UNIVERSAL PICTURES and LEGENDARY PICTURES Present
A MICHAEL DE LUCA Production
JOE CARACCIOLO, JR.
MICHAEL DE LUCA
MATT SAZAMA & BURK SHARPLESS
“Sometimes the world no longer needs a hero.
Sometimes what it needs…is a monster.”
—Prince Vlad III, Dracula Untold
Almost an entire century after the world’s cinematic introduction to Dracula placedaudiences under his haunting spell, the studio that pioneeredthe genre reawakens one of legend’s most captivatingfiguresin an action-adventure that heralds a pulse-pounding rebirth of the age of monsters. LUKE EVANS (Fast & Furious 6,The Hobbit series) transforms from the cursed man history knows as Vlad the Impalerto anall-powerfulcreature of the night inUniversal Pictures’ Dracula Untold,the origin story of the alluringimmortal we have come to fear as the sun sets: Dracula.
The year is 1462, and Transylvania has enjoyed a prolonged period of peace under the just and fair rule of the battle-weary Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, and his beloved and brave wife, Mirena (SARAH GADON of The Amazing Spider-Man 2). Together, they have brokeredpeace for their country and ensured its people are well-protected, especially from the powerful Ottoman Empire—an ever-expanding scourge that has its sights on global domination.
But when Sultan Mehmed II (DOMINIC COOPER of Captain America: The First Avenger)demands 1,000 of Wallachia’sboys—including Vlad’s own son, Ingeras (ART PARKINSON of HBO’sGame of Thrones)—be torn from their parents’ homesand forced to become child soldiers in hisarmy, Vlad must decide: do the same as his father before him and give up his son to the sultan, or seek the help of a monster to defeat the Turks but ultimately doom his soul to a life of servitude.
Vlad journeys to Broken Tooth Mountain, where he encounters a foul demon (CHARLES DANCE of Game of Thrones) and enters into a Faustian bargain—one that gives the prince the strength of 100 men, the speed of a falling star and enough power to crush his enemies.However, he will be inflicted with an insatiable thirst to drink human blood.
If by the end of three daysVlad manages to resist, he will return to his former self, and perhaps in that time manage to save his people. Though should he drink, he will be forced to dwell in the darkness for the rest of his days, feeding only on the blood of humans…and destroying all that he holds dear.
In his feature-film directorial debut, GARY SHORE helms the action-adventureDracula Untold from a screenplay written by MATT SAZAMA& BURK SHARPLESS (Gods of Egypt).
Joining director Shore behind the screen is a top-notch crew of filmmakers, led by producer MICHAEL DE LUCA (Captain Phillips, upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey), cinematographer JOHN SCHWARTZMAN (The Amazing Spider-Man, upcoming Jurassic World), editor RICHARD PEARSON (Maleficent, Iron Man 2), production designer FRANÇOIS AUDOUY (The Wolverine, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), Academy Award®-winning costume designerNGILA DICKSON (Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Blood Diamond)and composer RAMINDJAWADI (Pacific Rim, Safe House).
DraculaUntold is executive produced by ALISSA PHILLIPS (Moneyball), JOE CARACCIOLO, JR. (The Wolverine), THOMAS TULL (Godzilla) and JON JASHNI (Pacific Rim).
Master of the Undead:
“There are far worse things awaiting man than death.”
—Count Dracula, Dracula(1931)
Since the publication of Bram Stoker’s definitive “Dracula” in 1897,one of the most enduring literary and popular characters of our time has been explored in film, animation, literature and music, and is as relevant today as he was when his creator spawned a cultural phenomenonalmost 120 years ago.AlthoughDracula’s presence remains ubiquitous in culture, it remains surprising that the origins of this undead icon have never been explored on film.
While the man history calls Dracula, for all intents and purposes, was actually a real historical figure, just as terrifying to millions of people are the vampires of ancient myth. Found in almost every culture and language on Earth—from the Babylonians’ Lilitu, a succubus who thrived on babies, to the iron-toothed Asasabonsam of the Ashanti peoples of Ghana—the legend of blood-sucking creatures of the night may be traced back thousands of years. But it was not until the 10th century, in Slavic Europe, that the word “vampire” first appeared in modern language.
Producer Michael De Luca, who has brought to the screen blockbusters from The Social Network and Ghost Rider to Moneyball and Captain Phillips, shares what brought him tothejourneyof uncovering the monster’s origins: “As a kid, I always wanted to know who turned Dracula into a vampire. I wondered, ‘Was he the first? Were there others?’ It was a delicious, unanswered question that’s not been covered, even in Bram Stoker’s novel.”
When a script bythe up-and-coming writing teamofMatt Sazama and Burk Sharpless landed on De Luca’s desk, it ignited the filmmaker’s imagination. “I thought it was ingenious,” he commends, “the untold origin story and an unknown chapter of an archetypal character we all know.”
Naturally, our story delves into the mysterious powers bestowed by centuries of superstitious peoples, but this tale of Dracula begins with and borrows from the real-life story of an actual historical figure: Vlad III of Wallachia, aka Kaziglu Bey (The Impaler Prince). Indeed, the writers took many basic facts about the dark ruler and extrapolated them into a fantastic saga.
Vlad III was born in 1431 in Transylvania. As a child, he and his younger brother were sent by their father, Vlad II, as hostages of Sultan Murad II to Constantinople, where they were held for six years and trained in warfare. As Transylvania was located between two empires—the Ottoman Turks and the Austrian Hapsburgs—the young noblemen lived in a time of constant war, and certain sacrifices had to be made.
Vlad III grew to become a ruthless conqueror whosefavored method of meting out torture was to impale people and leave them writhing in agony for days.This terrifying fact is what earned him the posthumous nickname of Vlad the Impaler (aka Vlad Tepes). Because hisfather belonged to the Order of the Dragon—a secretive organization of Christian knights—that fought the Muslim Ottoman Empire, Vlad II took to the name Dracul, which is roughly translated fromRomanian into “dragon/devil.”4
After his father’s death, Vlad III ruled Wallachia, south of Transylvania, from 1448 until his own death in 1476. Following in his father’s footsteps, Vlad III was also inducted into the Order of the Dragon. It was then that he instructed his men to call him “Dracula,” which means “son of the dragon/devil” in Romanian.5 Reportedly killed in 1476 fighting the Turks, Vlad III’s head was cut off and displayed in Constantinople…for the entire city to see and fear.
Having agreed to take onthe writers’ revisionist story of Vlad III’s transformation, the next step in the process for De Luca was to find a home for the film and explore financing and production options. Historically,UniversalPictures was the first studio to adapt the character for screen in 1931, and De Luca explains that this Dracula would finally be coming home: “Universal just seemed like a natural fit. The studio has this storied pedigree with monster movies, and Dracula Untoldpays homage to all the beloved films that have come before.”
It would take a few years for the right package to assemble, but when it did, it pulledin a wildly creativebehind-the-scenes team whose work collectively encompasses some of the biggest filmic spectacles in recent years, including Batman Begins, Gladiator, Lord of the Rings, and films in the Spider-Manand Harry Potter series. But first, the action-adventure would need a director at its helm who could navigate not only the intricacies of the writers’ story, but offer an innovative visual perspective on history’s most popular (and feared) monster.
Finessing an iconic property such as Dracularequired a director who could cut through the clutter of everything that had gone before, someone who could extrapolate the story and had the vision to deliver an innovative look at the master of all undead. After all, this was a fresh take on the storied monster, bringing the tale back to the beginning to reveal the man behind the mythology.
