Wednesday, November 27, 2019
In the comments to some of my posts about Dracula adaptations, an Anonymous person and I got to talking about our own fan casts for the story. Anonymous mentioned Jeremy Irons as a possibility for Dracula and suggested Christoph Waltz as a potential Van Helsing. Waltz is an especially cool choice since he's actually the actor I imagined for the Van Helsing-inspired character as I was reading Dacre Stoker and JD Barker's Dracul. Anonymous went on to offer Saorise Ronan as a promising Mina, which would be awesome. I'll watch Ronan in anything, but especially as my favorite gothic hero.
This of course got me thinking about my own preferences for a Dracula cast. In the interest of variety, I'm intentionally picking actors that Anonymous did not mention, but my dream version would absolutely steal one of their ideas: splitting the story into two films.
I tried to think of cool subtitles for each movie, but couldn't, so I'm going the same route as the recent It films and just calling these Dracula, Part One and Dracula, Part Two.
Part One would skip the Harker-in-Transylvania stuff and go straight to Mina and Lucy in Whitby. It would be all mystery as the Demeter arrives in port and Lucy starts sleepwalking again before getting sick. Meanwhile, Mina would express worry over her missing fiancé and would leave to find him just about the time that Van Helsing shows up to assist with Lucy. The film would end with Lucy's final death at the hands of Van Helsing and her suitors. Then, as an epilogue - maybe a post-credits scene - Mina arrives back in London, newly married to Jonathan, and he spots Dracula in the street. I love that chilling image as a way to finish the movie. All credit to Anonymous for thinking of it
Part Two would open in flashback to Jonathan's arrival in Transylvania and his captivity at the castle. When he escapes and is hospitalized, the nuns send for Mina, who arrives to marry him and transport him back to England. That's where they learn about what happened with Lucy, and Mina becomes Dracula's new target.
So who plays whom? Let's start with Mina and Lucy, since they're the focus of the first film. Mina was easy for me to cast, because when I think of horror and young actors these days, Anya Taylor-Joy is the first person to pop into my head. From The Witch and Morgan to Split and Marrowbone, Taylor-Joy has embraced the scary stuff and she's extremely good in it.
For Lucy, I like Mia Goth. I mean, to start with, I just love her name. Mia Goth. But she's another cool actor with a lot of horror already in her filmography. She was in Marrowbone with Taylor-Joy, but also A Cure for Wellness and the recent Suspiria remake. She and Taylor-Joy also both have great looks. They're not just beautiful, they're eerily beautiful and will look great running around ruined abbeys, castles, and cemeteries in white dresses.
Lucy's fiancé Arthur is usually cast as blonde and generically noble-looking. And honestly, that's how I usually imagine him. But why not do something different and cast a face with some character? Will Poulter has already played a gothic nobleman in The Little Stranger and he's got this quietly dangerous strength that would bring great tension to the scenes when he's questioning Van Helsing's theories about Lucy.
Quincey Morris is an American cowboy, so I wanted a young, rugged actor from the States and preferably from Texas. After racking my brain to come up with someone in the right age range, I decided that accents can indeed be faked and went with my heart. I'm casting John Boyega.
That leaves Jack Seward from Lucy's suitors. The good doctor will do nicely as a thin geeky type, so I'm casting one of my favorite British young people, Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Love Actually, The Maze Runner).
Sneaking around the background of Part One will be Dr Seward's patient, Renfield, a man whose purpose in the plot won't be fully revealed until Part Two. According to Seward in the novel, Renfield is in his late 50s. This has got to be someone with some range, so I picked Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, The World is Not Enough, Once Upon a Time).
And finally - for Part One - we need to cast Van Helsing. Anonymous' Christoph Waltz probably would have been my first choice, but since I'm intentionally trying to pick differently, I think Werner Herzog would be really cool. He has the added benefit of having directed his own Dracula movie with 1979's Nosferatu the Vampyre.
In Part Two, we bring in the other two, important characters starting with Jonathan Harker. I like Dev Patel. Harker needs to be heroic; someone to relate to and feel bad about when things go horribly for him. Patel is super charismatic and he's already got experience in the Victorian setting with the upcoming The Personal History of David Copperfield.
And finally, we need a Dracula. A few years ago, I would have hesitated to suggest Benedict Cumberbatch for the only reason that he was on the verge of becoming over-exposed. He's not as ubiquitous these days though and he's easily my top preference for the part: thin, handsome, dangerous, and that voice. (Second choice - after seeing that photo with Mia Goth above - would be Jason Isaacs.) We'll have to age him up for the Transylvania scenes, but I prefer that over casting an older actor to age down.
So that's how I'd do it. I'd love to hear thoughts or suggestions of your own in the comments. This kind of exercise is most fun when discussed.