Daniel Day-Lewis reportedly had just signed on to be Lestat. The actor had won his first Academy Award. He was voted Best Actor for the 1989 biopic, My Left Foot, in which he brilliantly portrayed an artist severely disabled by cerebral palsy. Daniel Day-Lewis would go on to make Hollywood history as the only man to win three Oscars in the Best Actor category. His other two would be for There Will Be Blood (2007) and Lincoln (2012).
My late partner and I got invited to a 1993 AIDS fundraiser cocktail party in a Central Park restaurant. We went. Actor Daniel Day-Lewis was a guest. He was very casual, very charming and took time to chat with anyone who approached him. He chatted with my partner and me and I wished him the best of luck shooting Interview with the Vampire. He leaned over and said, "Thank you but I may have to bow out of it." He said that he was pretty exhausted and wanted to spend time with his family. This was totally understandable. He'd done the lead roles in three heavyweight dramas -- The Last of the Mohicans (1992), The Age of Innocence (1993) and In the Name of the Father (1993).
I told Mr. Day-Lewis that I was an entertainment news contributor on a local weekend WNBC show. We were at a weekday fundraiser and I asked him if I could mention what he told me on the air. He gave me permission because, by the time the weekend arrived, he would've informed all the project-related film folks who needed to know.
I got to work at WNBC in the pre-dawn Saturday morning hours and let my producer know that I had a movie casting scoop to do on the air. She told me I couldn't do it because someone else was doing showbiz news and gossip. I knew I had a good item because I'd read that Tom Cruise was keen to play Lestat. So, I called a buddy of mine. Michael Lewittes had written a couple of very nice items about my TV work in The New York Daily News. He was unaware of the Interview with the Vampire casting. "Trust me," I said. "This is a good entertainment news item."
He wrote it up. It went to press. He called me with the news that Tom Cruise's people contacted him to confirm that Daniel Day-Lewis was out of the picture. Entertainment Tonight picked up the story.
And there you have a little backstory to Interview with the Vampire -- and the movie casting news that could've been broken first on Weekend TODAY in New York on WNBC back in 1993. Nowadays you can follow Michael Lewittes, formerly of The New York Daily News, on Twitter as @GossipCop.
Tom Cruise, now in his early 50s, is still in action. Trailers are out teasing his upcoming summer release, Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation. I bet he wears sunglasses in it.