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Tim Burton & Timur Bekmambetov Talk The "Superhero Origin Story" Of 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' & Why They Went 3D

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist June 20, 2012 at 3:19PM

When Seth Grahame-Smith began to write the “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” he didn’t let the epiphany of a wacky title affect his dead-serious alternate universe story -- our 16th President, leader of the people by day, and slayer of the undead at night. Though he couldn’t have expected that the premise to catch the fancy of A-List filmmaker Tim Burton, who heard the title and experienced a brief flashback.
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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Timur Bekmambetov Tim Burton

When Seth Grahame-Smith began to write the “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” he didn’t let the epiphany of a wacky title affect his dead-serious alternate universe story -- our 16th President, leader of the people by day and slayer of the undead at night. Though he couldn’t have expected that the premise to catch the fancy of A-List filmmaker Tim Burton, who heard the title and experienced a brief flashback.

"When I heard about Seth's book, I heard the title and I said, 'I want to see this movie,' ” Burton said doing press rounds along with the director and cast. “It reminded me of when I used to see triple features [with titles] like ‘Scream Blacula Scream’ and ‘Dr. Jekyll And Sister Hyde.’ This seemed like a movie you'd see in Times Square.” Though Burton feels the most important element of the endeavor was a straight face. “I liked the fact that it felt like a real story,” Burton said, stressing that tone was most important.

Director Timur Bekmambetov, who previously helmed the comic adaptation “Wanted,” saw a slightly more contemporary influence within the project when he came on early as a producer. “I read the book proposal Seth wrote,” Bekmambetov says of the book’s thirty-page origins, “and suddenly understood that it's not stupid, it's not crazy. I immediately understood that this is a superhero origin story.”

Benjamin Walker, who steps into the considerable shoes of Honest Abe, admitted that he was fairly confused upon first hearing the title. “It raised more questions than it answered,” Walker says. Though to him, the most important question was who was directing. “I've been a fan of ‘Nightwatch’ and ‘Daywatch,’ and I knew he was going to make something we've never seen before.”

Speaking of "never seen before," Bekmambetov purposely sought out an unknown for the lead role, because, “Lincoln is the star. It's not about an actor trying to be somebody. With Ben, I was absolutely lucky, because he can play this character from 19 until 55. And nobody knows him, so people believe it's the real story.” Bekmambetov feels that audiences will be impressed by the dimensions of Walker’s talent, as his performance is the focal point for an otherwise outlandish, special effects-filled extravaganza. “The most exciting visual effect of this movie is his transformation into the older Lincoln,” Bekmambetov says. “And it's not only about the makeup. It's more about the drama, about this transformation, how this [physical] transformation compares to this character transformation. Any CG effect only works if it's emotionally supported by the story and the character.”

This article is related to: Interviews, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Benjamin Walker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anthony Mackie, Seth Grahame-Smith, Tim Burton, Timur Bekmambetov


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