Upon reading the screenplay, Gary Shore, who had made a name for himself as a striking visualist in commercialsand directed a stunning short titled The Cup of Tears, responded immediately. “It wasn’t what I expected at all,” the directorrecalls. “What I found interesting about the script was that it was able to take the idea of the Impaler and bridge that as an origin story into Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula.’ I’d never seen that done before.”
Both director and producer knew that morphing Vlad the Impaler into Dracula on screen made it difficult to conceive of a human element that felt natural; after all, recorded history has not been kind to the warlord who slaughtered anyone in his path. But Shore’s compassionate take on the narrativeimpressed De Luca. He suggested that they dispatch with the sensational elementsshown many times before on screens big and small andlook atits core: one man’s struggle to protect his family. Shore’s articulation of the film as a father/son saga struck the right note with the producer. De Luca commends: “Gary’s vision for what this film should encompass convinced us that he was the right person to do the movie.”
Shore appreciates the trust and elaborates upon that idea: “It’s a coming-of-age story, but it’s really an exploration of the idea of legacy. Vampire mythology is about legacy, about handing something down to the next person, whether it is DNA, memories or responsibility. I felt people would be able to relate and respond to the father/son idea. It continues to be the most inspiring part of the story.”
Grounding the character in the real world was also an important element to getting that balance right. Shore continues: “For this movie to work, you have to care about Vlad’s inner life, as well as his emotional ties to his son and his wife.”
Vlad’s difficult choices drive him toward his destiny, and his struggle to save his son from the life forced upon him leads the prince to make the ultimate sacrifice. De Luca offers: “There’s a lot of humanity in this story, which you wouldn’t expect from a story about Dracula; emotion drives him. From the second you meet Vlad, you see an emotional human being, a man with care and love as well as violence and power. There’s a lot driving him, and he has to use all of this in equal measure throughout the film.”
This desire to take the character of Dracula to unexplored territory became the hallmark of the production.Shore says: “We wanted to find new ways of exploring vampire mythology that wasn’t slavish to its roots. This is an adventure story; we see how the character of Vlad reacts to certain situations based on decisions he makes at that time. We are observing Vlad having to make difficult decisions that affect his wife and son, while trying to maintain his family and his people.”
Unearthing Kaziglu Bey:
Searching for the Prince
“Do you know what it means to be loved by Death?
Do you know what it means to have Death know your name?”
—Anne Rice, “Interview with the Vampire”
Finding an actor who could embody the writers’ Dracula, a character full of complex emotions—all while overriding preconceived conceptions of a world-renowned creature—was going to be a challenge for the filmmakers. He is so multilayered—as a loving father and devoted husband, ruthless warrior and learned man—yet the screenplay also combineshistory with fiction: the heritage of Vlad III with the folklore of a creature of many names…from Kaziglu Bey to the Dark Prince.
De Luca extrapolates upon the conundrum: “Casting is a tricky proposition with a character that everyone knows because we all have ourpreconceived version of Dracula. It’s a bit like Spider-Man, Batman or James Bond…only more so because the character’s been in popular culture for centuries.”
It was clear from the beginning that the production team needed a fresh face who could own and embody such an iconic character…someone whose star was on the rise but who did not come with a number of audience preconceptions. Luke Evanshad recently made an impression on filmmakers with his portrayal of Bard the Bowman in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, as well as in Fast & Furious 6 as the film’s villain, Owen Shaw.
“We all thought Luke Evans was magnetic inFast & Furious 6, and that’s what truly announced him to the studio as a star on the rise,” De Luca explains.“A fresh face was the right way to go. Luke can be Vlad for the audiencewithout a lot of preconceived baggage from whom he’s played before.”
As the London stage-trained Evans was shooting the first chapter ofThe Hobbitseries in New Zealand at the time, many of his early meetingswith the filmmakers were conducted via Skype. “Skype is an actor’s best friend,” Evanssays, wryly. “If you’re traveling the world, it’s the only way you can communicate with people, and that’s how Gary and I first connected.
“The second I met him,” Evans continues, “Icould tell that this man was a very passionate human being.He’d thought out the job, the characters, the story, the plot; he’d imagined everything. He was looking for somebody who was going to deliver what he wanted and have the same passion and same vigor for telling the story as he did.”
It was their first meeting in Los Angeles that convinced Shore to cast Evans in the film. The director shares:“As soon as I started talking to him, it felt very right,and I knew that he would be able to do the character justice. He just has this incredible face that can tell a story. I was certain from that moment there was nobody else out there with the kind of presence Luke has to be able to take on Vlad the Impaler, the warrior, and transition that into the debonair prince. Just on a physicality level, he had my attention.”
Vlad III was many things to many people: ruthless dictator, unrivaled warrior, father, husband and rumored vampire. There are not many characters in film and literary history that present such a complex set of emotions and challenging transitions as Dracula. Having the audience rooting for a character with such a dark and violent past, and whose destiny is even darker and more threatening, is a tough order.
Shore walks us through his logic: “If you look at Dracula as an archetypal character, he’s an antihero you invest in and love throughout the film, but you can see he has to make difficult decisions and he’ll end up on his own because of them. Your hero is somebody who you generally shouldn’t like for their ruthlessness and what they have to do, but you respect them. It was a difficult arc to get right, but Luke did a terrific job.”
It’s all a question of balance, Evans suggests: “As much as you know about the dark side of Vlad, we wanted the audience to see the passionate, loving, vibrant side of him.”
There Will Be Blood:
“No man knows till he experiences it, what it is like to feel his own lifeblood
drawn away into the woman he loves.”
―Bram Stoker, “Dracula”
When Shore began the process of casting Mirena, Vlad’s wife, he had in his mind a woman who was the antithesis of her husband: one who was of purity and light.The directorexplains: “Mirena is the innocence in all of this. When you see Vlad’s journey to the dark side, you have to have a counterpoint and Mirena is that. She stays pure all the way to the end—pure virtues, pure values. She doesn’t become morally corrupt.”
Although Mirena may not become deficient in her ethics, she is partlyresponsible for her husband becoming a vampireby pressuring Vlad not to hand over their son, Ingeras (played by Game of Thrones’ Art Parkinson), to Mehmed.
Sarah Gadon, who was brought on board the production to portrayVlad’s princess,agrees with her director: “Mirena is the moral compass of the film. She’s the one who is unwavering in her belief and unwavering in her ideas. Every time her principles are tested, she rises to the occasion and fights for them.”
Gadon, known for her work in David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method and this summer’s blockbuster The Amazing Spider-Man 2, knew that her character would have to go to a very dark place to understand Vlad’s transformation. She shares: “Even though this film has a good deal of history, their romance feels very contemporary. Here’s a warrior, a prince, a fighter and a leader going out and risking his life for his people and his family, and that makes sense to a contemporary family. Think of Army wives and soldiers going off to war. That made us feel as if the story was real and weighted in reality.”
During the casting process, the Canada native shined among her peers, and the decision to cast her came down to her presence. Shorecommends the film’s leading lady: “There is something very old Hollywood about Sarah, something classical. She complemented that balance I wanted to get between the dark and brooding and the light and purity. She nailed it.”
WhileMirena is Vlad’s light and moral compass, Mehmed, played by Dominic Cooper, is his nemesis. A dangerous adversary with a misplaced vengeance (the sultan still loathes the fact that Vlad was his father’s favorite), Mehmed’s greed directly prompts Vlad’s transition into a creature of the night. The director shares:“It’s easy to take it too over the top and be too ‘arch’ with this arch-nemesis character, so I wanted Mehmed to be engaging, charming, a conversationalist—a wonderful man to have in the room, but someone who you do not trust as far as you can throw!”
