Meet the new Claudia: Delainey Hayles talks sinking her teeth into“ Interview With the Vampire”

"I thought Bailey [Bass] was amazing," she says of the actor who previously played the role. "I've never met her. I'd love to meet her and discuss Claudia."

Claudia isn't growing up on Interview With the Vampire — she literally can't, since the young bloodsucker is forever trapped inside the body of a child — but she is changing when the AMC series returns for season 2.

Bailey Bass portrayed the complicated, doomed vampire in the first season, but exited the series due to "a variety of unforeseen circumstances." Delainey Hayles is now taking over the juicy role beginning in the season 2 premiere (airing Sunday, May 12), and she couldn't wait to sink her teeth into what she calls the role of a lifetime.

But she didn't really know what she was signing up for at first. "I had just finished playing Lucy in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in the West End, which is like Broadway in London, and I had three weeks off before I had an audition come in for this show," Hayles tells Entertainment Weekly. "The name of the character was completely different, so I didn't actually know who I was auditioning for."

<p>Larry Horricks/AMC</p> Jacob Anderson as Louis De Point Du Lac and Delainey Hayles as Claudia

Larry Horricks/AMC

Jacob Anderson as Louis De Point Du Lac and Delainey Hayles as Claudia

She remembers sending in a self-tape and a few days later, and was invited to audition in-person the very next day. "I had watched episodes, but I still didn't understand that it was Claudia until I got in the audition and they explained everything to me," she says. "I was like, 'Oh, okay, that's sick. I'm so excited.'"

From there, things moved supernaturally fast. The next day she was told to her pack her bags, because she was flying to Prague the day after that. "Luckily, the first time I went there was to just get Claudia['s look] together, then I had the weekend to fly back home, pack everything I owned and then start filming," she says with a laugh. "It was crazy. Now looking at it, I'm like, 'Whoa.' But doing it, I was literally having the time of my life, so it went really quickly."

Taking over the role from Bass was "a great feat" that Hayles never took for granted. "I thought Bailey was amazing," she says. "She was one of my favorite characters in it, and I felt very privileged to play Claudia, but also I understood the job that I had to do, and the coven family that I've joined."

<p>Larry Horricks/AMC</p> Delainey Hayles as Claudia

Larry Horricks/AMC

Delainey Hayles as Claudia

Unlike the deadly Théâtre des Vampires troupe that Claudia and Louis (Jacob Anderson) encounter in Paris in season 2, the Interview With the Vampire team welcomed Hayles with open arms — and no mysterious initiation rituals.

"After I was cast, I had really long phone calls with [showrunner] Rolin [Jones] because he wanted me to understand exactly where we left off," she says. "I was watching the series again as I got to Prague, and he was calling me, 'What episode are you on now?' And I was like, 'I'm just finishing three. Wait, hold on, let me just get to the end because this is crazy.'"

Related: Get the first look at new, bloodthirsty Claudia in Interview With the Vampire season 2 sneak peek

What really helped her feel comfortable with taking over the role is how Jones and Anderson encouraged her to not feel beholden to what Bass did in season 1 or any external expectations about the character. "I had lots of support, but not overpowering guidance," she says. "It was, 'Claudia is yours, you take her where you want.' Rolin spoke to me about how it's important for me to make my own judgment on Claudia — in no way did he say to me, 'This is how I want it done.' He said, 'You watch how we did it, you read the book, and you derive what you want from it.' So I had lots of free rein with Claudia, which I was very happy with. Jacob as well was very supportive, he approached it in a similar way to Rolin where he was like, 'You do you and we will bounce off each other.'"

Finding Claudia and Louis' layered onscreen dynamic is not easy, especially where they begin in season 2 (prickly is an understatement to how Claudia feels about her surrogate father figure at the moment). But since Hayles and Anderson's chemistry read "was so good," Hayles says it just "came naturally" from the very beginning. Plus, Anderson would make sure to spend a lot of time with her when they weren't filming, going to dinners and taking long walks together.

"Jacob's in nearly every scene, so it was kind of hard," Hayles says with a laugh. "But when we did, it was really nice. When I first got to Prague, he took me on a walk just to get grounded. He was like, 'At the end of the day, none of this really matters. You bring what you want to bring, and Claudia is yours.'"

<p>Larry Horricks/AMC</p> Delainey Hayles as Claudia

Larry Horricks/AMC

Delainey Hayles as Claudia

What Hayles most wanted to bring to the character this season is the idea of devastating loneliness that all vampires feel, but especially Claudia. "Lestat [Sam Reid] touches on it in season 1, this vampire loneliness, but when he talks about it, in my opinion, he's coming from a place of privilege to be like, 'I'm lonely,'" she says. "He's never really felt the loneliness that I believe Claudia has felt. You have this woman trapped in a child's body, nobody understands her circumstance, she doesn't even understand it herself, so that's what I wanted to focus on, and the rage behind it."

Everything that Claudia is feeling at the start of season 2 only increases as she and Louis arrive to a few different European cities, ultimately landing in Paris. "Being a woman in those times, and being Black in Paris, all that's bundled up and it emits as anger because nobody's listening to her and nobody understands," Hayles says. "I would say the one person that kind of does understand was Lestat, but ... " She pauses to laugh before adding, "Well, they are not on speaking terms."

Related: Jacob Anderson promises 'there will be surprises' in Interview With the Vampire season 2

While Hayles is hesitant to go into more detail about Claudia's pivotal journey this season (book readers know what's coming...), she is grateful that she was able to be the one to bring it to life onscreen.

"I'm happy that Claudia is getting her full story told, because in the modern day we only get it from her diaries," Hayles says. "This time, we actually see her truth. It would be a shame if we didn't get to see it, because she's such a unique character. I don't know another character written with quite that difficult of a circumstance. I'm excited to see her happy moments, see her sad moments, but seeing her live, most of all."

Hayles is ashamed to admit she hadn't read Anne Rice's book before landing the role on the show, but she has since become a major fan. In fact, she thinks that reading it for the first time while also watching season 1 was beneficial for her.

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"Doing that helped me a lot, because I was able to understand how our series differs from the book, but still get a clear understanding of my Claudia in a way," she says. "Now I'm a big fan of the book, and picking up from where Bailey left off, it all became very clear to me. Because I'd fallen in love with Claudia. I don't know another character like her, so I knew I had to give it everything."

The two Claudias haven't met in real life, but that's something Hayles hopes changes in the future. "I'd love to meet [Bass] and discuss Claudia, but no, I haven't," she says. "I think we're on different schedules." But if they ever do meet face-to-face, they must invite Kirsten Dunst, who first played Claudia in the 1994 movie. "That would be amazing, amazing, amazing!" Hayles says.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.