Last summer, when director Timur Bekmambetov‘s (Wanted, Night Watch) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was filming in New Orleans, I got to visit the set with a few other online reporters. Based on the book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies author Seth Grahame-Smith and produced by Tim Burton, the film re-imagines that Lincoln’s mother and grandfather were killed by a vampire and that the president’s resolve to end slavery was due in part to the “fact” that vampires were involved with the slave trade. Playing Lincoln is newcomer Benjamin Walker and he stars alongside Rufus Sewell, Anthony Mackie, Dominic Cooper, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
While on set we got to interview some of the cast, the filmmakers, and I walked away thinking the film could be really cool. Hit the jump for a list of things to know about the film and my video blog recap.
Before going any further, if you haven’t seen the red band trailer, I’d watch that first.
Shortly after getting back to the hotel, I recorded a video blog about the set visit with Peter from Slashfilm. We talked about everything we did on set and what we thought. We also recorded the beginning in the French Quarter.
30 Things to Know About Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
- The movie is following the Marvel roadmap by having the film be as realistic as possible but they’re adding one fantastical element: vampires.
- The film has three big action sequences. While I didn’t find out what all three are, I learned one involves a stampede and one takes place on a train. The train sequence is in the 3rd act.
- The movie will blend real world locations in New Orleans with CG set extensions to make it look period specific.
- While some actors land roles by auditioning on tape or reading for a director, the producers came to see Ben Walker in a play before they approached him for the role.
- Timur Bekmambetov had Walker watch John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln for preparation.
- They developed Walker’s look in the movie as Lincoln though a progression of masks that are modeled after actual casts taken of Abraham Lincoln throughout his life as well as his death mask.
- Lincoln incorporates a variety of fighting styles to wield his axe, which he learns from a vampire named Henry Sturgess (played by Dominic Cooper), who is a master assassin.
- The vampire killings will be very grounded in reality.
- Oscar winning makeup designer Greg Cannom designed the look of the vampires and there will be different looking vampires throughout the films.
- Walker is wearing a prosthetics designed by Cannom throughout the course of the movie. His nose and ears are fake, and has Lincoln ages it becomes 15 smaller pieces that come together. He also wears contacts. His hair is his own, though.
- The movie opens with Lincoln trying to vindicate his mother’s death by killing a man names Jack Barts, which doesn’t go very well for him.
- The movie is going to feature narration from his journal.
- Burton, Producer Jim Lemly, and Bekmambetov actually started work on the movie before Seth Grahame-Smith had finished writing the book. They heard about it from a book proposal in an email.
- Seth Grahame-Smith adapted the book himself.
- While preparing for the role, Ben Walker delivered the Gettysburg Address to the director and producer.
- There is a big action sequence that will take place on top of a stampede of horses.
- Timur chose to film in New Orleans because the Civil War took place there. He says you can still feel the history and drama of it even though it took place 150 years ago.
- WETA is doing many of the effects in the movie.
- The movie was shot in 2D and is being post converted into the 3D format.
- Most of the action sequences were animated prior to shooting so that the actors could visualize that the director is attempting to create.
- Dominic Cooper trained to be able to do a lot of his own stunt work with an axe.
- Much of the Cooper’s costume is made to make him appear timeless, with bits that look not only as if they are from all over the world, but also from hundreds of years in the past.
- Cooper’s character lives in a huge, crumbling mansion and he’ll have a flashback sequence to tell his origin.
- The film covers the years between 1820 to 1865 with locations ranging all across the country, from Illinois and Kentucky and Louisiana to Washington DC.
- There was a lot of research done into the actual cabins built by Abe Lincoln, they tried to copy a lot of the details into the set piece.
- They wanted to make the sets and accurate as possible so there was a lot of research put in to the time period surrounding them. Each department had their own researchers and they had to make sure that the pieces they were making were absolutely correct.
- They adapted the story to be able to take advantage of the historical assets that New Orleans had to offer.
- Lincoln’s coat was a key point for the costume designers (Varvara Avdyushko and Carlo Poggioli) as they were trying to make something that fit the iconic image, but also be suited to fighting vampires in. The fabric for the coat was made in Italy. The coat also has a special compartment to hide his axe.
- Many costume pieces in the movie were replicas of the original pieces that were wore by the historical figures; such as Mary’s jewelry.
- They had a lot of civil war re-enactors come to be extras in the movie and they used a lot of their own costumes
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will be released June 22. For more from my set visit:
- Benjamin Walker Talks Research, Balancing History with the Supernatural, Playing Different Ages and More on the Set of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
- Dominic Cooper Talks the Scope of the Film, Finding the Tone, Returning for Captain America 2, and More on the Set of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
- Director Timur Bekmambetov and Producer Jim Lemley Talk Casting Lincoln, 3D, Balancing Reality with Fantasy, and More on the Set of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter