Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe franchise crashed and burned after its first installment, 2017’s The Mummy, failed to impress critically and commercially, but the studio’s Universal Monsters property lives on through a variety of self-contained projects, including 2020’s critically acclaimed The Invisible Man. Among the upcoming titles on this slate is the Dracula-adjacent Renfield, and it’s been announced that X-Men franchise star Nicholas Hoult has been tapped to lead it.
Just days after being cast in the upcoming Searchlight movie The Menu, Deadline reports that Nicholas Hoult will star in Renfield, named after Dracula’s henchman from the original Bram Stoker-penned novel. The Tomorrow War’s Chris McKay will direct the feature off of an original story outline put together by Invincible’s Robert Kirkman. Rick and Morty’s Ryan Ridley wrote the script.
In the original Dracula story, R.M. Renfield was a patient at an insane asylum overseen by Dr. John Seward. While it’s originally believed that Renfield’s consumption of insects and rats stems from delusions, it’s later revealed that he’s actually under the influence of the titular vampire. Dracula convinced Renfield that by consuming these living creatures’ blood, he can become immortal, resulting in Renfield pledging loyalty to him. After being confronted by Mina Harker though, Renfield eventually rebels against Dracula, which ultimately leads to his former master breaking his neck.
No specific plot details for Renfield have been revealed yet, other than it will reportedly be set in the present day rather than a period piece. So not only is it unclear if the movie will adapt any of the same beats from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, we don’t even know for sure how much of a presence the hotshot vampire will have in the tale. R.M. Renfield has previously been played by actors like Dwight Frye in 1931’s Dracula and Tom Waits in 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but as the star of this particular story, Nicholas Hoult will have more room to deliver a more unique interpretation of the character.
As alluded to earlier, Nicholas Hoult is arguably most well known for playing Hank McCoy, a.k.a. Beast, in the “First Class” era of 20th Century Fox’s X-Men film series, inheriting the role from Kelsey Grammer. Hoult’s other notable credits include Clash of the Titans, Jack the Giant Slayer, Mad Max: Fury Road, Rebel in the Rye and Tolkien. He most recently starred alongside Angelina Jolie in Those Wish Me Dead and co-starred with Elle Fanning in the Hulu series The Great, which has been renewed for a second season.
Along with Renfield, other Universal Monsters movies in development include the Ryan Gosling-led Wolf Man reboot, Bride of Frankenstein, Dark Army and two separate Dracula movies being directed by Karyn Kusama and Chloe Zhao, respectively. Additionally, Renfield isn’t the only Dracula-adjacent movie on the way, as Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark director André Øvredal is helming Last Voyage of the Demeter, which follows the ship that transported Dracula from Transylvania to London. Its stars include David Dastmalchian, Liam Cunningham Aisling Franciosi, Javier Botet and Corey Hawkins, among others.