Dracula to be hero of his own story, say makers of new BBC/Netfilx adaptation
Ever since Bram Stoker penned his ever popular Gothic horror novel, Dracula has been one of the genre’s most enduring villains – his exploits terrifying generations of readers and cinema goers alike.
Traditionally, little is known about the vampire himself, an obscure figure who remains in the shadows, emerging only to suck the blood of his innocent victims and spread his curse of the undead.
But the latest adaptation of the legend now promises to shed new light on Count Dracula, the Transylvanian nobleman whose arrival at the north east port of Whitby sets off a train of grisly events.
Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the writers behind BBC One’s Sherlock, have promised to make Dracula “the hero of his own story” in their forthcoming TV adaptation of the novel.
In Stoker’s original novel, published in 1897, Dracula is only ever seen through the eyes of his victims of those trying to vanquish him.
Crucially, however, Moffat and Gariss intend to tell the story of the vampire from his own perspective.
Gatiss, who has also written several episodes of Doctor Who – including The Unquiet Dead – told The Radio Times: “We sort of made a promise to ourselves and the people who are making it, paying for it, that we’d make Dracula the hero of his own story, and less of a shadowy presence. And that’s a really clever idea, but we had to make good on it!”
Moffat, whose writing credits include doctor Who and Jeckyll, BBC One’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s gothic novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, added: “There’s lots of things that are challenging about Dracula. Having an evil lead character is actually really difficult.
“That’s been the main challenge I think. But how we’ve handled, that you’ll have to wait and see. We quickly found out why he’s often kept a shadowy presence. So it’s hard work, but I think it’s worked. It’s worked well I think, so far.”
In a joint statement the pair said: “There have always been stories about great evil. What’s special about Dracula, is that Bram Stoker gave evil its own hero.”
Filming on the three-part mini series, jointly produced by the BBC and Netflix, started earlier this month, with the Danish actor Claes Bang starring as Count Dracula.
The writers described their star as “tall, dark and gruesome all at once”, saying Bang is the perfect choice to “re-introduce the world to Dracula, the vampire who made evil sexy”.
Bang, best known for his roles in The Girl in the Spider’s Web, The Affair and Borgen, said last November after being cast for the part:
“I’m so excited that I get to dig in to this iconic and super-interesting character. Yes he’s evil, but there’s also so much more to him, he’s charismatic, intelligent, witty and sexy.
“I realise that there’s a lot to live up to with all the amazing people that have played him over the years, but I feel so privileged to be taking on this incredible character.”
Some of the scenes for the feature-length episodes have been reportedly filmed at the Slovakian city of Banská Štiavnica, where the turreted Old Castle has been used as the backdrop for Count Dracula’s Transylvanian lair.
Moffat has said that while they intended to give Dracula the Sherlock make-over he reassured fans of the Victorian setting of Stoker’s novel that he and Gatiss would not be modernising the story.
Earlier this month Moffat posted a photograph on Instagram of some of the cast and crew on set, with the caption: “Night has fallen … it’s a new dawn.”
Dracula, which will also star John Heffernan (Collateral, The Crown), Joanna Scanlan (Hold The Sunset, No Offence) and Dolly Wells (Can You Ever Forgive Me), is expected to premiere later this year or early 2020 on BBC One in the UK and on Netflix in the rest of the world.