Off the heels — or the fangs, rather — of the first image from Robert Eggers’ Nosferatu, the director has commented on lead Bill Skarsgård, who plays Count Orlok.
Speaking with Empire, Robert Eggers said his star is so immersed in the role that he might slip through the cracks when it comes to proper recognition. “I’ll say that Bill has so transformed, I’m fearful that he might not get the credit that he deserves because he’s just…he’s not there…He felt like honouring who had come before him. It’s all very subtle.” Those that came before him most notably include Max Schreck in the 1922 silent classic Nosferatu and Klaus Kinski in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979). Eggers’ comments call to mind 2000’s Shadow of the Vampire, which saw Willem Dafoe playing original Orlock Max Schreck and wondered if Schreck — who was so convincing in the role — was an actual vampire.
But there’s no doubt that Skarsgård will offer a new generation their own definitive version of Count Orlok when Robert Eggers’ Nosferatu releases next year, as happened when he played Pennywise in the It updates. Sure, those of us who grew up with Tim Curry still love his performance but you’re more likely to see Skarsgård’s interpretation represented on merch than you are the Curry’s, no matter how chilling he made the character in 1990. But there’s no foul here — Skarsgård was a perfect Pennywise and we expect the same for Count Orlok.
Adding to what Skarsgård brings to Nosferatu, Robert Eggers said, “He felt like honouring who had come before him. It’s all very subtle…But I think the main thing is that he’s even more a folk vampire. In my opinion he looks like a dead Transylvanian nobleman, and in a way that we’ve never actually seen what an actual dead Transylvanian nobleman would look like and be dressed like.”
The original F.W. Murnau film — which remains one of the masterpieces of silent horror — was an unauthorized version of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. But since the filmmakers didn’t obtain the rights to the source (resulting in a lawsuit that nearly led to every copy being destroyed), a classic in its own right was born. The film went into the public domain a few years ago.
How do you think Bill Skarsgård will do leading Nosferatu? Do you think a new generation will latch onto the story?