Jonathan Melville: Jordan has another tilt at vampire genre

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“It’s an art house horror movie which focuses on two female sucreants, a mother and daughter, and it’s set between two time periods,” says actress Gemma Arterton when I ask her about upcoming vampire movie, Byzantium.

“My character, Clara, loves being a vampire,” laughs Arterton. “She sees it as her life’s mission to curb the power of men.”

Adds teenage actress, Saoirse Ronan, who plays her daughter Eleanor Webb, “Before I read the script I was worried it was just another vampire film. I wanted it to be something different and special. It’s kind of going back to the original vampire genre and taking it back to the folklore.

“It doesn’t feel like a fantasy, it feel almost fact-based.”

Byzantium is directed by Neil Jordan, the man who brought us 1994’s Interview with the Vampire.

“I was sent the script by producer Stephen Woolley, who had developed it from a play he’d commissioned,” says Jordan. “It was a about a mother and daughter, who could pass themselves off as sisters due to the accident of vampirism.

“It’s kind of a portrait of vampires as if Bram Stoker had never written Dracula and Bela Lugosi had never played the character,” he adds. “I call it the first historically accurate vampire movie!”

Has Jordan kept his eye on the genre since his last foray there?

“I haven’t kept up with the Twilight films. They seem to be ubiquitous and maybe it’s about the hunger of audiences for stories that are about anything but realism.

“The great thing about horror genre and vampire movies in general is that they enable us to let our imaginations fly and imagine a world not bound by the rules of ordinary reality.”

Byzantium opens in cinemas tomorrow


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