SPOILER ALERT!!! Do not read if you haven’t already seen last night’s episode of NBC’s Dracula.
Well, it appears that Drac- er, Alexander Grayson (Jonathn Rhys Meyers) has his would-be mortal enemy Lady Jayne Wetherby (Victoria Smurfit) right where he wants her. After staging an attack where he then attempted to come to her rescue, before allowing her to actually finish off her attacker, Grayson has convinced the vampire huntress that he is devoted to her. Her guard is down, and now she will look everywhere else but her new American lover when trying to ferret out her next undead quarry.
Smurfit calls it a brilliant ploy, as it targets her “tough cookie” character in her Achilles’ heel of arrogance. “She absolutely believes in herself and he’s tapped into this part of her that she now believes that he’s tried to sacrifice himself for her, that he’s charismatic and wealthy and sexy and tough and brutal and passionate enough to warrant being in her life, so she’s slightly hooked, which for Lady Jayne is a first. … She is but human. Girls love a bad guy, there is this weird need that we have that we think we can tame them, and to me it’s that sort of relationship.”
But what will this mean going forward? Smurfit says Lady Jayne’s blind spot toward Grayson will have far-reaching implications.
“Her emotional life is going to get a lot more complicated,” she says. “London is going to fill up with more vampires. The more successful Dracula becomes, the harder she has to work. She’ll start working out a little bit of his moves, she’ll start sniffing him out a bit and she’ll also start trying to corrupt Lucy Westenra (Katie McGrath). There’s all sorts of fun and games for Lady Jayne coming up.”
This is all assuming, of course, that the reimagining of Bram Stoker’s classic vampire novel will get a chance to fully flesh out its story arc. While ratings for the premiere episode Oct. 25 were strong, the series has shed viewers with troubling regularity since. It does stay in the news, however, with reports about Meyers’ past trouble leading to NBC delaying his payment until production was completed, and also for its violence and sexual content, which has been targeted by conservative watchdog groups like One Million Moms.
Smurfit brushes off that particular criticism, saying the show isn’t gratuitous and is definitely not aimed at children.
“Sex and violence, whether we like it or not are very human realities and certainly important in a story like Dracula because you are talking about the undead and that mythology,” she says. “NBC, I thought, was very brave, because they said, ‘We’re going to make a Dracula for grown-ups.’ This isn’t for the 11- and 12-year-old Twilight fans. This is quite deliberately at 10 o’clock at night on a Friday night. Look, I’m a mother of three and in no way, shape or form would I have my kids watching it, but you have to take personal responsibility for stuff like that. I suppose us Europeans are a bit more sanguine about our bodies and what we do with them. You can’t have Dracula without a bit of blood and guts, can you?”
She also says that despite any reports to the contrary, her leading man has been nothing but a joy to work with, and that shooting scenes like their acrobatic love romps do require a sense of humor.
“You do have to laugh, because there are very few professions where what’s lying on the bed to go to work in is a small thong,” she says. “You have to take the work seriously, but you can’t take yourself seriously. We’re very lucky to be able to tell stories for a living. … When you’re sitting in a bath with — you know, he’s your pal! Production companies usually set up sex scenes for Day One because you don’t know each other well enough to spend the entire day giggling, but as you go along you do have to have a bit of comedy about it definitely.”
Dracula airs at 10pm Fridays on NBC.
Photo: © 2013 NBCUniversal Media, LLC Credit: Jonathan Hession