With the recent news that Nicolas Cage had been cast as Count Dracula in Chris McKay’s Universal monsters movie Renfield, further announcements are coming in. The latest addition is Awkwafina, in an as yet unspecified role.
Renfield stars Nicholas Hoult in the titular role, as Dracula’s henchman. It appears as though it will be a comedy (and the casting is certainly suggesting that) and that it will be set in the modern day.
Awkwafina was recently seen in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the Marvel movie that earned over $430 million at the box office. Awkwafina is mainly known for her comedic supporting roles, in movies such as Crazy Rich Asians, Ocean’s Eight and Jumanji: The Next Level. The comedienne and actress, whose real name is Nora Lum, has had one dramatic central role, however – in Lulu Wang’s The Farewell.
Universal famously tried to launch a new monsterverse around high-profile stars such as Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp and Russell Crowe. After initially planning a big-budget crossover extravaganza based on famous characters such as The Invisible Man, Wolfman, and Dr Jekyll, Universal completely changed their strategy after The Mummy (2017) did not take off as hoped.
Universal have now changed tactics to a lower-budget, more independent approach with Leigh Whannell’s Invisible Man and the upcoming Wolfman starring Ryan Gosling, which will now be directed by the artistic and independent Derek Cianfrance. These films do not have the pressure of being part of an inter-connected universe and the writer-directors can have more creative control.
With the addition of a Chris McKay-helmed modern-day comedy about Dracula’s henchman starring Nicolas Cage, that is penned by one of the Rick and Morty writers – this is a sure sign that Universal are fulfilling their promise. That is to let go of any restrictions and open-source to filmmakers, who have been inspired to create their own unique stories.