The 19th century-set movie is based on Seth Grahame-Smith's novel, which imagines the 16th president of the United States as an ax-wielding slayer of the undead. Benjamin Walker plays Lincoln in the film version, while Sewell and Cooper play vampires with opposing agendas. The movie was directed by Timur Bekmambetov. from a screenplay by Grahame-Smith, and produced by Tim Burton.
Asked to share a favorite moment from the production, Cooper told reporters at a recent New York press conference, "I remember Rufus' tooth being planted in my cheek during our first fight."
Sewell, sitting alongside his co-stars and the filmmakers, confirmed the story was true.
"On my first day, when I had to bite him at the end of the scene, which I thought went rather well, my tooth was missing and a hunt was conducted and it was found stuck in the side of my co-actor's head where it had snapped off," Sewell laughed. "I hadn't been given the talk about how we bite when we've got actual sharp, actual teeth in our mouth. So, I think I went in a bit close and they literally found it stuck on the side of his head. ... That's why he grew [his beard.]"
"I think we should have kept a head count of how many people Ben hit with the ax," producer Jim Lemley quipped, alluding to how enthusiastically Walker swung his character's weapon of choice.
"We had great people who taught me," Walker recalled. "And they kicked my ass and they were also tough enough to stand there while I hit them in the face with the rubber ax. The hardest part was because we are in 3-D, you can't fudge the distance and you have to get in as close as possible, so there were a number of ax accidents."
So, did the former star of the stage musical "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" suffer any serious injuries while playing Abraham Lincoln in "Vampire Hunter"?
"I didn't get hurt that much, but a number of stunt guys really took their licks," Walker said. "I would ruin takes because I was like, 'I'm so sorry!'"
"Dark Shadows," "Edward Scissorhands" and "Beetlejuice" director Burton said he wanted to be part of "Vampire Hunter" as soon as the premise was mentioned to him.
"When I heard the title, I said, "I want to see this movie.' It reminded me of movies I used to go see [as part of] triple features like 'Scream, Blacula, Scream' and 'Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde' and all these weird titles. This seemed like it fit in," Burton said.
"I think the joke ends at the title and nobody up here [on this panel] is denying the premise of the film is absurd, but that said, 'OK, that's fine but we're going to do it the most dedicated, straightforward, kick-ass way imaginable,'" said Grahame-Smith. "We're not going to wink at the audience. You do that by making it grounded and making it seem real and you do that by having Timur direct everyone on his team, whether it's the period design of the movie, the costumes, the performances. All these actors are actors' actors. They are trained, serious actors and they are bringing a deeper, more grounded performance than you'd expect from a movie with this crazy premise."
Bekmambetov, whose previous films include "Night Watch," "Day Watch" and "Wanted," said he always wanted to make "Vampire Hunter" in 3-D because it makes the viewers feel like they are part of the action.
"It was the only way to tell the story," he noted. "From the moment when we read this book, we understood it would be a 3-D movie because it is a unique journey, experience."
"Timur showed me some pictures from the Civil War that were in 3-D. There were actually pictures of Lincoln, so it actually really made sense. It was almost the first use of 3-D technology," Burton added. "Not every film needs to be 3-D. There's a Hollywood thing -- 3-D or no 3-D. Yes or no? I think the choice is always nice. Some people like 3-D, some people would rather see it in 2-D. So I think the choice is always great, but this particular one, again based on those photographs, it completely seemed the obvious and right tool to use for this movie. ... It brings you there."
"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" opened in U.S. theaters Friday.
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