The Only Actor to Get an Oscar Nod for a Vampire Role Wasn't in 'Twilight'

The Twilight movies became incredibly popular but they didn’t win any Academy Awards. After all, vampire films rarely get noticed by the Academy. Here’s a look at the only actor to receive an Oscar nomination for portraying a vampire.

Some of the Academy Awards’ history with vampire films besides ‘Twilight’

Horror movies don’t get a lot of attention from the Oscars, and since vampire films are usually horror films (the Twilight saga being a major exception), vampire films don’t get much attention either. Even when Hollywood makes a vampire film that features conventional Oscar bait elements, the actors in them often get ignored.

Take for example Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It has certain traditional attributes of the so-called Oscar movie. It’s a period piece, it has several great actors in its cast (Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, Winona Ryder), and it’s an adaptation of a classic work of literature. Oscars.org reports the film won Oscars for Best Makeup, Best Costume Design, and Best Sound Effects Editing, but none of its actors were nominated.

The only vampire film to get nominated for an acting Oscar

Eventually, another vampire film would break the mold. Like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it’s a period piece: Shadow of the Vampire. This little-seen film from 2000 is about the creation of the classic film Nosferatu. Nosferatu, an adaptation of Dracula, is one of the most famous silent horror films.

Shadow of the Vampire is an alternate history movie in which Max Schrek, the actor who portrayed the vampire in Nosferatu, was an actual vampire who feasted on the blood of his co-workers. According to Oscars.org, William Dafoe was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for portraying Schreck in the film.

How William Dafoe got into character in ‘Shadow of the Vampire’

In an interview with IndieWire, Dafoe explained how he embodied the fictionalized version of Schreck in Shadow of the Vampire. “I didn’t feel like I needed to do research,” Dafoe said. “The film was plenty to work with. Also, because this is a film within a film structure, I knew what he was going to look like, how we was going to move. I started from a place of mimicry, really, because I had that as a very clear model. Unlike the original, I knew I was going to have to speak, so I decided on an accent. I placed an accent in the Tatras Mountains, the question was how theatrical to go with it.” 

Unlike many characters in Twilight, Dafoe’s character is a grotesque vampire . “I really had to wait until I got into that make-up and those clothes before any work could begin, because the character was those things. Even in the most naturalistic movie, I always look through a mask to perform through, but this was the most literal and extreme mask you could have.”

There’s been a handful of popular vampire movies released since Shadow of the Vampire, including Twilight and Only Lovers Left Alive. None of them have garnered Oscar nominations for acting. Dafoe broke a vampire glass ceiling but Robert Pattinson and others haven’t been able to equal his feat.

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