Finding a balance between Vlad's heroism and eventual corruption was key in attracting Evans (read our full interview) to the part - and plays a major role in how the actor has positioned his version of Dracula:
I think there’s a lot of Vlad that you see in the beginning, that you see at the end. The important thing that we wanted to do we wanted to impress in the character of Vlad and Dracula, when he becomes the vampire, is that you see the human in the vampire. We don’t want to disassociate the two people we want to keep them the same person, the same emotional drive he has at the beginning of the film and the reasons why he does what he does are still prevalent at the end of the film. So, in a way he’s the same person but in a way he isn’t and he has other things going on.
Far from the comfort of the Great Hall (even after its devastation), we also visited the cliff-side lair of Caligula - who provides the bloody catalyst for Vlad's transition from man into vampire. As shown in the trailer (starting at the 1:15 mark), the dark cave is modeled after the unique rock formations of Ireland's famous Giant's Causeway - the aftermath of a volcanic eruption that turned much of the northeastern coastline into interlocking basalt columns. Inside the lair, Roman statues and pillars surround a central pool - which is instrumental in Vlad's transformation into Dracula.
Discussing how the filmmakers approached this grounded (but still mysterious) origin tale, production designer Francois Audouy (read our full interview), touted a "timeless" aesthetic - reinforcing Phillips' claim that Dracula Untold roots its supernatural mythology in a believable historical reality:
It’s an interesting movie. It’s kind of like a journey of myth. It’s very classical in its structure, which I think is really great. It’s kind of timeless that way. And he goes to meet this character, Caligula, who’s in this temple in the heart of Broken Tooth Mountain [...] And then the other unique part of the set is the central pool, which is like this Romanesque mosaic pool that collects all of the blood from the generations of hanging bodies, like a Roman abattoir that collects and sort of channels the blood that’s infected now to a central sort of reservoir. That is where Vlad ends up taking a chalice and drinking and setting off the whole thing, the whole legend. This is literally ground zero for where the legend will be born.
Unfortunately, the build team was still in the process of assembling the set and Caligula's fictionalized backstory was a tightly kept secret - suggesting that the ancient Roman emperor's role in Dracula Untold could be one of the film's most interesting plot points as well as establish the rules/origins of this particular vampire mythology.
Still, it's understandable that moviegoers might be skeptical of Dracula Untold - after years of reboots, remakes, and shallow cash-grabs that tried to print money from recognizable brands. Yet, it's clear that, for the Shore and the actors, impactful character drama comes first - so much so that Cooper (read our full interview) often forgets he's actually in a Dracula movie:
I actually have to keep being reminded that it’s a Dracula film. For me, it was very much a film about the history of Vlad The Impaler - and where that story came. It’s a very different take on it and a really clever twist on the story. It’s going to look completely epic and beautiful.
Time will tell if the filmmakers achieve their ambitious goals but, as we wait until Dracula Untold opens this October, moviegoers would be smart to keep an open mind. This Dracula certainly isn't "your father or grandfather’s Dracula" - this one might be even better.
We'll post complete interviews with the cast, producer, and behind-the-scenes designers, who shed more light on this "untold" story of Dracula, in the coming days.
However, if you're eager for more Dracula Untold info right now, make sure to check out our Dracula Untold news archive - which will include the following interviews (as they are posted) along with much more.
- Luke Evans - Vlad III Țepeș
- Alissa Phillips - Producer
- Dominic Cooper - Mehmed II
- Sarah Gadon - Mirena
- Francois Audouy - Production Designer
- Ngila Dickson - Costume Designer
Dracula Untold opens in U.S. theaters on October 17th, 2014.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates on the Dracula Untold, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.