The filmmakers had seen Cooperin The Devil’s Doubleand were struck by his ability to be incredibly charming and yet, at a moment’s notice, switch toa psychotic state.De Luca relays: “Dominic has such range to go from Howard Starkin Captain America to what you see in The Devil’s Double, which was so intense. He was so in that character that we chased him, and felt blessed that we got him. Dominic brings a character actor’s intensity, with a movie star’s good looks.”
When Vlad reunites with Mehmed, there are tense and futile negotiations between the two. Once brothers in arms during the time that a younger Vlad unwillingly served Mehmed’s father in the Turkish army, they are soon to be revealed as sworn enemies.
Their first scene together is a vital exchange of information for the audience, as we grow to understand the relationship between Mehmed and Vlad…and the terror of Vlad’s dark past. Cooper provides: “It’s very much a performance played out to manipulate and to anger and to upset. But it also reveals their history together: that Mehmed’s father stole Vlad away from his own family to bring him up as a child warrior and that Vlad and Mehmed had a very close bond as children.”
Vlad and Mehmed are not the only historical figures linked to Dracula’s origin. Written into the story as the true origin of the vampire curse is the Master Vampire—an unexpected character to find in the 15th century. Shore muses: “The Master Vampire is the game maker in all of this. While Vlad courts danger when he seeks out the Master, he has no idea what he’s gotten himself into. When we cast the role, we knew no one could better bring this character to life than Charles Dance.”
Balancing the character was one of the key challenges for the filmmakers and a responsibility that fell largely on Dance, known for his work in such actioners as Game of Thrones, Underworld: Awakening and Alien3, not to mention his dramatic roles in Gosford Park and Hilary and Jackie. Injecting a sense of humanity into such a despotic character was no easy task.
Eternally trappedon Broken Tooth Mountain, the Master Vampire is annexed from the world. Dancewalks us through his character’s role in Dracula Untold: “He has spent centuries isolated in this cavern, being sustained only by the blood of those unfortunate enough to pass nearby. When Vlad and his men investigate the disappearance of Turkish soldiers early on in the film, Vlad barely makes it out of the mountain alive. Once the prince is forced to a last resort, he must seek out the Master’s help and temporarily gain the only power that could stop the sultan’s advancing forces.”
Dance liked playing this early form of a vampire, and enjoyed working opposite Evans. He laughs: “Luke’s impossibly handsome, obviously talented and generous to a fault…as he put up with me in my deeply unpleasant makeup and rotten fangs crawling all over him and licking his neck!”
Shore was delighted with Dance’s performance. He offers: “What Charles brought to the role wasmenace and anarchy. The Master is Vlad’s tormentor, somebody he is destined to do a dance of death with for many years to come—the Joker to our Batman. He’s been lying in wait for a man of Vlad’s strength to come along and help him escape his prison.”
It is desperation that leads Vlad to the Master Vampire’s lair.Whatever resides on Broken Tooth Mountain kills Turks and it is with this purpose that Vlad enters a world that completely unhinges him. Evans explains: “Out of desperation he asks the Master to help him defeat his enemies. But unfortunately this creature is an incredibly narcissistic, egotistical monster and things do not go as planned.”
The key cast was supported by anumber of talented character actors, notably The Monuments Men’s DIARMAID MURTAGH as Dimitru, one of Vlad’s most valued guards; Sherlock Holmes’ WILLIAM HOUSTON as Cazan, Vlad’s extremely tense advisor; BBC’s Ripper Street’s FERDINAND KINGSLEY as Hamza Bey, emissary of the Turks and flush with arrogance; Showtime’s Shameless’ ZACH MCGOWAN as Shkelgim, the gypsy who lurks in the shadows awaiting the word to serve a dark master; Game of Thrones’ PAUL KAYE as Brother Lucian, a humble monk who reveals to Vlad the legend of the creature and whose mission is to protect Ingeras from harm; Life in a Fishbowl’s THOR KRISTJANSSON as Bright Eyes, the most cunning of the Turk swordsmen; and John Carter’s ARKIE REECE as General Ismail, the sultan’s military leader who is charged with destroying Vlad’s kingdom.
Production and Costume Design
“There’s a rocking chair by the window, down the hall.
I hear something there in the shadow, down the hall.
Oh, you were a vampire, and now I am nothing at all.”
―Johnette Napolitano, Concrete Blonde,
“Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)”
At the helm of realizing Shore’s vision for Dracula Untold were two creative minds whose work encompasses some of cinema’s most exciting fantasy adventures: production designerFrançois Audouy and costume designer Ngila Dickson.
Production Design and Locations
Audouyis naturally attracted to stories that are set in worlds that draw you in by their originality. He shares: “I seem to be drawn to films that challenge us to imagine alternate worlds, either set in a fantastic, foreign or historical setting—where we can experience the particular closed narrative—but then the setting stays with us as a place where you can imagine the characters continuing their lives.”
Working closely with Shore and Dickson, Audouy created an environment that mirrored Vlad’s character progression from a respected leader and loving family man to a ruthless vampire warrior.Audouy provides: “When I read the script, the family story and the relationship between Vlad, Mirena and Ingeras jumped out at me. The dynamic was strong and unique to see in a Dracula film. I wanted to strengthen that narrative and create a foundation for that love story between those three people…to create a world that felt likeVlad had actually made a home and was providing for his family and for his people.”
In Romania, there are two strongholdsthat lay claim to Dracula: Bran Castle and Poenari Castle. Both are enormous, imposing structures set into a mountain, making them a natural fortress against invaders. Their architectural origins are Orthodox, which became the starting point for the design team. In keeping with the reality-rooted narrative, elements of Orthodox architecture may be traced in the Castle Dracula designed for the film. But as Audouy points out, that is where the design parts with reality.
The production designer shares: “Gary wanted to do something different with Dracula’s Castle, something that was exotic and unique, so we went away from the Orthodox look toward something more Eastern European, with sharper facets and triangular shapes. In fact, the design started out quite alien, very unusual, and throughout the process it became more and more grounded and plausible. You could believe it existed.”
The Great Hall was the starting point from which Castle Dracula was created, and while the majority of the castle is CGI, the Great Hall was built entirely for camera.The attention to detail is minute, down to the reliefs in the walls that were re-created from genuine stone reliefs from a Romanian church, and the finish of the walls, painted to convey dustiness, current with the thinking that granite stone was used to build these great medieval structures.
In his set designs, Audouy played around with four visual motifs, some of which feature heavily in the Great Hall, with the most iconic being fangs. Audouy explains: “With the architecture for Vlad’s world, we ended up using lots of triangles and symmetrical shapes to create a very specific form of language. 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.”
On closer observation, however, the roofless Great Hall and the motifs at work subliminally convey a sense of Vlad’s dark past, foretelling of a darker future.Shore explains: “Another aspect to the roofless design was a means of acknowledging the original Vlad III. He had this open court, and in that area he had two dozen impaling poles with the bodies of his enemies impaled upon them. He would dine amongst them, and according to the old legends, he would drink the blood that flowed from them.”
Although an audience would not easily spot these homages to Dracula’s heritage and Vlad’s past, Shore felt it was important to the film’s integrity to acknowledge the old stories. He says: “Every one of these environments are products of the characters and story. Vlad’s Great Hall is designed around a subversion of impalement spikes and the real Vlad III’s court. With the open roof with spikes coming down, on either side of the room, everything was there to try and subvert horror into the scenes, to create these undertones without going into gore.”
Where this motif comes to the fore is in the second largest set piece built for camera: the Master Vampire’s cavernous space inside Broken Tooth Mountain in which the Master resides and where the legend of Dracula begins and the mortal life of Prince Vlad ends.
Costumes of the Action-Adventure
Working on a period movie demandscloser collaboration with all the different visual departments, and with Dracula Untold,there was a high degree of cross-pollination between different departments. None more so than was seen in the costume department, overseen by the Academy Award®-winningDickson.
