subject matter, as it follows “a grief-stricken trumpeter who finds salvation in a lighthouse and its two suicidal visitors,” per IMDb. Despite that, Huston himself is extremely cheery and upbeat — and more than happy to chat about all things Lasher and the Anne Rice Immortal Universe.
One forgets that Huston is from London as his English accent is non-existent in his vocalization as the shape-shifting dark entity, but he’s oh so charming to listen to as he talks about finding his way into the character, the mystique of New Orleans and spending time in the city, and what he’s looking forward to most when the Mayfair saga continues in Season 2. If it follows the trilogy — the second book of which is titled Lasher, then Huston will get the opportunity to further showcase those leading-man talents.
Above the Line: What’s it like to shoot a show like this with supernatural characters in New Orleans, the American home of voodoo?
Jack Huston: To be in New Orleans with that whole amazing voodoo sort of witchy feeling that you know only New Orleans can sort of give — it was amazing. I didn’t seek out a voodoo priestess. You’re sort of always around someone there who has something to say or is doing something [in that realm], or that’s their job.
So, you inexplicably find yourself in situations with certain people who play around with the darker side of life. I didn’t necessarily need to seek it out. New Orleans is like an island. It feels like its own place. It feels separate from anything else; even, like, the air, there’s an essence to it. It’s strange. It’s very hard to describe in words. I don’t think I’ve ever been somewhere that so identifiably [had] its own inner feeling as New Orleans.
ATL: What do you remember from shooting the scene in “Lasher’s World”?
Huston: Oh man, that was a crazy, fun night. It was so amazing. We went into one of those amazing new graveyards with the first line, the music, and all these amazing characters. It was a really fun scene, but we took it right up to the wire. We saw the sunrise, and I remember rushing from the graveyard at, like, 5:15 a.m. to try to get a 5:45 a.m. flight back to L.A. So I was jumping over these sort of huge mausoleums. We had a wild time there. It was amazing.
ATL: Did you shoot near Anne Rice’s home?
Huston: We were just around the corner from her house. We passed her house often, and where Deidra is (the Mayfair mansion) — where I sort of find her in the beginning — that amazing house is literally just around the corner from Anne Rice. That was kind of amazing.
ATL: Did you ever have the opportunity to meet Anne Rice in person before she died in 2021? Were you familiar with her writing?
Huston: No, I never did. In total honesty, I obviously knew of her, but I had never been someone who’d really done a deep dive into her work. My closest sort of connection to her was Interview with the Vampire, the film that we all loved growing up. It was one of those seminal movies with Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Kirsten Dunst — such a great picture. So, [I] always knew the name, but this was completely new territory.
ATL: Did you want to read her trilogy, “Lives Of The Mayfair Witches,” to get a feel for Lasher?
Huston: It’s interesting that I fall on both sides of this one, because sometimes people say, “Read everything.” But if you do that, maybe you will fall a little bit into the trap of not realizing that television and film are very different mediums from literature. When you are writing a novel, there is a very clear artistic license. To identify it as something different, obviously inspired by [the books] and all the rest of it, but I think specifically with [regard to the] characters, no matter what you do, you’ll never please everybody. So on that, I think you have to believe [in] and just trust in what you’re doing and try to sort of make it your own.
ATL: How were you first introduced to the series Mayfair Witches?
Huston: When I read these scripts for the first time, I was one of the few people who said I’d prefer to sort of be introduced to this world through [creators] Esta and Michelle rather than Anne Rice. I think I’ve probably done a deep dive and read everything later because I always do, but I think for right now, I was like, I don’t want to be that one where it’s like, “Oh, but can we do this because it was written this way?” I kind of wanted them to feel rather liberated in what they were writing and doing, and I felt like I was much more of their partner in it. I found that it turned into such a lovely relationship because of that.
ATL: I read the book years ago, but in my mind, you are Lasher, so whoever cast you knew what they were doing.
Huston: I very luckily didn’t audition because I’m terrible at auditions. I love to play and discover what a character really looks like. But luckily, I made a movie with [executive producer] Mark Johnson a good few years ago that David Chase wrote and directed, Not Fade Away, of which I’m very, very proud. It was one of the great moments of my life because I got to work with one of my all-time heroes, James Gandolfini.
David was the best, and luckily, Mark is one of those beautifully creative and facilitating producers — one of those people who wants to help facilitate the story and facilitate the vision. He’s got a sort of loving hand that you could really rely on and [he] has impeccable taste, as we all know. So I got a call, initially, from Mark saying, ‘You know, we are doing this. What do you think?’ Giving a wink and saying, ‘Would it be something you’d be interested in?’ I said, ‘Sure, man. Are you kidding? Let’s get on the phone and talk about it a little bit.’
ATL: What hooked you into wanting to portray Lasher?
Huston: So I spoke to the entire lot — Esta, Michelle, and Mark — and it was fantastic. I got so excited because, like I said, I didn’t know anything about this world, and they sort of did their best to describe it and who Lasher is. I felt that this was something that was a bit of a stepping stone into… the way they described it, it wasn’t just this season, it was the coming season as well, and what happens is what happens. It was all rather fascinating. I quite like playing characters [and] this was a really fun one for me.
