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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Director Talks Vamps, Visual Style

Timur Bekmambetov, the director of Wanted, hits audiences this summer with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – based on the novel by Seth Graham-Smith and starring Benjamin Walker as the former President who not only led our country but, according to this tale, was a vampire slayer.

Shock reunited with Bekmambetov briefly to speak about the June 22nd release and squeeze in a few more questions we did not get to address the last time we connected with him.


Shock Till You Drop: With someone who came right out of the gate so strong, visually, with movies like Night Watch and Day Watch, do you find it difficult to top yourself with each film?

Timur Bekmambetov:  Yes, it’s one of the reasons I decided to make Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Any time I start a project, I need to have the feeling: I don’t know how to do this.  This movie was a perfect case because it was almost impossible for me to imagine how to mix two genres – a biopic and a vampire horror movie.  It’s a process.  We spent two years and I think it will be a very unusual, bad-ass movie.

Shock:  Talk about the design process of the vampires themselves and what you wanted to avoid or adhere to.

Bekmambetov:  There was no goal for me there to do something nobody has seen before.  The combination of the vampires and Lincoln is unique enough, for me.  It was logical for me to create a vampire world as relatable as possible, or something you could understand.  There were a lot of small details, though.  For example, because it’s a grounded world, vampires can work outside and in daylight.  Otherwise, how can they live in the real world?  The answer is, they created sunscreen and it’s why they were everywhere – in Congress, in banks, they’re lawyers.  They invented sunscreen.  And the vampire hunters invented photography – because according to mythology – they don’t reflect in mirrors.  So, in the photographic process, there’s silver involved, same as a mirror, and vampire hunters use the photo process to see who is invisible.  If you take a picture of Congress, you’ll see half of the group is invisible – they’re vampires.

Shock:  What qualities did Ben Walker have that made him the right Abraham Lincoln?

Bekmambetov:  Sense of humor.  He’s tall and very physical.  Acrobatic.  But most of all, he’s honest. [smiles]