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SYFY WIRE Renfield

How 'The Graduate' somehow informed Nic Cage's Dracula performance in vampire flick 'Renfield'

We'll never doubt Nic Cage's acting process.

By Josh Weiss
Nicolas Cage & The Graduate GETTY

"And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson..."

It's no secret that Nicolas Cage is a massive cinephile who draws on an encyclopedic knowledge of silver screen history (no matter how obscure) while preparing for a certain role. That impressive dedication also goes into his voiceover work. Speaking with SYFY WIRE over Zoom around the release of The Croods: A New Age, director Joel Crawford recalled how Cage wanted to channel Henry Fonda's character from Once Upon a Time in the West for a specific sequence involving Grug and bananas.

As such, it shouldn't really come as a surprise that the actor channeled something like The Graduate for his performance as Dracula in Universal Pictures' upcoming horror-comedy, Renfield. "We talked a lot about silent acting," the film's director, Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie), said during an interview for Empire's January 2023 issue (now on sale). "Things like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, making shapes with his body. You're gonna see allusions to Noseferatu, all the way to Anne Bancroft in The Graduate."

How and why a seductive older woman from a 60s-era classic starring Dustin Hoffman factored into Cage's interpretation of the most famous vampire in history remains to be seen, but consider us intrigued. "It's going far away from what you would typically think of a Dracula movie: it's modern, and it's through the lens of Dracula as a sh***y boss," McKay added.

Based on an original concept from The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, Renfield stars Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class) as the Count's right-hand man, who realizes he no longer wants to work for the iconic blood-sucker. "There is definitely a tongue-in-cheek premise — what if your boss was literally the boss from hell?" mused McKay, who cited An American Werewolf in London, Evil Dead II, and Shaun of the Dead as inspiration. "But it's also got action, it's got a lot of heart, it's not without menace..."

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 of supporting players. McKay and Kirkman are producers on the movie with David Alpert (Locke & Key), and Bryan and Sean Furst (Daybreakers). Rick and Morty alum Ryan Ridley wrote the screenplay.

Renfield, which wrapped production back in the spring, is slated to sink its fangs into theaters on April 14, 2023.

Need to satisfy your vampire craving right now? Vampire Academy is now streaming on Peacock.