Renfield star Nicolas Cage says he always knew he needed to play Dracula at some point

(Image credit: Universal)

As a huge fan of Nosferatu, Renfield star Nicolas Cage has always felt a deep connection to Bram Stoker's Dracula. So when he meets Total Film to discuss playing the ancient vampire, the Hollywood legend says he felt it was only a matter of time before he played him.

"The concept of Dracula, in itself, is a challenge," muses Nicolas Cage in the latest issue of Total Film magazine, which features Renfield on the cover. "It’s been done so many times already. It’s been done very well and it’s also been done not very well. I certainly admire Christopher Lee and Frank Langella and Bela Lugosi and Gary [Oldman]. But I wanted to see if I could bring something fresh to the character. And I also kind of always knew I had to do it at some point." 

First meeting director Chris McKay over Zoom, Cage signed up immediately, instantly responding to the idea of a comedy horror tone pitched alongside An American Werewolf in London. By the time McKay called him back, Cage had already found the character – with the voice, manner and movement nailed.

"I went back to Christopher Lee, in terms of his manner of speaking, but that was really only a starting point," says Cage. "I knew Christopher. I did a small scene with him in Season of the Witch, and I liked him very much. We had a lot of nice conversations, and he reminded me quite a bit of my father, August. So from then on, my dad sort of became the main inspiration for me."

Wanting to give his Dracula an English cadence ("My dad was a literature professor, so he made a decision to speak with distinction"), Cage started weaving his own ideas into McKay’s script. Written here as a gaslighting narcissistic with his own power issues, Renfield’s Dracula pushed Cage to reach even deeper. "More importantly than borrowing from my father, or from Christopher Lee, it’s really about the psyche of the character," he drawls. "An addiction to blood is not unlike an addiction to alcohol or heroin or sex, so I thought about how that lust can drive someone into darker dimensions."


(Image credit: Universal)

For Cage, Renfield has also given him a lot more to think about for the future. "You know, there are some minor moments here where you get to see some of the pathos in Dracula’s eyes… and that made me think that maybe one day I might like to try for a whole movie where you’re really understanding the psyche of the character," he muses. "I didn’t really have the time to delve into that here."

Renfield opens in cinemas on April 14. For much more from stars Cage, Hoult, Awkwafina, and creators Ridley and McKay on reinventing a classic movie monster, grab a copy of the new issue of Total Film magazine when it hits shelves (and digital newsstands) this Thursday, March 2. Check out the covers below:

Total Film's Renfield covers.

(Image credit: Universal/Total Film)

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Paul Bradshaw is a freelance film journalist who writes frequent reviews and features for Total Film. He's also a member of the London Critic's Circle.

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