Dracula will creep his shadow onto the peak television scene (again,) soon enough. Plans from the former Doctor Who mastermind, Steven Moffat, and his co-creator on Sherlock, Mark Gatiss, for a new TV version of Bram Stoker’s iconic tome, Dracula, are about to come to fruition. After news of this project first arrived back in mid-2017, the latest news reveals who will be playing the eponymous vampire.
Danish actor Claes Bang has been cast as Dracula. You may recognize Bang from the The Girl in the Spider’s Web, The Square, or Danish series The Bridge and Borgen.
“I am thrilled to be taking on the role of Dracula, especially when the script is in the hands of the incredible talents of Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and the team responsible for Sherlock,” said Bang in an official press release. “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.”
The Dracula miniseries will be a co-production of BBC One and Netflix, set to manifest as three feature-length episodes that will air in the UK on the former and stream in the U.S. (and globally, sans China, where Netflix doesn’t operate,) on the latter. While no release date has been announced, the plans by co-creators Moffat and Gatiss will, according to the official description, “re-introduce the world to Dracula, the vampire who made evil sexy. In Transylvania in 1897, the blood-drinking Count is drawing his plans against Victorian London. And be warned: the dead travel fast.”
While the specific details of Moffat and Gatiss’s Dracula reinvention endeavor have not been revealed, they seem to be telegraphing a story about the subjective duality of evil and heroism. As the creative duo explain in a statement:
“There have always been stories about great evil. What’s special about Dracula, is that Bram Stoker gave evil its own hero.”
While one might expect a “Sherlock-y” reinvention when dealing with Moffat and Gatiss, the duo did confirm that the story for their version of Dracula will take place in its proper Victorian era time period in England and Transylvania. As Moffat told Graham Norton in a BBC Radio 2 interview earlier this year:
“We’re not modernizing it or anything, but we are doing a version of Dracula.”
Indeed, Moffat would go on to joke that Dracula won’t be solving any crimes in this new take. So, it seems that, tragically, the three seductive brides won’t be giving us a naughty tour of the Count’s Transylvanian mind palace, either.
Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content, chimes in on the statement announcing the pickup, lauding:
“Genius duo Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss turn their attentions to Dracula for unmissable event television on BBC One.”
Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says:
“Steven and Mark’s ingenious vision for Dracula is as clever as it is chilling. In their talented hands the fans will experience the power of Bram Stoker’s creation as if completely anew. We are thrilled to be collaborating with them and the brilliant team at Hartswood on yet another iconic British series.”
Larry Tanz, Vice President, Content Acquisition, Netflix, says:
“We can’t wait to bring Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ brilliant storytelling to our members around the world and we are eager to collaborate on yet another series with the BBC.”
Dracula has, of course, been adapted for stage, screen and TV countless times. Stoker wrote the first theatrical version, which was the adapted to film by F. W. Murnau with Nosferatu in 1922. Bela Lugosi also went from stage to screen when he starred in the bellwether 1931 Universal Studios movie. Director Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 big screen reinvention, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, arguably changed pop culture’s perception of the titular vampire as a tragic character, thanks to Gary Oldman’s performance.
More recently, NBC attempted to bring the blood-sucker to TV in stylistic fashion with the single-season 2013 Dracula series, which starred Jonathan Rhys Meyers. A year later, Universal’s 2014 origin reboot movie, Dracula Untold, starring Luke Evans, failed to give the studio the launch pad it needed for its ambitious “Dark Universe” monster movies.
Gatiss is on record as a fan of the 1958 Hammer Horror version of Dracula, which starred Christopher Lee as the count and Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing. Moffat previously took on classic horror in 2007, when he wrote the series Jekyll. Gatiss even personally played Dracula in a full-cast audio play from Big Finish in 2016.
Could their own Sherlock, Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch, have an opening in his busy schedule for another updated reimagining of a classic fictional character?
More on the BBC/Netflix Dracula TV miniseries as the news arrives.
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