Feb. 22, 2002 -- Queen of the Damned was supposed to be the next big step for Aaliyah. Now, the movie serves as a tragic goodbye.
The R&B star finished her work last summer as a vampire queen in the movie, based on the fiction of Anne Rice, when she died in a plane crash.
Queen Of The Damned hits theaters nationwide today, and fans are sure to pay tribute to the Grammy-nominated star, who was only 22.
In interviews on the film's set, she talked about her movie appearance — playing a character that was pure evil. "It's definitely fun to explore that side of yourself and that side of yourself that you keep hidden in your everyday life because you know you're not supposed to go there unless it's absolutely necessary," she said.
Meet the New Lestat
In the movie, the vampire Lestat awakens from a century of slumber and becomes a modern-day rock star before awakening Akasha, a legendary vampire with an unquenchable thurst for blood. Akasha leaves fields of dead victims and tears out the heart of some victims.
"And yes, it's fun to just be that mean, evil and see how far you can really go," she said. "I think everybody has a bit of a fascination with the dark side and I myself have always loved the dark side as well."
Aaliyah began her career at 11, singing backup for Gladys Knight in Las Vegas. She shot to fame in 1994 with her single "Age Ain't Nothing but a Number." Her self-titled album is a strong contender at the Grammy Awards next week. She had previously appeared in the movie Romeo Must Die
Lestat is played by Stuart Townsend, who takes over the role created by Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire. "I knew it was a very different film from Interview," he said.
"So I was never worried about comparisons or intimidated by Tom Cruise doing this because it's like the rock 'n' roll, tongue-in-cheek version."
Aaliyah's death created post-production problems. Some of her dialogue needed to be re-dubbed, and producers finally called in her sound-alike brother Rashad.
Watching his sister on screen was extremely difficult. "I wanted to, like, grab her off the screen and sit her right down next to me but couldn't," he said."So I just tried to embrace her memory, embrace what she left behind, her legacy."
ABCNEWS Radio and Buck Wolf contributed to this report.