Gerard Butler sits in the Dorchester Hotel after being rushed in from the set of his new film. He has something of a Wolverine look, mixed in with a little Dougray Scott( the actor originally picked for that mutant role). His shoulder length hair and lyrical Scottish voice combine to create an image of an easy-going and laconical character- far removed from the Lord of Darkness he plays in the newly released Dracula 2001. That’s probably because he’s filming the much anticipated REIGN OF FIRE (complete with cgi dragons) in Ireland.
Vampires and New Orleans have gone hand in hand for some time. It was only a matter of time before the city played host to a more cinematically hip strain of vampires and Wes Craven’s addition to the legend of dracula taps a new and fresh vein…
This version starts in the UK but quickly transfers its action to the Big Easy as Abraham Van Helsing ( Christopher Plummer) and Simon Sheppard (Jonny Lee Miller) race against time to stop the escapee Count from claiming the life essence of Mary Heller. Heller has no idea of her destiny, but senses darkness on the way. However there’s an unholy revelation that no-one could have foreseen…
“when I was filming outside the Virgin Megastore in New Orleans there was a car that went up and down and a lady baring her breasts. That pretty much sums up the place. After about an hour I gave up trying to make sense of it. That’s no bad thing. There needs to be a little darkness for the film. It’s a hot, sweaty, vibrant dark town and it really helped to create a feel for the character on a psychological level…you can wander the streets until six in the morning…and then I’d meet my co-star Jonny ( Lee Miller) coming the other way(laughs).”
Dracula 2001 isn’t the old-fashioned horror flick (though, yes it does contain all the main ingredients of a Wes Craven production. Not surprisingly, as Mr. Craven acts as Exec. Producer this time with Patrick Lussier directing, from a Joel-Highlander:Endgame- Soisson screenplay).The film also requires some nifty stunt work, special FX and fight sequences.
” I had a lot of flying to do. I had white contact lenses that I had to wear over my eyes and a harness shoved into my groin and then hung upside down from a wire. Maybe it’s me but I found that all quite unpleasant” he laughs, “on my final day, I was tied up and submerged in swamp water and there was an alligator about 20 feet away. I was tied down so I couldn’t get out and there was a compression unit that made me fly up through the water. I had earplugs up my nose and everything, but it felt like 2 hot spikes going through my brain! But it was certainly a challenge.”
Dracula 2001( originally called Dracula 2000 when it was released to the US to thunderous indifference last year) is no great work of art -in fact the joke about vampires/Virgin Mehastores might be funny once – but becomes irritatingly blatant product placement after the hundredth such visual reference. Most of its scary proceedings are of the now overly familiar type. However its all silly fun and is notable for taking a new and somewhat inspired angle on Dracula’s origins with a very nice and unexpected twist.(In fact if this plot-point had been expanded upon and some of the more derring do played down this film would have been much better). But throw in New Orleans as a back drop,a hip soundtrack and Star Trek’s Jeri Ryan (7 of 9) as a guest star and it would be hard not to produce a film ideal for beer and pizza somewhere down the line.
Though a nice stepping stone for Butler we’ll be seeing more of him in the months to come, with a range of movies poised to set the screen alight, including that much anticipated post apocalyptic blockbuster.
“Yup,I’m over in Dublin at the moment. Reign Of Fire is a $95 million dollar movie with Matthew McConaughey and Christian bale. They were thinking of moving the production( because of the foot and mouth disease) but it’ going to stay put now. We’ll be filming into the middle of June.Then it’s going to be six months of CGI work. I think about $33 million of the budget has been put aside for that. I play a character called Creedy. Christian Bale and I play best mates and we’re in a castle together with a bunch of other people. We’re struggling to get by because everything is burned out and gone. It’s a solid action movie. I’ll also be doing a six-part drama series called The Jury.”
It has just been announced that Butler will be starring in the big screen adaptation of Timeline. He will play Marek, the leader of a team who travel back in time to play a misplaced archaeologist ( hopefully the film will be better than the generically plotted book). Butler’s name has also been linked to the James Bond franchise. (He actually appeared as a doomed sailor in Tomorrow Never Dies). While there is little doubt he has the confidence and style for such a prominent part, it would seem to be just the idle speculation that comes around between 007 movies. Butler may well have met with EON, the company behind the Bond movies, but Brosnan is a definite for the next Bond film (due to start production next year) and has indicated to Impact that he may well stay on for at least one more after that. One doubts that Butler is worrying too much.