“I’ve known Ngila for years,” shares Audouy. “So we just hit the ground running.She had started before me and had these amazing designs that were a great source of inspiration for the production design. I’m constantly inspired by what she’s doing with costumes.”
The admiration was mutual, as Dickson acknowledges she would draw inspiration from the spaces Audouy and his team developed. She gives: “I would get designs from the art department, such as the interior of the castle, and we would pursue the spaces together to make sure our palettes were going to match up. For example, we needed to see that our banquet costumes were going to work in that environment and there wasn’t going to be any design clashes. It was a brilliant and easy relationship,and it was an extraordinary collaboration. We worked with people who have a strong, creative need to do the best work that they possibly can.”
Having Dickson join the project was a major win for Shore. As one of the most highly respected costume designers in the industry, her work on TheLord of the Rings trilogy earned her an Academy Award® and a slew of other nominations. The director beams: “She brought to the film an elegance that is very specifically her style.”
For Dickson, there were multipleelements that drew her to the project, includingher appreciation of Francis Ford Coppola’s groundbreaking film and the opportunity to work on the re-conceptualizing of a franchise. She shares: “Gary and I are both fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It’s an impeccable piece of filmmaking. For a designer, it is always an amazing opportunity to reinvent effectively a famous franchise such as Dracula. It’s such a known brand, so in conceptualizing, you are automatically thinking, ‘What can I bring to the table?’”
WhenShore and Dickson discussed how to approach the look of the film, the historical element was intrinsic. Deciding the color palette,Dickson and her team researched the Ottoman Empire and Wallachia, working their way through the materialassociated withthe 15th century.
Dickson explains the process: “Once you’ve gathered this vast amount of information, you begin to look for an attitude for the film, and one of the things that became important to us was not to make the film dark. What we wanted was an incredibly rich and colorful look. So, once I had the building blocks and the understanding of what people were historically wearing, we then started looking at color and how we could bring something new to the audience.”
Every costume tells its own story, imparting subliminal messages about the character the narrative. When we meet Vlad for the first time in the castle’s garden, his costume conveysa different, happy person who’s let go of a violent past. By the time we are halfway into the film, we move rapidly back toward Vlad the Impaler, a true warrior, until finally hefully commits to the mercy of his fate.
Dickson began her workwith the costumes at the end of the film. She shares her rationale: “For me to get a handle on the biggest and most complex piece of the film was a way of being able to enter the whole of it. I always feel I have to tackle the hardest first, and then it becomes part of a large series of building blocks.”
As she crafted Vlad’s armor, Dickson looked back to 1452and began to use the reds and blacks of the real prince’s armor, combining that with the dragon motif that the production design team had developed. Dickson says: “If you are going to define a character like Vlad, the reds and the blacks are a good place to start and,of course, Dracula…well, it’s the dragon, isn’t it? Those were the three pieces of the building blocks.”
Because the dragon armor represented the period of Vlad’s life that he spent with the Turks, it needed to work with Mehmed’s armor in such a way that the relationship between the two could be felt.Dickson explains: “I thought that the two needed to be very yin and yang, with Mehmed so immaculate, polished and perfectly sculpted. Vlad’s version of the armor needed to be a lot more visceral, rawer and more chiseled.”
Shore shares that Dickson’s design influenced much of the way he thought of the story: “Vlad and Mehmed only meet twice in the film, the first time in Mehmed’s tent when Vlad attempts to reason with Mehmed, and then at the end when Vlad goes into battle with him. So you have this challenging relationship between the protagonist and antagonist where they don’t meet for the majority of the film and yet it is a chess game. As a consequence, you are in danger of it becoming episodic, so it was important that there is a design DNA that connects the two. That was a basis for Ngila’s designs, and that extends to music and tone.”
Mehmed’s armor presented Dickson with the opportunity to go to town. With the sacking of Constantinople, Mehmed II had transformed the Ottoman state into an empire, laying the foundation for one of the most powerful empires in the world.
Dickson concedes: “If you are talking about the Ottoman Empire and the wealth and the riches, we wanted to push the boat out with that one. Mehmed is wearing a piece of armor that commemorates his own conquering; on the breast plate, Mehmed himself is depicted on horseback, surrounded by battles, and on the back is Constantinople. All of the design is commemorating this great achievement. It added another layer of kingly arrogance to that costume.”
Both sets of armor were created in New Zealand under Dickson’s ever watchful eye from the U.K. She laughs: “Skype is a costume designer’s best friend.”
The world in which Vlad and Mehmed existed, and the world that has been constructed for Dracula Untoldis a masculine one. Asserting a feminine aspect into a narrative dominated by men was never going to be easy and, certainly for Dickson, Mirena presented the greatest complexity. Because she was the only character extolling feminine virtues, the designer spent a great deal of time considering the character.Dickson explains: “There are virtually no other women, so all the focus of beauty and womanhood we had to fit into Mirena, which made it an intense design situation. You have the masculinity of Vlad and the femininity of Mirena.”
From reading the script, Dickson imagined pale, soft and gentle colors for Mirena, but after discussing the character with Gadon, everything changed. Dickson sums: “It became a complete switch-up into strong, but biblical, colors.”
Gadon appreciates the attention to detail. She commends: “We had such a beautiful hair and makeup team, and Ngila’s team created such amazing costumes. All of those things play into how you create and mold your character. Although Mirena is a princess, we didn’t just want her to be stuck in a castle tower. We wanted her to have an active participation in the plot. In rehearsals, Gary and I worked at making her more active. I feel she walks a lovely line between being feminine but being proactive…playing the duality of those sides.”
Fight to the Death:
Training and Choreography
“Knowing no care, they grind the land like corn.
Knowing no mercy, they rage against mankind.
They spill their blood like rain, devouring their flesh and sucking their veins.
They are demons full of violence, ceaselessly devouring blood.”
—“The Book of Vampires”
Raised in the royal household under the tutelage of Mehmed I, Vlad III was trained in the ways of the Janissary, an elite fighting corps unique to the Ottoman Empire. Every five years, the Turks would embark upon recruiting missions, scouring the regions for the strongest sons of the sultan’s Christian subjects—including Vlad. The boys were taken from their parents and placed with Turkish families, where they were taught the customs, language and religion of the Ottomans, before being taken to train as Janissaries. Because of this, Vlad’s fighting style bridged two disciplines: that of his homeland and that of the Turks.
Discussing the strategy, Evans shares: “It’s what made Vlad such a brilliant leader and conqueror. When he stopped the Ottoman Empire from invading Wallachia, he used the fighting style of the Turks because he was reared by the Turks. In a way, they shouldn’t have trained him as well as they did because he came home with all their strategies.”
The complicated sequences fell to stunt coordinator BUSTER REEVES (The Dark Knight Rises, upcoming Tarzan), who assimilated these two distinct fighting styles to define the fight choreography for the film. Reeves provides: “I first looked at Transylvanian war craft, which is just basic broadsword and hacking, and then the Turks, whose style is heavily influenced by Asian styles, so it’s very circular. It was a combination between the two that we came up with for Vlad’s fighting style: the strength and agility of the broadsword with the fluidity and dynamic, almost aesthetically pleasing, work of Turk’s scimitar.”
The film’s pace intensifies as it is pulled along by the current of Vlad’s transformation. As the heart of the film grows ever darker, the action is magnified, reaching crescendo pitch when Vlad and his brood of vampires attack Mehmed’s camp.
Reeves explains: “When he fights Mehmed, when he fights the brood, we tap into a whole new level of darkness in Vlad. We created the vampire style, more so than just the brutality of being impaled. We wanted to make him more calculating.”
