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Nicolas Cage Shaved His Teeth Down To Play Dracula In Renfield

Editor's Note: Since the publication of this story, which was based on information reported by Variety, there has been further clarification that suggests that Nicolas Cage's teeth were not dramatically altered for "Renfield." Our sister site /Film confirmed with Universal Pictures that: "The teeth were made by process of scanning [Cage's] teeth and then digitally sculpting the Dracula teeth before 3D printing the dental prosthetics."

Nicolas Cage is famous for throwing himself entirely into the roles he plays, with a penchant for absolute commitment to his characters — no matter how outlandish they may be. With "Renfield," the famed mega-acting practitioner might have been forgiven for taking it easy for once, given that he's playing Dracula in a breezy horror-comedy that recasts the immortal vampire as the ultimate codependent boss. But in a Variety interview to promote the film, makeup artist Christien Tinsley revealed that Cage took an almost unbelievably drastic step towards bringing his character closer to the very image of un-death.

As with most onscreen portrayals of Count Dracula, Cage's version strongly emphasizes the fangs. Most actors would have probably been content to let modern-day CGI do its work on their chompers, but Tinsley says Cage took a different approach. Using 3D-printed dentures for maximum flexibility and adjustment, Cage was evidently not interested in his speech being impeded by the dentures in any way. "We shaved Nic's teeth down and the dentures were fitted so as not to impede on Nic's speech and allow full freedom," Tinsley said. "Nic wanted to emote and enunciate properly, so it was important the veneers were thin."

The rest of Cage's makeup process was intense as well

Nicolas Cage may have gone to drastic lengths to nail Dracula's iconic fanged look for "Renfield," but his dental work was actually just one step in an arduous, constantly evolving process of getting him into costume and ready to film. Dracula's visage morphs four times over the course of the film, and the makeup department engineered four separate processes for the character's different looks. According to Christien Tinsley, the first look took roughly three-and-a-half hours to apply to Cage each time. ""It was a full head of prosthetics, dentures, full body, torso, arms, hands and nails," the makeup artist said. "Those take time."

While the subsequent designs for Dracula at later stages of the movie didn't take as much time to apply, there was still a lot of effort involved in seeing Tinsley's creative vision for the character's look through. "There's a blue hue about him," he said. "It's very iridescent. If you see it in person, he almost looks like a metallic robot. I added a lot of teal iridescence to the makeup. In person, he would shimmer and shine, and on camera, it allows for a healthy glow to the skin, so he doesn't look like a cadaver."

Of course, when filming wrapped, Cage was able to remove most of the makeup and prosthetics and go back to his good old pre-Dracula appearance. There's no un-shaving those teeth, though.

It's actually not the first time Cage has given up part of his teeth for a role

Nicolas Cage having his teeth shaved down to better accommodate his Dracula fangs for "Renfield" is destined to become a piece of vampire movie lore, like Bela Lugosi being buried in his Dracula cape. But, as drastic an action as it may seem, it actually is not the first time Cage has gone to such lengths for a part.

In a 1985 interview promoting the film "Birdy," Cage explains how he had two teeth removed without any anesthetic to portray his disfigured war vet character in the movie. "It was just the phase I was going through at the time — to explore that kind of approach to acting, which was to physically make demands on myself to connect with the character," Cage noted.

As Cage has demonstrated in movies decades later like "Renfield," however, his ultra-commitment to getting into character was anything but a phase.