By Ani Bundel
AMC Networks closed the deal with the Anne Rice estate for the adaptation rights to two of her major series, totaling 18 books, in May 2020. It took a year before it announced Interview With the Vampire would be the first series out of the gate and another six months for the follow-up announcement for Mayfair Witches.
With Interview garnering spectacular reviews, AMC+ jumped to build the hype for Mayfair Witches with a panel at New York Comic-Con. The panel opened with a trailer confirming the release date in January.
The panel featured the three executive producers, Esta Spalding, Mark Johnson, and Michelle Ashford. Actors Alexandra Daddario (Dr. Rowan Fielding), Harry Hamlin (Cortland Mayfair), Tongayi Chirisa (Ciprien Grieve), and Jack Huston (Lasher) were also on hand. When Johnson was asked to describe the series, he said he was not the one to talk about it, as it’s a story that’s all about telling a story of powers from a woman’s perspective.
Passing the mic to Ashford, the executive producer said that telling a story of witches excited them. The reality of how witches were healers demonized by the patriarchy for fear of the power they were amassing was so relevant to the present day. Daddario then talked about how much actresses struggle to discover their power. She never found she had magic, but the parallels were essential in getting into the role.
As for the show’s patriarch, Hamlin is having the time of his life as Cortland, gushing about how the scripts managed to hide from him just how evil his character could be until way into the series. (He namechecked Episode 7.) He also says he gets to be the life of the party as the wine and woman-loving “southern gentleman.”
The other two actors, Chirisa and Huston, admitted they hadn’t read the novel before being cast; Daddario carried it around the set. She said she believes in reading all source material about her characters, even if the show deviates from the text. However, unlike some shows that ask their casts to divorce themselves from the source material, they encouraged reading it since there was no way to fit 1000 pages into eight episodes. The 400 or so pages of Mayfair Witch history were excised immediately, but it was something they wanted the cast to know, even if it didn’t make it onto the page.
Also, Daddario said she met a couple of practicing witches who worked on set and admitted to consulting with them. She said she didn’t get too deep into it since it was not the same religion as Rice created, but she called it a beautiful belief system.
Before passing off the mic, Johnson mentioned that Mayfair is one of many Rice projects in various stages of development at AMC Networks, all of which have their own personality and tone. When asked how much they’ll cross over (Interview has a few Mayfair easter eggs), he admitted they hadn’t fully decided yet. (He did suggest some actor crossovers will come eventually, and Hamlin asked if he could be a vampire.)
However, Johnson said the one thing that joins all of Rice’s works is that the people in them are all relatable and authentic in their desires and motivations. He said he felt they’d be able to join the shows thematically and not just via easter eggs. Should Mayfair hit as big as Interview, it seems AMC+ may have found the magic in Rice to draw in subscribers.
Mayfair Witches premieres on AMC+ on Thursday, January 5, 2023.