Jonny Lee Miller, Jennifer Esposito, ...

Here’s a hint for all those perfectionist directors who think they can dawdle their way through a movie, Stanley Kubrick style: If Dimension Films cochief Bob Weinstein tells you that your project is called ”Dracula 2000,” it makes no difference that it’s mid June 2000 and you still haven’t cast your main man, and so what if it’s early November and you’ve just wrapped — this baby will be in theaters before the year’s over.

Wes Craven’s longtime editor Patrick Lussier was working on ”Scream 3” last November when Weinstein, hearing that Lussier was interested in reinventing the coffin sleeper’s story, got inspired. ”Weinstein had a title idea,” says Craven, the film’s executive producer, ”and when I said, ‘Well, what’s it about?’ he said, ‘I don’t know.”’

In June, cast members Christopher Plummer, Jennifer Esposito, Colleen Fitzpatrick (a.k.a. pop star Vitamin C), ”Star Trek: Voyager”’s Jeri Ryan, Omar Epps, Justine Waddell, and Jonny Lee Miller reported for work on the ”Dracula 2000” set in Toronto. What they found was a director so prepared that he had already blocked out the first several scenes using assistants as surrogate actors. What the actors didn’t find was the man who would be Count. Though the filmmakers had been watching audition tapes for months, they still hadn’t been able to agree on a leading man. Admits Waddell (”Mansfield Park”), who plays a toothy vixen: ”It got scarier and scarier and scarier, which I guess was good for my character.”

Finally, only two days before filming commenced, Weinstein signed off on Scottish actor Gerard Butler, who, as it happens, was stuck in Lithuania playing Attila the Hun in a TV miniseries. With a little finagling, ”Attila the Hun”’s producers, happy that their heretofore unknown star had snagged a lead in a feature, agreed to revamp their schedule to get Butler out early; within a week, the actor was on a plane to Canada. Butler didn’t even have time to absorb the schedule: His first day on the job, he says, ”I looked up at 4 a.m. and said to Patrick, ‘Wow, we’re having a long day here,’ and Patrick said, ‘Um, we’re shooting nights. What did you expect for ”Dracula”?”’

Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2000
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