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Fangtastic Renfield Facts For Dracula Fans To Sink Their Teeth Into

It's time for Count Dracula to rise from the grave and spook up the big screen again. Transylvania's famous son isn't the main focus this time, though, as the spotlight turns to his familiar, R. M. Renfield. "Renfield" has been directed by Chris McKay, and the script has been written by Ryan Ridley of "Rick and Morty" fame. 

The film follows the story of the titular character (Nicholas Hoult) as he grows tired of working for the world's most demanding and worst boss, Dracula (Nicolas Cage), and makes his escape from the fang life. The film isn't quite the gothic horror that Bram Stoker imagined in his 1897 novel, but it's a welcome and novel spin on a timeless story.

Much like any other major Hollywood blockbuster, bringing "Renfield" to life hasn't been a walk in the park. In fact, it might be more like a cursed walk through a graveyard on a cold winter night. The production experienced its share of setbacks, including a robbery that impacted the crew members as well as the original director departing the project. 

That said, there have also been numerous highs, such as securing the services of Nicolas Cage as the king of bloodsuckers. So, hit the creepy notes on the organ, grab the crucifix, and get ready to hunt down some of the tastiest facts about "Renfield."

Nicolas Cage found inspiration in the most unexpected places

If there's one thing that's clear about Nicolas Cage, it's that he's unique. He has his own process for acting, and who are we, as mere mortals, to question the great man's approach? To prepare for the role of Dracula in "Renfield," Cage tapped into his inner self to find the right tone for this iconic character. 

He already had experience playing a bloodsucker in 1988's "Vampire's Kiss," but he wanted to push up a level for his latest venture into the world of the undead. As he revealed to Empire, he studied Max Shreck's classic performance as the vampire Count Orlok in 1922's "Nosferatu." Cage took specific note of Shreck's gestures and quirks in the film and considered the different ways of incorporating them into his own portrayal.

Now, that doesn't sound too strange by Cage's standards. However, he didn't stop there in finding inspiration for his character. Cage felt that the film has elements of comedic, pop art, or at least that's what the actor interpreted from conversations with the director and his reading of the script. He was also influenced by Andy Warhol's Dracula. 

Renfield is the second time Nicholas Hoult and Nicolas Cage have worked together

There's no need to introduce Nicolas Cage to anyone since he has built a decorated career that has seen him win an Oscar and the hearts of several generations of moviegoers. While Nicholas Hoult might not be as instantly famous as Cage, he is an established and highly regarded actor who has made a name for himself in films such as the "X-Men" franchise, "Tolkien," "Mad Max: Fury Road," and "The Menu." 

Pairing up the two actors in "Renfield" feels like an obvious winning combination, though it isn't the first time the actors have shared the screen together. They both worked on a film together 18 years prior. As Hoult told The Hollywood Reporter, he worked with Cage when he was 14. He played the role of Cage's son in "The Weather Man."

He added that working with Cage on "Renfield" was special because he felt the actor is as iconic as the character he portrays in the film, and he enjoyed watching his process in real-time.

Dexter Fletcher was the original director of the movie

Director Chris McKay has shown his versatility as a filmmaker, from the animated film "Robot Chicken" and "The Lego Batman Movie" to his work on the sci-fi action spectacle "The Tomorrow War." Having McKay helm the horror-tinged action comedy "Renfield" feels like both a natural progression and an opportunity for him to showcase his chops in a different genre. Yet, McKay wasn't the original choice to direct the Universal Pictures production when it was given the green light.

According to Variety, English filmmaker Dexter Fletcher was the first pick to direct "Renfield." Fletcher was on a scorching-hot streak before he began work on this feature. Prior to "Renfield," Fletcher directed the Elton John biopic "Rocketman" and the heartfelt sports drama "Eddie the Eagle." He also stepped in to wrap up production on the multi-Oscar-winning "Bohemian Rhapsody" after Bryan Singer was fired from the film (via Deadline). 

According to Deadline, McKay entered negotiations for the vampire film as director and producer in April 2021 before ultimately signing on. In the end, the director decided to pursue the opportunity to direct "The Saint" reboot and drop out of "Renfield" altogether.

