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Feature: Van Helsing

A New Breed of Monsters

Van Helsing Van Helsing battles Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolf Man in the new movie extravaganza! We meet the performers who are taking the monster roles...

In the late 1800s in Eastern Europe, Helsing, portrayed by Hugh Jackman, is on the trail of Dracula when he meets Anna [Kate Beckinsale] a gypsy princess whose family has been wiped out by the Vampire, and they join forces to save the world from these dark foes.

British actor Will Kemp portrays Anna’s brother, Velkan, prince of the gypsies, sworn to vanquish Dracula. “Unless my family does, they can’t enter the gates of heaven,” notes the actor. “He’s quite hotheaded and proud. When they’re trying to trap one of the wolves something goes horribly wrong, and he becomes the Wolf Man.”

Kemp likes to joke that he plays two out of three characters in the film. “I get to transform from this young prince into the werewolf. The majority of the werewolf is CGI, so I only get to play half of it – that’s the way I look at it, I play the prince and that grey area of half-Human, half-creature. And it’s quite hard playing half a character, but I hope there’s a human element that the audience grasps of how tragic it is, and at least gets the conflict that is happening within him; the fact that he loves the people that he is being forced to fight. We all have to fight the werewolf within us somehow.”

Richard Roxburgh, who portrays Dracula, shares Kemp’s vision, acknowledging, “I was really keen on not doing him as a heinous arch-villain, but as a person who was, at some state, a complex psychological being, and a warrior on par with Van Helsing. One thing I attached myself to quite early on was a gypsy [concept], because he comes from the Carpathians and nobody knows what the hell people looked like or spoke like 500 years ago. There has always been Romany going through that area. There’s a look that’s drawn from that history. And, apart from that, there are sound psychological reasons for why Dracula does the things that he does in this story, and I like that.”

Shuler Hensley, who portrays Frankenstein’s monster, concurs that he also approached his character “from a Human aspect. Not so much as a monster, but as someone who is an outcast. The monster label is basically the physical appearance. I think this is more of a creature you can relate to. If you separate his look, he’s really just a Human being who wants to be loved and to be a part of society. He’s more of a tragic hero. In this movie, Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein are more defined, so you don’t have to play the stereotypes, and I think it makes it much more interesting. It adds something unique to the creatures. We all have these preconceived notions as to what they are. In the story, they’re all together and interconnected, that makes their relationship really unique so, it’s sort of like, ‘We know the creatures, now we’re going to run with them.’”

by Judy Sloane

Get the full interviews in
Shivers #112

Photo © Universal Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Shivers #112, see below for ordering options
Shivers #112
May 2004
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