Why The Captain From The Last Voyage Of The Demeter Looks So Familiar

If you see a face that looks vaguely familiar during the sea-faring fright fest from director André Øvredal, don't fret. Your guess is correct; that really is Count Dracula from Bram Stoker's legendary story. See, this film, "The Last Voyage of the Demeter," expands on one of its most chilling portions of the account of the Count, which involved a giant dog and a ship plagued with paranoia and panic. Initially penned as a captain's log in the original story, the movie follows the ill-fated vessel that set sail with one more passenger than expected. Spoilers for the 126-year-old tale, but it doesn't end well for anyone else on board without fangs.

Beyond the toothy terror feeding off other crew and passengers on board, though, there's a host of talent fearing for their lives, one of which is the Demeter's Captain, played by Liam Cunningham. A seasoned film and television star, Cunningham should be able to handle this, given his lengthy experience with the unholy horrors of both land and sea. Vampires? Pah! Long before he was facing off against legendary vampires, he had to handle the hairy issue of werewolves in what is now a cult British horror classic.

He was a bad guy with a bite in Dog Soldiers

In almost every horror that sees a squad of tough guys facing off against an unnatural threat, they need to be bothered by a treacherous character that eventually gets their gristly comeuppance. In the case of Neil Marshall's directorial debut, "Dog Soldiers," that duty went to Liam Cunningham as Captain Richard Ryan, the only survivor of a SAS team that gradually starts to display slightly canine tendencies after he's forced to hold up with a group of soldiers in a cottage under siege by werewolves.

The first of many Captain-ranked characters he'd take on through his career, Ryan is what would happen if you mixed the worst traits of Burke, Hudson, and Gorman from "Aliens" all into one and left him to hold his own against beasties that howl at the moon. It's a winning formula applied to what is deemed one of the greatest werewolf films ever made. While it's undoubtedly one of the more notable roles in the early stages of Cunningham's career, it makes a change from the even-tempered, good-guy character type he'd become more accustomed to in later years. Before that, though, it was opposite Michael Fassbender that Cunningham would take on one of his career-defining roles under a director on the road to Oscar-winning greatness.

Cunningham was part of an iconic one-shot scene with Michael Fassbender in Hunger

Believe it or not, Liam Cunningham is a Guinness World Record holder for being part of one of the world's longest one-shot sequences ever made. In the directorial debut of an Oscar winner-in-the-making, Steve McQueen's "Hunger" told the story of the 1981 IRA hunger strikes led by Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender). Cunningham played Father Moran, a priest who goes to visit the protestor that would go on to die for his cause in what might be one of the most captivating conversations ever caught on film.

When Cunningham sits down, it takes 17 minutes before the camera cuts away from the conversation. The only significant motion is the plumes of cigarette smoke growing around them and Fassbender's skeletal frame moving like a clapped-out steam engine (he lost 50 lbs for the role). Five attempts were made on camera for a conversation the two had prepped for months, thanks to Cunningham and Fassbender moving in together during production to get it right. Speaking to The Times following the film's release, Cunningham recalled the process saying, "We get up, he [Fassbender] puts on the porridge, and we start running the f****n' scene," he recalled." At one, there's a knock on the door, and we're handed the food, and the door shuts again. We go on till six or seven o'clock until Steve turns up, looks at our progress, gives us some notes, and then off we go again.

Liam Cunningham joined Sam Worthington for a Clash of the Titans

In another film featuring a rag-tag team of heroes facing a common foe, Liam Cunningham joined the CGI-crammed "Clash of the Titans" remake that saw Sam Worthington's Perseus fight monsters and Liam Neeson release Krakens. Cunningham played Solon, the seasoned soldier and friend of a friend who joined Perseus on his quest but, unfortunately, didn't make it to the finish line as is often the case with these do-or-die missions. Fully settling into the mode of wise old warrior that we'd see applied later in one of his most iconic roles, Worthington had some interesting words to say about his co-star during the film's release.

Speaking to RTE, Worthington discussed his Irish co-stars, saying, "Well, we have one who is the housewives' dreamboat in Mr. Neeson and one who is the housewives' friggin' nightmare; and that's Mr. Cunningham." In an interesting bit of praise, the film's lead added, "That guy is fast and furious and a great friend, but he's the devil, I'm telling you." Okay, then?

Cunningham fought a Cold War in Doctor Who

Earning the captain ranking in another cornerstone of popular culture, Liam Cunningham joined the plethora of talent that had a one-and-done appearance in "Doctor Who." During Matt Smith's run as the titular Time Lord, Cunningham played Russian submarine captain Zharkov in Season 7, Episode 8, "Cold War." The episode saw Zharkov come close to sparking a war between humanity and the Ice Warriors, an alien species that hadn't been seen on the show in 39 years. 

Once again playing a battle-hardened character, only this time with a Russian twang, Cunningham's history with "Doctor Who" stretches back further than his appearance opposite Smith — he almost played Doctor Who in the TV movie before it went to Paul McGann. There was no bitterness over missing out, however. When it came to sharing the screen with the Smith's sonic-screwdriver-wielding hero, he had nothing but praise to give.

Speaking to Access Hollywood, Cunningham described Smith's iteration as "a wonderful Doctor. He's wonderful. He's a very quirky character both in real life and as Doctor Who. I'd seriously say, I think he's gonna go down as – definitely one of the classics of the Doctors." What a fitting matter of timey-wimey circumstances then that Smith would go on to appear in a world Cunningham had already made his mark in, only centuries apart. Kind of.

Liam Cunningham added layers to the Onion Knight, Ser Davos, in Game of Thrones

There were plenty of essential players in "Game of Thrones," but Liam Cunningham's reformed smuggling sea captain was a firm favorite that (spoilers) deserved to make it out alive of HBO's hit television series. Initially a strong ally of Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) until his death, Ser Davos Seaworth became a welcome advisor to Jon Snow (Kit Harington) during his reign as King in the North. A former smuggler that changed his ways, Davos was one of the few secondary characters that stole a scene easily from dragon queens and princes who were promised. In Cunningham's eyes, though, he saw his alter-ego as the audience's eyes and ears helping us out every week.

Speaking to Newsweek, the former Hand of the King and Master of Ships said, "Portraying Davos has been absolutely fabulous. In a strange way, I kind of always thought of him as almost representing the audience." Cunningham explained, "He asks the questions or says statements when Stannis or whoever it may be wants to get up to no good and the means to justify the end and all that sort of stuff. He's the guy that kind of stands up. He's idealistic in a sense." When it came to right-hand men in "Game of Thrones," you couldn't go wrong with the one that had four less fingernails to clean. Well, fewer.