Transforming Vlad (and subsequently Evans) into a killing machine was no easy task. Shore surmises: “Vlad versus a thousand was based on rage. It’s man-on-man, unglamorized, physical rage. Here we see his physical strength and speed over his newly acquired powers.”
The thousand-man fight took three months of intense preparations and training to bring to camera. Reeves walks us through the scene: “We would break it down into sequences so that if at any point we could join two sequences together, we had the manpower to do it. Then it was just a matter of time before we got Luke, and he started learning it the same way.”
Evans was thrilled at the chance to work with the choreographer, commending: “Buster Reeves is a legend in his own right. He has a real flair for designing choreography that supports the actor. Hopefully, I’ve honored his work in my fight sequences.”
It turns out thatthe performer was a perfect student. Shore commends that Evans knew just what it took to work within the parameters of DP John Schwartzman’s camera: “Luke has this uncanny ability to be able to take choreography and learn it quickly. There were changes going on with that scene that were in flux right to the end, and Luke was able to adapt to it.”
Legions of Bats:
VFX and SFX
“And all around them, the bestiality of the night rises on tenebrous wings.
The vampire’s time has come.”
―Stephen King, “Salem’s Lot”
While a majority ofDracula Untold is character driven, with the lion’s share of the film shot for camera, there are a number of key moments and scenes that require top-notch visual effects. Such scenes include the siege of Castle Dracula when Vlad literally vaporizes a cannon ball before creating the illusion in the minds of the Turks of the castle transforming into a giant dragon, and, of course, the “hand of bats.” Led by visual effects supervisor CHRISTIAN MANZ (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1), Framestore broughtShore’s vision to life.
The“hand of bats” depicts Vlad controlling a whirling mass of the mammals, conducting them and directing them to the Turkish camp. There, they wreak havoc among the garrison and herald Vlad and his vampire brood’s entrance.
These sequences were a huge undertaking. Manz provides: “It’s a difficult thing to pull off because thousands of bats floating around in the sky could look pretty corny.” To root it in reality,Manzlooked to formations of starlings. He shares: “They move in a very fluid and interesting way when you get thousands of them.”
Taking this as the visual concept, the team used a combination of motion capture, mappinga performer’s hand movements, CGI and cameras mounted on wire to create the POV of the bats smashing into the ranks of Turks. Manz provides: “The ‘hand of bats’ has to smash down and eviscerate 100,000 people, so that’s quite a lot of work from us. In reality,we had 130 people in the quarry. We used a wire cam with a camera flying from about 160 feet in the air down over the quarry toward the Turks, and extended out into the army. Then we placed CG bats all over them in post.”
Vlad leaps off the monastery tower, mutating into this mass of bats, storming Mehmed’s camp with his vampire brood. Manz explains: “We didn’t want to do the old Christopher Lee where he turned into one bat. We were trying to think of a cool way of doing that, so we’ve got him turning into multiple bats instead.”
De Luca expands upon the VFX supervisor’s explanation: “The ability to change form into a beast, a burden or a bat is time honored. Of course, it’s been done before, but we do it in a pretty original way. Vlad controls a swarm of bats that can take shapes and come down on people in the form of things. That is an original spin on a traditional power. So we tried to explain the powers, show where they came from, and then show them in use in original ways.”
Breathing new life into an established character is what led the creative focus for re-imagining the physical attributes of Dracula. In creating a new look for Dracula, the team first looked at known vampire images that had been seen before.Shore shares: “Because Vlad breaks the rules when he escapes Broken Tooth Mountain, it presented an opportunity to explore vampire mythology that hadn’t been seen before.”
Because Vlad wasn’t locked into the mountain, the filmmaking team felt justified in keeping his face human, showing only glimpses of the Ekimu(demon) underneath. The Master Vampire is more progressed because he’s been locked in Broken Tooth Mountain for thousands of years. The Master is a creature of the night, hiding from the sun’s deadly rays. His skin has become translucentto the point that his teeth and his veins can be seen beneath the skin.The VFX department worked closely with hair and makeup designer Daniel PhillipS(The Queen, Closed Circuit) to achieve a parallel—albeit gradual—physical transformation for Vlad.
Phillips explains: “We started with a very soft, handsome, heroic style. Then as the need for blood increases, we lightened Luke’s skin. We changed his color tones, paled the skin, sunk the eyes down, hollowed the cheeks out—just to give a feeling that he’s in a dark, bad place at that particular time. Then once he feeds, we gradually bring the colors up.
“It’s not until the very end that we see the true fully exposed Ekimu at the same time as others see it,” continues Manz. “Hopefully,it is as shocking to the audience.It was a huge challenge to create a vampire we can empathize with, but, like Frankenstein and The Elephant Man, there is something grotesque that scares the majority of Vlad’s people.”
Reflecting on the look of the creature that has haunted his dreams for all of these years, De Luca concludes:“The vampire look in our film is distinct in that it’s still scary, but there’s an element of heartbreak to it also: a soul has been given up to darkness. There’s a twisting, or a deformity of the human spirit and the human appearance that makes you see just enough of the human being underneath that you know something’s been lost. It’s a marriage of man and beast, and when this thing goes on the attack, it’svery scary.”
Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures present a Michael De Luca production:Dracula Untold, starring Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon and Charles Dance. The action-adventure’s music is by Ramin Djawadi. The costume designer is Ngila Dickson. The film is edited by Richard Pearson, ACE, and its production designer is François Audouy. The director of photography is John Schwartzman, ASC.Dracula Untoldis executive produced by Alissa Phillips, Joe Caracciolo, Jr., Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni. It is produced by Michael De Luca, p.g.a. The screenplay is by Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless, and it is directed by Gary Shore. © 2014 Universal Studios.www.draculauntold.com
ABOUT THE CAST:
Welsh actor LUKE EVANS (Vlad) has made an immediate impression in Hollywood, most recently with starring roles in films including Fast & Furious 6,The Raven, Immortals and The Three Musketeers.
Evans was most recently seen as Bard the Bowman in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, followed byThe Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which was released on December 13, 2013. He will appear in the trilogy’s final film, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which is scheduled for release on December 17. Evans starred as one half of a young couple taken hostage by a vicious criminal gang in the horror film No One Lives, directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. Evans is currently in production on the BBC’s The Great Train Robbery, as Bruce Reynolds in the first installment of the two-part drama, titled A Robber’s Tale, directed by Julian Jarrold (The Girl).
Evans made his U.K. feature-film debut in the role of Clive Richards in the 2010 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award-nominated feature Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Mat Whitecross’ biopic of the London punk-rock-scene founder Ian Dury of Ian Dury and the Blockheads. In fall 2010, Evans portrayed the lead role of Andy in acclaimed director Stephen Frears’ romantic comedy Tamara Drewe, based on the hugely successful Guardian newspaper comic strip and graphic novel of the same name. The film, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, co-starred Gemma Arterton. It was Warner Bros. Pictures’ action/fantasy/drama Clash of the Titans, however, that put Evans on the map, for his portrayal of the charismatic god Apollo. After Clash of the Titans, Evans appeared in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, playing the Sheriff’s head henchman to Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood.
Evans recently completed his second turn with Whitecross in the contemporary film noir Ashes, which co-starred Ray Winstone, Jim Sturgess, Lesley Manville and Jodie Whittaker and was written by Paul Viragh. He also just completed filming Ben Wheatley’s independent film High-Rise.
Prior to his film career, Evans had successfully carved out an enviable stage career, starring in West End plays and musicals such as La Cava, Boy George’s Taboo, Avenue Q, Dickens Unplugged, A Girl Called Dusty and, at the acclaimed Donmar Warehouse, Small Change and Piaf. His powerful, trained voice and engaging stage presence made him the perfect choice for leading roles such as Chris in Miss Saigon and Roger in Rent.
