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The Modern Horror Legend Who Plays Dracula in André Øvredal's The Last Voyage of the Demeter
The Last Voyage of the Demeter sets sail on the big screen Aug. 11.
Nicolas Cage won't be the only actor to play Count Dracula in 2023. Later this week, Universal Pictures will unveil a different (and even more bloodthirsty) depiction of the famous vampire in The Last Voyage of the Demeter.
Helmed by The Autopsy of Jane Doe director Andre Øvredal, the claustrophobic horror film is based on a single chapter from Bram Stoker's seminal novel and centers around the ill-fated merchant vessel that transported Dracula from Eastern Europe to the shores of England. When his pre-packaged meal for the long voyage suddenly becomes unavailable, the immortal bloodsucker begins to stalk the crew, remorselessly ripping the unfortunate sailors apart for sustenance.
Who plays Dracula in The Last Voyage of the Demeter?
The most famous resident of Transylvania is portrayed by Javier "Javi" Botet in The Last Voyage of the Demeter.
Standing at an imposing height of 6 feet 7 inches, Mr. Botet carved out an impressive horror career for himself as "an experienced movement actor," reads the official production notes provided by Universal Pictures. For years, Botet has tackled otherworldly monsters in such high-profile projects as Mama, Crimson Peak, The Mummy, IT Chapter One, Slender Man, and many others.
Like Doug Jones (of Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, and Star Trek: Discovery fame), his lanky stature allows for an uncanny brand of physicality that brings an added layer of supernaturiality to these roles without having to rely on CGI. This balletic and interpretative process of defining an entity far-removed from the human experience is the reason why so many cinematic beasties — from Bolaji Badejo's Xenomorph to Kevin Peter Hall's Yautja — remain effective presences onscreen.
"I've been working the last 15 years making monsters, and in interviews, people have asked me, ‘What classic monsters are left in your career?’ I would say always, ‘Dracula,’” Botet states in the production notes (all cast quotes featured in this article were given ahead of the SAG-AFTRA strike).
The Last Voyage of the Demeter director and cast members praise Javi Botet
In a separate interview with the studio, Øvredal — who previously worked with Botet on Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark — praises his Dracula as "absolutely amazing" and "such a trooper on set."
The director continues: "He knows what it takes to do these difficult parts and it’s so hard on him. If you see the behind-the-scenes stuff, you’ll see what a terrible situation he’s constantly in physically to be able to do this. But he’s so agile, he’s so friendly. Even in the middle of the night when we’ve been there for hours and hours ... he was there four hours before us because he was in the makeup chair getting ready. There’s still a smile on his face, he’s still able to work with the character and the needs of the scene."
"This is what he does," echoes cast member Corey Hawkins (the Kong: Skull Island star plays the role of Clemens, a physician aboard the titular ship). "The way he moves, the way he turns his neck. The detail in this movie is so key."
The first time co-star Liam Cunninghman (the Game of Thrones vet steps into the boots of the Demeter's lead sea dog, Captain Eliot) saw Botet in full Dracula makeup was while filming a stormy scene in which the vampire attempts to take a big ol' bite out of his jugular.
"It’s a lot different when the rain is going, the wind machines, all this noise … you turn around and he’s there in the magnificent makeup," the actor recalls. "I really, genuinely got a fright [laughs]. And I got a fright not just on one take, but over and over. So if I’m getting a fright and I know the guy who’s in the suit, hopefully, that should transfer to scaring the bejesus out of anybody watching the movie. I’m really sure it will. But he’s incredible and he’s so physical. Javier is a genius at physical acting."
David Dastmalchian, who plays first mate Wojchek (his name is most likely a nod to Wojciech Kilar, composer of Francis Ford Coppola's acclaimed Dracula adaptation from 1992) concludes that Botet brings a thrilling new shade to the fanged villain:
"Death has never looked as terrifying, death has never looked as intimidating, death has never looked as dark as it does in the embodiment of Dracula that our incredible actor, Javier, and the amazing makeup team who put together his appearance have done. To see him stalking towards both these poor characters and the audience themselves...Dracula is coming for you."
When does The Last Voyage of the Demeter open in theaters?
Written by Bragi Schut Jr. (Escape Room) and Zak Olkewicz (Bullet Train), The Last Voyage of the Demeter sets sail on the big screen this coming Friday — Aug. 11. The movie is rated R for bloody violence. Click here to sink your fangs into some tickets!
Want to satisfy your craving for undead fare in the meantime? Renfield and Vampire Academy are now streaming on Peacock. Looking ahead, SYFY's Reginald the Vampire is set to return later this year for a second season.
**The quotes from Botet, Hawkins, Cunninghman, and Dastmalchian are taken from interviews conducted before the actors' strike.**