We caught up with the star of the new monster movie…

Welsh actor Luke Evans is about to take on one of the most iconic characters in literary and movie history. The star of THE HOBBIT and FAST & FURIOUS is reinventing Dracula, showing us a side of him we’ve not seen on screen before. Movies.ie visited the movie set just outside Belfast last Halloween and met the actor in full vampire attire, covered in fake blood and wearing trademark Dracula fangs… it wasn’t a difficult interview to sink our teeth into…

This version of Dracula is part fiction (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) and part fact (Vlad the Impaler). There’s so many areas to research where did you begin?
Luke Evans: There’s lots to do in terms of research, because Vlad Tepes lived a long time ago. Obviously people know him as Vlad the Impaler, but there’s a lot more to the man than just the fact that he had this harsh way of killing people; his background is quite interesting. I read a few biographies on him; there’s lots of different opinions and contrasting stories on him, and what he did, how bad he was and how good he was. He was actually loved by his people and he was a very successful leader, and that’s where you meet him in the film. At the beginning of the film he is this successful king of his country, he has led a country through 10 years of prosperity and peace.

What was it like to work with Irish director Gary Shore?
LE: It’s been great. He’s a first time director and this is my first leading role in a movie, so we are both sort of stepping into new positions in the business. We have got each other’s backs, we have supported each other, and we’ve had a really enjoyable time. He’s incredibly creative and committed to making this story enjoyable and entertaining and rewarding. We work together very well; we have been talking about this film for almost ten months, so it was actually quite nice to get the camera rolling on the first day and put all that yammering into physical business.

Do you think the fact that you are both stepping into new roles brings a new dynamic to the film?
LE: I think it’s more exciting. We know we are both doing something that everyone is going to be looking at, and seeing how well we do. Whether I can carry a leading role in a studio movie, and whether he can direct! [laughs] I hope we have done that. We have definitely enjoyed the process; we have had a great time. He’s a great guy, we are pals off set. He’s an Irish bloke, and I’m a Welsh lad, and we immediately found an affinity the second we met. There is a lot going on on a film set; there are a lot of people, there’s a lot of opinions, there’s a lot of everything going on… You have got to try and enjoy the process, and not let everything get too much on top of you. I think Gary and I have made sure that we have kept the enjoyment there on a daily basis. You try and keep positive and enjoy it. We have been on the same page from day one, and I think that’s a good thing.

You’ve been in some of the biggest movies of the past two years, but was being in the leading role more stressful than usual?
LE: No it’s not stressful… It’s exhausting, I would say. My average day I get picked up at about 5am, then have two and a half hours in the make up chair. Depending on what costume I am wearing [that day] it could take from about 10 minutes to 40 minutes to get into costume. Then we’re on set for about 10-12 hours per day. I get picked up at 5am, and I don’t get home until about 7.30-8pm. So… tiring. You just have to keep really well. If I’m ill, it’s a big problem! [laughs] If I can’t turn up to work it’s a big deal – it’s not like theatre where you have an understudy – everything stops. That’s the only bit of pressure and stress that I deal with on the film; there’s a huge responsibility when you are playing the title role, and you are in almost every scene. You have got a lot that you are responsible for. You’ve got to look after yourself, so there have not been many late nights for me, unfortunately. It had been a really enjoyable job, but it’s probably the hardest thing I have done so far.

In what way was it tougher than your other roles?
LE: Physically, I have had six humungous fight sequences. It’s constant, and until the final day I won’t be able to rest on my laurels. It actually gets more crazy as the film comes to an end because there is so much more to pack in.

How long was the shoot in Northern Ireland?
LE: I was in Northern Ireland from July to October. It was my first time and I loved it. When I first arrived I just didn’t stop; I was training and I was doing stunt rehearsals and I was rehearsing, then we started shooting. I was in every single day; I didn’t get one day off on this movie, so there was a lot to do. I didn’t really get a huge amount [of free time] in the first couple of months, but as things calmed down a bit I had more time. I have done most of the great restaurants. I’ve done all the touristy things, and I had loads of family come over, and friends… It’s nice to be really close to London and Wales, so it’s not so far for them to come over. I really loved seeing the Giant’s Causeway; that was beautiful. We had a gorgeous day – it can be quite bleak up there – it was stunning day; in between takes we were just lying out in the sunshine on the rocks! [laughs]

Did filming in Northern Ireland remind you of your time on THE HOBBIT at all?
LE: New Zealand is very unique in that everything is condensed into these two small islands but there is so much going on. There are huge mountains that I used to describe as ‘Wales on Steroids’! Everything was just much bigger. What’s lovely about Belfast is that it’s surrounded by countryside; you’ve got the coastline and within an hour you are up in the Giant’s Causeway. It’s really accessible, you can see why filmmakers want to shoot here, and I really have settled in. I’ve made a lot of really good friends and I love the place.

DRACULA UNTOLD is at Irish cinemas from October 3rd 2014

Words: Brogen Hayes