Nicolas Cage is set to take on one of the most iconic roles any actor can play, Dracula, in the upcoming dark comedy “Renfield” at Universal Pictures and Skybound Entertainment.
Nicholas Hoult has been set to star as the title character of R.M. Renfield, an inmate at a lunatic asylum who was thought to be suffering from delusions but is actually a servant of the Transylvanian count.
“The LEGO Batman Movie” and “The Tomorrow War” helmer Chris McKay directs and produces the film in which Renfield, tired of the centuries he has worked as the dark prince’s lackey, finds a new lease on life in modern-day New Orleans when he falls in love with a feisty but perennially aggressive traffic cop.
Cage has previously indicated he studied prior interpretations of the character on screen by the likes of Bela Lugosi, Frank Langella, and Gary Oldman, and his aim is to bring something different and to really nail the comedy and horror blend.
Speaking with Empire Magazine more recently, Cage talked about his approach to the performance saying his Dracula is less classic vampire and more something inspired by one of the most iconic artists of the 20th century:
“When I got a sense of where McKay wanted to go, I realized the movie has a comedic, pop art attitude. So I thought: ‘This will be a pop-art Dracula.’ Warhol did a great black-on-black Dracula. This is in that Warhol vein.”
He also is big on nailing the physical movement of the character. He has gone back to Max Schreck’s iconic Count Orlok performance in 1922’s “Nosferatu” as an inspiration for his physicality, including various gestures which he pulled off and hopes will stay in the film:
“I noticed all these little gestures that are, by today’s standards, ‘over the top.’ When Max Schreck does that [snaps his wrist and extends his fingers] and puffs into smoke, I was like, ‘What is that? Is it dance? What is he conveying there?’
I said to Chris McKay that I really wanted to find a place to put that in Renfield. I haven’t seen the movie, so I don’t know if they kept it, but I tried. It’s a largely studio picture, so I wanted to play with: ‘What can I get away with here?’ If you’re playing Dracula, you have a lot of latitude.”
The film also stars Awkwafina, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Ben Schwartz, Adrian Martinez and Bess Rous. The project is based on a pitch by “The Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman and penned by “Rick and Morty” writer Ryan Ridley.
No official photos from the film have been released yet, though Cage has been photographed on the set sporting ashen skin, blue/grey lips, a crushed red velvet suit and loads of gold rings.
“Renfield” is slated for release on April 14th 2023, which suggests we could see the first trailer sometime this month.