Richard Roxburgh

Van Helsing

Interviewed by Anwar Brett

“The groin pain after eight hours of doing it is not something I would recommend ”

In recent years versatile Australian actor Richard Roxburgh has appeared in a wide variety of movie roles, from the snide and villainous Duke in Moulin Rouge, to a lovelorn working class Geordie in The One And Only, to the mysterious M who assembles The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. An acclaimed performer on stage and screen in his native country, 42-year-old Roxburgh is now based in the UK. In his latest film, Van Helsing, he portrays Count Dracula.

You had a tough experience working in Prague on The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. What did it take to persuade you to return for Van Helsing?

Actually [director] Stephen Sommers got me drunk in a bar in Prague and told me about the three actresses that he'd cast to play Dracula's brides! As it happens I'm now getting married to one of them, Silvia Colloca, for real - it's quite comical really that our relationship has been passed by Steve Sommers, but there you go. What actually persuaded me to do the film was talking with him, because he is such an enthusiast.

Do you have any iconic Dracula moments - a transformation sequence perhaps?

I do, but mercifully my moments of transformation didn't involve prosthetics so I was happily unburdened of latex and fangs in this production. That was good, although a little scary for me to work without false teeth or latex because it's relatively rare these days. Everything seemed to go OK though.

No fangs - how do you suck blood then?

We can't give too much away, but it's impressive when it happens. That's all I can say from what I've seen. It's a quite awful thing for me to behold!

Do you get to fly at least?

There was flying, but I rather enjoyed that. It's like a ride really, something you imagine you should be paying to go on, though the groin pain after eight hours of doing it is not something I would recommend.

Both you and your on-screen nemesis Hugh Jackman are Australian actors, playing heroes of horror literature. What kind of accents did you decide upon?

What we ended up describing as 'Received Carpathian', something that had a few Hungarian sounds in it. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it. Hugh did an accent that, to my ear, sounded ever so slightly Lowlands Europe, which Van Helsing probably was. At least we didn't go into it with the villainous characters speaking with English accents and the good guys sounding Californian.

Is it difficult maintaining the sort of variety in film that you get to enjoy in theatre?

I'm really keen to go back and do some theatre, but I can't afford to at the moment because we're getting married in September. And then I'm hoping to direct a film at the end of this year, and that means a year of your life without pay.