Based on the bestselling vein-thumping mashup novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, Timur Bekmambetov directs while Tim Burton and Jim Lemley produce “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”
Dubbed as a revisionist tale of the 16th US President’s life as a politician by day and a vampire hunter by night, it stars Benjamin Walker as the iconic commander-in-chief and Dominic Cooper as his mentor. The film also stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln, Jimmi Simpson as Josh Speed and Anthony Mackie as Will. Alan Tudyk takes on the role of Stephen A. Douglas, while Rufus Sewell is the film’s chief antagonist vampire Adam.
“It was an adventure, like I'm entering a new world I had never been before and I wanted to explore it,” Bekmambetov says of his attraction to the project. “I wanted to meet these unbelievable characters, Abraham Lincoln, his friend, Will, his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, his enemies and his friends. And I wanted to go with him through his journey.”
And what a journey it is, as we follow the young Abraham Lincoln from his childhood right on through to some of the most important speeches of his Presidential career. But as much as we might know the central character from history lessons and his portrait on the $5 bill, here his journey has been reimagined and heightened for a modern audience. Was there more to his lifelong struggles?
It’s safe to say that ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER is no ordinary period piece. Anthony Mackie, who plays Lincoln ’s trusted confidant William H. Johnson, reveals that it’s more than just the truth which is being bent for our entertainment. “I think there are many different aspects of Timur’s ability in this film,” he enthuses. “I think if you just look at how far he’s bending the truth you know you’re also going to see that in the camera work and the acting.”
For the actor though, the film’s story is an accessible introduction to a chapter of world history that shouldn’t be forgotten. “The story of Abraham Lincoln and everything that was happening in the mid-1800s in America is so popular that we know the turn of events,” he says. “We know the dates, we know what happened. Timur has given us a different way to look at it and he’s putting people in the position to go back and refresh themselves about what happened. You get a cool story in a new and funky way.”
For the actor tasked with bringing Abraham Lincoln to life, Ben Walker, the President is such a complex character that little embellishment is needed to find an accurate portrayal. “When you really look at Abraham Lincoln and his legacy and his life, you realize how truly complex and complicated he was as a man,” Walker says. “You recognize how complicated were the issues that he lived for and that lends itself to playing him. It gives you some wiggle room too when you get to the point where you’re reinventing American history.”
“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” opens June 27 in cinemas from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.