Your character Anna has quite a story to tell. What’s her background?
She’s a gypsy princess and 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. She’s got the responsibility of having to get rid of Dracula, so she teams up with Van Helsing, reluctantly, because she doesn’t think he’ll be any good.
It’s unusual to get so much background on these classic monsters, don’t you think?
Yeah, they’re defined. Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein. So, you don’t have to play to the stereotypes and I think it makes it much more interesting. It adds something unique to the creatures. We all have this preconceived notion as to what they are. In the story, obviously, they’re all together and interconnected, that makes their relationships really unique so it’s sort of like, ‘We know the creatures, now we’re going to run with them.’
Do you bring anything new to the Dracula character?
I’d say there are quite a lot of things [about him] that I haven’t seen, particularly. I really was keen on not doing him as a heinous arch-villain. But as person who was, at some state, a complex psychological being and a warrior on par with Van Helsing, and in fact a sort of brother in arms to Van Helsing. So one thing I attached myself to quite early was [the background to the character]. They come from the foothills of the Carpathians and nobody knows what the hell people looked like or spoke like back then, you know, 500 years ago… one thing that I kind of attached myself to was a sort of gypsy thing. There’s 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.
Physicality? Wire stunts?
Yeah, it was great fun. I was working quite closely with a great stunt team with wires and I was hanging from trees for hours and swinging from vines and flailing around and getting bruised, getting smashed up a little bit. It was really fun. We pretty much covered the whole of the transformation bits, which is lucky because I’m pretty exhausted.
In the designing of the sets, how influenced were you by original Frankenstein director James Whale and those classics?
I wanted to pay tribute to them, so in the laboratory, especially, you see the influence. Obviously, we bring it up to date for modern audiences. In the actual instruments in the lab, you’ll see the shape of the lab itself is like a cone shape like in the original film, so I took the basic elements then embellished them to my own sort of style.
by Judy Sloane