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This story first appeared in the Nov. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Dracula star Jonathan Rhys Meyers is one of the industry’s more troubled talents. So NBC created a financial incentive for the actor to complete filming all 10 episodes of the series this summer in Budapest.
According to sources, the network withheld a substantial part of Rhys Meyers’ compensation — estimated at $100,000 an episode — until filming was finished. Rhys Meyers, 36, whose struggles with substance abuse plagued his previous series, Showtime’s The Tudors, required increased scrutiny before NBC would sign off on casting him in Dracula. So the Irish actor received per diem payments and other small dispensations, but the lump sum of his salary was contingent on him completing the season.
This was not the first time the payment ploy had been used: NBC did it, for example, with Alec Baldwin deep into 30 Rock‘s seven-season run — not because of the substance issues that have followed Rhys Meyers but because Baldwin had been making noises about leaving the show.
Dracula posted a solid premiere when it launched in the 10 p.m. hour of NBC’s Friday block Oct. 25, averaging a 1.8 rating in the adults 18-to-49 demographic and 5.3 million total viewers. The Nov. 8 outing saw a steep dip, losing nearly a full ratings point, but initial DVR returns are promising as three days’ worth of time-shifting saw the pilot improve 56 percent to a 2.8 rating.
The series is said to be a passion project for NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt, who courted Rhys Meyers for the role of America’s first vampire. In Greenblatt’s previous position as president of entertainment at Showtime, he oversaw Tudors, which starred Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII. (The actor’s performance brought him two Golden Globe nominations.)
Obviously, Greenblatt is abundantly familiar with the actor’s personal issues, which include several stints in rehab and alcohol-related detainments at airports in Dublin, Paris and New York. According to sources, the star’s problems recurred while filming Dracula when, following a meltdown, he returned to London and quietly was hospitalized for a short time. Nonetheless, all 10 episodes of the Cole Haddon-created series have been delivered. Sources say Rhys Meyers, who required a sober companion to accompany him on set, returned to rehab as soon as filming was completed.
NBC declined comment on the situation. A source close to Rhys Meyers observes that the show is doing well, adding, “Jonathan’s in a really good place, and he’s healthy.”
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