The Renfield crew's cars were broken into in the parking lot

Crime affects everyone, and it appears these blasé criminals aren't afraid of Count Dracula's wrath either. During the production of "Renfield," multiple crew members were victims of burglary during a nighttime shoot on February 8, 2022, as per CenLA Now

According to the news report, the crew members had their vehicles stationed at a New Orleans parking lot that was specially reserved for them while filming. The New Orleans Police Department stated that it received a call before midnight of that evening, alerting the station to the fact that multiple cars had been robbed.

In the early hours of the morning of February 9, 2022, "Renfield" crew members received an email from the production team informing them of the incident. Reportedly, there was security stationed at the location, but the criminals still managed to sneak in and cause havoc. The mail further advised the people impacted to log a report online since the New Orleans Police Department was short-staffed that day and wouldn't be coming through to the scene of the crime. 

The crew expressed concern about their safety and wanted accountability for their losses. Garlic and holy water might keep Dracula at bay, but it seemingly has no effect on criminals.

How the failure of the Dark Universe helped Renfield

The financial success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe inspired everyone and their grandmother to kickstart a shared universe in an attempt to reap similar rewards and fanfare. Universal Pictures banked on the Dark Universe, which would have been an interconnected film universe featuring the fabled Universal Monsters in all their glory. 

The studio went as far as announcing a slate of movies and even releasing a group photo of the cast members who would portray the characters, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Unfortunately, the first effort of the Dark Universe, 2017's "The Mummy" starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella, dropped deader than Dracula in sunlight as it failed to inspire the critics and audience or ignite the box office.

Rather than press ahead and potentially lose hundreds of millions of dollars, Universal Pictures took a step back and reconsidered its approach to this monster mash. The studio decided to focus less on a shared universe model and more on a filmmaker-driven approach to these legendary characters (as per Variety). As a result, it invited creators to pitch their visions and stories, hence where the initial idea for "Renfield" was born.

Robert Kirkman first pitched the idea for Renfield in 2019

Mention Robert Kirkman, and the first image that comes to mind is "The Walking Dead." Kirkman is the co-creator of one of the most successful zombie comics of the modern era and the executive producer of the popular television show adaptation. Kirkman and his production company Skybound Entertainment are in high demand for all things horror-related. It also helps that Kirkman has worked on other ghoulish projects such as the comic books "Haunt," "Outcast," and "Marvel Zombies."

When Universal Pictures sought out creative ideas for potential Universal Monster films, Kirkman heeded the call and put together a treatment for a new film, pitching "Renfield" to the studio execs in 2019. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kirkman's vision for the film entailed taking a comical approach that was similar to the mockumentary "What We Do in the Shadows."

Kirkman appeared on Kevin Smith's "FatMan Beyond" podcast and elaborated on the film, detailing that "Renfield" is the story about Dracula's henchman, who is doing a bad job. It's a violent and funny comedy. 

Nicolas Cage watched his uncle's adaptation of Dracula for tips

Hollywood loves Dracula movies: Whether it's Bela Lugosi's haunting portrayal of the charismatic vampire in 1931's "Dracula" or Gerard Butler's flex as Judas Iscariot turned master bloodsucker in "Dracula 2000," the industry never misses a beat when it comes to this creature of the night. 

Perhaps one of the most famous and celebrated films about the Count is Francis Ford Coppola's Oscar-winning 1992 film "Bram Stoker's Dracula," which starred Gary Oldman as the titular character and received waves of praise for its visual style.

It should come as no surprise that Nicolas Cage, as a member of the Coppola family, is familiar with his uncle's film. In an interview with Variety, he revealed how he watched previous portrayals of the character in preparation for his own interpretation in "Renfield," and was left mesmerized by his uncle's film once again. He was particularly struck by Gary Oldman's performance.

Nicolas Cage was beyond prepared for the role

Nicolas Cage requires room and space to find his character and unleash The Cage. The actor admitted to Den of Geek that he painted his face as a voodoo icon to truly feel what it was like to be a ghost or spirit for the 2011 "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance."

Cage shows extreme commitment to his roles and will do what's absolutely necessary to find the voice for the characters. Regardless of the final performance on screen, he certainly deserves credit for undertaking such meticulous preparation for his films.

