'Renfield' Will Star Nicholas Hoult as Dracula's Deranged, Bug-Eating Servant

Nicholas Hoult is about to eat some bugs on screen. The Mad Max: Fury Road and The Favourite actor has been hired to star in Renfield, Universal Pictures’ upcoming film about a man who finds himself under Dracula’s control. Chris McKay, the filmmaker behind Amazon’s recent sci-fi action film The Tomorrow War, is directing.

Deadline reports that Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy, Warm Bodies, The Great) is set to play the title role in Renfield, which is written by Ryan Ridley (Rick and Morty) and based on an original story outline from Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead). Earlier this summer, Kirkman described the film as an “extremely violent comedy,” and said the film is essentially about the Renfield character “being Dracula’s henchman and how shitty a job that is.”

In Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel, Renfield is a lunatic at an asylum who is under the influence of Count Dracula. He eats bugs and other small creatures in an attempt to consume their life-force, and eventually faces down the imposing vampire in a last-ditch effort to exert his remaining humanity. Interestingly, though, this new movie will not be a period piece set in 1800s England. Deadline says the film is “believed to take place during the present day and is not a period piece.”

Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst, and Sean Furst are producing, and Samantha Nisenboim will executive produce.

Hoult Has Some Big Shoes to Fill

Renfield has appeared on screen many times over the years. Dwight Frye famously played him in Universal’s 1931 Dracula film, frequent Werner Herzog collaborator Klaus Kinski played Renfield in 1970’s Count Dracula, and in more recent years, he’s been played on the small screen by Nonso Anozie in 2013, Samuel Barnett in Penny Dreadful, and Mark Gatiss in last year’s Netflix drama. But among the most memorable iterations of Renfield on screen is Tom Waits in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula, in which Waits disappears into the role and commits to the character’s instability in a haunting, disturbing way.

It sounds like this new Renfield movie won’t be as dark as some of the previous versions of Dracula, and that has me excited to see what Hoult brings to the table with this lighter tone. Universal is continuing to develop other projects based on the classic Universal Monsters, and as much as I enjoyed last year’s The Invisible Man, I’m glad this one sounds like it will have a totally different feel to it. I can’t wait to see Hoult absolutely house some flies on the big screen.

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