Entertainment Why Nicolas Cage is coming back to Hollywood’s big-screen with monster movie Renfield
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Why Nicolas Cage is coming back to Hollywood’s big-screen with monster movie Renfield

Nicolas Cage Dracula
Nicolas Cage will reimagine Dracula in Universal Pictures Renfield. Photo: TND
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With more than 100 films under his belt, Nicolas Cage is no stranger to playing any role handed to him, whether it’s as a parolee, a ghost rider or seeker of national treasure.

Now the Kick-Ass and Vampire’s Kiss legend, famous for his method acting in “many indulgently quirky and some downright esoteric” indies, is back on the big screen.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news this week that our beloved Pig hunter is returning to a big-studio movie and will play a blood-sucking Dracula in Universal Pictures’ big-budget monster movie Renfield.

The character of RM Renfield comes from Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, who was an inpatient in a mental asylum obsessed with drinking blood, under the delusion it would make him immortal.

“He bows at the feet of Dracula, who, in the very definition of toxic work environments and co-dependent relationships, feeds him insects and rats and dangles everlasting life in front of him,” THR reported on December 1.

Nicholas Hoult (The Great) will play the title role of the unhinged henchman and Dracula lackey.

And on December 2, it was announced Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) has also a secured an as yet undisclosed role.

Dwight Frye as Renfield in the 1931 film Dracula and British actor Nicholas Hoult who will play the title role. Photo: Getty

Cage’s return to the big screen after a decade’s absence could have something to do with Universal loosening its rules around allowing filmmakers to be more creative.

This is appealing for Cage, who abandoned Hollywood due to its structure and commercial deals.

“When I was making Jerry Bruckheimer movies back-to-back, that was just a high-pressure game. There were a lot of fun moments, but at the same time, there was also ‘We wrote this line. It has to be said this way’,” Cage told Variety in July.

“They’d put a camera on you and photograph you, and order you: ‘Now say the roller skate training wheels line.’ I’d say, ‘I’ll do that but I’d also like to try it this way.’ On independent movies, you have more freedom to experiment and be fluid. There’s less pressure and there’s more oxygen in the room.”

Deadline now reports “Universal remains committed to creating filmmaker-driven projects based on characters from the studio’s vast monsters legacy”.

“Instead of prescribing a mandated updating of these monster stories and making them all part of a larger scheme, the studio loosened these restrictions and open-sourced to filmmakers, who were inspired to create their own unique stories.”

Deadline reports the movie is believed to take place during the present day and is “not a period piece”.

“It is unclear how Renfield takes on the dynamic as plot details are being kept in the coffin, but the project is described as a modern-day adventure story that is comedic in tone,” adds THR.

On board the Demeter, the vampire Count Orlok, played by German actor Max Schreck (1879-1936), in a scene from 1922 expressionist horror film Nosferatu. Photo: Getty

What will Cage’s Dracula look like?

Many iterations of the Dracula genre are set in eastern Europe in and around the Transylvanian city of Sighisoara, Romania, the birthplace of the 15th-century Romanian military hero Vlad ‘The Impaler’  Dracula Tepes on which the legend is based.

There have been more than 200 movies made about Dracula and his vampire subculture, each with its own human monster characteristics, sidekicks, victims and storyline.

Cage’s Dracula could be a beautiful blend of his Vampire’s Kiss –  eccentric, funny, sexy and mixed with a misunderstood gentleman who needs blood to survive.

Variety reports Cage does take method acting to the next level, taking out his own teeth to feel the pain of a Vietnam vet, gorging on red meat in crime drama Joe: “In the case of Renfield it could mean plenty of garlic in Cage’s future.”

According to Screen Rant on November 27, Dracula “will continue to soldier on as one of the most enduring monsters of all time, thanks to a mixture of charisma, potent sex appeal, and a timeless Machiavellian stereotype that continues to entertain – and frighten – fans of vampire flicks related, or unrelated, to Stoker’s work”.

“He continues to get the silver screen treatment over one hundred years after Bram Stoker immortalised the character … and for good reason.

“As far as movie villains go, he’s one of the most fascinating, frightening, and charismatic of the bunch.

“As the years tick on, filmmakers find new and inventive ways of bringing the Dracula character to the forefront, tapping in on centuries of superstition and historical culture in order to scare audiences.”

TND’s top five Draculas:

  • Bela Legosi – Dracula (1931), directed by Tod Browning for Universal.
  • Christopher Lee – played Dracula 10 times including Dracula (1958),  Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1965), Dracula Has Risen From The Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1969), Scars of Dracula (1970).
  • Jack Palance – Dracula (1974)
  • Adam Sandler – Hotel Transylvania (2012)
  • Luke Evans – Dracula Untold (2014)