Film from 'Drusilla' to feature Joss Whedon, Anne Rice, Gary Oldman, and Tim Burton
Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Juliet Landau is sinking her teeth into another bloodsucker-themed project. Landau, who played Drusilla on the Joss Whedon-created show, is today launching an Indiegogo campaign in support of her vampire documentary, A Place Among the Undead. The project is codirected by the actress and her husband Deverill Weekes and features interviews with Whedon, Tim Burton, Gary Oldman, Willem Dafoe, Anne Rice, Robert Patrick, Charlaine Harris, Steve Niles, Fright Night director Tom Holland, and Underworld cowriter Kevin Grevioux, among others.
“It’s been such an incredibly charmed project,” says Landau. “It’s fast becoming the most definitive [vampire] documentary ever made. It gathers the ‘Who’s Who’ of the genre. … The film transcends the traditional idea of a documentary. It’s a tapesty with interlinking narrative films inspired by the conversations. Everybody we’ve reached out to has been very excited about talking. And, actually, a lot of the people have come to us and said, ‘I heard about this documentary; would you want to interview me for it?’ The material is so vast that I have decided to make two feature-length documentaries: A Place Among the Dead, which covers when people take the fantasy of vampirism too far, and A Place Among the Undead, which covers every aspect of vampires in myth and pop culture.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What inspired you to make a documentary about vampires and their depiction in pop culture?
JULIET LANDAU: Whenever I’ve hung out with creators, writers, directors, actors, who have lived in the vampire universe, I’ve had the best conversations with them. I’ve always thought, I wish people could see this, the stuff that’s never been shared before, the camaraderie, and the insider’s view. So, it’s been percolating for a long time — really, since I did Buffy. And my husband and I finally started it.
Are vampires more interesting than other horror creatures? Or, if you had been cast as, say, a werewolf on Buffy would you now be making a documentary about werewolves?
[Laughs] I don’t know. That would be interesting. I think one of the things that makes it so compelling is that, basically, all the creatives use vampirism as a metaphor to explore the human condition. So, with Joss Whedon, it’s high school is a nightmare, which most people can relate to. Anne Rice wrote Interview with the Vampire just after her daughter died of leukemia and she created a child vampire that lives forever. Kevin Grevioux said [Underworld was] based on experiences with interracial dating, so he created [the situation of] two species — one being vampires — that don’t get along.
There are so many ways that it is a prism for us to look at our own natures. And perhaps werewolves have the same thing, but definitely vampires [do]. I think that’s part of the reason that society as a whole is so fascinated with the subject.
What has it been like, conducting the interviews?
It’s been so fun, getting to visit with Joss and talk about the shows that I got to work with him on. And then, with Tim Burton— I worked with him on Ed Wood — so the people that I know, it’s been really fun. But also because they shared stuff that I didn’t know before and I haven’t ever seen them talking about. And then, I’d never met Willem Dafoe before and he’s so lovely. Everybody that we’ve met has been so generous.
Could you talk about some of the rewards for contributors to the Indiegogo campaign?
Absolutely. On Nov. 7, for the Halloween season, I’m going to be having dinner here in Los Angeles — it’s a limited perk. And then we also have this incredible thing that Gary Oldman and my husband Deverill put together, this photographic book, which features these tintype photos that Gary took on his camera. He has a camera from 1853, and so it literally is painting up the tintype, and he goes under the big black fabric to take the picture. You have to hold still! And he shot Joss Whedon, and he shot Robert Patrick, and myself, and a number of the other interviewees, and it’s an incredible one of a kind photo [book]. And, then, Georges Jeanty, who was the comic book artist for Buffy season 8 and 9 — because the series continued in comic books after it went off the air — he’s done an exclusive poster for us. Another artist that is in the Whedonverse is named Mike Collins, [who] did another poster. So, we have incredible artwork as well.
Why did you decide to go the crowdfunding route?
Dev — my husband — and I were self-funding the project, and it’s just grown beyond our wildest expectations. We have so many more people that want to be included. We have gone to a number of production companies who want to invest, but we really want to make the film that fans want to see.
Like, we have Madeline Smith and Caroline Munro from the Hammer movies. One of the meetings we had, the gentleman was like, “Why don’t you cut out the Hammer stuff? It’s not as hip as everything else you have.” Were like like, “You can’t make the definitive vampire documentary and not include Hammer. There’s no way to do that.”
What have you been up to recently as an actress?
I did a movie in Africa called Where the Road Runs Out, where I play a missionary. I also did the The Bronx Bull, which is the prequel and sequel, kind of in one, about Jake LaMotta’s story. William Forsythe plays Jake, and I play a movie starlet. I’ve also been doing the Doctor Who Big Finish audio books, where I’ve been playing the iconic character Romana (a character originally played on the long-running time travel show by the late Mary Tamm). That’s been really cool. My husband’s favorite Doctor is Tom Baker, and that era, and he was like, “This is the best job you’ve ever got. All you have to do is watch Doctor Who.”
You can learn more about A Place Among the Undead at the film’s Indiegogo page.