When you think of our 16th president, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn't vampires, but the new film "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" hopes to change that.
MTV News spoke with star Benjamin Walker and director Timur Bekmambetov at an event for the movie at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, the former leader's hometown.
After screening the first trailer, plus some additional scenes, and taking a few questions from the audience, Walker and Bekmambetov sat down with MTV News to talk Lincoln and portraying his secret history as a killer of the undead.
Walker made a name for himself on Broadway playing a different president in "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson." His first major starring role, "Vampire Hunter" may seem like an odd choice, but Walker's first question about the part had nothing to do with the former president or vampires. "My initial reaction was, 'Who's directing it?' " Walker said. "Then as soon as somebody said Timur, I was relaxed about it. It's in good hands."
The flick also marks Walker's debut as an action hero, a far cry from his days onstage. To the actor, though, the transition wasn't too difficult, thanks to his director. "The way that Timur works, it's all the same thing," he explained. "The process is different, but they're the same muscles, the creation of another human being. It's the same thing, whether you're shooting it on a lens or you're doing it live in front of people.
"The way that Timur works, it's so visceral, it feels like you're doing it in front of a live audience," he continued. "The movie's going to be in 3-D. It's going to be like you're really there."
Of course, the premise raised some questions for the star, and Walker admitted there was definitely some intrigue. "I was curious, certainly. I didn't find it off-putting," he said. "You go to the movies today, and you're watching reboots and sequels and comics and toys. Frankly, it was really refreshing to see something so new and so far out there. I just was curious."
Bekmambetov is no stranger to horror or over-the-top action. The Russian supernatural thrillers "Night Watch" and "Day Watch" established the director as someone worth paying attention to, and "Wanted" marked his crossover to the American mainstream.
With "Vampire Hunter," the challenge of striking just the right chord attracted the director. "I was involved in a journey to deal with a real historical figure, with an icon, with a monument, and to try to balance tonally the genre and the real, almost sacred, figure," Bekmambetov explained. "It was difficult."
The film might have been a challenge to make, but according to Walker, the bizarre premise is one that shouldn't be too difficult for audiences to swallow. "He's someone we already recognize as an American hero. Now, we get to see him as an action hero. What's better than that?" he said.
Having completely rewritten the story of Lincoln is sure to leave a lasting impression on both Walker and Bekmambetov, who joked that he will no longer look at a $5 bill the same way: "Now, it's a symbol of the vampire hunting."