'Bram Stoker's Dracula' at 25: Would Gary Oldman return as the blood-sucker? 'I never say never!'

Things look dark for Universal’s plans to launch a monster-iffic Dark Universe in the wake of the frightful box office returns for The Mummy, as well as the twin departures of the would-be franchise’s architects, Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan. But if the studio is still looking for a way to launch another creature feature, they might want to give Gary Oldman a call. The British actor famously played Transylvania’s top bloodsucker in Francis Ford Coppola’s hemoglobin-drenched horror favorite, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which opened in theaters 25 years ago, on Nov. 13, 1992. Speaking with Oldman recently for his Oscar-buzzy turn as Winston Churchill in the new World War II drama Darkest Hour, Yahoo Entertainment asked if he’d have any interest in donning his fangs again. “I never say never,” he replies, laughing. “I look at whatever comes in the door.”

As Oldman tells it, Dracula was never a “bucket list” role for him in the first place. “It was an opportunity to work with Coppola, who I consider on of the great American directors,” he says of the main reason why his younger self said yes. “That was enough, really.” It’s worth noting that building a movie around Oldman was a bold choice on the director’s part. Although the actor had become something of a critical darling by the early ’90s with eye-catching performances in films like 1986’s Sid and Nancy and 1991’s JFK, he certainly wasn’t a mainstream star on the level of, say, Keanu Reeves or Winona Ryder, who respectively play Jonathan and Mina Harker — the loving couple that Dracula comes between. “It was my first big American movie, made on a big set with lots of costumes,” Oldman says. “For a young actor, that was a tremendous experience.”

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Dracula‘s lavish production values didn’t just make an impression on Oldman. The film scored four Oscar nominations for its various craftspeople, with statues going to the make-up team that transformed Oldman into the aged, withered Count we see at the beginning of the film into the long-haired Victorian pin-up that makes an impression on Mina. Renowned Japanese artist Eiko Ishioka, also took home an Oscar for such memorable ensembles as Dracula’s blood-red battle armor, as well as the ghostly garbs worn by his three pale-white brides — one of whom was future Spectre star Monica Belluci. (The duo published a handsomely illustrated book about their collaboration timed to the movie’s release.)

Coppola set out to bring a similar level of artistry to the film’s special effects, choosing practical tricks at every turn over emerging digital tools. That approach reportedly confounded the members of his original VFX team, whom the director ended up replacing with his son, Roman Coppola. As Coppola explained to Entertainment Weekly in 2015: “In the script there were a million effects, but I wanted to do them all live. Nothing in post-production; do them all in the camera. I couldn’t get anyone to take me seriously, so I fired the special effects department and hired Roman, who was an enthusiast about magic.” (Watch the below featurette — previously released on a 2007 DVD — to hear the younger Coppola discuss the process of going the all-practical route on Dracula.)

The decision to prize old-fashioned movie magic over new-fashioned technology has arguably helped provide Bram Stoker’s Dracula with a longevity that eludes latter-day CGI-heavy monster movies like Dracula Untold and Universal’s own Mummy remake. “It was a nice way to work,” Oldman says. “Francis wanted to do as much as he could in camera, especially the real old-school stuff.” Considering how effective their collaboration proved the first time around, should Oldman agree to play Dracula again we can’t be the only ones hoping that Coppola would return behind the camera. “I don’t see Francis much, but over the years we’ve kept in touch,” the actor says. “I’m always watching out for what he’s doing. He’s enjoying his vineyard right now!”

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is available for rental or purchase on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube and Vudu. Watch the trailer:

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