BITING BACK!

Category: Dracula 2000 News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: December 19, 2000 | Publication: Popcorn.co.uk | Author: Joel Crawley
Publication/Article Link:http://www.popcorn.co.uk/

Dracula has risen from the dead. Again. Cinema's most famous orthodontically-challenged character gets another bite at the cherry with the release of 'Dracula 2001'. This time round, the filmmakers get round the problem of having a pasty vampire by casting a Scotsman, Gerard Butler, in the central role. 'Trainspotting' star Jonny Lee Miller, meanwhile, stars as a budding vampire slayer.

JOEL CRAWLEY meets up with Butler and Miller to talk about things that go bump in the night, going down to New Orleans and why they like scary movies...

Popcorn: What movies switched you on to the horror genre?
Gerard Butler: John Carpenter's movies were big for me. 'Salem's Lot' - I don't know why - caught my imagination when the vampire comes flying in through the window or the little boy floats in.
Jonny Lee Miller: I saw 'An American Werewolf In London' when I was really little and that was terrifying, but I think the scariest horror film I've ever seen is 'Jacob's Ladder'.

We're used to seeing a Christopher Lee-style Dracula whereas yours, Gerard, is more Byronic. How much influence did you have in how your Dracula looked?
GB: Can I be honest with you? Not an awful lot. The costumes were pretty much made for me. I think I started filming the day after I arrived because I was doing something else and I had a lot of ideas about the way I wanted to look and pretty much none of them happened. There were another 12 guys making those decisions for me.

Was the dialogue always so minimal in the film?
GB: No, that's a very good point, no it wasn't. I guess I didn't do it [the dialogue] very well so they cut a lot of it out and [producer] Bob Weinstein was like [in American accent], "We want a cool, sexy Dracula, he doesn't have to talk."

Why do you think vampire movies have proved so popular over the years?
JLM: I think it's to do with the attractive side of evil. You know you're immortal, you can do whatever you want and get away with it. It's the seduction of it - I think people are really into that. Sex is a big thing these days and that's a big part of the vampire thing.
GB: I agree with Jonny, I think there's something in the human psyche that's very appealing about the dark side, about evil, about violence, and I think Dracula represents the ultimate of that. He is the ultimate bad-ass, especially for guys. He can do pretty much what he wants and yet there's a depth to him as well: misunderstood, furious, anxious, frustrated.

Did you get the sense you were working on a Wes Craven franchise?
JLM: Not personally speaking, no. You don't think franchise. Wes Craven, when he came down: (a) he's a very nice man and {b} in this kind of - I promised myself I wouldn't use the word but there you go - genre that you know he's well versed in, he's going to have people around him and he's going to have very capable people there who know how to deal with horror and stuff. Of course you're aware of it, but it doesn't filter down.

You filmed a lot on location in New Orleans. How much fun was that?
GB: When I was filming outside the Virgin Megastore, there was a car that drove up and down about three times with two women baring their breasts, so that pretty much sums up New Orleans! I think I gave up within one hour of trying to be sensible in New Orleans and I don't think it was a bad thing. I'm very easily drawn to the dark side, and that was perfect for the movie. It's a hot, sweaty vibrant dark town and it really helped create the feel for the cameras, for the look and for you. The upside of that is, when you're not filming you go out and have fun. You wander the streets until six in the morning.

How did you cope with the physically challenging aspects of the film?
JLM: The challenging part of doing stuff like that is when you've got someone telling you: "Now they're flying across the room at you and it's the first time you've ever seen a vampire." To me, that's more challenging than doing a fight sequence because that's quite easy. You just do that and then the stunt men do the dangerous stuff. But when you're acting to a piece of sticky tape on a camera and it's supposed to be the first time you've ever seen someone come back from the dead, I found that much more challenging.
GB: I had to do a lot of action stuff and stuff on wires and spend nine hours in make up to look like a monster and having white contact lenses put in and then having a harness shoved in my groin and then turned upside down and hanging from a wire. I found that really quite unpleasant! And in certain situations you're asked to do that and act at the same time and that can be quite difficult. And then I had these bloody teeth so I couldn't help biting myself and I wasn't very considerate of the other actors - whenever I went to bite their necks, I'd really go for it. Contact lenses - I couldn't get them in for 40 minutes and I was crying.
You see the coolness of Dracula, hopefully, in the movie, but I certainly wasn't that cool when I was filming it. I had to be tied up and submerged in swamp water on my final day and there was an alligator about 20 feet away that everybody was feeding with turkey and I was tied down so I couldn't get out and I would have to fly out of the water and I put ear plugs and everything up my nose but it didn't matter, it was like two hot spikes going right through my brain. That was particularly uncomfortable.

What about the possibility of a sequel?
GB: I don't know. It was a really cool, fun movie but, oh I'm not even going to say it.
JLM: I don't go in for doing the same kind of thing twice generally, so it would have to be pretty special to do it again.

What was it like working with an old pro like Christopher Plummer?
JLM: He's just fantastic. He's actually incredibly funny and he just jokes around a lot. I had just seen 'The Insider' and that was really strong in my mind and I was just blown away by his performance, so I used to bug him about that all the time. He's extremely professional but he's just one of those people who's easy to get on with and has a wicked sense of humour. I'd love to do something else with him.
GB: My first day filming, I had to grab Christopher Plummer and throw him around the room. I had also just seen 'The Insider' and I couldn't help getting visions of him out of my head. Suddenly I was Dracula and I was standing in front of Christopher Plummer being told to grab his lapels and throw himself against the wall and I thought I'd add to it by going for a kiss on the cheek. He really helped me on my first day because I did suddenly stand there and thought, "Holy s***, I'm Dracula!" He was the funniest guy and I almost thought he was doing it deliberately just to help me. He was great to work with - he was having fun and - bang! - next minute he's all action.

What's next for both of you?
JLM: I'm currently working on a film in Ireland called 'The Escapist'.
GB: I'm over in Ireland doing this insane $95m Disney movie with Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale, which is called 'Reign Of Fire'.