Without a doubt, Evans has solidified his place in the film world having had his career already span a multitude of genres and a variety of substantial roles in less than four years.
Evans currently lives in London.
DOMINIC COOPER (Mehmed) is one of the most exciting acting talents to emerge from the U.K. in recent years. Equally successful on stage and screen, Cooper continues to demonstrate his creative versatility. Cooper played the title role in Lee Tamahori’s highly charged independent drama The Devil’s Double, a taut action tale about the life of Latif Yahia, who was forced against his will to become the body double for Saddam Hussein’s son, Uday Hussein. In the 2011 film, written by Michael Thomas, Cooper played the challenging dual role of Yahia and Hussein.
Previously, Cooper co-starred in Simon Curtis’ My Week With Marilyn, with an all-star cast including Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench. Cooper played Milton Greene, the celebrated photographer, producer and business associate of Marilyn Monroe. In Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Cooper played Henry Sturgess, Lincoln’s mentor in vampire hunting. Director Timur Bekmambetov’s film adaptation of the best-selling Seth Grahame-Smith novel of the same name also starred Benjamin Walker, Anthony Mackie and Rufus Sewell.
Cooper co-starred in the acclaimed coming-of-age story An Education, which was nominated for three Oscars®. He was also seen in Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger, which starred Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones and Hayley Atwell; Stephen Frears’ Tamara Drewe, a modern reworking of Thomas Hardy’s 19th century novel, which starred Gemma Arterton; Rupert Wyatt’s The Escapist, which also starred Brian Cox and Joseph Fiennes; John Krasinski’s Brief InterviewsWith Hideous Men; and the Tom Hanks-produced Starter for 10, alongside James McAvoy and Rebecca Hall.
Cooper’s additional credits include the films Mamma Mia!, The Duchess, I’ll Be There and From Hell, and the television movies Boudica and The Gentleman Thief. Most recently, he starred in the television miniseries Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond, in which he played the title role of Ian Fleming for Sky Atlantic and BBC America.
Cooper received his professional training at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (LAMDA). Upon completion, he landed a role in Mother Clap’s Molly House at the prestigious National Theatre, under resident director Nicholas Hytner. Cooper then starred in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream before rejoining Hytner at the National Theatre for His Dark Materials and Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, which went on to win three Olivier Awards, including Best New Play.
The History Boys later landed on Broadway and received six Tony Awards, including Best Play. Cooper garnered Drama Desk and Evening Standard award nominations for his lauded stage performance as the confident and seductive Dakin. He reprised his role in the acclaimed film adaptation of the play, for which he was nominated for the British Independent Film Awards’ Most Promising Newcomer prize and the London Film Critics’ Circle Award for Best British Supporting Actor.
Cooper’s other stage credits include the National Theatre’s production of Jean Racine’s Phèdre, with Helen Mirren in the title role. The production, directed by Hytner, was also presented at Epidaurus in Greece and the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.
Canadian Screen Award-winning actress SARAH GADON (Mirena) was born in Toronto, Canada.
Gadon’s passion for film has led her to pursue a degree in cinema studies at the University of Toronto. Her breakthrough role came when director David Cronenberg cast her as Emma Jung in A Dangerous Method, opposite Michael Fassbender, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2011.
Gadon co-starred in Cronenberg’s next film, an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s “Cosmopolis,” opposite Robert Pattinson, and Brandon Cronenberg’s Antiviral, both of which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012. She has since continued her working relationship with David Cronenberg, appearing in Maps to the Stars, which premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.
Gadon was recently seen on the big screen in Amma Asante’s Belle and Denis Villenueve’s Enemy, opposite Jake Gyllenhaal.
Gadon most recently wrapped filming Mika Kaurismäki’s The Girl King and Julian Jarrold’s Girls’ Night Out.
Throughout his nearly 40 years as an actor, CHARLES DANCE (Master Vampire) has amassed an impressive body of work in all media from title roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company, including Henry V and Coriolanus, and major work in London’s commercial theater, including Good, Long Day’s Journey into Night, with Jessica Lange, and Shadowlands, for which he received the London Critics’ Circle Award for Best Actor, to award-winning roles in television, including The Jewel in the Crown, for which he received a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Actor; Rebecca; The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby; Fingersmith; Bleak House,for which he received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination and won the Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actor; Consenting Adults, about the ground-breaking Wolfenden Report of 1957, which resulted in the decriminalization of homosexuality; and Dickens’ Secret Lover, a documentary about Charles Dickens’ turbulent personal life.
Dance’s major films include Plenty, White Mischief, Good Morning Babylon, The Golden Child, Alien3, Last Action Hero, Hilary and Jackie, Michael Collins, Starter for 10, Robert Altman’s Gosford Park, Kabloonak, for which he received the Best Actor award at the Paris Film Festival in 1996, Antoine de Caunes’ The Perfect Disagreement and The Contractor, with Wesley Snipes.
Dance made his feature-film directorial debut with Ladies in Lavender, which starred Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, which he also wrote. Dance has starred in the television series’ Trinity and Merlin, as well as a new television adaptation of “Going Postal,” by Terry Pratchett. He filmed Giles Foster’s This September, opposite Eileen Atkins, in the summer of 2010, and went on to film a second season in 2011. Also in 2011, Dance filmed Neverland, a two-part adaptation of the Peter Pan story for Sky, directed by Nick Willing and featuring Rhys Ifans, Anna Friel and Bob Hoskins. He can currently be seen in HBO’s Game of Thrones, starring as Tywin Lannister.
Dance’s recent films include Roland Joffé’s There Be Dragons; David Gordon Green’s Your Highness, which starred James Franco and Natalie Portman; Jonathan English’s Ironclad, opposite Derek Jacobi and Brian Cox; Deepa Mehta’s Winds of Change;the film adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children”; and Underworld: Awakening.
In 2012, Dance filmed the Russian film Viy, alongside Jason Flemyng, in Prague; HBO’s Strike Back in South Africa; the political thriller Secret State, with Gabriel Byrne, for Channel 4; the third season of Game of Thrones; and Mark Hartley’s Patrick in Australia.
In 2013, Dance completed production on Daniel Espinosa’s Child 44, alongside Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman; Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley; and filmed season four of Game of Thrones.
Dance began 2014 filming Despite the Falling Snow, alongside Rebecca Ferguson and Anthony Head, in Belgrade, Serbia, and Paul McGuigan’s Frankenstein,with James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe. He recently completed filming on The Great Fire, a four-part drama for ITV, in which he stars opposite Jack Huston, Andrew Buchan and Rose Leslie.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
GARY SHORE (Directed by) is a director hailing from Artane on Dublin’s North Side. Having studied film at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, and fine art at Central Saint Martins in London, Shore carved out a career as a director of high-end commercials for some of the world’s biggest brands before transitioning to film.
Shore first came to Hollywood’s attention in 2009 for The Cup of Tears, a faux film trailer he directed, which led to a development deal with Working Title Films, and a subsequent three-picture deal with Universal Pictures. Dracula Untold is Shore’s feature-film directorial debut.
MATT SAZAMA & BURK SHARPLESS (Screenplay by) wrote Dracula Untold as an original spec that was recognized on Franklin Leonard’s “Black List” of the best unproduced scripts in 2006. Sazama and Sharpless are thrilled that the screenplay found a home at Universal Pictures, joining that studio’s grand tradition of monster movies that inspired them to write it.
Sazama and Sharpless’ original screenplay for the mythological epic Gods of Egypt, which sold on pitch to Lionsgate’s Basil Iwanyk, is in postproduction and helmed by Alex Proyas (I, Robot,Dark City, The Crow). Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Gerald Butler, Gods of Egypt is set for release in 2016.
