TV

Dracula: From Bela Lugosi to Jonathan Rhys Meyers

By Amber Lena

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Dracula is one of the most enduring figures in media history. In fact, next to Sherlock Holmes, Dracula is the most portrayed character in film and television. From the truly relentless monsters to the lonely creatures looking for love, the portrayals of the Count have been multi-faceted and varied. In honor of the upcoming television show starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, we’re taking a look back at some of the most iconic (and geeky) portrayals of Dracula throughout the years.


Bela Lugosi – Dracula (1931)

While the 1931 Dracula film was not the first based off of Bram Stoker’s work, it was the first to feature a Count Dracula with his rightful name. Made immortal by the iconic performance of Bela Lugosi, who originated the role in the play adaptation, this film is rightly considered the original Dracula film.


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Christopher Lee – Horror of Dracula (1958)

Christopher Lee is perhaps the most prolific of all the Dracula actors. His Dracula credits include everything from the 1958 film to the following:

  • Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
  • Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968)
  • Count Dracula (1970)
  • Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
  • One More Time (1970)
  • Scars of Dracula (1970)
  • Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)
  • The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)
  • Dracula And Son (1976)

While Lee’s films had varied reviews from critics, he is undoubtedly one of the biggest names associated with adaptations of Stoker’s work.


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Frank Langella – Dracula (1979)

Langella took up Lugosi’s helm in the play revival in 1977, which led to his being cast in the 1979 film version. With Laurence Olivier as Van Helsing, it was impossible to not include Langella on the list. He is definitely one of the greatest Dracula actors in film history.


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Gary Oldman – Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Francis Ford Coppola’s film is probably the most well-known Dracula adaptation produced in the past thirty years. Gary Oldman’s Dracula is both terrifying and sympathetic due to the addition of a love story between himself and Mina (Winona Ryder). As it turns out, Ryder’s Mina may in fact be the reincarnation of Dracula’s dead wife. His obsession with Mina is what drives the second half of the film, allowing Oldman to play Dracula with a wide range.


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Gerard Butler – Dracula 2000 (2000)

Gerard Butler’s Dracula finds himself awakened in the modern world and is driven to find Van Helsing’s daughter  While Dracula 2000 didn’t receive the same critical acclaim that past adaptations did, it gained a cult following. For that reason, Butler’s Dracula made the list.


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Rudolf Martin – “Buffy vs. Dracula” (2000)

It may have taken until the season 5 premiere for our favorite Slayer to finally encounter the biggest vampire of all time, but it was well worth the wait. Buffy gives Dracula a twist with Whedon’s characteristic witty banter. Martin’s stunning performance adds to the episode as well, the combination successfully making Dracula edgy, sexy, and surprisingly funny. This episode successfully serves as a commentary on the classic Dracula as well as a re-telling in the context of Buffy’s look into her own darkness, plus a reminder that he owes Spike 11 pounds.


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Richard Roxburgh – Van Helsing (2004)

Van Helsing was another film that didn’t receive much critical appeal, although it did well in the box office. Roxburgh’s Dracula is a big baddie who wants nothing more than to find a way to successfully hatch his thousands of children from his three brides. Roxburgh is too cool for school in this film, which is rife with amnesiacs, curses, exploding vampire spawn and more. Really, it’s too fun to forget.


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Jonathan Rhys Meyers – Dracula (2013)

With legends like Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee being attached to the role, it will be interesting to see what Meyers’ adds to everyone’s favorite vampire. We can’t wait to catch the premiere of Dracula this fall!

 Be sure to check out the season premiere of Dracula on October 25th on NBC. 

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