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Trivia / Bram Stoker's Dracula

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For the film:

  • Acting for Two: Winona Ryder plays both Elisabeta and Mina. More subtly and symbolically, the priest who informs Vlad of Elisabeta's damnation is played by Anthony Hopkins, who turns up later as Van Helsing; he also has a third role as the voiceover narrating the log of the doomed captain of the Demeter. Gary Oldman also played the coach driver who takes Jonathan to the castle. This is likely a reference to the book, where Jonathan suspects that Dracula drove the coach too.
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  • Actor-Inspired Element: Dracula was just supposed to appear as himself when he's caught with Mina. Gary Oldman felt that he wouldn't be intimidating enough, and so the bat costume was created. Funnily enough, he still didn't find himself scary in that at first (see below).
  • Adaptational Context Change: Dracula's biting Lucy and Mina in the original book parallels rape on account of Victorian London's fears about "swarthy decadent foreigners who want to steal our women". Here in the film, the attacks are far more seductive, and the scenes come across as Lucy and Mina giving into their forbidden desires.
  • All-Star Cast: Most of the leads were A-listers at the time — Anthony Hopkins was just coming off his The Silence of the Lambs triumph — with notable character actors rounding out the cast. This was effectively Gary Oldman's breakthrough role for mainstream American audiences.
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  • Dawson Casting: Lucy claims to be nineteen and is played by Sadie Frost at age twenty-seven.
  • Deleted Scene: A scene was filmed showing Renfield dying in his cell after Dracula seduces Mina and included on the DVD. His fate is left open in the finished film.
  • Doing It for the Art: Francis Ford Coppola decided that he wanted all the effects shots in the film to be done in-camera with nothing added in post-production. He and his son Roman worked hard to come up with concepts that used old-fashioned camera trickery that dates back to the early days of film (matte boxes, double exposures, reversed shots, tilted cameras, etc.). They even shot some scenes with an old hand-cranked Pathe camera in order to achieve an uneven stuttering look that was difficult to recreate with then-modern film cameras.
  • Dyeing for Your Art:
    • Sadie Frost - a brunette - dyed her hair red to play Lucy because producers felt she resembled Winona Ryder too much. Sadie actually didn't even bother auditioning for Lucy purely for this reason, but was approached after Francis Ford Coppola saw her in Diamond Skulls.
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    • Gary Oldman also shaved the front of his hairline to accommodate the make-up process.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • Gary Oldman struggled to find himself scary in the giant batsuit, so Coppola said to whisper something scary into each actor's ear. No one knows what he said - but they all look terrified.
    • Oldman was also drunk when they filmed the part where Dracula licks the blood off Jonathan's razor. They also waited until after midnight to shoot it, putting the cast in "the proper mood".
    • Richard E. Grant, Cary Elwes and Bill Campbell were all sent on various team building exercises to build up a believable on-screen camaraderie.
    • For the scenes where Lucy is writhing around on her bed in ecstasy, Gary Oldman was also off camera whispering seductive things to Sadie Frost. She later joked that the things he said were "very unrepeatable".
    • When Mina is caught drinking Dracula's blood, Coppola was shouting "slut!" and "whore!" at her off camera to make her look guilty and ashamed.
    • Subverted in the scene where vampire!Lucy brings a little girl into her crypt. The child actress was terrified at the sight of Sadie Frost in the make-up, so Sadie broke character and did a lot of sweet-talking to get her to finish the scene.
    • Winona Ryder wasn't giving the right reaction to Mina seeing Dracula in London for the first time. So Gary Oldman grabbed a zucchini off a nearby cart when she wasn't looking - and flashed it in front of his groin.
    • In order to get emotional for some of Dracula's sadder scenes, Gary Oldman had an album full of pictures of his son and looked at it before shooting.
  • Edited for Syndication: Along with trims for violence and nudity, all of Renfield's scenes were cut when Fox aired the movie in The '90s, presumably for time.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • Keanu Reeves was put in as Jonathan at the request of the studio, who wanted a Mr. Fanservice to appeal to the female moviegoers.
    • Roughly twenty-five minutes of footage are said to have been cut because test audiences found the movie too gory.
  • Fake Brit: Americans Winona Ryder and Tom Waits as Mina and Renfield respectively, and Canadian Keanu Reeves as Jonathan. Waits does a near-flawless accent, Ryder's is decent enough and Reeves is not at all believable.
  • Fake Nationality: The Romanian Dracula is played by the British Gary Oldman. The Welsh Anthony Hopkins also plays the Dutch Van Helsing. Dracula's brides do not have their nationalities stated but only one of them - Florina Kendrick - is Romanian.
