Film adaptations of Bram Stoker’s Dracula have been commonplace in cinema since the release of 1922’s Nosferatu, though Bela Lugosi was the first actor to officially bring the infamous vampire to life on the big screen in 1931. Like in the original novel, many of these adaptations include Renfield, Count Dracula’s henchman who was locked away in an insane asylum and desperate to gain immortality. Well, more than after 120 years after Dracula was published, it’s time for Renfield to get the spotlight, and he’ll do so in his own movie from Universal Pictures.
Based on an original pitch from The Walking Dead and Invincible creator Robert Kirkman, Renfield sees its eponymous protagonist getting a new lease on life in the present day after spending centuries as Dracula’s poorly-treated lackey, leading to him falling in love with a feisty traffic cop. This comedic take on the Dracula mythos is being directed by The Tomorrow War’s Chris McKay and written by Rick & Morty alum Ryan Ridley. Now that Renfield finally has a place on the 2023 theatrical calendar, it’s a good time to discuss Nicolas Cage, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star Awkwafina and the other actors making up the movie’s main cast. But first, let’s talk about who’s playing Renfield himself.
Nicolas Hoult is arguably best known for playing Hank McCoy/Beast in the “First Class” era of X-Men movies, with those movies following his progression from a bright-eyed young scientist to veteran superhero and teacher who cycled between looking like a normal human and rocking blue fur. Hoult has also starred in Mad Max: Fury Road, Rebel in the Rye, The Favourite, Tolkien and Those Who Wish Me Dead, and he also co-leads Hulu’s The Great with Elle Fanning. It’ll be interesting to see how Hoult’s Renfield compares to other versions of the character, though since this is a comedy movie, that’ll likely give the actor many opportunities to chew the scenery, much like we expect the next person on this list to do.
More than three decades after his uncle, Francis Ford Coppola, directed Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Nicolas Cage is bringing the iconic vampire to life in Renfield. Although this is a comedy (like his previous outing in the world of vampires, 1989’s Vampire’s Kiss), don’t think that means he isn’t taking preparation for the role seriously, as Cage wants his Dracula to “pop in a unique way,” and has even turned to the 2021 horror movie Malignant for inspiration. For those who haven’t followed along with Cage’s career in recent years, some of the the movies he’s popped up in include Mandy, Color Out of Space, Primal, Willy’s Wonderland and Pig. He was also convinced into playing a fictionalized version of himself in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
Although Awkwafina’s been active in the entertainment world since she was a teenager, 2018 saw her skyrocketing to new levels of fame thanks to her roles in Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean’s 8. Since then, along with joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe to play Katy Chen in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, she’s also starred in The Farewell, Jumanji: The Next Level and Raya and the Last Dragon, as well as her own TV series, Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens. In addition to voicing Scuttle in Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, Awkwafina is also appearing in Renfield as Rebecca Quincy, the previously-mentioned traffic cop the title character falls in love with once he charts a new life path.
Some of you may instantly recognize Ben Schwartz from on-camera work like Parks & Recreation, Space Force and The Afterparty, while others may know his voice from projects like Sonic the Hedgehog, DuckTales and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Whatever the case, Schwartz has a diverse resume, and Renfield will spice it up further. The actor will play a mobster (supposedly named Teddy Lobo, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet) who I’m guessing will somehow end up on Rebecca Quincy’s radar as a law enforcement officer, thus explaining how he comes into Renfield’s life too.
Rebecca Quincy will be joined in carrying out traffic cop duties by her partner Chris, played by Adrian Martinez. Even if his name doesn’t ring a bell, chances are you’ve seen him in at least a couple things given all the film and TV credits he’s collected. Some of the highlights include Kick-Ass, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Focus and Disney’s Lady and the Tramp remake, as well as being a main cast member on the short-lived TV shows The Blacklist: Redemption and Stumptown.
Fans of The Expanse will instantly recognize Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala, one of the lead characters for the entirety of the show’s run. But if you didn’t watch the recently-concluded sci-fi series, maybe you remember the actress from movies like House of Sand and Fog, X-Men: The Last Stand and Rosewater, or TV shows like 24, Grimm and The Punisher. Aghdashloo is appearing in Renfield as Ella, a feared crime lord, though it’s unclear if she’s the boss of Ben Schwartz’s character or a rival criminal.
With all the abuse Nicolas Cage’s Dracula has piled on Nicholas Hoult’s Renfield, the former minion wouldn’t be faulted for having a lot of issues to work through. Fortunately, it sounds like he’ll seek some help during the movie, because Bess Rous is starring as Caitlyn, a member of a support group for people in toxic relationships. You might know Rous from TV shows like Murder in the First and Other Space, or perhaps noticed her as Gertrude Aldrige in 2016’s Ghostbusters.
James Moses Black
Next up in the Renfield lineup is James Moses Black, who’s known from TV shows like Nashville, 24: Legacy and Snowfall. Deadline’s report of Black being cast in Renfield didn’t mention anything about his character, but the actor’s role is listed on IMDB as Captain J. Browning. Assuming this is true, then my money’s on this Captain Browning being the officer Awkwafina’s Rebecca and Adrian Martinez’s Chris report to, meaning there’s a chance he might end up running into Renfield at some point.
Caroline Williams has been around the acting block, from popping up in movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Days of Thunder and How The Grinch Stole Christmas, to guest starring on TV shows like L.A. Law, NYPD Blue and The Mentalist. Williams confirmed her involvement in Renfield on Twitter, and once again, IMDB supposedly lists the identity of her character: Vanessa. Whether that’s indeed her name or she’s called something else, going off the necklace Williams was wearing in that social media post, I wouldn’t be surprised if this individual is associated with Dracula in some way.
Brandon Scott Jones
Brandon Scott Jones has been on a hot streak in TV over the last few years, having recurred on both The Good Place and The Other Two, as well as currently starring in CBS’s Ghosts, where he plays American Revolution officer Captain Isaac Higgintoot. Film-wise, his credits include the Rebel Wilson-led features Isn’t It Romantic and Senior Year, and now Renfield is joining that lineup of cinematic work, per Variety. There’s no word yet on who he’s playing.
Renfield opens in theaters on April 24, 2023. Discover what movies are closer on the cinematic horizon by scanning through the 2022 movie releases guide.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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