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UNDERWORLD

About The Production
The genesis for Underworld began during a conversation about werewolf movies between director Len Wiseman and his friend Kevin Grevioux, who is a co-writer and plays the role of Raze in the film. "If it's the new werewolf film of the millennium, I want to see something different," says Wiseman.

Grevioux suggested creating a type of Romeo/Juliet story and instead of Montagues and Capulets, it would be werewolves and vampires. Further, his background in genetic engineering proved vital to the filmmakers' new take on these age-old legends. "We wanted to use science as a base rather than mysticism, so I created a virus which was the reason that vampires and werewolves became what they had finally become."

Wiseman adds that they eschewed the classic mystical associations of vampires with garlic and crosses. "I think if you take it down to a genetic state then you can really explain things," he says. "If it's about a genetic anomaly that creates these species or you're just dealing with a blood type that through the years has somehow been able to develop these species, then you can find ways to kill it. You can explore why silver affects this type of blood. Our vampires and werewolves are a little more grounded."

The filmmakers next enlisted screenwriter Danny McBride, who shares their love for the genre, to flesh out their ideas. "Danny really facilitated the process and got our ideas straight," says Grevioux.

From the outset, they were determined to have a gritty female central character whose arc would involve internal conflict. "To Danny and I it was refreshing to see a female in this role rather than a male," says Wiseman.

The project came to Lakeshore and was put together very quickly. As producer Gary Lucchesi points out, "Most of the time it takes two to three years to put a movie together, and this movie we put together in two to three months."

Wiseman's ability to articulate exactly how he wanted to make this film impressed everyone at Lakeshore Entertainment. As Lucchesi explains, "Len is a very eloquent guy. He comes from the world of production design, which I found rather interesting. He had apprenticed with Roland Emmerich and had worked at ILM. He was very committed to the atmosphere of the movie and felt that in a movie like Underworld, atmosphere was going to be a top priority in achieving what he wanted on screen. Producer Richard Wright adds, "Len is a very focused and hardworking guy. He has a bright new sensibility as a director."

With Lakeshore's history of working with first time feature directors, the support network was already in place for Underworld. As producer Tom Rosenberg points out, "One of the things we at Lakeshore are most proud of is that we've given a number of first time feature directors a chance. We had a very successful relationship with Mark Pellington (The Mothman Prophecies) and have gone on to make three films with him; we have also recently worked with Paul McGuigan on Obsessed, so Len was a perfect fit." The next step was to find a cast that could give life to the characters the filmmakers created.

Kate Beckinsale had carved out a name in theatre and film but had not yet entered the genre. "Before Underworld, Kate was not somebody that you would expect to see running around toting a gun, wearing vampire teeth," says producer Wright.

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