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'Renfield' star Nicolas Cage partly based Dracula performance on cats and snakes

Renfield arrives on the big screen April 14.

By Josh Weiss
Renfield Screen Grab

The list of references Nicolas Cage used for his performance as Count Dracula in the upcoming Renfield movie (hitting theaters next month) continues to grow by the day. In addition to drawing on previous big screen incarnations of the classic vampire — as well Anne Bancroft, Andy Warhol, and even his own father — the actor also looked at the unfettered savagery found within the animal kingdom.

"This Eloquent Baron, or Lord or Count, speaks very well and maintains a gentlemanly feel to his social interactions. But lurking there, ready to strike, is the cobra and the panther," he explained during an interview with JoBlo. "And so all of that animality was thought through with [Chris] Brewster, who was the stunt coordinator, who was working very closely with Chris McKay. The two Chris’s. And I wanted to augment the animality of Dracula’s counterpoint to his elegance as a so-called man. But when the demon comes out, it’s all animal on strike, and the animals are like top predators, like cats and snakes."

RELATED: 'Renfield' writer Ryan Ridley describes Dracula horror-comedy as 'a superhero blockbuster'

McKay also cited serpents while in conversation with Bloody Disgusting, stating that while Cage did have practical fangs (a prop he kept on when the cameras weren't rolling), they were later augmented by CGI in post-production.

"We wanted something that, when he’s going to bite and suck blood, the fangs come out almost like a rattlesnake," the director explained. "And we wanted them really long when they do."

Special makeup effects designer Christien Tinsley (known for their work on I Am Legend and the Santa Clarita Diet) dove a little further into the Count's dental work, which was broken up into a number of "stages," depending on Dracula's mood.

"There’s one stage when he becomes angry and more primal; that’s when his teeth become longer and extend further," Tinsley said. "We started by playing with ideas of what animal, in reality, does that. So, we started thinking about snakes and, you know, how they extend outwards — they’re tucked back in. That’s why we have some of these, like more bent, serpentine style too."

X-Men graduate Nicholas Hoult stars alongside Cage as the titular assistant, who no longer wants to provide his boss with a steady supply of innocent victims waiting to be drained of their blood. But one doesn't just submit their resignation to the Lord of Darkness. 

"[It's] a toxic, perverse relationship that Dracula envelops on his minions — he likes to call them servants — but there is a father/son relationship, a boss/employee aspect," Cage added in his chat with Bloody Disgusting. "Frankly, there’s a jilted lovers aspect. All of that is going on in this."

Awkwafina (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), Ben Schwartz (Sonic the Hedgehog), James Moses (Queenpins), and Adrian Martinez (Stumptown) round out the cast. Based on an original idea from producer Robert Kirkman (co-creator of legendary comics like The Walking Dead and Invincible), the film was penned by Rick and Morty alum, Ryan Ridley. McKay also serves as a producer alongside David Alpert, Bryan Furst, and Sean Furst. Samantha Nisenboim is an executive producer.

Renfield arrives on the big screen Friday, April 14. You can pick up tickets right now on Fandango.

Need to satisfy your vampire craving right now? Check out SYFY's Reginald the Vampire, which is set to return later this year for a second season. Or head on over to Peacock, where Vampire Academy is now in session!