“We were detaching ourselves from everything people think they know about Dracula” – hmv.com talks to Luke Evans
There cannot be many parts that came with as much history, baggage and iconography as Dracula. He’s the original vampire, the blood count, an evil warlord, a white-faced goon and so much more. So, when Luke Evans, best known for his role as super-villain Owen Shaw in 2013’s Fast 6 and the sureshot Bard The Bowman in the Hobbit trilogy, was offered the chance to play him once more, he must have had some trepidation.
We sat down with Evans to talk about his role in the movie, how this is a very different Dracula and his future plans…
What was Dracula Untold like to film?
“It was a 78-day shoot and I was there for every single day. It finished up last October, but it feels like a long time ago now.”
How did it compare to other films you’ve made? Was it one of the more gruelling jobs?
“It was the most physical job I’ve ever done, it was incredibly demanding, especially with the training, because I really had to stay in a certain shape. I really had to keep my stamina up as there were loads of fights to do and big sequences. I spent every weekend rehearsing in this huge hangar in Belfast to make sure we got them right. It was a big, big job, but I knew exactly what I was in for when I signed up.”
Did this role take more preparation than any other you’ve done?
“No. I always do a lot of preparation. I was able to be there a month before we started shooting so I was able to do script readings and really get ready. I spent a lot of time with Gary (Shore – director) and the writers and I felt really well prepared.”
There are few characters you can play with as much history as Dracula, were you careful what you focused on what it came to research?
“The perspective we were taking is what that’s never really been put on film, that gave us a bit of freedom and a bit of license to move away from the traditional story we know so well from Bram Stoker. This has nothing to do with that, it takes place hundreds of years before he was born, it’s about this real human being, Vlad, who you’ll all know as Vlad The Impaler, who’s still very revered in Romania, despite being incredibly ruthless."
Why do you think that is?
“He was a very successful leader and reigned over a very peaceful time, despite being this ruthless warrior, perhaps because they were all scared of him. We tried to dig a little deeper, he’s so synonymous with the impaler nickname, but we tried to move away from that, to look at his family and find out what kind of man he was. We were detaching ourselves from everything people think they know about the character.”
Were you careful what you read about Vlad? There are a lot of stories about him..
“Yeah, one source will tell you he killed 25,000 people in this village, another will say that there were only 3,000 living in the village, you have to look at all the sources. A few of the documents are in the British Museum, which were incredible to see. I liked it all though, I liked coming up with my own version of the character, making him more human, a man who was left with no option but to choose an incredibly dark path.”
On any film of this scale there must have been a lot of effects work, was it like seeing it all together for the first time?
“It was very pleasing. I knew Gary and his team would do an amazing job and it looks beautiful, it’s just magical to see it all there. It was the same with The Hobbit, none of the stuff was there when you’re filming, but you see it finished and it looks incredible.”
What are the chances you’ll get to play Dracula again?
“I don’t know. I know the studio are talking about it. It’s more of a watch this space thing. If I was asked to play Dracula in a sequel, or a different version of the story, I’d be very happy to.”
Do you think there are places left to go with the character?
“It’s huge. This guy is immortal, as long as he sticks to the rules, he can travel through the ages. There’s so much scope for this character, I’m sure there’s some writers in Hollywood sitting down right now coming up with a brilliant script for him.”
It’s been mentioned that this character could be part of a wider universe, what have you heard about that?
“It’s been talked about. I was aware of it while shooting and we’ve had conversations about it since. It’s in the early stages, but it’s an exciting prospect for Universal, they own all these incredible monsters so it could be a very exciting. It’s a huge idea, but let’s see, I’m glad to be part of it and I’m glad that Dracula is alive and kicking.”
What are you going to be up to next?
“I’ve got a lot of things on my plate, which I can’t talk about yet. Most of them are indies, I decided after back to back blockbusters it would be nice to take more character driven roles on smaller films, it’d be nice to do get back to that. I’m doing SAS Red Notice, which is Andy McNab’s series about the SAS, it’s the Tom Buckingham series.”
“Then there’s Free Fire, which is Ben Wheatley’s new film, which I’m very happy to be a part of. I’m training right now for Red Notice.”
That sounds like a very demanding role…
“It is. It’s an SAS soldier, I’m not going to be remotely as fit as the real thing, but I’ll definitely give it go.”
Finally, can we ask you about High Rise? There’s a lot of excitement for that one…
“It was a fantastic experience. We shot very quickly, seven weeks and we shot a lot of scenes. Sienna (Miller) and Tom (Hiddleston) were brilliant, Jeremy (Irons) and Elisabeth (Moss) were so fantastic, it was a wonderful time. Films like High Rise don’t get made, they just don’t. It’s been done with so much integrity and so much care for JG Ballard’s novel, in the capable hands of Ben Wheatley it’s going to be fantastic.”