'Dracula Untold' Stars Fete Their Historically Based Vampire Tale Without "Forbidden Love"
"He's badass, don't get me wrong, but he's human: he loves his wife, he loves his family, his loves his people"
"His subjects called him prince, I called him father, but the world would come to know him as Dracula." So begins Dracula Untold, the dark, action-adventure origin story for Bram Stoker's famous blood-sucking monster that depicts the trials of historical figure Vlad of Wallachia, a 13th-century prince who purportedly used dark forces to protect his kingdom from the Turks.
"I play the man who inspired Bram Stoker, four hundred years later, to write the Dracula novel," Luke Evans told The Hollywood Reporter at the film's premiere, held at the AMC Loews in New York City's Midtown on Monday night. "He has to deal with becoming a vampire. It's like an addiction — he's fighting the urge to drink blood. It's a real battle, but a wonderful story of self-discovery."
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While researching the role, Evans quickly became engrossed with the historical figure, also known as Vlad the Impaler. "I did enjoy doing my research— and there was a lot to research, not just about the vampire Dracula, but about the man who inspired him," he noted. "Vlad III was a real man — he walked this earth in the 1400s — so it was exciting to discover things about him which I was able to absorb into my performance."
For first-time feature director Gary Shore, the Universal Pictures title central draw lies in Evan's gradual transformation from man to recognizable monster, as the plot follows Vlad's struggle to use his newfound superhuman powers — bestowed on him early in the film, courtesy of a grotesque cave-dwelling vampire, played by Charles Dance — to protect his kingdom from the murderous Turks, while resisting his sudden insatiable desire to lunge at every passing artery. "It's an interesting opportunity to see where the seeds of this myth began, to try and do something a bit different within the genre, and make [the story] more human, more relatable," Shore explained.
Zach McGowan, seen in Black Sails and Shameless, plays Vlad's gypsy compatriot Shkelgim and agreed that the film's most compelling element is how it complicates a typically one-dimensional figure, and illustrates "what someone will do to protect their family and the people they love," he said on the red carpet. "In that way, it's a very human story. For most of the movie you see Vlad, not Dracula. He's badass, don't get me wrong, but he's human: he loves his wife, he loves his family, his loves his people."
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Sarah Gadon, who plays Evan's loyal, loving wife Mirena, welcomed Dracula: Untold's departure from familiar vampire-genre tropes, especially its treatment of the film's central romantic relationship. "It was really exciting for me, because normally women in vampire films are suppressing their sexuality, or fighting this forbidden love, but [Evans] and I get to construct and build this beautiful state of love," she told THR. "It's really the love we have for each other and our son that we spend the whole film protecting. Everything is motivated by love."
Gadon, who starred in the 2012 David Cronenberg-directed thriller Cosmopolis opposite Robert Pattinson, was tight-lipped about her former co-star's onscreen relationship with the fragile Bella Swan [Kirsten Stewart] as vampire-heartthrob Edward Cullen in the Twilight series. "I worked with Rob when he wasn't a vampire, so I can't really speak to that notion," she joked.
Evans added that he's "not a huge vampire novel reader," and that Twilight is "not for me."