What really went on behind-the-scenes of Bram Stoker's Dracula?
In 1992, Francis Ford Coppola was desperate. He was coming off the financial and critical disappointment that accompanied the release of The Godfather Part III and his Zoetrope Productions needed a hit. A big budget, operatic, R-rated horror movie didn't seem like the best way to get one - even with a hot young cast including Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves, and Anthony Hopkins fresh off an Academy Award for Silence of the Lambs - yet that's exactly what Coppola set out to make. And, being Coppola, he didn't go the safe route.
The filmmaker fired production designers and special effects teams, drastically reimagined the character of Dracula (while also staying truer to the book than perhaps any other production), put his 24-year-old son Roman in charge of special effects, and pushed his actors to the breaking point. The result was the hit that Coppola needed, netting three Academy Awards and bringing in a worldwide box office of more than $200 million.
The troubled production also ensured there would be plenty of behind-the-scenes stories about the making of Bram Stoker's Dracula - some of them as strange and uncanny as anything that happened on the screen.
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Oldman Spent Weeks Getting Into Character Before Ever Filming A Scene
"He was always testing people, and he loved it... even when he was not filming," actress Sadie Frost, who plays Lucy Westenra in the movie, said of Gary Oldman's performance as Dracula. Weeks before he was scheduled to appear in any scenes, Oldman showed up on set to work with the makeup team and got himself into character. And once in character, he rarely got out. "He was like Dracula all the time to me," Frost said. "Every time Gary was around, he was so powerful and so strong. I was very scared; didn't want to get too close."
Oldman admits he "studied my star a bit," even in rehearsals. "I was very unrelenting in intensity. You get an opportunity to play a character like this, where you're not really restricted by any frame... it seemed insanity not to take advantage. And not only that, but also do it with Francis. Here is this sort of God of the cinema who can, when pushed, lean toward the operatic. And you think, 'Well, why not give him a good show?'"Is this fascinating?
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A River Of Blood Flowed Through The Sony Backlot While Filming
Production designer Tom Sanders was driving across the Sony Picures backlot on his way to work on Bram Stoker's Dracula when he came upon a river of blood flowing between the soundstages. People from various productions were splashing across it, wading in it, wondering where it came from, and it took Sanders a few moments to realize that it couldn't come from anyplace but the movie he, himself, was working on.
Described as "thick, viscous, and terribly crimson," the gallons of fake blood flowed from the soundstage where they were filming, along the main street, and all the way across the studio. Just another day in the Hollywood dream factory...Is this fascinating?
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Coppola Originally Wanted The Costumes To Stand Alone
Japanese graphic designer Eiko Ishioka won an Oscar for the costumes she created for Bram Stoker's Dracula. Originally, Coppola wanted them to take on a more central focus. "The costumes are the set," is how Coppola put it to Ishioka.
"I was gonna lead with the costumes," Coppola says in a special feature that accompanied one of the home video releases of the film. "I was gonna put most of my money in the costumes, and I was gonna diminish the sets and have the sets be more a highly imaginative use of space and shadow and like one set piece and a black void and a cloud projection."
The studio wasn't having it, though. "Quite frankly, they just wouldn't do it," Coppola told Premiere. Nonetheless, Ishioka's costumes turned out to be unlike anything else that had ever been seen before, especially in a Dracula adaptation, netting the film one of its three Academy Awards.Is this fascinating?
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It's Rumored That Oldman Was Drunk When Filming The Razor-Licking Scene
In one of the most famous scenes in the movie, Keanu Reeves's Jonathan Harker cuts himself shaving, and Gary Oldman's Dracula licks the blood from the straight razor. There are rumors that Oldman was drunk on set at the time of filming, and he doesn't deny that he had a drinking problem at that time. "It took me by surprise," he later told GQ about his dependency issues.
Oldman and Coppola had disagreements on set, often over creative differences, which Coppola said were sometimes exacerbated by Oldman's drinking. “I wouldn’t call drinking a factor, other than a couple of times over a long period of time,” Coppola explained. “Let’s say he’s been drinking, and you’re trying to explain something. How people can drink before noon is just - they put a grandstand in front of everyone. They say, ‘It’s not clear what you want me to do!’"
One night, during the filming of Dracula, Oldman was picked up for drunk driving after an evening out with Kiefer Sutherland. At the time, Oldman defended his behavior by saying, "That was a Saturday night!" According to Chris Heath, writing for GQ, "He liked to tell people that this had taught him that he couldn't drink and drive. So he had decided to give up driving."
These days, Oldman has been sober for years, and he looks back at his indiscretions with clearer eyes. "I don't regret any of it," he told GQ, "I'm just glad it's all behind me."Is this fascinating?