  • Font Anachronism: We see a ticker tape typing out the message sent to Van Helsing from Dr. Seward. The type appears to be OCR (optical character reader) font which was not created until 1968. Keep in mind that the movie takes place in 1897. That's a 71 year difference.
  • Hostility on the Set: Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder didn't get along well at all during filming. The rest of the cast was shocked because the two had been friendly during rehearsals, then came back from a break in the schedule seemingly hating each other, with no indication given (then or later) as to what had happened. It turned out that they had different acting styles - she needed an acting coach to help her evince the necessary emotions, while he was an intense method actor, whose approach unnerved her. Later in one of her interviews Winona Ryder dismissed situation simply as "teenage drama" and said that she became friends with Oldman.
    • Oldman and Coppola sometimes publicly clashed with each other on the set over creative choices, e.g. the appearance of young Dracula in the film.
  • Meaningful Release Date: This film was released to coincide with the 95th anniversary of the release of the novel, and with the 80th anniversary of the death of Bram Stoker.
  • Old Shame: Keanu Reeves said years after the movie came out that he wasn't happy with his work in it, stating he had been exhausted from making several films right on the heels of signing on as Jonathan Harker, and that he tried to raise his energy for the role "but I just didn't have anything left to give".
  • Playing Against Type: Keanu Reeves in an English period piece. At the time he was known for his comedy in Bill & Ted and was just emerging as an action star.
  • Recursive Adaptation: The film was adapted into a novelization by Fred Saberhagen.
  • Romance on the Set: In August 2018, Winona Ryder expressed concern that she might be legally married to Keanu Reeves. Apparently Francis Ford Coppola wasn't happy with their wedding scenes in the movie, and to achieve greater authenticity, reshot the sequence with a real priest.
  • Star-Making Role: This brought Gary Oldman to the attention of mainstream American audiences, and had the effect of typecasting him as various villains in the 90s.
  • Throw It In!:
    • Gary Oldman wanted to say "I never drink... wine" as an homage to Bela Lugosi from Dracula (1931) (the line as originally written was nearly verbatim to the novel: "...and I do not sup.")
    • At a preview screening, none other than George Lucas suggested that Mina decapitate Dracula at the end. Coppola agreed and the scene was added in.
  • Trailer Delay: The teaser trailer promised a Summer 1992 release, but it was pushed back a few months to November.
  • Unbuilt Casting Type: This brought Gary Oldman to the attention of American audiences as a villain. But here although he's playing Dracula, he plays him as a Tragic Monster and as one of the most sympathetic portrayals yet.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The project was originally going to be a Made-for-TV Movie, directed by Michael Apted. Winona Ryder saw the script and brought it to the attention of Francis Ford Coppola. Keen to work with her again after she fell ill and had to drop out of The Godfather Part III, Coppola decided to direct the movie as a feature. Michael Apted stayed on as producer.
    • An early idea was to have simple, impressionistic sets using only light and shadows - with minimal props. The studio vetoed this idea, and insisted on proper sets being built. This is also why the costumes became so elaborate - the sets were going to be plain to allow them to stand out.
    • The battle scene in the prologue was originally intended to be performed with shadow puppets instead of actors. The idea was used later in the film when we see, in the cinema house, a shadow puppet battle similar to the prologue battle.
    • Francis Ford Coppola wanted Johnny Depp to play Jonathan Harker, but the studio wanted someone who was more of a heartthrob. Charlie Sheen auditioned for the part.
    • Liam Neeson was considered for, and very much wanted, the role of Van Helsing, but after Anthony Hopkins, still riding the success of The Silence of the Lambs, showed interest in the role, Neeson was ultimately turned down.
    • Coppola's original list of possible actors to play Dracula included Alec Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Nicolas Cage, Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Andy García, Hugh Grant, Jeremy Irons, Michael Keaton, Daniel Day-Lewis, Ray Liotta, Kyle MacLachlan, Viggo Mortensen, Keanu Reeves, Alan Rickman, Christian Slater and Sting.
    • Drew Barrymore and Juliette Lewis were considered for Mina Harker.
    • Laura Dern was considered for Lucy Westenra.
    • Steve Buscemi was the first choice to play Renfield but turned it down. Ian Dury auditioned for the part.
    • A scene that was storyboarded, but not filmed, involved Seward and Holmwood coming across the dead bodies of Harker, Morris, and Van Helsing impaled on posts before the climactic confrontation, and then realizing that this is simply a hallucination conjured by Dracula, using his powers of psychological persuasion.
  • Working Title: At one point, Francis Ford Coppola considered just titling the film 'D' to distinguish it from other Dracula adaptations.

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