When you’re making a movie about one of the most famous characters in fiction, you’ve got to do things a little differently. No one wants to see the same Dracula they’ve seen a thousand times before, a fact the makers of Dracula Untold — available to own now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD — kept in mind while crafting this origin story.
Luke Evans’ Prince of Wallachia, who sacrifices everything to keep his family and people safe, is most definitely unlike any other Vlad to grace the big screen. Here are some of the more unconventional means by which he was brought to life (and undeath):
1. Northern Ireland Became Transylvania
Director Gary Shore, who hails from Dublin, chose the wild landscapes of neighboring Northern Ireland to stand in for the rocky Eastern European land. Production designer François Audouy then modeled the master vampire’s cave after Giant’s Causeway, a unique rock formation along the coast caused by a volcanic eruption.
2. One Village Was Harmed in the Making of This Film
Well, a fake one anyway. In a set visit interview with reporters, Audouy described how they found the reproduction of an old village in a closed-down museum and burned it down without abandon to show the aftermath of the Turks’ invasion. “We’re making like a 15th century “Apocalypse Now” in Northern Ireland, which is really fun to do,” he said.
3. Dracula’s Castle Has Teeth
Though this is not exactly Bram Stoker’s vampire, Audouy snuck in some visual nods to the gothic monster, particularly in the Great Hall set, which was built entirely for camera, and the castle’s exterior, which was mostly made with CGI. “If you look at the detail in the Great Hall, you see a lot of triangles and canine-type shapes, which seemed like a good fit to his character. So we have subtle cues to teeth and toothlike shapes in the architecture of the castle. If you look at the castle in silhouette you’ll see fangs in the very top part, and lots of details within the architecture itself are triangular and pointy in a fun way.”
4. The Turks Had Their Own Burning Man
When planning how to arrange the Turks’ camp of 100,000 men, Audouy turned to another example of large-scale camping: the annual music and art festival in Nevada. “It’s actually modeled on the circular sort of layout of Burning Man. That was kind of the inspiration that kicked it off for me.”
5. A Million Bats Do Vlad’s Dirty Work
Visual effects company Framestore stepped in for a lot of the movie’s magic, particularly making large armies of men, and an even larger army of bats, controlled by the prince. And not a single winged creature was real. They used motion capture to create the movement of bats in the formation of a man, and then combined detailed digital animation and FX to multiply them and swoop down on the Turkish army.
6. Luke Evans’ Body Is All Real, However
The actor bulked up for months, taking a trainer with him on other movie shoots, even, and couldn’t let up during shooting. Even though he was working 14-hour days, and often couldn’t sit for four-hour stretches because his costume wouldn’t let him, he’d work out with his trainer for at least 45 minutes every night. Then he’d go home, eat an “incredibly boring” dinner, crash at 10:30, and wake up at 4 to do it all over again.
7. He Almost Lost an Eye in Battle
Those sword fights look quite graceful on screen, but Evans and co-star Dominic Cooper said they could barely move in their armor. This turned dangerous when a sword hit Evans just above the eye. “Half an inch lower, and I probably would have lost my eyesight,” he told Men’s Fitness UK, joking, “It’s part of the job!”
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