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Feature: Van Helsing

Hugh Jackman cuts a dash as the eponymous hero in Van Helsing, fighting off an army of Universal horrors. We joined him for a quick bite…

Bram Stoker never expected this when he wrote Dracula. His 19th Century Vampire hunter, Van Helsing has turned into a full-blown monster hunter with a lot more to face than just the Count. This being a Universal picture, Van Helsing is faced with a set of classic creeps including Frankenstein’s monster, the Wolf Man and, of course, Dracula.

The man with the task of dispatching the baddies is Hugh Jackman, temporarily leaving aside his sleek Wolverine claws in favour of more antique weapons. “Van Helsing is more than a Vampire slayer,” claims Jackman.

“The main story involves him hunting down Dracula. He’s kind of doing work for the Catholic Church; imagine, if you will, someone who is possessed or an exorcism fails: what do they do with that possessed person, whether it’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde or Frankenstein? All these mythological creatures are on the loose. Van Helsing is sent out to take care of them. So he’s a warrior by nature of the job, lonely and mysterious and almost a spy. So in many ways he is misunderstood by the world, and he is operating on his own steam and no one really knows who he is, except by what he leaves in his wake.

“In terms of the character, Van Helsing is mysterious and enigmatic. Those kinds of roles in these movies are deceptively difficult to do, because you have to fill the inner life of the character in order to make relatively little dialogue get to the heart of the character. It’s harder to make people actually feel for him. That’s what makes it a challenge.

“He’s got personal issues, but I don’t want to get into that too much, because I will have to give the game away, but he’s an enigmatic character and is still trying to work out what drives him, and it’s also fair to say that in the beginning of this movie he’s a little lacking in motivation. He’s trying to understand why he’s doing it and it’s taking its toll on him – the killing and everything. Because when someone is killed in this movie, if they’re a possessed soul, upon their death they turn back into the physical visage of whoever they were before.”

Kate Beckinsale stars as Anna, a woman with almost as many problems as Van Helsing himself: “Anna is a gypsy princess and, aside from her brother, is the last in her family line to survive. The rest have been killed by Dracula, and if she gets killed there will be a curse on her family that none of them will be able to go into Heaven, so she’s got quite the responsibility to get rid of Dracula herself. She basically is off on a mission to find Dracula, and she teams up with Van Helsing, somewhat reluctantly because she doesn’t think he’ll be any good at it.”

by Judy Sloane

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Photo © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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