The duo is currently working on the production script for The Last Witch Hunter, starring Vin Diesel, to be directed by Breck Eisner (Sahara, The Crazies).
Sazama and Sharpless, who were both born and raised in Wisconsin, share an unwavering love for the Green Bay Packers.
MICHAEL DE LUCA, p.g.a. (Produced by) was named president of production for Columbia Pictures in December 2013. In that role, De Luca partners with Hannah Minghella and works closely with Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad to oversee all aspects of development and production at the legendary motion-picture label.
From 2004 to 2013, De Luca headed his own production company, Michael De Luca Productions, which had a development and production agreement with Columbia Pictures. As an independent producer, De Luca focused on developing provocative specialized films with visionary filmmakers, as well as pop culture, mainstream genre films with franchise potential. His projects for Columbia included David Fincher’s Academy Award®-winning drama The Social Network, the Oscar®-nominated Moneyball, which starred Brad Pitt, and Paul Greengrass’ Best Picture Oscar® nominee Captain Phillips, which starred Tom Hanks. De Luca will serve as a producer on the highly anticipated adaptation of “Fifty Shades ofGrey,” starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, to be released February 13, 2015.
Prior to forming Michael De Luca Productions, De Luca served as DreamWorks’ head of production. At DreamWorks, he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the live-action division and the production of such films as Todd Phillips’ Old School and Adam McKay and Will Ferrell’s hit comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.
De Luca previously spent seven years as president and COO of New Line Productions. During his tenure, he created the highly successful Friday, Blade, Austin Powers and Rush Hour franchises. He championed such groundbreaking sleeper hits as Se7en, Wag the Dog, Pleasantville and Boogie Nights,and launched the directing careers of Jay Roach, Brett Ratner, Gary Ross, the Hughes brothers, F. Gary Gray, the Farrelly brothers and Paul Thomas Anderson.
ALISSA PHILLIPS (Executive Producer) has been a film and television producer with Michael De Luca Productions since 2004. Phillips’ producing credits with De Luca include the Oscar®-nominated Moneyball, political satire Butter and TNT’s highly acclaimed series Mob City, written and directed by Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead, The Shawshank Redemption).
Phillips is currently in production on a six-hour event miniseries based on Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s seminal novel “Childhood’s End.” Prior to joining Michael De Luca Productions, Phillips was a producer with Gil Netter as well as Beau Flynn. Her additional film and television producing credits include Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, After the Sunset and MTV’s groundbreaking series Fear. Phillips is married to screenwriter Fernley Phillips (The Number 23) and has three lovely daughters.
JOE CARACCIOLO, JR. (Executive Producer) has served as executive producer on some of the biggest box-office hits, including James Mangold’s The Wolverine, David Frankel’s The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me, Shawn Levy’s Date Night and Tom Vaughan’s What Happens in Vegas. Caracciolo’s additional producer credits include Just My Luck,John Polson’s Hide and Seek, John Waters’ Cecil B. Demented andJon Amiel’s The Man Who Knew Too Little and Copycat. Caracciolo worked across a variety of departments before turning to producing, including positions as property master for Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters, production manager for Sidney Lumet’s Academy Award®-nominatedRunning on Empty and second assistant director on Arthur Hiller’s See No Evil, Hear No Evil.
THOMAS TULL (Executive Producer), chairman and CEO of Legendary Pictures, has achieved great success in the co-production and co-financing of event movies. Since its inception in 2004, Legendary Pictures, the film division of leading media company Legendary Entertainment that also has television and digital and comics divisions, has teamed with Warner Bros. Pictures on a wide range of theatrical features.
The many recent hits released under their joint banner include Zack Snyder’s worldwide hit Man of Steel and Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster Dark Knight trilogy, which kicked off with Batman Begins, followed by the blockbusters The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. The trilogy earned more than $1 billion at the global box office.
This highly successful partnership also produced such films as Snyder’s 300 and Watchmen and 300: Rise of an Empire, which Snyder produced; Ben Affleck’s The Town; Nolan’s award-winning action-drama Inception; the worldwide hit Clash of the Titans and its sequel, Wrath of the Titans; and Todd Phillips’ The Hangover, The Hangover Part II, which is the highest-grossing “R”-rated comedy of all time, and The Hangover Part III.
Legendary recently released As Above/So Below, Godzilla, Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim and Brian Helgeland’s hit drama 42, the story of baseball legend Jackie Robinson. Legendary is in postproduction on Warcraft, based on Blizzard Entertainment’s award-winning gaming universe.
Tull serves on the board of directors of Hamilton College, his alma mater, and Carnegie Mellon University. He also serves on the boards of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the San Diego Zoo, and is part of the ownership group of the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, for which he also holds a board seat. Tull invests in digital, media and lifestyle businesses through his Tull Media Ventures, a privately held venture fund.
JON JASHNI (Executive Producer) oversees the development and production of all Legendary Pictures film projects and is president and chief creative officer of Legendary Entertainment, a leading media company with film, television and digital and comics divisions. Jashni is currently producing Warcraft, based on Blizzard Entertainment’s award-winning gaming universe. He is also an executive producer on the upcoming Seventh Son.
Previously, Jashni was a producer on Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ Pacific Rim and Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ As Above/So Below,and served as executive producer on such Legendary films as 300: Rise of an Empire; the Jackie Robinson biopic 42; the worldwide hit Clash of the Titans; and Ben Affleck’s The Town, which Affleck also co-wrote and starred in.
Prior to Legendary, Jashni was president of Hyde Park Entertainment, a production and financing company with overall deals at 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Pictures and MGM. At Hyde Park, he oversaw the development and production of Shopgirl, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, Walking Tall and Premonition.
Before joining Hyde Park, Jashni was a producer on director Andy Tennant’s hit romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama. His collaboration with Tennant began with the fairy-tale Ever After: A Cinderella Story, for which Jashni oversaw development and production as a senior production executive at 20th Century Fox.
Jashni also co-produced two Academy Award®-nominated films: the critically acclaimed drama The Hurricane, whichgarnered a Best Actor nomination for star Denzel Washington; and Anna and the King (a non-musical reinterpretation of Anna and the King of Siam), which starred Jodie Foster and earned two Oscar® nominations.
Jashni is a member of the American Film Institute and the Producers Guild of America. He holds a BS from the University of Southern California and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
JOHN SCHWARTZMAN, ASC (Director of Photography) is an award-winning cinematographer whose work encompasses some of cinema’s biggest action and comedy blockbusters, including Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man, Michael Bay’s Armageddon,Jay Roach’s Meet the Fockers and, more recently, John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr Banks. Schwartzman recently completed filming the upcoming Jurassic World, directed by Colin Trevorrow.
Twice nominated for the coveted ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases, Schwartzman won in 2004 for his work on Gary Ross’ Seabiscuit, for which he also received an Academy Award® nomination. His additional film credits include Bay’s Pearl Harbor, Michel Gondry’s The Green Hornet, Rob Reiner’s The Bucket List, Hancock’s The Rookie and Shawn Levy’s Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.
In addition to his work on the big screen, Schwartzman is one of the commercial industry’s most sought-after cameramen. His commercial work, as both director and cinematographer, includes spots for a wide range of national and international clients, such as HBO, Chevrolet, Visa, Toyota, American Express, Mercedes Benz, AT&T, Honda, Victoria’s Secret, Coca-Cola, Canon, Reebok and Nike.
