Seth Grahame-Smith Talks About the Action in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Updates Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
03.28.12 by Ryan
Mash-up author Seth Grahame-Smith isn't finished writing books (his third novel, Unholy Night, will be published in April), but he's been spending plenty of time in Hollywood. Along with working as a screenwriter for director Tim Burton's Dark Shadows, Grahame-Smith is adapting his second best-selling novel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Blending Lincoln's actual history with vampires (or finally revealing Lincoln's actual vampire history, depending on how you want to look at it), Grahame-Smith's book took a more scholarly approach, but as the writer told SlashFilm in a recent interview, the movie version became more action-oriented once director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) got involved.
When I was writing the book, I saw all this unfolding in a very old fashioned, historical, biopic kind of way. And then obviously you get Timur involved in it and all of a sudden you're in this crazy, high octane, otherworldly action universe. So what I could not have imagined was the size and the scope of the sequences that are in this movie. All of those things people see: there's a horse sequence in this movie, there's a train sequence in the movie, there are crazy fight sequences throughout the movie, all of that comes from his imagination. Like, I don't know how to put those sequences together, in my mind at least. So I think Timur, what he does, is take a 19th century biopic and give it a 21 century visual treatment, which is something pretty new.
Interestingly, it was Grahame-Smith's 2009 novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, that first brought him to the attention of Hollywood, with Lionsgate almost immedately snapping up the movie rights. However, turning the book into a movie has proven problematic, with the adaptation losing its third director when Craig Gillespie (Fright Night) quit last October. Grahame-Smith told Collider that the status of the movie is "to be determined.".
I think there's still a will at Lionsgate to do it. What I'm hoping is that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter comes out, does well, and there's more of an appetite for this kind of thing. But then again, Snow White and the Huntsman should come out and do well and that should renew an appetite for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I'm pretty confident that sooner or later that movie's gonna see the light of day, frankly it's just waiting for the right combination of director and star to come together.
Grahame-Smith's novel (with apologies to Jane Austen) was originally adapted by David O. Russell, then the movie's first director. When Gillespie came on board, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fright Night writer Marti Noxon performed a rewrite on the script. Grahame-Smith insists that, whatever the delay, the problem Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is facing is not in the script.
Definitely the script is there. David O. Russell wrote a great draft, Marti Noxon revised that draft, so right there you have two great writers from different backgrounds. One is very in tune with the Buffy universe, one with more of an indie sensibility and everything. The script is great; this is not a script issue at all. I think it's a timing issue. I think that sooner or later the right director and the right star are gonna get their hands on that script and that movie's gonna go.
Until it does, Grahame-Smith's readers will have to content themselves with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which stars Benjamin Walker as Lincoln; Anthony Mackie as Lincoln's friend William Johnson; Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln, the President's wife; Dominic Cooper as Henry Sturges, Lincoln's fanged mentor; and Rufus Sewell as the main vampire antagonist Adam. Burton produced the 3-D production.