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Feature: Van Helsing

Deliver Us from Evil

Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing One man against an army of movie monsters hardly seems fair. But when the man is Van Helsing and he’s played by Hugh Jackman, the odds suddenly improve…

Although the character of Professor Abraham Van Helsing, the Vampire hunter who matches wits with Dracula in Bram Stoker’s popular novel, was elderly, when director Stephen Sommers approached Universal Pictures about re-imagining the franchise he had Australian heart-throb, Hugh Jackman, firmly in mind. Sommers came up with another unique concept, by writing a script in which three of Universal’s most famous monsters (Wolf Man, Count Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster) are the catalysts that propel the action.

All the sets in Van Helsing are big and breathtaking. The day I visited the studio in Playa Del Rey, California, the production was working in Dracula’s dining room, which looked like it had been uninhabited and untouched for a century. Covered in a thick film of dust, there were even two or three rats [with their trainers close at hand] running around the large oblong dining table. Hugh Jackman was eager to let me know what exactly what they were shooting. “At the beginning of the movie Anna’s brother is bitten and turns into a werewolf,” he said. “However, in the early stages of becoming a werewolf, there are moments where you transform back into being a Human. Before the first full moon, the full power of the werewolf hasn’t taken you over. So here we are: I’m after Dracula and she convinces me to go and find her brother and try and save him. So we’ve been tracking the werewolf and we come to this place, only to find that Dracula is here, and that’s where I’m going to leave it.”

After shooting several takes where he and Beckinsale stealthily enter Dracula’s dining room, the actor, who wears shoulder-length hair for the role, was able to sit down and talk more about the movie: Is that real hair? “It is real, but it’s not all mine. Although by now, I think my hair’s got to be pretty long. Sometimes the crew mentions I look a little like the fourth Charlie’s Angel.

Did you come up with a back-story for Van Helsing? “He’s more than a Vampire slayer, you will find out in this. The main story involves him hunting down Dracula, but he’s kind of doing work for the Catholic Church. At the beginning of it, he’s doing stuff that is literally under the radar. Imagine, if you will, someone who is possessed or an exorcism fails: what do they do with that possessed person, whether it be Jekyll and Mr Hyde or Frankenstein? All these mythological creatures are on the loose, and Van Helsing is sent out to take care of them. So he’s a warrior. By the nature of the job, lonely and mysterious and almost like a spy. So in many ways he is misunderstood by the world and no one really knows who he is, except by what he leaves in his wake.”

by Judy Sloane

Get the full interview, and more on the film in
Starburst #308

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

Taken from
Starburst #308, see below for ordering options
Starburst #308
March 2004
ships from Mar 9 2004
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