FRANÇOIS AUDOUY (Production Designer) learned the craft of art direction by apprenticeship and was mentored by such famed production designers as Bo Welch (Men in Black) and Alex McDowell (Minority Report). Doubling as a concept illustrator and graphic designer, Audouy transitioned to art direction on such tentpole fantasy films as Martin Campbell’s Green Lantern,Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, Michael Bay’sTransformers and Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Most recently, Audouy designed the productions of James Mangold’s The Wolverine and Timur Bekmambetov’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. He is next designing Mangold’s The Deep Blue Good-by.
RICHARD PEARSON, ACE (Edited by) is an award-winning editor whose work has contributed to some of cinemas biggest blockbuster action films, including Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2, Marc Forster’s Quantum of Solace and Paul Greengrass’ The Bourne Supremacy. In 2006, Pearson teamed up once again with Greengrass for the critically acclaimed United 93,a collaboration that earned him, and fellow editors Clare Douglas and Christopher Rouse, an Academy Award® nomination, and won a BAFTA Award for Best Film Editing. Other works by Pearson includeBarry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black II, Josh Gordon and Will Speck’s Blades of Glory, Frank Oz’s Bowfinger and Daniel Espinosa’s Safe House. Most recently, he served as an editor on Robert Stromberg’s Maleficent, which starred Angelina Jolie.
NGILA DICKSON (Costume Designer) won an Academy Award® in 2004 for her work on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Dickson earned dual nominations that year, also being honored for her costume designs for Edward Zwick’s The Last Samurai.
Dickson had previously gained her first Oscar® and BAFTA award nominations for Best Costume Design for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. In addition, she won a BAFTA Award for her work on The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. She won a Costume Designers Guild Award and received her third BAFTA Award nomination for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Dickson is currently working on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Destiny, for The Weinstein Company.
She recently designed the costumes for Andrew Adamson’s Mr. Pip, which starred Hugh Laurie, for which Dickson won the New Zealand Film Award for Best Costume Design, and Peter Webber’s Emperor.
Dickson’s additional film projects include Green Lantern, which starred Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong and Tim Robbins; The International, which starred Naomi Watts and Clive Owen; Blood Diamond, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly; and The Illusionist, which starred Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel, for which Dickson received another Costume Designers Guild Award nomination.
Hailing from New Zealand, Dickson first worked with Jackson on Heavenly Creatures. Her early credits include the 1989 made-for-television movie The Rainbow Warrior Conspiracy; Alison Maclean’s Crush; and Gaylene Preston’s Ruby and Rata. Dickson also designed the costumes for the internationally successful television series Xena: Warrior Princess, for which she received a New Zealand TV Award for Best Contribution to Design.
Before entering the film industry, she worked as a magazine editor, stylist and fashion designer.
Dickson is an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to design and the film industry, and is a Laureate Award recipient from The Arts Foundation of New Zealand.
RAMIN DJAWADI (Music by)is revered for his melodic and memorable thematic scores. With compositions that vary stylistically from his classical orchestral pieces to electronic and modern genres, Djawadi blends the elements with careful consideration to the emotionality and narrative of each scene. The two-time Primetime Emmy Award- and Grammy Award-nominated composer challenges himself with each new project, selecting opportunities that allow him to reach into his repertoire of musical expertise.
Djawadi is the composer behind HBO’s critically acclaimed series Game of Thrones,created by D.B. Weiss and David Benioff. In addition to composing the show’s main title theme, Djawadi has composed all of the underscore throughout its four seasons, balancing the series’ big sweeping action moments and quieter scenes. The fifth season of Game of Thrones is set for spring 2015.
This fall, Djawadi returns to work on CBS’ Person of Interest, scoring the fourth season of Jonathan Nolan’s popular series. Djawadi is currently working with Guillermo del Toro on The Strain, having also collaborated with him on Pacific Rim.
Djawadi previously scored A&E Network’s Breakout Kings, as well as ABC’s FlashForward and FOX’s Prison Break. For his work on FlashForward, Djawadi received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series. He received his first Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music for Prison Break.
Djawadi is well-recognized for his Grammy-nominated, guitar-driven score for the blockbuster Iron Man. He has since composed such films as Safe House, Fright Night, Red Dawn and Clash of the Titans. Djawadi previously created the ethereal score for the thriller Mr. Brooks, which starred Kevin Costner and William Hurt. The score earned him a Discovery of the Year nomination at the World Soundtrack Awards.
Djawadi has collaborated frequently with writer David Goyer on several films and television series, including Blade: Trinity, for New Line Cinema, for which he worked with RZA; the horror-thriller The Unborn, produced by Michael Bay; as well as the aforementioned FlashForward.
In the world of animated films, Djawadi scored Open Season, Sony Pictures Animation’s first project, followed by its sequel Open Season 2. His work on these films attracted the filmmakers of Belgium-based NWave Pictures, the creators of some of the first animated movies in 3D, including Fly Me to the Moon, A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’sAdventures, A Turtle’s Tale 2: Sammy’s Escape From Paradise and Thunder and the House of Magic.
Djawadi attended Berklee College of Music and, following graduation, was mentored by Academy Award®-winning composer Hans Zimmer. Djawadi developed his own unique signature sound and scored additional music on The Time Machine, Basic, The Recruit, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Something’s Gotta Give and Batman Begins. Djawadi then collaborated with Zimmer to co-compose and produce the score for the family action-adventure Thunderbirds.
Genre: Epic Action-Adventure
Cast: Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Diarmaid Murtagh,
Dominic Cooper, Samantha Barks
Directed by: Gary Shore
Writers: Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless, Mark Bomback
Produced by: Michael De Luca
Executive Producers: Alissa Phillips, Joe Caracciolo
Luke Evans (Fast & Furious 6, Immortals) stars in Dracula Untold, the origin story of the man who became Dracula. Gary Shore directs and Michael De Luca produces the epic action-adventure that co-stars Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Diarmaid Murtagh and Samantha Barks.
A Look Inside the History of the Real Dracula
In anticipation of theupcoming release of Universal Pictures’ Dracula Untold, below are facts about the history of Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia: the man whomhistory has dubbed “Dracula.” Take a look into the history of one of the world’s most notorious monsters.
Luke Evans (Fast & Furious 6, Immortals) stars in Dracula Untold, the origin story of the man who became Dracula. Gary Shore directs and Michael De Luca produces the epic action-adventure.
ABOUT VLAD III, PRINCE OF WALLACHIA: THE REAL DRACULA
- Vlad III was born in 1431 in Transylvania.
- As a child, Vlad III and his younger brother were sent by their father as hostages of Sultan Murad IIto Constantinople, where they were held for six years and trained in warfare.
- As Transylvania was located at the center of two empires—those of the Ottoman Turks and the Austrian Hapsburgs—Vlad III lived in a time of constant war.
- Vlad III’s favorite method of torture was to impale people and leave them writhing in agony for days. This is what earned him the posthumous nickname of Vlad the Impaler (aka Vlad Tepes).
- His father, Vlad II, belonged to the Order of the Dragon—a secretive organization of Christian knights—which fought the Muslim Ottoman Empire. It was here that Vlad II took to the name Dracul, which means “dragon/devil” in Romanian.
- Following his father’s death, Vlad III ruled Wallachia and Transylvania from 1448 until his own death in 1476.
- Following in his father’s footsteps, Vlad III was also inducted into the Order of the Dragon. It was then that he took the name Dracula, which means “son of the dragon/devil” in Romanian.
- Vlad III was incredibly religious and a steadfast defender of Christianity. He believed that religious charity and a proper burial would erase his sins and allow entry to heaven. To ensure this, he surrounded himself with religious leaders such as priests and monks, in addition to founding five monasteries.
- Reportedly killed in 1476 fighting the Turks, Vlad III’s head was cut off and displayedin Constantinople…for all the city to see and fear.