Bela Lugosi, the first Dracula
Bela Lugosi is possibly the most iconic actor to ever play Dracula in the movies.
He was the first to do so in 1931 (I already had experience having starred in the theater), in the legendary film Dracula by Tod Browning.
His portrayal of the Count has been copied time and again by other actors who have portrayed him on screen, setting the tone for an aristocratic Dracula, with style and a cruel background.
Interestingly, he played a vampire four times in the movies, but Dracula only twice. The second time, in Abbott and Costello vs. Frankenstein. Seriously.
Christopher Lee, the actor who has played him the most times
What can we say about Christopher Lee that hasn’t already been said? He is the one who has worn the cloak of Dracula the most times and played it up to 10 times, from 1958 to 1976.
It was the time of the classic horror films of the production company Hammer and Lee fascinated and scared multiple generations.
On many of those adventures, he teamed up with one of his best friends, Peter Cushing (the Moff Tarking of Star wars), who played his arch nemesis, the vampire slayer Abraham Van Helsing.
As a curiosity, his last interpretation of the count was in Dracula: father and son, a 1976 French horror comedy. In it, he plays a Dracula with a useless son whom he has to convince to follow in his footsteps. The son refuses, they both fall in love with the same woman and you can safely skip it.
Blacula, the black Dracula
The Blaxploitation was a motion picture movement of the 1970s in which the African-American population of the United States experienced a boom of movies played by actors of color.
Among them stands out Blacula (1972) (Black dracula in Spain) and its sequel, Scream, Blacula, Scream (from 1973, with the legendary Pam Grier). Performed by William Marshall, they were box office hits and a little better than it sounds, especially if you love the black culture of the seventies and its incredible cultural and musical legacy.
Frank Langella, the right Dracula
Shortly after Lee left the role for good, it was picked up by Frank Langella in Dracula (1979), with the legendary Laurence Olivier as Van Helsing.
The film was somewhat successful, won awards, and opened the doors for Langella to many other roles.
Klaus Kinski, the second incarnation of Nosferatu
Klaus Kisnki starred in the role of Dracula in the 1979 film Nosferatu, the Vampire of the nightby Werner Herzog.
A Haunting Dracula, faithful representation of the original Nosferatu in terms of physical appearance, they no longer had to go around with name changes for reasons of copyright. Here, the vampire is also called Dracula and focuses on a cursed character, condemned to loneliness forever due to his nature and immortality.
Gary Oldman, the most seductive Dracula
Since Lugosi set the tone, many of the actors who have played Dracula have shown that elegant and seductive side. However, the one who developed that part the most was, without a doubt, Gary Oldman at the Dracula Coppola’s 1992.
Focused on an eternal love story with Mina Harker, which has nothing to do with the original novel, some of its effects and shots are very ingenious and give a unique atmosphere.
East filmA critical and public success, the character returned to fashion after a long period of lethargy with nothing to highlight. Oldman’s performance is unforgettable and, above all, gives a hundred laps to his co-stars, stiff Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder.
Luke Evans, the most recent Dracula in the cinema
Luke Evans has been the last one to put on the Dracula cape in the cinema on Dracula untold (2014). Or rather, he put on the armor of Vlad Tepes (aka the impaler), prince of Wallachia and historical figure with whom the vampire has always been related.
They never really had anything to do with it and this movie, which is about telling the origins and how Vlad became bloodsucker, it stays halfway through everything. So much so that it seems that he has put Dracula in the cinematic coffin for a time.
Dracula on TV
Dracula has also had his share on the small screen. From the Young Dracula, a 5-season British series, up to Buffy, who clashed with actor Rudolf Martin in the episode Buffy vs Dracula.
To highlight two recent incarnations. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, in the series Dracula of 2013, produced by NBC. Despite the fact that he had at the helm the same person in charge as the much more fascinating Carnivale, it comes to nothing.
Too Claes Kasper Bang, the Danish actor who plays Dracula in the miniseries of the same name, a 2020 co-production by the BBC and Netflix. Not bad and, of course, he updates the character with new stories, showing a raw and seductive side of the count.
As you can see, it is impossible to cover that hundred actors without writing an encyclopedia. Rutger Hauer, Lon Chaney, John Carradine (5 times Dracula in titles like Billy the Kid vs. Dracula), Gerald Butler in a horrible Dracula 2000… Even the unrivaled Leslie Nielsen from Grab it however you can.
Highlight among them Tricia helfer (the cylon number six in the remake from Battlestar galactica). It is the first and, so far as we know, the only woman who plays Dracula, Olivia von Dracula specifically, in the fourth season of the series Van Helsing.
However, if there is a paradigmatic actor who has played Dracula, it has been Chiquito de la Calzada. Or rather, he plays Bŕacula, “with B from Barbate.” This was the name of his film in which, in the end, everyone discovers that his fangs are fake, but his legacy will live forever. Sorry, Lugosi, it is what it is.