Nicolas Cage is set to don fangs and a black cape – not just as part of a typical night for the star – but because he will be playing Count Dracula, as exclusively revealed in Deadline. While the Universal monsters series has seen several false starts, they are hoping to bring things back on track with Renfield – also starring Nicholas Hoult in the title role, as Dracula’s henchman.
Cage has made many independent genre films (mostly horror) in recent years, including Mandy, Color out of Space, Willy’s Wonderland and Prisoners of the Ghostland. He has also received critical acclaim for his performance in the dramatic indie Pig this year. Renfield will be a return to the big-budget studio movie for the star, with Chris McKay (The Tomorrow War) directing.
Nicholas Hoult is currently starring in season two of The Great on Hulu, in which he plays Peter the Great of Russia, opposite Elle Fanning as Catherine…the Great.
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 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.
Renfield is a character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and is a patient in an asylum who becomes obsessed with drinking blood, believing it will grant him immortality. He forms a twisted co-dependent relationship with Dracula, who dangles the promise of everlasting life before him.
The project is being described as a modern-day adventure story that is comedic in tone. With Ryan Ridley, known for Rick and Morty, penning the script and Cage being known for bringing a certain over-the-top hamminess to his roles, comedic expectations will be high.