03 There Will Be Blood: Supporting Cast

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“No man knows till he experiences it, what it is like to feel his own lifeblood drawn away into the woman he loves.”
—Bram Stoker, “Dracula”

When Shore began the process of casting Mirena, Vlad’s wife, he had in his mind a woman who was the antithesis of her husband: one who was of purity and light. The director explains: “Mirena is the innocence in all of this. When you see Vlad’s journey to the dark side, you have to have a counterpoint and Mirena is that. She stays pure all the way to the end—pure virtues, pure values. She doesn’t become morally corrupt.”

Although Mirena may not become deficient in her ethics, she is partly responsible for her husband becoming a vampire by pressuring Vlad not to hand over their son, Ingeras (played by Game of Thrones Art Parkinson), to Mehmed.

Sarah Gadon, who was brought on board the production to portray Vlad’s princess, agrees with her director: “Mirena is the moral compass of the film. She’s the one who is unwavering in her belief and unwavering in her ideas. Every time her principles are tested, she rises to the occasion and fights for them.” Gadon, known for her work in David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method and this summer’s blockbuster The Amazing Spider-Man 2, knew that her character would have to go to a very dark place to understand Vlad’s transformation. She shares: “Even though this film has a good deal of history, their romance feels very contemporary. Here’s a warrior, a prince, a fighter and a leader going out and risking his life for his people and his family, and that makes sense to a contemporary family. Think of Army wives and soldiers going off to war. That made us feel as if the story was real and weighted in reality.”

During the casting process, the Canada native shined among her peers, and the decision to cast her came down to her presence. Shore commends the film’s leading lady: “There is something very old Hollywood about Sarah, something classical. She complemented that balance I wanted to get between the dark and brooding and the light and purity. She nailed it.”

While Mirena is Vlad’s moral compass, Mehmed, played by Dominic Cooper, is his nemesis. A dangerous adversary with a misplaced vengeance (the sultan still loathes the fact that Vlad was his father’s favorite), Mehmed’s greed directly prompts Vlad’s transition into a creature of the night. The director shares: “It’s easy to take it too over the top and be too ‘arch’ with this arch-nemesis character, so I wanted Mehmed to be engaging, charming, a conversationalist-a wonderful man to   Vlad and Mehmed are not the only f igures linked to Dracula’s origin. Written into the story as the true origin of the vampire curse is the Master Vampire-an unexpected character to find in the 15th century. Shore muses: “The Master Vampire is the game maker in all of this. While Vlad courts danger when he seeks out the Master, he has no idea what he’s gotten himself into. When we cast the role, we knew no one could better bring this character to life than Charles Dance.”

Balancing the character was one of the key challenges for the filmmakers and a responsibility that fell largely on Dance, known for his work in such actioners as Game of Thrones, Underworld: Awakening and Alien3, not to mention his dramatic roles in Gosford Park and Hilary and Jackie. Injecting a sense of humanity into such a despotic character was no easy task.

Eternally trapped on Broken Tooth Mountain, the Master Vampire is annexed from the world. Dance walks us through his character’s role in Dracula Untold: “He has spent centuries isolated in this cavern, being sustained only by the blood of those unfortunate enough to pass nearby. When Vlad and his men investigate the disappearance of Turkish soldiers early on in the film, Vlad barely makes it out of the mountain alive. Once the prince is forced to a last resort, he must seek out the Master’s help and temporarily gain the only power that could stop the sultan’s advancing forces.”

Dance liked playing this early form of a vampire, and enjoyed working opposite Evans. He laughs: “Luke’s impossibly handsome, obviously talented and generous to a fault…as he put up with me in my deeply unpleasant makeup and rotten fangs crawling all over him and licking his neck!”

Shore was delighted with Dance’s performance. He offers: “What Charles brought to the role was menace and anarchy. The Master is Vlad’s tormentor, somebody he is destined to do a dance of death with for many years to come—the Joker to our Batman. He’s been lying in wait for a man of Vlad’s strength to come along and help him escape his prison.” It is desperation that leads Vlad to the Master Vampire’s lair. Whatever resides on Broken Tooth Mountain kills Turks, and it is with this purpose that Vlad enters a world that completely unhinges him. Evans explains: “Out of desperation he asks the Master to help him defeat his enemies. But unfortunately this creature is an incredibly narcissistic, egotistical monster and things do not go as planned.”

The key cast was supported by a number of talented character actors, notably The Monuments Men’s DIARMAID MURTAGH as Dimitru, one of Vlad’s most valued guards; Sherlock Holmes’ WILLIAM HOUSTON as Cazan, Vlad’s extremely tense advisor; BBC’s Ripper Street’s FERDINAND KINGSLEY  as Hamza Bey, emissary of the Turks and flush with arrogance; Showtime’s Shameless’ ZACH MCGOWAN as Shkelgim, the gypsy who lurks in the shadows awaiting the word to serve a dark master; Game of Thrones’ PAUL KAYE as Brother Lucian, a humble monk who reveals to Vlad the legend of the creature and whose mission is to protect Ingeras from harm; Life in a Fishbowl’s THOR KRISTJANSSON as Bright Eyes, the most cunning of the Turk swordsmen; and John Carter’s ARKIE REECE as General Ismail, the sultan’s military leader who is charged with destroying Vlad’s kingdom.