Friday, October 5, 2012

October, Day 5 - DRACULA

Matthew Peyton's Diary.

The title role in DRACULA was too good to pass up. It had seemed like just another job, though an attractive one. I'm not too proud to admit that it may have stroked my ego to be offered such an attractive role; I was still a proud Shakespearean, but I may not have been as satisfied with the roles of MacDuff and Bolingbroke as I had thought I was. Dracula was my first title role, and I was grateful for it. But if you had told me on the first day of the shoot that I would go on to play it a dozen more times, I would have laughed in your face.


I was somewhat anxious about the death scene. I had been killed many times on stage, but always under very carefully choreographed conditions. And when they introduced me to this crazy American effects technician who was going to plot the stake going through my heart I was VERY apprehensive. Ted Affeldt was short and stocky, always smoking a cigar, always irritated by something. But he brought this bizarre, somewhat strident showmanship to his work, and I believe Terry hired him to make sure that the killings were startling and violent to offset the very tightly controlled atmosphere. Whether or not that was the mandate, Ted was determined to make my death spectacular.

My wife has asked me more than once why we became such close friends. We could not have been more different, physically, artistically, temperamentally. And it's a curious thing to bond so closely with a man whose job it is to kill you. But it started with a mutually recognized professionalism, in that we could see that we both wanted those scenes to be spectacular. And I must admit that as much as I enjoyed the role on that first film, it was Ted's work that made it truly fun. And it was in having that much fun that I found the energy to just release during my death throes.

That sense of fun came to energize all of my work going forward. Not that I took my work less seriously from that point, but it offered this positive focus that allowed my work to really take off. I owe that to Ted.

...and the story continues here.

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