Cage often showed up highly prepared to the set of "Renfield" before the production had even started, as his co-star Nicholas Hoult detailed on Jimmy Kimmel Live." Hoult explained how Cage raises the standards of everyone else in a film. 

He recalled how the two met in the director's office weeks before filming started, and Cage already knew all of his lines and how to interpret scenes. Hoult found Cage's levels of preparation and dedication to the craft truly remarkable. 

The director thinks Renfield is similar to Evil Dead II

In the build-up to the release of a film, the directors, producers, and stars of the production will do their best to sell the movie to the audience: It's part of the job, really. Sometimes, they will even draw comparisons to other films in an attempt to lure those fanbases in. As an example, Nicolas Cage name-dropped the likes of 2021's "Malignant" and 1981's "American Werewolf in London" to Variety in his discussion about "Renfield."

Director Chris McKay spoke on "A Trip to the Movies with Alex Zane" and threw in another interesting comparison. He noted that the film is tonally similar to "Evil Dead II." Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead II" was a controversial film when it was released in 1987. The movie was never submitted to the ratings board due to the fear it would have received an X rating, according to the Los Angeles Times

Despite the comedic element present in the story, it was bloody and gory in an over-the-top manner that made executives uneasy about how it would be received. The ratings controversy aside, "Evil Dead II" catapulted the franchise to the next level and was well received by critics and fans, holding a 95 percent critical approval and 89 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Nicolas Cage says Nicholas Hoult is the true star of the movie

Many of the headlines for "Renfield" label the film as "Nicolas Cage's Dracula movie" or mention that Cage is finally back where he belongs in Hollywood blockbuster land. It's understandable, considering the actor's superstar status in the film industry and the number of eyeballs his name attracts. However, the movie is titled "Renfield," which is a dead giveaway of who the real lead is here. Cage agrees with the sentiment as well, believing his co-star is the one who deserves the hype and attention.

Cage told Extra that he really enjoyed working with Nicholas Hoult and asserted that he is the true star of the film. He also remembered the way in which Hoult supported Cage in the film "The Weather Man," and that Cage wanted to support Hoult in a similar way. Cage also hopes to star in more films with Hoult. Well, here here's a free suggestion for Cage, Hoult, and their collaborators: "Renfield and Dracula vs. Van Helsing: Dawn of the Undead."

Ben Schwartz was in awe of Nicolas Cage on set

Actor Ben Schwartz has been on a career hot streak. Not only is he the voice of Leonardo in "Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," but he's also voiced everyone's favorite blue titular speedster in the "Sonic the Hedgehog" film franchise. 

As a result, this has allowed Schwartz to share screen time with celebrated performers such as Jim Carrey, James Marsden, and Idris Elba. Schwartz plays the character of eddy Lobo in "Renfield, which has given him the opportunity to star alongside another screen legend: Nicolas Cage.

Schwartz discussed his experience of working with Cage on The Playlist and gushed about how positive it all was and how there's more to the actor than meets the eye. He was awed by Cage's commitment and dedication to the work. For Schwartz, working with Cage was an absolute dream come true.

Chris McKay reveals the real theme of Renfield

On the surface, "Renfield" appears to be a covert commentary about toxic workplaces. It paints an unflattering picture of Dracula as a terrible boss and subtly advises the audience to seek new opportunities if they, too, are working in horrendous environments with monsters. However, "Renfield" director Chris McKay explained to The Playlist that there's a bigger theme at play in the film, and that's the issue of codependency

In the original "Dracula" story by Bram Stoker, Renfield does his master's bidding as he believes Dracula will grant him immortality. While the Count does give Renfield some power, he never fully turns him as promised. Ultimately, Renfield has a crisis of conscience and defies his master, which becomes his doom as Dracula snaps his neck.

There's an element of codependency in the novel, which also filters its way into "Renfield." Renfield relies on his master and buys into the hype, as he follows instructions in the hope it leads to him becoming a vampire. Similarly, Dracula requires Renfield to carry out his plans, as he needs a loyal lackey. If Renfield is no longer following his orders, the Count encounters a problem. In a way, he needs Renfield more than his familiar needs him.