It sucks to be immortal.
Another bloody classic comes to The Arts Centre Gold Coast in August when Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ receives the shake & stir treatment. This critically acclaimed production sees the company behind the multi-award winning productions of ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’ apply its special brand of twisted energy to Stoker’s tale.
Arguably the greatest Gothic horror story of all time, ‘Dracula’ follows young lawyer Jonathan Harker on his visit to Castle Dracula deep within the Carpathian mountains. Alone and trapped within the castle walls, Jonathan discovers that Dracula wants more than his presence at the dinner table – he might also be the main course.
In honour of the classic tale swooping into our midst, we took a look at just five of the many actors who have portrayed the intriguing immortal throughout film and television history.
1. Bela Lugosi
Béla Lugosi (20 October, 1882 – 16 August 1956) was a Hungarian actor. Lugosi first played Count Dracula on the the stage, but most famously later did the first official 1931 film adaptation of Dracula for Universal Pictures. To many film lovers and critics alike, Lugosi’s portrayal is widely regarded as the definitive Dracula. Lugosi had a powerful presence and authority on-screen. The slow, deliberate pacing of his performance gave his Dracula the air of a walking, talking corpse, which terrified 1931 movie audiences. He was just as compelling with no dialogue, and the many close-ups of Lugosi’s face in icy silence jumped off the screen. With this mesmerising performance, Dracula became Bela Lugosi’s signature role, his Dracula a cultural icon, and he himself a legend in the classic Universal Horror film series.
2. Christopher Lee
Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee (May 27, 1922 – June 7, 2015) was an English actor, author and singer. Lee played Count Dracula in many different films, most notably the long running Hammer Dracula series. Lee also appeared as Dracula in the 1970 Spanish/German adaptation and the 1972 French comedy, ‘Dracula and Son’. Lee played Dracula mores times in film than any other actor. In his second outing, ‘Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ in 1965, Lee’s role has no lines, he merely hisses his way through the film. Stories vary as to the reason for this: Lee states he refused to speak the poor dialogue he was given, but screenwriter Jimmy Sangster claims that the script did not contain any lines for the character. In all, Lee played Dracula ten times: seven films for Hammer Productions, once for Jesse Franco’s Count Dracula (1970), uncredited in Jerry Lewis’s One More Time (1970) and Édouard Molinaro’s Dracula and Son (1976).
3. Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is an Irish actor and model. He portrays Dracula in the series, ‘Dracula’. The series introduces Dracula as he arrives in London, posing as an American entrepreneur who maintains that he wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. In reality, he hopes to wreak revenge on the people who ruined his life centuries earlier. However, his plan is complicated when he falls in love with a woman who seems to be a reincarnation of his dead wife. Meyers is best-known for playing King Henry VIII in The Tudors. He has also played Elvis in a TV miniseries, which earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
4. Gerard Butler
Gerard James Butler (born 13 November 1969) is a Scottish actor who has appeared on film, stage, and television. He portrayed Dracula, in the film ‘Dracula 2000’. “I am Dracula,” he said in an interview. “I’m the guy wearing the clothes. I’m the guy wearing the makeup. Of course you have to go somewhere else to play this character, but I’m surprised by what I found when I came to play this role. You remember why you were cast, what you did, how you read for the part, and that to me was incredibly instinctive. I just had a feeling of how this guy should be. And that’s what I did. And they liked that. They liked the intensity and the slightly crazy feel that there was a canvas you could change at any time. And the sexiness of the character as well.”
5. Gary Oldman
Gary Leonard Oldman is a English actor, filmmaker and musician. He portrayed Dracula, in ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’. A commercially successful film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, it was a box office success worldwide. Oldman’s performance was recognised as the best male performance of 1992 by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, which awarded Oldman the Best Actor award. Oldman would later go on to become a popular portrayer of villains. While his career is long and diverse, Oldman is best known for his roles as Commissioner James Gordon on Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy and Sirius Black in the Harry Potter Series.
You can catch the shake & stir production of ‘Dracula’ at The Arts Centre Gold Coast on 8 and 9 August. Tickets available here.