Nicolas Cage Says ‘Malignant’ Inspired His Take on Dracula, Because Talent Recognizes Talent
It’s a bit surprising that Nicolas Cage hasn’t played Dracula before, but he’ll get the opportunity to do exactly that this year, in Universal’s Renfield, a reimagining of Bram Stoker’s classic gothic horror story, told from the perspective of the vampire’s lackey. Cage told Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast that he looked for inspiration in James Wan’s very recent horror film Malignant, which has arguably already acquired cult status.
Starring Nicholas Hoult in the titular role, Renfield marks a refreshing change of pace for Universal, which had previously tried to ape the Marvel Cinematic Universe in its attempts to revamp its legacy horror characters for a contemporary audience. Cage’s comments about taking inspiration from the very campy Malignant could hint at where his mind is at when it comes to playing Dracula. He said:
“I want it to pop in a unique way from how we’ve seen it played. So I’m thinking to really focus on the movement of the character. You know, I saw Malignant and I thought what she did with those moves — and even Ringu with Sadako [Yamamura]… I want to look at what we can explore with this movement and voice.”
Cage also studied previous portrayals of the character, which include Bela Lugosi’s performance in the classic 1931 film, and Frank Langella’s performance in the 1979 film. Cage also watched his uncle Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 Dracula movie, which he described as “sumptuous.”
But what makes Renfield different, he said, is that it is a comedy. Cage added:
“And when you get that tone right — comedy and horror — like American Werewolf in London, it’s a blast. It’s got to be a bulls-eye. But that’s what I’m looking for, something new to bring to the character, and also that perfect tone of comedy and horror.”
After a string of direct-to-video releases in recent years, the Oscar-winner appears to be getting back on track; he delivered among the most acclaimed performances of his career in Pig. He will soon be seen as an exaggerated version of himself in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, a film that pokes fun at the eccentric persona that Cage has developed in recent years.
Directed by Chris McKay, who is fresh off of The Tomorrow War, Renfield is written by Ryan Ridley (Rick and Morty) from an original story outline by The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman.
Malignant was one of the many casualties of Warner Bros’ controversial 2021 release strategy, which saw each of its films debut day-and-date on the HBO Max streaming service, essentially killing their box office chances. The divisive horror picture, which was declared by our very own Vinnie Mancuso as his favorite of the year, closed its box office run with $34 million against a reported budget of $40 million.
Stay tuned to Collider for more updates on Renfield, and whatever Ukrainian apocalypse comedy Cage chooses to do next.
Nicolas Cage cannot be defined by terms like “good” or “bad”.
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