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16 Behind-The-Scenes Stories From The Making Of ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’

July 30, 2020 5.0k votes 797 voters 108.8k views16 items

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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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    Winona Ryder And Keanu Reeves May Have Actually Gotten Married During The Wedding Scene

    "Francis [Ford Coppola] used a real Romanian priest," Winona Ryder told Entertainment Weekly while doing press for her 2018 film Destination Wedding, which re-teamed her with her Dracula co-star. "We shot the master and he did the whole thing. So I think we're married."

    When she broke the news to Reeves, he took it in stride. "We said yes?" the actor asked, to which Ryder responded, "Don't you remember that? It was on Valentine's Day." As far as we know, however, no one has done the actual legwork to see if a movie wedding is binding in Romania. Someone should probably track down that priest and get his opinion.

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  • 6

    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.

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  • 7

    Coppola Worked As Though The Film Was Being Made At The Turn Of The Century

    "Very much like Georges Méliès," is how Francis Ford Coppola explained his process to Entertainment Weekly. "Dracula was written at about the same time as cinema was invented. What if I made Dracula much in the way that the earliest cinema practitioners would have?"

    To accomplish this, he not only filmed most of the movie on sound stages, but also created virtually all of the effects in-camera, using techniques that would have been available at the turn-of-the-century, when pioneers like Méliès were working. He also cited F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu as an influence, calling it "one of the greatest cinema masterpieces that exists."

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  • 8

    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?'"

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