Sherlock co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are busy promoting their next project: a retelling of Bram Stoker's Dracula novel co-produced by BBC and Netflix. At the premiere of the series in London, Gatiss revealed the joke from the sets of their previous serial that eventually morphed into a full-length saga about the most famous vampire in fiction, when he took a photo of Benedict Cumberbatch in his Sherlock coat and was struck by the resemblance to Count Dracula.
After remarking upon the similarity to other BBC executives, Mark Gatiss was asked if he would like to do a drama on the character next.
"We talked about it as almost a jokey thing. We'd done Sherlock Holmes and the second most filmed character as we make our way down the list of plagiarism, was Dracula. As we talked about it, we started having ideas that we thought were quite good. It got to the point where we thought we should take this seriously."
The idea has now borne fruit in the shape of a gothic reimagining of the bloodthirsty count living in Transylvania in 1897 before moving to England in search of prey. Gatiss further discussed with the audience at the BFI screening the thing that sets their version of the classic horror fable apart.
"The big challenge we set ourselves was to make Dracula the central character in his own story for the first time. What's it like as the anti-hero? What you have to give him is a personality which spans four centuries... You don't want him to be just a shadowy presence,"
So expect a Dracula story where the Count himself takes center stage instead of being the boogeyman skulking in the shadows, waiting to pounce out at the human characters who are unlucky enough to get in his way. Steven Moffat further explained how this idea of having Dracula be the central character necessitated an actor for the role with the right type of gravitas.
"We needed somebody tall, dark, handsome, 40s, not wildly known for any particular role [and] not English, which is a very tall order. She sent through the list with name Claes Bang circled, partly just to say, 'What a funny name.' Kate sent a little link to The Square, which is brilliant. I clicked and immediately I was like, 'That's Dracula, we're done.'"
While they found the elusive leading man quality in Danish actor Claes Bang, he had his own doubts about taking on a project about a story that has been told so many times before, until reading the script for the series helped him change his mind.
"[I asked] Does the world really need one more Dracula? I read the script and then I was like, 'Ok, sure.' It is such a brilliant and new take on Dracula,"
And so the crew finished work on a series that aims to reinject a dose of horror into the narrative of the King of Vampires, while at the same time aiming to break the tension with some well-placed moments of levity, as Moffat further revealed.
"We have a joint feeling that if the scene isn't anything else, it should be funny. You can bury important plot information in a joke. You're really setting them up for a sucker-punch if you make them laugh fondly and then chop someone's head off,"
This latest intel about The BBC's Dracula comes to us from Deadline.