The Last Voyage Of The Demeter Let Master Monster Actor Javier Botet Live His Dracula Dream [Exclusive Interview]

Even if you don't know his name, you've probably seen the work of Javier Botet. Specifically, if you've watched a horror movie in the 21st century, you've almost surely seen him. Or rather, you've seen his creatures. After scaring the pants off audiences worldwide with his terrifying work in the modern classics "REC" and "REC 2," Botet became horror's go-to "monster guy," sliding into the unsettling skins of ghosts, demons, zombies, aliens, and even non-Pennywise incarnations of the titular creature in "It." On the small screen, he played creatures in "Star Trek: Discovery" and "Game of Thrones." On the big screen, his credits include  "Mama," "The Conjuring 2," "Crimson Peak," "His House," "Insidious: The Last Key," and so much more. He's the century's definitive monster performer. 

Born with Marfan syndrome, Botet has utilized his physical differences to pull off characters who feel like walking, actually-there special effects. He stands 6' 7" tall and he's impossibly thin, his limbs and fingers running longer than the average human being. In conversation, he's an ordinary-looking fellow. On screen, when teamed with a masterful make-up design, he has made a career out of making your nightmares come to life. 

And in director André Øvredal's "The Last Voyage of the Demeter," Botet has unlocked one of the ultimate monster movie achievements: He gets to play Dracula in a film that adapts one the most memorable chapters from Bram Stoker's classic horror novel. I recently sat down with Botet over Zoom to talk about the movie, his dream to play Dracula again, and the classic monster role he almost got (until Tom Cruise came along).

Note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

'Dracula, Dracula, Nosferatu, Dracula'

You've made a career out of playing monsters, but Dracula is in the pantheon of movie monsters. He's one of the big ones. Did you feel a sense of responsibility when you first were offered the part? How did you feel?

Pretty happy, because a few years before shooting the movie, in all the interviews, when they asked me, "What monster do you wish to play?" I always said, "Dracula, Dracula, Nosferatu, Dracula." I mean, the origin of the monsters. So for me, when I received the position, I was like, "Oh my God, yeah! Got it!" I was so, so happy, so happy. It's like a monster performance goal. So I'm done. I'm doing everything! But this was, for me, like a dream.

And Dracula here in the film is ... he's a creature. He's very animalistic. But we know that Dracula is different when he's not on this voyage. He's mingling in society, he's dressed in human clothes. Was there ever a temptation to try to sneak in some Bela Lugosi?

Well, of course when I thought about making Dracula, I wanted to make a classic Dracula. But when the proposition came, I understood that it was a chapter that nobody told before in a movie. So it was so good to make something different, about a [character] that I loved just because it's a good movie. It's so fun for me. And there was an understanding that [he] was very animalistic, as you said. So I said, "Okay, it's not the classic, but this is different. This is original. I love the horror movies, so let's go make a horror movie and let's try to find the way to make the best [movie]." But yes, of course I wanted to make a little bit of Nosferatu. But yes, I accepted that was the other way and that this could be great to make something different. So I was happy because yes, I've [spent] a lot of time waiting for this opportunity, so I wanted to try to make it.

'I would love to play another Dracula. I want to play more him in a more classic way...'

You've worked with André Øvredal a few times now, and you've worked with ["It" and "The Flash" director] Andy Muschietti a few times. When you worked with these directors over and over again, what kind of shorthand develops?

Well, they are so different. Andy Muschietti is more like non-stop repeating things because he's all the time thinking of new things. And no matter what they shoot in 10 or 20 takes, if he thinks of something new that just he saw and can make work, we do another 20 takes. So it's exhausting. But yeah, I'm so happy with that because I love ... I am tired, it's hard, but it doesn't matter. I only want to make something that we will see after that and we are happy. So if we have time to repeat, let's go, let's go. But André, it's more calm and it's more relaxed. He has a vision, he is more comfortable with that. And we are not repeating so much like that.

It's so different — more easy, maybe, with Øvredal. The good thing is when you're working with a guy, you always see his previous movies. When you see "Trollhunter," "The Autopsy of Jane Doe," and "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark," [you see] that he's doing good things. So you trust in him no matter the way he's doing it. But it's always good to work again with a director you already know. On every project, there's a lot of new people, new actors, new team. It's a lot of things you don't know. So it makes you nervous because you need to confront a lot of problems till the moment you make everything work. But when you work with somebody that already knows, it's easier to find the point. So for me, it feels comfortable to work with people that I already know and I felt comfortable with on the previous movies.

You said Dracula was your dream monster, but I know you have played Frankenstein's monster on stage, so you have already got some of the big ones. Is there a monster or a creature that you dream about?

I would love to play another Dracula. I want to play more him in a more classic way, but it will be fine. It will be great. Well, I have a lot of dreams, a lot of dreams. I met Tim Burton last year. He was here in Madrid opening his museum [exhibit], a museum with all these drawings, and I was speaking with him, only just chatting, but it would be amazing to make a live-action Jack Skellington from "The Nightmare Before Christmas." I already played Frankenstein in theaters here in a play, in a theater play, for more than one year. So it was good for me, because I wanted always to make the classic ones.

I wanted to play the Mummy. In the beginning, Andy Muschietti was close to [directing] "The Mummy." The last "Mummy" we saw with Tom Cruise, in the beginning, was a very different project. And I was going to make The Mummy. After a lot of changes, the Mummy was a girl and I am in the movie, but only a very tiny second. I am Set, the Egyptian god. But yes, I would love to play a classic Mummy or a Frankenstein creature. I love more of the classics than the new ones. I enjoy the new ones, but as a guy that has made a living with monster performances for a long time, the classics are special, the one that everybody wants.

"The Last Voyage of the Demeter" sails into theaters on August 11, 2023.