F.W. Murnau: I will not allow you to destroy my picture!
Max Schreck: This is hardly your picture any longer.
Shadow of the Vampire is a 2000 film directed by E. Elias Merhige, starring John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe.Malkovich plays F.W. Murnau, the German director who sets out to make his most identifiable film, Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens. To make his somewhat lawyer-friendly take on Dracula, he hires the mysterious Max Shreck to play the vampire Count Orlock. Murnau knows that Schreck is a real-life vampire, and he's hired the actor to ensure a real-life performance. But, he's really bitten off more than he can chew this time...
Bad Bad Acting: Schreck is hyped up as an insanely dedicated method actor who toured with a prestigious company. However, his actual performance is stilted line readings, dialog screwups and looking at the camera. Of course, it makes sense because he isn't really an actor and was cast for the overwhelming creepiness and legitmacy he brought to the role.
Breaking and Bloodsucking: Played with. Schrek doesn't attack Greta in her room, it's a movie set, the bedroom from the climax of Nosferatu. Per the arrangement with Murnau, Schrek only receives his payment for playing "himself" in the movie in the scene were Orlok feeds on Ellen.
Roger Ebert: Schreck muses aloud, "I do not think we need . . . the writer . . ." Scenes like this work as inside comedy, but they also have a practical side: The star is hungry, and because he is the star, he can make demands. This would not be the first time a star has eaten a writer alive.
The Fog of Ages: Max Schreck, the vampire actor, suffers from this; most of the memories of his early life and his sire have faded, and throughout the film he claims to have forgotten killing members of the film crew less than a few hours after doing so. However, it's implied that Schreck isn't a "complete" vampire, given that he has continued aging despite being immortal, and that he was never capable of siring vampires of his own.
Schreck comments that he cannot make other vampires (whether he is physically limited himself or just doesn't know how to is unclear), drinks alcohol in more than one occasion (and gets drunk by it), can feed on animals, and while he refuses to board a ship he manages to reach an island by plane (thus passing over moving water).
Who Wants to Live Forever?: Schreck reads the book Dracula in order to study for his role, and is saddened by the scene where Dracula leaves a meal for Jonathon Harker, and remembers when he used to have servants to do such tasks for him, which reminds him of when he had a wife, family, estates etc, whereas now he's just a scavenger living in a ruined castle.
Writers Suck: After Schreck kills the cinematographer, he quips "I don't think we need the writer..."