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I, FRANKENSTEIN

Demons, Gargaoyles and A Human Scientist
Adam's unusual nature has brought him to the attention of two ancient races long in conflict with one another: the benevolent gargoyles and the hell-spawned demons who live at the margins of the seen world. Ever since Victor Frankenstein re-animated the dead 200 years ago, his creature has been an obsession of Prince Naberius, the demon leader who has been trying for centuries to find a way to forge soul-less human forms that can be easily possessed. If life can be made from human corpses - as Dr. Frankenstein insisted it could -- it would be the answer to Naberius' quest for domination of earth.

Taking on the role is Bill Nighy, whose broad range has recently taken him from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, as well as playing the Vampire Elder Viktor in the Underworld series.

Nighy was drawn initially by the scope of the story. "It was a really good, tight script, with elements of an epic war and romance," he says.

He was also thrilled to sink his teeth into such a lavishly evil character. Says Nighy of Naberius: "I'm on very, very good terms with Satan, and I'm also highborn in as much as I am a Prince and the leader of a legion of 666 other demons. I have for thousands of years been wandering the world trying to find a way of inhabiting human forms in order to conquer the gargoyles who are our bitter enemies."

The filmmakers were gratified that Nighy joined the cast. "We had worked with Bill a number of times on the Underworld movies - and we've always been huge fans of his," says Lucchesi.

Adds Beattie: "Bill is an absolute gift. He was just perfect for Naberius and fortunately he really liked the script. We talked a lot about how we could make Naberius come alive and feel real and that's what he did."

In the disguise of biotechnology mogul Dr. Wessex, Naberius hires the very human Terra Wade, a talented electrophysiologist, to conduct cutting edge research into the effects of electrical stimulation on the dead. Though she is also a beautiful young woman, Terra is in many ways a modern rendition of Dr. Frankenstein - brilliant but dabbling in the most dangerous areas of science - which made her intriguing to cast.

"For Terra, I needed to find someone who you believe is both intelligent and strong," Beattie explains. "When Yvonne Strahovski came into the room, she had both those qualities. She is one of the most passionate actors I have encountered, and teamed with Aaron, the dynamic was incredible."

Strahovski - a rising Australian-born star recently seen as 'Hannah McKay' in Showtime's Dexter series - says that she read the script and was instantly drawn to playing Terra. "Stuart Beattie is such a talented writer," she says, "I didn't want to put the script down."

Once he cast her, Beattie watched Strahovski immerse herself in the role. "She is the main human character in the whole film - and she carries the fate of humanity on her shoulders," he observes. "Yvonne was just terrific at portraying that."

Strahovski found herself caught up in some unusual research in preparation for the role. "I did a lot of Google-ing about electrophysiology and cardiology and what it all means. I also met with a cardiologist who explained to me the correlation between electrophysiology and electricity in the cells and how they function," she explains. "That's something that I felt I needed to have a good grasp on to understand Terra."

But the real challenge came in portraying Terra's increasingly close link to Adam, a creature she at first dismisses as mere fiction, then begins to see his potential to be something more than the lonely demon assassin he has allowed himself to become. "In many respects, Yvonne has one of the most difficult roles in the movie," says Andrew Mason. "She could have done something very predictable with the part of Terra, but instead, she found an illuminating complexity."

Adam also introduces Terra, much to her disbelief, to the existence of gargoyles, an army of good trying to halt chaos from reigning on earth. To play the gargoyle's long-reigning leader - Queen Leonore, who rescues Adam from destruction early in his life - the filmmakers chose Miranda Otto, the Australian actress whose films include War of the Worlds, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and What Lies Beneath.

Beattie says it was Otto's emotional authenticity that made her a match with such an ethereal being. "Every line that Miranda delivers you absolutely believe, and she's got some of the most fantastical lines in the film to speak," he muses. "When Miranda and Aaron go at each other, you're seeing two great actors at the top of their game and it's so much fun to watch."

Otto was thrilled to take on a rare female action heroine. "I was intrigued by Leonore as leader and Queen of the Gargoyle Order," the actress says. "I was fascinated by the moral dilemma that Frankenstein's monster presents her. The gargoyles are meant to protect the human race and be a source of good in the world but Adam is neither Human nor Demon. How much compassion can she show him and still fight for the greater good? Leonore and Adam are not always on the same side."

Queen Lenore's right-hand man, Gideon, is played by another rapidly ascending Australian actor, Jai Courtney who was recently seen as Bruce Willis' son in A Good Day to Die Hard. Courtney describes Gideon as "an incredibly loyal guy, who believes in Queen Lenore's cause and protecting the human race."

Another key gargoyle is Keziah, who recognizes Adam's humanity. Beattie chose Australian actress Caitlin Stasey, with whom he had previously worked on Tomorrow, When the War Began. Though Keziah is a low-ranging gargoyle, it gave Stasey the opportunity to portray a headstrong character. "Keziah is fueled by a desire to rid the world of demons," Stasey explains. "She's very courageous and brave and morally upstanding, but she's also tough and intimidating."

Sums up Beattie: "We've got a wonderful cast, all up and down the ranks. There are a lot of great characters, with their own motivations, agendas and journeys, and they all get caught up on this ride together with Adam. It is an action film, certainly. But its story is driven solely by the choices each character makes."

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