Thursday, July 15, 2010

Should've Been the Count

Speaking of hypotheticals and casting choices, here's one that's gripped me for a few years.

Many actors have played Count Dracula over the years, the best-known being Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee and, to a lesser extent, Gary Oldman.

But there's one actor who I feel would've been perfect for the role, even though, to my knowledge, he'd never even been in a horror film. I'm talkin' 'bout this guy:

Lee Van Cleef in a publicity shot for Escape from New York (1981).

That's right, Lee Van Cleef (1925-1989). You probably know him best as Sentenza/Angel Eyes (aka "The Bad") in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). He featured in a variety of other Westerns and action flicks. Point is, take a look at his mug and let's compare it to Jonathan Harker's description of the Count in Stoker's Dracula (1897):
His face was a strong, a very strong, aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils, with lofty domed forehead, and hair growing scantily round the temples but profusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth. These protruded over the lips, whose remarkable ruddiness showed astonishing vitality in a man of his years. For the rest, his ears were pale, and at the tops extremely pointed. The chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin. The general effect was one of extraordinary pallor.
Physical appearance aside, did I mention that he was also best-known for playing villains? A shame he never really broke that Western/action flick mould. I think he would've been a superb Dracula.

Here's a scene from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to prove a point. It's the bit where Angel Eyes pays a visit to a former solider to question him about the location of a missing man and a cache of stolen Confederate gold.

You'll get an idea of why Van Cleef was typecast and also see the kind of menace he could convey in his performances. Perfect for a reptilian vampire Count.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails