I, Frankenstein — starring Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, and Miranda Otto to name a few — is a new film set to be released in January 2014. From the looks of the preview trailer, it’s full of otherworldly action and interesting creatures, like gargoyles, demons and Frankenstein, of course.
Kevin Grevioux, the creator of Underworld, has produced, written and starred in the upcoming movie, in hopes that viewers will enjoy a fresh, science fi-like action thrill ride with new monsters and new problems yet to be solved.
He recently sat down with us to discuss I, Frankenstein, the comic book/graphic novel following the film, and inspiration behind it all.
According to an article on The Huffington Post, you wrote the original comic book that this film has been adapted from.
Well, actually, I wrote the original screenplay. I wrote the comic book/graphic novel afterwards. And, when it was done, what I did in order to sell my screenplay, I created this graphic novel/comic book, so people could really visualize and see the world I was trying to create. Stuart Beattie, who’s a wonderful director, came up after I had sold the screenplay and had been developing it further with Lakeshore, along with myself and Patrick Tatopoulos, who is no longer on the project.
What was the inspiration behind I, Frankenstein?
My initial inspiration behind it was — it’s actually quite simple — just trying to find a way, like I did with Underworld, to turn horror characters into action movies. Turning the mysticism usually associated with monster movies into something more science fiction-based, and now you have a basis for a cool action film. After Underworld, I had been thinking about a couple of ideas and obviously, I had settled on this one concept. I told Patrick Tatopoulos about it, wrote the screenplay and sold it to Lakeshore using the graphic novel I had also created, as a means by which I could sell it. Lakeshore understood the concept and bought the screenplay right away.
The development process is such that I wound up changing my original screenplay and it showed a lot of what I created and evolved into a new screenplay and a new story, which was really going well. That screenplay I wrote was completely different from my first screenplay and also my comic book, but you still had all the elements there. Then Stuart came along and he kind of refined it, and he took away a lot of the monsters I had created. He kept Frankenstein and paired it down to just two. So now, we have another war situation between these two monsters like we had in Underworld.
My main nemesis had a legion of vampires who were fighting against the gargoyles. Stuart came along and he changed the vampires to demons. He changed Dracula to a demon character, a demon prince like the Prince of Darkness, called Naberius. And so, the main focus of the story is still like my original screenplay was in that the main film would use Frankenstein, and the process by which he was created, to create more of an army of monsters just like him so he could use them for his nefarious purposes.
How do you think the screenplay translates to the big screen?
It’s different. When it comes to the screenplay that I developed, before Stuart came in, it’s more similar and the subtle differences being that most of the monsters were removed and the vampires were turned to demons. But, the story is still about… the main villain tried to turn the Frankenstein process into a weapon for his own evil ends and make other Frankenstein monsters to try and find the secret of life, so they can reanimate human bodies, dead human bodies.
What can viewers expect from your character, Dekar?
They can expect a lot of evil (laughs).
Uh, no. That’s it (laughs). That’s just who Dekar is, he’s the right-hand man of Naberius, so basically he carries out the orders of his boss.
Did you put [Dekar] in the original screenplay?
No, I played a different character in the original screenplay. But, when we changed the screenplay once Stuart came aboard, he created a character named Dekar and that’s the character I wound up playing.
What do you hope viewers will take away from this film?
What I hope they take away from it is that it’s a story about redemption. It’s about, you know, are you going to be what people labeled you as an individual? Or, are you going to be your own man and decide your own destiny?
Frankenstein was created to be a monster, but that doesn’t mean he has to stay a monster and that’s what my original screenplay was about. It doesn’t matter about how you were created to be. It’s what you wind up or end up being that is important and what defines you.
How excited were you to have your printed work transformed into a film adaptation?
This is potentially the second franchise I’ve created and so whenever you’re able to initiate something that turns into something like this, of this magnitude, you know it can be a pretty heavy experience. It was a good thing to be able to do that.
Would you say making it into a movie was much harder or easier than writing the original screenplay?
I would say both are difficult, but when you’re writing a screenplay, you are actually creating and conceiving with no rules. So, you have to be sure of every move you make and be sure it’s gonna be something that somebody wants to buy. At that point, it can be very difficult and then selling it, that’s other difficulties. There are a lot of scripts. There are good scripts that get written, they get bought, and then after that, they get made. Then they get made well. You have all these different tiers, so by the time you get to the movie, you’re basically wiping the sweat from your brow. At the same time, once you’re on set, now you have a lot of other challenges like maintaining your vision because it’s very collaborative. As a writer, you have to understand that once you turn in your script, they can do what they want with it. You hope that everyone makes good decisions to make a good film. Thank the Lord, I think we have a good film.
How do you think this film will impact you as an actor and as a writer?
Yeah I wear like four different hats: screenwriter, comic book creator, producer and actor. I think every time you get something made, it’s another feather in your cap. That’s a good thing. That means people will trust me that much more. This is, hopefully, my second franchise. This will make selling my next one easier, like I’m setting up a few things right now because of Underworld and I, Frankenstein. I’ll have more stuff coming up. It’ll be cool.
Do you plan to write more I, Frankenstein comics? Are there other comics you’re writing that you plan on turning into movies?
I’ve written for both Marvel and DC [comics]. I’ve written Batman and Superman before. But, I’ve also created a character called the Blue Marvel for Marvel Comics. He was created to be one of the first African-American superheroes back in the early ’60s, but because of race relations, he had to wear a mask and cover his entire body, so no one would think he’s black. Basically, he was a Superman-level character or above-Superman-level character, but when his mask was ripped in a fight, when he was trying to save the city, everyone saw that he was black and President Kennedy shut him down because Kennedy was trying to push forward civil rights and if people knew that [Blue Marvel] was black and going around, doing all these powerful things, they would be afraid of him.
[President Kennedy] would’ve never gotten civil rights through. And so for the good of the country, and the world in a matter of speaking, Kennedy asked him to stand down. And so Adam — the character’s name is Adam Brashear — stood down for over 50 years. But now he’s back. What’s interesting is that they just made this black character an Avenger. So he’s gonna be a part of the Avengers team; not in the movie, necessarily, but for the Marvel Universe.
I have my other characters that I’ve created for my own company, like a character called Dark Storm, which is named after the company. There’s one named [Shurika?] who is a martial arts woman. I have one called Valkyries, which is an all-ages book and another all-ages book called Guardian Heroes that I’m doing. I also have a book called The Toy Box, which I am making into a CGI-animated movie.
Many people would love to have the chance to turn something they’ve written into a major motion picture. What advice would you give to aspiring actors and writers?
I would tell them stick to your original vision. I would also tell them don’t give up. I would also tell them to make sure you surround yourself with good people who understand what you’re trying to do, especially if you’re talking about genre because that can oftentimes be very difficult for the uninitiated to understand, be it producers, directors, writers, whatever. And I would also tell people to start creating their own IP’s, and when I say that I mean intellectual properties. What that does is it allows you to maintain the integrity of the IP you’ve created. But when it does change, you can still play with it and use it as a crucible for which you can pull different ideas for a long time.