What Aaliyah Said About ‘Queen of the Damned’ and Her Final Film Role in Anne Rice’s Adaptation (Flashback)
The cast of Aaliyah queen of the damned highlighted her career’s revolutionary transition in the early 2000s. And unlike her character, a mere fictional monarch from the mind of best-selling fantasy author Anne Rice, Aaliyah was seen as actual royalty in the R&B community. when she landed her second big-screen role.
Going from musical artist to movie star was an organic, if not expected, evolutionary step for Aaliyah’s trajectory. But Akasha, the adaptation’s otherworldly antagonist, became the singer’s last big-screen role (after the previous year’s Jet Li vehicle Romeo must die). Aaliyah tragically died alongside seven other people in a plane crash in the Bahamas on August 25, 2001. She was 22.
Three months before her untimely death, Aaliyah sat down with ET and shared her excitement for the future. While promoting her self-titled studio album, she also took a moment to hype Akasha and queen of the damnedwho had completed principal photography earlier that year.
“I had a lot of fun doing [Queen of the Damned]. I was very excited to be part of a vampire movie, because I’ve loved vampires since I was very young,” the “Try Again” singer told ET in May 2001. was a vampire. movie – it was Anne Rice.
In queen of the damned — a merge of the second and third entries in Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles series – fan-favorite character Lestat (Stuart Townsend) transforms into a rock star. By filling his music with vampire references, he catches the eye of paranormal enthusiast Jesse (Marguerite Moreau). Angry that Lestat’s songs expose too much detail about what they do in the shadowsthe legendary immortal is also placed in the crosshairs of his fellow vampires.
If that wasn’t enough, his music awakens the titular Queen of the Damned, Akasha, “the first vampire.” Upon re-emerging, Lestat discovers that the Egyptian Goddess’ grand plan of 4,000 years for mankind benefits neither him nor his other like-minded vampire nobles, let alone humans. “I’m coming back to try and take over the world,” Aaliyah said of her character. “Akasha is very majestic. Very grand. Lots of great costumes. She’s sexy, but she’s evil.”
ET spoke with Aaliyah’s co-stars ahead of the film’s release. The premature loss of their collaborator still resonated six months after her death. Just like for his fans around the world, queen of the damnedThe debut of accentuated the continued grief of the cast.
“It was so tragic,” Moreau told ET in February 2002. “I’m still trying to figure out how something like this can happen.”
“I was in Ireland at the time and didn’t find out until five days later, because I was on a trip,” Townsend recalled. “And two of my friends were in Australia at the time, so they knew her and they were with me. It was nice. We just talked about her all night.
Although no reshoots or reshoots were required for Aaliyah’s scenes, post-production efforts stalled following the tragic news. “The first reaction was shock,” Michael Rymer, the film’s director, shared with ET in December 2001. “I kept watching the news. Waiting to hear there had been a mistake. That she was fine. Whether the reports had been exaggerated or false. But those reports were pretty clear from the start. It even took a few days to really process it.
“And then you go through the process of letting it in. You get a little angry,” Rymer continued. “I felt very bad mainly for his family, because they were as close to a family as I had ever seen.”
In the aftermath, Rymer hit a snag in post-production. At the time of Aaliyah’s death, she had not yet done any work for ADR (automated dialogue replacement) or her “looping” performances (according to Rymer, Aaliyah was originally scheduled to record Akasha’s ADR shortly). after returning to LA from the Bahamas). Just like Paul Walker’s siblings did after the actor died in the middle of filming Furious 7, Aaliyah’s brother Rashad aided the production by helping fill in the gaps. Rashad recorded his sister’s dialogue in a “whisper”-like voice, which was later integrated into his scenes which had corrupted the audio. Rhymer said Rashad’s vocals added “a bit of sibilance” and “consonant clarity” to Aaliyah’s dialogue.
“It took all of us a long time to recover. We were editing the film and trying to deal with this loss. And feeling so bad for his family,” Rymer said. “I guess what kept us all going, family and crew, was the idea that we knew what she wanted. She wanted this movie to really work. She wanted her performance to be this good. as possible [and] so that his participation really shines. And that’s kind of what kept us going.
Throughout the Melbourne-based production, Rashad and Aaliyah’s mother, Diane Haughton, lived with her in Australia. While the cast noted that Aaliyah preferred spending time with her family during filming, Moreau fondly remembered their occasional dating off set.
“She made me rent the scariest movies I could think of. And she would come and we would watch them,” the mighty ducks the star recalled, adding that her co-star “liked horror movies,” unlike Moreau. “And she’s like, ‘We’re just going to scare each other. We are making a vampire movie. We are quite the opposite in terms of character. Let’s scare ourselves. And I put the film on and I turn around and she’s sleeping on my floor. And so I have to watch this whole movie for myself! And she wakes up at the end saying, ‘How was it?’ And I’m like, ‘Creepy! You can’t go home. But she’s always been like that. Like a sense of play and mischief.
queen of the damnedAaliyah’s debut was met with mixed feelings when it hit theaters on February 22, 2002. Aaliyah’s fans got another look at her talent outside of the recording studio, but it was sweet nonetheless- bitter. “Every time we show the film, people are so mesmerized by Aaliyah’s talent and her presence. It’s great, but at the same time it’s sad to see. There was no doubt that Aaliyah was rising” , said Rymer. “She was so clear about what she wanted. She wanted to go all the way.”
Although it didn’t receive the kind of critical acclaim Interview with the Vampire appreciated years before, the film became cult in the 20 years since its release. In addition to her music and fashion, queen of the damned is one of the many ways the artist’s legacy lives on today. For Townsend, witnessing Aaliyah’s confidence and agility as a performer first-hand provided an intimate perspective on the extent of her potential that was cut short.
“[Aaliyah] looked a lot like a chameleon and she knew it,” he said. “And I think she would have just continued to surprise us.”
queen of the damned is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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