Hugh Jackman had his idea of what demon-killer Van Helsing should be like, but Eric Heisserer has his own. And all we can say is forget action and adventure – the next Van Helsing could instead be along the lines of horror.
Heisserer, who’s up for an Oscar on Sunday for his writing work on Arrival, has been working hard on what he’s described to Collider as a fresh take on the vampire hunter, who was first introduced in the 1897 novel Dracula.
“The biggest thing that’s already been said is it’s contemporary. It’s a modern-day reimagining – I can talk about my emotional state of what I’ve been passionate about or sometimes frustrated by are the number of films where we find an extraordinary character with superhuman abilities that becomes a hero to solve a problem that a normal person cannot solve.
“I was eager to try and buck that trend and showcase someone who had no extraordinary powers, just resourcefulness and will, and kind of a stubbornness who’s able to tackle some of these bigger problems. Because I don’t like the idea that we’re infusing our public and our pop culture with the idea that only super people can solve the world’s problems.
“I like the idea of the everyday hero stepping up to the plate and getting things fixed.”
Heisserer has shared writing responsibilities on Van Helsing with Jon Spaihts, the writer behind last year’s Doctor Strange and Passengers, as well as another horror remake in the Universal arsenal, The Mummy starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella.
In fact, the concepts of upcoming films like Van Helsing and The Mummy came from putting many of these writers in the same room to hash out Universal’s horror offerings.
“We all came in without putting a flag down on any of those certain monsters of films, just talking about how we saw the world working and what we wanted to explore. Sometimes we’d talk about themes, and Jon and I just found ourselves kind of on the same page in terms of what we wanted to see Van Helsing explore.
“It was a natural team-up, I think. It was just a conclusion that we all reached around the table, that he and I would work on that together.”
The last attempt to bring Van Helsing to the big screen earned $300.2 million globally for Universal, but finishing just outside 2004’s top 15 movies.
Since then, the studio has adapted the property for television in the Syfy starring vehicle for Kelly Overton, Van Helsing, where she plays a descendant of the famous character in a post-apocalyptic world.
Universal hasn’t put a timetable on the new Van Helsing just yet, but The Mummy comes out in June.
Heisserer’s next project is Extinction starring Michael Pena, also for Universal, and also without a timetable.
Arrival earned eight Oscar nominations, including best picture, and best director for Denis Villeneuve. Heisserer will compete Sunday with Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney for Moonlight, the late August Wilson for Fences, Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi for Hidden Figures, and Luke Davies for Lion.
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