Dominic Cooper on nicknames, on-set injuries and the upcoming World Of Warcraft
Your new film Dracula Untold mixes vampire mythology with the true story of Prince Vlad The Impaler (played by Luke Evans). Do the lines of history and fiction blur?
Yeah, pretty quickly. It’s good preparing for a role and learning everything you possibly can about who this person is [Cooper plays Turkish sultan Mehmed II], what he’s capable of, what lengths he was prepared to go to achieve world domination. But in terms of how much of that is mentioned in the film – not much.
If you know the history of these people, then you understand at what point it all is. It just gives me a clear understanding of who he was. Is it fun playing the villain?
Yeah. Mehmed is a terrifying man and desperate to take over the world. I learnt a lot of Turkish – it’s an amazing language. I’m not sure how good I became – it’ll probably be laughable, but I can pretend. I love parts like this because you can be daring and they’re quite eccentric and over the top. And I’m wearing golden armour.
You’ve got a lot of armour on. Did that make filming the fight scenes difficult?
Yeah – all that stuff is pretty hard work. You train and train and then, because of the way the film works or how things can change on the day, more often than not the sequences change. You just have to adapt, and that’s tough. After you’ve trained, you try out all the armour and putting that on f*cking changes it again.
What can we expect in terms of epic battles?
There’s a huge fight sequence at the end between me and Luke. You want it to look real, so it’s worth working on. There are always great stuntmen, but you also want to do as much as you can yourself. The scale of [the battles] is what’s exciting – they’re huge. We filmed in Belfast so tried to use the environment and as little green screen as possible.
Did anything go wrong on set?
I nearly poked Luke’s eye out with a sword. We were trying to be careful and not use metal swords, and I think because of movement within the sword it bounced back into his eye – so I don’t take full responsibility. It was pretty terrible.
The character of Dracula has appeared in almost 200 films over the years. What makes this one stand out?
I suppose it’s the idea of why he became the man he did. The competition between the two so-called brothers and their separate need to finish each other off to gain power again is interesting. We got rather immersed in vampire films. There was a moment when everything was like that and it was definitely one of my concerns – but it was quite clear [the director] Gary Shore wasn’t setting out just to make another vampire film.
Who is your favourite screen vampire?
The Lost Boys were always my favourite. I thought that film got the balance of comedy and terror just right.
Talking of terror, you spoke recently about how your former flatmate James Corden used to come into your room naked to wake you up. Does that still give you nightmares?
Never. Absolutely not [laughs]. It’s the best alarm bell you can imagine. It gets you running out of bed in the morning.
If you could choose to be any fictional monster – vampire, werewolf, ghost – what would you be?
Something invisible, I always thought that’d be quite handy. Is there an invisible terrifying monster? Very handy.
You’re set to star in Duncan Jones’ World of Warcraft, which is out in 2016. What’s that like?
Amazing. At the Comic-Con events you realise what impact those characters have on people and what they mean to hardcore players of the game. It needs to be something even more special because those people play that game interactively – but it also has to entertain people who don’t know what this world is. So you need balance. My character is very different to the one I play in Dracula Untold, because he’s actually a very good man who wants what’s best for his people and kingdom.
What question are you bored of being asked?
“Was it fun filming in Greece?”
Finally, do you have a nickname? Preferably an embarrassing one, like ‘Pooper Cooper’…
I have a few. The boys in History Boys used to call me ‘Dirt Box’, but I’m trying to get rid of that one now, because it wasn’t very pleasant. ‘Pooper’ was definitely there in primary school when they invented that Pooper Scooper thing. You know, that sucky thing that sucked up poo? ‘Raisin’ [was another] – I’m not sure why. Oh, and ‘Little Sh*t’. That really annoyed me because I used to be smaller than a lot of my friends. Luckily I grew. All nicknames are horrible really, aren’t they?
Dracula Untold is at cinemas nationwide from 3 October