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What Nosferatu Actors Look Like In Real Life

All eyes are on Robert Eggers' upcoming adaptation of "Nosferatu," which features Bill Skarsgård in the titular role. The first trailer for the Focus Features pic has received overwhelmingly positive reactions, and horror fans are excited to see just how different Eggers' take on the iconic Count Orlok will be from director F.W. Murnau's 1924 classic. While concrete details on the remake are slim, the filmmaker has been working for nearly a decade to bring his version to life. In addition to Skarsgård, the gothic picture features Willem Dafoe, Lily-Rose Depp, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in pivotal roles.

The character of Nosferatu, who is based on Bram Stoker's vampire, Dracula, has been a constant cinematic presence, with multiple generations receiving their own diabolical version of the villain. A number of high-profile actors have brought the character to life across various iterations, with each performer looking drastically different from the last. Here's what every Nosferatu actor looks like in real life.

Max Schreck was the first Nosferatu

Back in 1922, German director F. W. Murnau had the madcap idea of (unofficially) adapting Bram Stoker's "Dracula," unknowingly creating one of the world's first horror masterpieces in the process. "Nosferatu" became a cultural phenomenon and is widely considered to be one of the best horror movies of all time.

In the titular role was Max Schreck, a relatively unknown German actor. Schreck would never become a superstar, but his turn as Nosferatu would become one of the most memorable key images of horror iconography that's still influential to this day. Of course, modern audiences may best remember Shreck through his archival appearance as Count Orlok on "SpongeBob SquarePants."

Shreck looks nothing like the devious Nosferatu, as the character is bald, and has a shriveled-up look. The villain's eyes pop and his fingers are coarse and elongated, making Shreck completely unrecognizable in the role. The actor stood at a whopping 6"3, making him the perfect choice for the tall vampire. Shreck died in 1936 at the age of 56, having set the visual tone for a genre of vampires going forward. Audiences eager to watch Shreck's performance won't have much trouble doing so, as the original "Nosferatu" is available to stream online for free.

Klaus Kinski played Nosferatu twice

Following in the footsteps of the original "Nosferatu," later adaptions and reinterpretations would stick to the film's German roots. Renowned director Werner Herzog debuted "Nosferatu the Vampyre" in 1979 to significant acclaim. Taking on the lead role was Herzog's frequent collaborator Klaus Kinski, best known for headlining the historical epic "Aguirre, the Wrath of God."

Herzog and Kinski's version of Nosferatu, which is available to stream on Prime Video, is quite similar to the original. This makes sense; after all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it! Still, Kinski's transformation is jarring, due in large part to his missing hair. Though he was not a short man, Kinski only stood at 5"8, notably shorter than Max Shreck. While Kinski's performance has been praised, audiences and critics at the time found Herzog's version of "Nosferatu" too similar to the original film. In a chat with The New York Times, Kinski opened up about how he deliberately avoided watching the original so he could be divorced from the source material. "'Hamlet' has been done about 100,000 times, and it's a remake every time. What does that mean?" the actor said about the criticism.

Klinski would later reprise his role as the vampire in 1988's "Vampire in Venice," though this movie wasn't directed by Herzog. The sequel is available to watch on The Criterion Channel and Shudder.

Willem Dafoe played original Nosferatu actor Max Schreck

After Max Schreck and Klaus Kinski set the bar for Nosferatu, screen icon Willem Dafoe gave audiences his interpretation of the vampire in a unique way. In 2000, Dafoe starred in "Shadow of the Vampire," which serves as a fictional depiction of the production of the original "Nosferatu." Dafoe plays Count Orlok actor Shreck, with the twist that Shreck himself is a vampire who is asked by director F. W. Murnau (John Malkovich) to play a vampire in his upcoming film. It's a zany and extremely fun premise that operates as a "fake" biopic.

Dafoe is notably shorter than Shreck, coming in at just under 5"9, but despite that little detail, the actor was praised for his work, even receiving an Oscar nod. Pulling double duty as both Shreck and Nosferatu was no small task for Dafoe. Luckily, he had all the help he needed. "I wasn't sure [how to play Schreck]. But I knew that there was a model of the original, so that gave me something," the Green Goblin actor told Hollywood.com, adding, "And I knew I am going to be wearing makeup that will make me look like the Max Schreck in the film as much as possible."

"Shadow of the Vampire" is available to rent on digital platforms like Amazon Prime Video.

Bill Skarsgård is our new Nosferatu

After years of anticipation, Bill Skarsgård is set to be this generation's Nosferatu. Unfortunately, the debut trailer for Eggers' horror film doesn't tease Skarsgård's appearance as the iconic vamp, but it's fair to assume that the character will pretty much look like previous iterations and won't deviate too far from the villain's iconic appearance.

Casting Skarsgård as Count Orlok is an extremely sound move. After all, the actor has proven himself to be a chameleon when it comes to horror movies. He starred as Pennywise the Clown in the contemporary "IT" films, where he was transformed through make-up to become the devious monster. He even changed up his look for the upcoming "Crow" remake. Standing over 6"3, the Swedish actor is a solid choice to play the iconic vampire, as he boasts a lanky build that should echo Max Schreck's version of the character, though it sounds like there will be some differences as well.

In a profile for Esquire, Eggers explained that he cast Skarsgård because of his "beauty," which he felt would make audiences more attracted to the vampire, who is typically treated as a ghoul. Skarsgård jumped through several hoops to get cast in the pic, and Eggers realized that the actor transformed himself during early meetings. "Somewhere in that second makeup test, I was like, 'He's become the character.' It was eerie to see in the footage. Anything he did, anywhere he turned or looked, you were like, 'He's got it,'" Eggers said.

"Nosferatu" arrives in theaters on December 25.