‘Priest’ Director Discusses Film’s ‘True Blood’-Meets-‘Twilight’ Casting

We have just shy of a year before “Priest” arrives in theaters, but with its popular manga source material and prominent actors from the “Twilight” and “True Blood” franchises playing major roles in the film, we’re pretty sure there will be no shortage of buzz as the film’s release date nears.

MTV News caught up with “Priest” director Scott Stewart, whose film “Legion” hit theaters earlier this year, to get the background on how he managed to pull together a cast friendly to the “sexy vampire” audience while also staying true to the tone and theme of Min-Woo Hyung’s manga.

“It was funny,actually — when casting ’Priest’ it was kind of hard to find someone who hasn’t played a vampire before,” he laughed. “There are so many people playing vampires these days. … But I love genre movies and I love to take them very seriously, even when the tone is meant to be fun. That means trying to cast them with really great actors.”

In this case, the vampire-savvy actors Stewart are “True Blood” star Stephen Moyer and “Twilight” alum Cam Gigandet, who play a pair of humans (not vampires) in an apocalyptic world ravaged by vicious bloodsuckers and their subordinates.

“Cam Gigandet is great,” said Stewart. “This is really the role for him. … You’ve got some James Dean and Brad Pitt happening with him, and he’s not even trying. It’s pretty awesome to see. We really gave him a look and a character that allowed him to be that. We also gave him some grit and some challenges as a character, and I think some emotional struggle to go through, which was fun.”

As for Moyer, Stewart offered similar levels of praise for the actor who plays brooding vampire Bill Compton on the hit HBO series.

“What a treat,” said Stewart. “I had never met him before and we had dinner, talked about the part. He just embraced it and took it. … There’s a good reason why every girl I know, when they found out he was going to be in the movie, was like, ’Can I visit in the days he works?'”

“It really makes sense that everyone is paying attention to him now,” added Stewart. “You just see it when you’re working with him. He and Paul [Bettany] play brothers in the movie. The scenes they have together are just great. Paul loved him and I loved him.”

For those wondering about any “Twilight” vs. “True Blood” rivalry on the set, Stewart said the two actors’ bloodsucking background didn’t go unnoticed by the cast and crew, and went from being a mark against them to a positive in the casting process.

“They was certainly joking about it by us on the producing side,” he said. “There were actually some other people considered at various points who were also pretty well-known vampires, but it wasn’t because we had this conscious desire to find people who had been vampires in other movies. At first, I didn’t want to do that, but it just sort of happened.”

“Eventually, I was like, ’Maybe we should try to do that,'” said Stewart of going for actors in the rival vampire series. “Once you get two, you might as well get five. And it did end up working out that way. I was very pleased with the way the cast came together.”

“Priest” is scheduled to hit theaters in January 2011.

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