Part of what made the press day for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter so fun last weekend was that it was a press conference starring actors whose careers I’ve been following closely for the past five to ten years. You had Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who kicked ass in very different roles in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and The Thing; Dominic Cooper, who I feel I’ve watched grow up since he did Mamma Mia!; and Rufus Sewell, who I know as Heath Ledger‘s nemesis Count Adhemar from A Knight’s Tale and who doesn’t seem to have aged a day since 2001. As one of the reporters pointed out, these are all “actors’ actors” taking a risk on a tongue-in-cheek bit of historical reenactment.
Then you also have newcomer Benjamin Walker, who was the perfect choice to play our President after starring in the Broadway musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. One of the most laugh-out-loud fun parts of the movie is Abe’s trusty axe, which is dipped in silver and does triple duty as a bayonet and rifle. Abe’s prowess with the weapon is otherworldly, as he twirls and throws and slams it into vampires.
However, Benjamin has been very humble about his performance and makes sure to give credit where it’s due for his intensive training process. ”We had great people that taught me, the best stunt guys in the business, and they kicked my ass,” he said. “And they also were tough enough to stand there while I hit them in the face with a rubber axe! The hardest part was, because we’re in 3D, you can’t fudge the distance. You have to get as close as possible. So yeah, there were a number of accidents. I didn’t get hurt that much, but a number of stunt guys really took their licks. I was ruining takes because I hit somebody and went, ‘Oh, I’m sorry! I’m sorry!’”
Another great on-set anecdote included a much smaller prop: Rufus Sewell’s vampire teeth. He and Dominic Cooper told the story so well, I’ll just let them do it.
Dominic: “I remember Rufus’ tooth being embedded in my cheek.”
Rufus: “On my first day, after I did the scene where I had to bite him — which I thought went fairly well — my tooth was missing, and a hunt was conducted. And it was found stuck in the side of my co-actor’s head, because it had snapped off. I hadn’t yet been given the talk about how we bite, so I did the requisite [open-mouthed hiss] and I think I went in a bit close. And then literally found it stuck there.”
Benjamin: “You can still see the mark.”
Rufus: (gesturing at Dominic’s sideburns) ”That’s why he’s grown out those!”
You’ll hear more from me tomorrow about the movie’s thrilling fight sequences and great blend of humor and gore. Not to mention the actors’ chemistry, considering how well they got along at the press day. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter comes out tomorrow!
Photos: Alan Markfield/20th Century Fox and Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Corp.