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Dracula on Screen

One of the most adapted pieces of literature in the English language, Bram Stoker’s Dracula has seen its share of the good, the bad, and the really bad. But how well do you know the key players in the history of Dracula on screen? Here’s a quick reference guide to brush you up on the basics, and help you get to know a few of the men who have brought the most iconic vampire of all time to life.

The King (Christoper Lee)

Lee As DraculaBetween the years 1958 and 1976, Christopher Lee played Dracula over the span of ten (that’s right, ten) films produced by Hammer Films. For many, Lee is the quintessential vampire, with his towering presence and ominous tone. It is for this reason we call him “The King”; his reign was long, prosperous, influential on both the mythos of Dracula and the vampire genre as a whole, and still holds sway over movie fans today.

The Rogue (Gary Oldman)

garyoldmandraculaFrancis Ford Coppola’s version of Dracula (1992) is one of those films that has stood the test of time not necessarily for its lasting quality, but the way in which it has embedded itself into the minds and hearts of its audience. But while we may cringe a little at a few of the more dated elements, Gary Oldman delivered a performance that transcends it all – including the film itself. Our “Rogue”, Oldman was a man who took Dracula off the well-beaten path. Long gone was the playbook established by Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee, and in its place we were given someone who embodied the full legend of Dracula, of Vlad “The Impaer” Tepes, in a more tangible way than anyone ever had before. Gary Oldman took the road less traveled, straight through the book and into its own source material. A journey which NBC plans to take even further.

The Magician (Bela Lugosi)

BelaLugosiWhat can we say about Bela Lugosi that hasn’t already been said? Not only was his work in Universal Pictures’ 1931 adaptation of Dracula the shining moment of his own career, but in cinematic history. A true “Magician” in every sense of the word, Lugosi’s powerful and mysterious force of character cast a spell on audiences that never ended. Over 80 years later, his charm, his presence, and his magic remains. While countless Draculas followed him, none ever fully replaced him or made him seem irrelevant – and we daresay they never will.


The Monster (Max Schreck)

NosferatuSo immersed within the part of Count Olof (a facsimile for Dracula, due to copyright issues), actor Max Schreck terrified people even in real life. Rumors spread about him being an actual vampire; a monster within a monster. This was ultimately the inspiration for the critically acclaimed film Shadow of the Vampire, starring Willem Dafoe. But regardless of what Schreck was like when the cameras stopped, on screen he was (and still is) a master. The ominous tone he brought to the role defined an entire era of horror in silent film, and the legacy of its impact shows no sign of fading.

The Lover (Frank Langella)

Frank-Langella-DraculaIn 1979, Frank Langella changed the face of Dracula completely. He insisted on no fangs before accepting the role (like Bela Lugosi); he wanted no scenes with ‘bloody vampire fangs’ (like Christopher Lee). As described by producer Walter Mirisch, “Langella had created a completely different character from the accepted sinister one – a character with charm, sex appeal, and most important of all, he endeared himself to the audiences.” He is our “Lover” in the role, and paved the way for all romantic adaptations, or any romantic aspects of Dracula within the horror itself, for years to come.