Nicolas Cage Looked To This Classic Dracula To Inspire His Performance In Renfield

In "Renfield," Nicolas Cage becomes the latest in a long line of actors to play Dracula. The actor previously played a creature of the night in "Vampire's Kiss," but this time, he's playing the lord of all ghouls. However, Cage's Dracula will merely be a supporting player; the star of the movie is his eponymous servant (Nicholas Hoult). After so many years at the Count's side, Renfield is reconsidering if he still wants the job. When your boss is a blood-sucking demon, the severance package probably isn't one you want.

"Reinfeld" looks like it will lean more on the latter side of "horror comedy," so if nothing else, Cage's expressive acting is a good fit. He's already said that he looked toward the utterly bonkers horror film "Malignant" for inspiration, so there's no telling how far he's going to take the character. With so many previous Draculas to draw on, from Bela Lugosi to Gary Oldman, which Dracula actors is Cage looking for in his performance? The actor has had a few words to say about this, some more surprising than others.

Piecing together Dracula's look

We'd previously seen set photos of Nicolas Cage dressed up as Dracula, but the trailer gave us our first in-context look and glimpse of his performance. In the trailer scene, Dracula wears rings across his fingers, a black overcoat with fur shoulders, and walks with a cane (presumably just for show). Rather than two thick fangs, his entire maw is filled with thin pointed teeth. His skin seems to be pale white, but the lighting makes it look sickly green.

Cage spoke to Collider about how Dracula's look was developed. According to Cage, not a lot of the look came from him:

"There were a ton of super-talented people on that movie that helped design the look. We wanted it to be more homage, more Christopher Lee. I favored Christopher Lee as Dracula and I liked his kind of '60s hairdo, but the wardrobe, the costume, and no, I didn't come up with the idea for the rings. That all came out of a wardrobe. They came in with all that. Maybe they sent something in me that I would like that, but that was really their contribution."

Sir Christopher Lee played Dracula in seven movies for Hammer Films, from "Dracula" in 1958 to "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" in 1973; he probably would have been the Dracula who Cage (born in 1964) grew up with. As for how the influence is manifesting — Cage does indeed have the same slicked-back hair as Lee's Dracula. While Dracula is famously Transylvanian, Lee kept his aristocratic British baritone for the part. Cage, based on the trailer, seems to be doing a British/Transatlantic accent as well.

Finding the Count's voice

While speaking to Variety about his upcoming film "Butcher's Crossing," Nicolas Cage teased his Dracula voice and discussed its origins: "[It's] kind of an amalgamation of a sort mid-Atlantic August Coppola accent combined with some Christopher Lee, with some Anne Bancroft thrown in for good measure." Again Cage mentions Christopher Lee, but the other two inspirations are surprising. August Coppola, an academic focused on literature and the arts, was Cage's father. In another interview with Post Cred Pod, Cage talked about how and why he channeled his father to play Dracula:

"[My father] had a Mid-Atlantic accent [...] You want to know why I talk like this Nicolas? Because I made a decision to speak with distinction. I'm a literature professor, that's how I talk [...] So I just thought, Dad looks like Christopher Lee, Dad kind of sounds like he's in a Hammer Horror film, and I did Dad in 'Vampire's Kiss,' so I'm gonna bring him back from the afterlife as Dracula."

As for Anne Bancroft, you might remember her as Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate." Like Dracula, Robinson is a character who seduces others and maintains an imbalanced power dynamic. That makes the influence strangely fitting.

One actor who Cage surprisingly hasn't mentioned as an influence is Klaus Kinski, who played Dracula in Werner Herzog's "Nosferatu the Vampyre." Cage once said he aspired to be the "California Klaus Kinski." In the Post Cred Pod interview, Cage does cite "Nosferatu" as an influence, but the 1922 original, where "Count Orlok" was played by Max Schreck.

Cage's Dracula certainly sounds like a melting pot of disparate influences. When a character's been around for so long and has been played by so many actors, such an approach makes sense.