Nicolas Cage casts Dracula in upcoming comedy horror film Renfield delighted many. But after the release of the trailer, Nicholas Hoult’s upcoming performance in the lead role has created a lot of excitement. In expectation Renfield release, and after 100 years of Dracula movies, here’s a look at every actor who played Renfield.
In Bram Stoker’s seminal 1897 Gothic novel Dracula, RN Renfield is an inmate of Dr. John Seward’s insane asylum. He has been noted to eat insects and birds, believing he can achieve immortality by consuming their lives. Renfield is later revealed to be under the rule of Count Dracula himself, who bestowed this form of vampirism upon him. Numerous incarnations of Renfield, Dracula’s fly-eating madman, have served the Count over the decades, but only those who appear in the Dracula films are included in this list.
1922 Alexander Granach as Knock In Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horrors
The first adaptation of the novel Dracula, and the first feature Renfield, a classic German expressionist film by FW Murnau who infamously neglected to get the rights from Bram Stoker’s family to do so. As a result, Murnau changed the characters’ names and locations, turning Renfield into Knock — played by Alexander Granach. In Nosferatu: A Symphony Of Horror, Knock also assimilates Mr. Hawkins, the employer of hero Jonathon Harker (renamed Hutter).
1931 Dwight Frye in Todd Browning’s Dracula
Probably the most iconic interpretation of Renfield, a supporter of Count Dracula, Dwight Frye created many of the idiosyncrasies associated with the character. The most prominent are his tone of voice, rictus smile and wild eyes. Browning’s Dracula is based not on the novel but on the stage play of the same name — during which Renfield takes the place of Harker as a real estate agent who visits Dracula in Transylvania. Dracula takes Renfield to England, where he continues his antics in a bug-eating asylum.
1970 Klaus Kinski opposite Christopher Lee in Hammer’s Count Dracula
One of the most famous performances of Count Dracula has an equally unforgettable Renfield. Initially, Dracula has gone mad in Transylvania, somehow connected to the loss of his daughter, Count Dracula features the mute Renfield, played by German actor Kalus Kinski. The film was first released as the most faithful adaptation, which it was in 1970, making only minor changes to the novel for Hammer’s Dracula, starring Christopher Lee.
1979 Tony Haygarth in Dracula
The first of three Dracula films released in 1979, Dracula was directed by John Badham, who chose to highlight the romantic aspects of the 1924 novel and stage play. Tony Haygath’s character is named Milo Renfield, who is first charmed and enslaved by Dracula while unloading boxes at Dracula’s new English estate, Carfax Abbey, before later being admitted to Seward Asylum. However, unlike the novel, this version of Renfield would never leave the asylum.
1979. Roland Topor for Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampire
Werner Herzog’s remake of the classic FW Murnau, Nosferatu the vampire, he hired Renfield’s previous actor, Klaus Kinski, as Count Dracula. Many characters have taken on a role similar to Murnau’s Nosferatu, but with the original Dracula names restored. The role of Renfield went to Roland Topor, who plays a giggling version of Harker’s employer, committed to the asylum as a plague spreader and for biting a cow in an apparent fit of insanity.
1979. Arte Johnson in the horror comedy Love at First Bite
The finale of the three Dracula films from 1979. Love at first bite, was a comedy horror film starring George Hamilton as Count Dracula. Renfield was played by comedian Arte Johnson, whose version of the character is a lifelong servant to his vampire master, joining him on his move to New York City. Johnson’s Renfield was often a spoof of Dwight Frye’s definitive interpretation of the character.
1992 Tom Waits in Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola
The most accurate film about Renfield and Dracula in general is Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 film. Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The star-studded cast included musician Tom Waits as Renfield alongside Anthony Hopkins in the horror film adaptation. Renfield here occupies his original place in the madhouse, somehow connected to Count Dracula, whom he both fears and obeys. Renfield is Harker’s predecessor as Dracula’s real estate agent who became a slave, driven mad, and imprisoned before Harker’s first trip to Transylvania.
1995 Peter MacNicol in Mel Brooks’ Spoof Dracula: Dead and Beloved
Probably the funniest credits on Dracula, Mel Brooks’ second horror parody, Dracula: Dead and Beloved, perhaps the most beloved Dracula film. The film combines aspects of the novel and its various adaptations, with Peter MacNicol playing Renfield. MacNicol’s Renfield plays a much larger role than the novel and many films. Renfield, specifically, parodies Dwight Frye’s Renfield of 1931: mostly in mannerisms, but also follows the same story (first an estate agent who visits Dracula and then travels to London before being locked up in Dr. Seward’s asylum). However, additional scenes were added to the horror credits, drawing on Renfield’s servile nature and MacNicol’s brilliant performance.
2012 Entered by Ian Pfister Dracula reborn
Movie direct to video Dracula reborn tried to transfer the classic vampire story to the modern world. Changing the setting of the novel to London, Dracula buys his own property in Los Angeles, where Renfield would serve as his assistant. However, Renfield (and Dracula Reborn) shares little with its literary counterpart. Instead, he has distinctly more agency, is referred to as Dracula’s associate rather than his servant, and is depicted as bald and formally dressed with a demeanor reminiscent of a butler. Although the film was somewhat panned, Pfister’s portrayal of Renfield was praised.
2012. Giovanni Franzoni in the film Dracula 3D by Dario Argento
Director and horror master Dario Argento tried to update the original Bram Stoker story with modern graphics and technology in Dracula 3D. Argento made many changes, notably expanding the backstory of one of Dracula’s brides, naming her Tania. Although Giovanni Frazoni’s Renfield recognizes Count Dracula as his master, d Dracula 3Dhis character is driven by his love for Tania.
2022 Stuart Packer in Dracula: The Original Living Vampire
A complete adaptation of Bram Stoker’s original novel, Dracula: The Original Living Vampire, features a slightly different Renfield than the previous films. Captain Renfield is a highly respected detective, the direct superior of investigator Amelia Van Helsing, who has been tasked with solving a series of brutal murders. Stuart Packer’s character is initially a complete departure from the novel and previous cinematic incarnations, although he is later associated with the vampire Count Dracula.
2023 Nicholas Hoult with Nicolas Cage in Renfield
The culmination of 100 years of cinema, the upcoming Renfield features Nicholas Hoult as the titular servant who seeks solace from his abusive employer, Count Dracula. Renfield still suffers from a form of vampirism, but here Renfield gains superpowers by eating insects. With this his first solo film, Renfield will get significantly more screen time than ever before. Hoult’s performance stems from Frye’s idiosyncratic, servile characterization, which first brought the character into the mainstream, combining it with the modern sensibilities of films like What we do in the shadows. Renfield promises to give the character the attention it deserves, and it will be released in theaters on April 14, 2023.
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