ATL: Lasher has this animal-like quality to him. Were you thinking of that when you were playing him?
Huston: If you mentioned an animal, it’s something quite sort of prowling about it there, rather feline. One would probably say there was something rather like a black panther, something like that, which is very poised and rather slow and collected, and that’s why we said we wanted him to move without moving. [He just] appears places, and then he [also] walks, but there’s a grace to it. I think when you’ve been through these centuries, you learn manners, you learn grace, and you learn how to do things as well as being cutthroat and all the rest, so I love it.
ATL: What were your conversations with the creative team about portraying him?
Huston: Well, we had lots of conversations. One of the fun things about coming on board with something like this [was working] with really creative and excited people. We had the lovely Michael Uppendahl as our director for the first two episodes, and he was one of those people who loves to try things because, you know, if it doesn’t work, we all know it won’t work. But you know what? Let’s give it a go because it might be really cool rather than just instantly putting the kibosh on it. He was always a “yes” person. And I think that’s fantastic in life, especially for the creative process.
You know, you’re talking about this entity — this shape-shifting sort of entity — that’s very hard to portray on screen. And everyone sort of has an idea of what Lasher is, but there’s nothing really definitive about who or what he is. So we were like, “How do you move? How do you speak? How do you do it?” I think rather than going grandiose, what we said was that there was actually part of the charm in his love, which sounds really strange to say because it goes a different way.
But to serve somebody… I think he loved every single one of these witches, and it comes from a true place. Obviously, there are motives that always exist, but if they come into their power through him and he comes into his power through them, it’s a connected moment.
ATL: What about his look? How did you develop it? Did you help decide what he would look like and what he would wear?
Huston: Everyone sort of chimed in and said how they thought he should be with the hair. We were sort of saying it’s a representation of what these women are used to, in essence. It’s very hard, and you can get very caught up in the vortex of the black hole [of], “How does this make sense?” There are simple questions like, “How do you dress a spirit?” You know what I mean? “How do you dress an entity?”
The tailoring of the clothes… what we wanted to do with that kind of stuff was make him mimic his situation a little bit, so if he was in a sort of lush, green garden, [he’d wear] something rather bright, something that sort of mimics the natural world. If he’s against certain types of wallpaper, he should somehow sort of blend into these things. So it’s sort of, tangibly, the world around him that he’s feeding from and using, and that’s why his style progresses with the ages, in essence. He’s mimicking those around him.
ATL: Your chemistry with Alexandra Daddario, who plays your witchy love interest, if you will, is off the charts, by the way.
Huston: She’s fantastic. Luckily, I got to work with the amazing Tongayi [Chirisa], who plays Ciprien Grieve as well; we did Antebellum together, and we just hit it off like a house on fire back then. So it was amazing having Tongayi on board.
Then I got to meet Alex, and you realize she’s probably the most down-to-earth, self-deprecating, wonderfully humorous person you’ll ever meet — just someone you want to go out and have dinner with and have a laugh with, like, that kind of person, which is so important when you’re doing something like a show because it’s a prolonged period of time that will reoccur.
So if it’s on a hit show, you want to be with someone who’s just cool, someone who’s just nice, and at the same time, supremely talented. She’s wonderful to work with and is a consummate professional — someone who really cares and puts her heart and soul into it.
At the same time, when they say “Cut,” they can be [both] silly, have fun, and talk about normal things.
ATL: Were you able to take advantage of the great food and music in New Orleans with the rest of the cast and crew?
Huston: It’s quite a city, and you could probably get quite lost in that city, so you have to sort of be a little careful, rather controlled, and understand that it’s work. But at the same time, [there are some] phenomenal restaurants, wonderful bars, and great places to walk around. My kids would sometimes come out on their own and stay with me. We’d just do all of the sort of touristy stuff with my kids. They loved it, but yeah, it felt like there was always something to do.
ATL: So what are you most excited about for next season?
Huston: I hope the [Writers] Strike doesn’t take too long, but I completely support what they’re going through right now, and it’s going to have a knock-on effect, which is why they have all of the guilds’ support as well, at the moment [this interview was conducted prior to the DGA reaching a tentative deal]. But I’m really excited for Season 2. I’ve been given a few little tidbits, which I can’t say anything about. What I will say is that it’s all led to this.
When I had my first conversation [with the creatives], what I was most excited about as an actor, and what I was going to do, was the second season. We have a million surprises because these women, man, I tell you… Esta is a force to be reckoned with, and it’s very, very, very hard to take something as dense and prolific as Anne Rice is, you know, and “The Witching Hour,” the Mayfair series.
I think now that we’ve really found our footing, the next season is an opportunity to really dive even deeper into these characters and into the Anne Rice universe. It’s one of those moments where we were just discovering our characters before, and now we get to live them, and we actually get to do the stuff that I enjoy the most, which is really, really go deep.
Season 1 of Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches is now streaming on AMC Plus.