“I read ‘Dracula’; he was an inspiration. Not Mina Harker,” the 32-year-old Australian actress told reporters in New York this week. ” ‘Dracula’ was an inspiration because [our] film takes place after the book of ‘Dracula.’ I saw the film ‘Nosferatu’ and read everything I could about vampires and searched the Internet.
“And then there was my baby. As I was playing a vampire, he was 3 months old and breastfeeding. If couldn’t get that corset off quick enough, he’d be ripping at it and the sounds that were coming out of him were so primal and so gutteral. A human need that he could not live without that milk and he would scream and cry and be ferocious until he got it and so he was so satisfied when he was done and this bliss would happen to him. So, I was thinking, ‘I can play a vampire in a very human way.’ “
Set in 1899 Kenya, London and Venice, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” is the story of how various uniquely talented individuals join forces to save the world from the Fantom, a madman bent on waging war using various never-seen-before weapons. Wilson plays Mina, a widow and former school mistress who inherits special paranormal powers and the gift of immortality when she is bitten by the vampire king Dracula.
So, how did it feel to be the only woman in a cast that included young hotties like Dubliner Stuart Townsend, American Shane West, Brit Jason Flemyng and Scot Tony Curran?
Wilson insists she was just one of the boys and completely comfortable on the set. However, meeting and working with Sean Connery, who plays legendary adventurer Allan Quatermain in the film, did leave the “La Femme Nikita” actress feeling a bit weak in the knees.
“He’s been a movie star since before I was alive,” she exclaimed. “He’s quintessentially a man’s man and he’s very gracious.”
Asked about reports of tension on the set between Connery and director Stephen Norrington, Wilson sighed and swore she still doesn’t really know what the problem was.
“My mind goes to, what did we not know about what went on between Tom Cruise and the great director Stanley Kubrick? What happened there?” she mused. “What happened between Sam Peckinpaugh and Lee Marvin? What happened between John Huston and Jack Nicholson? I don’t know. I didn’t think it was a big deal. I think really what it was Stephen was a vegan and Sean is a meat eater. This is Stephen’s third film. He’s artistic. He’s a genius. He’s a visionary. He’s solely responsible for the way that film looks. . . . And Connery is old school. He’s made 110 movies, not one with this many special effects. It’s a different kind of movie. There were floods, huge sets, 45 percent of it is special effects. The people who did ‘The Matrix’ did it. It’s all different factors that create passion spurts, but as an actor I’ve seen far worse.”
Looking back on the experience, Wilson said she could only pinpoint one incident where the two men clashed in front of the cast.
“There were three cameras on [Captain Nemo’s] car, quite a few million dollars worth of actors in the front seat. It’s 5 in the morning and it’s raining,” she remembered, adding that Connery was tired and snapped at Norrington for taking too long to secure the vehicle. “Stephen said something like, ‘Either we make it safe or it lands in your lap,’ I thought it was really funny. It wasn’t big. It wasn’t dramatic.”
Wilson, who has also appeared in the feature films “Mercy,” “Loser” and “One of Our Own,” said she herself doesn’t get worked up over small stuff, citing her laid-back Australian background. She said most Aussies look at acting as more of a hobby, something one “gets out of their system.” “And then you go be a nurse,” she said, joking.
Wilson compared Australians to Americans 50 or 60 years ago.
“We?re more like Americans than we are English,” she said. “Let’s not forget where we come from. We’re all relatives of people the English didn’t want, kind of the worst of their society and also, anybody who was intimidating. Any political prisoners. Any Irish people who had too much to say were sent to Australia. Australia is like America. We’re allies. I’m more comfortable here than I am in England.”