Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931, dir. Tod Browning) Art direction by Charles D. Hall
“When I am given a new role in a horror film, I have a character to create just as much as if I were playing a straight part. Whether one thinks of films like Dracula as ‘hokum’ or not does not alter the fact; the horror actor must believe in his part. The player who portrays a film monster with his tongue in his cheek is doomed to fail.
In playing Dracula, I have to work myself up into believing that he is real, to ascribe to myself the motives and emotions that such a character would feel. For a time I become Dracula – not merely an actor playing at being a vampire. A good actor will ‘make’ a horror part. He will build up the character until it convinces him and he is carried away by it.
There is another reason why I do not mind being “typed” in eerie thrillers – with few exceptions, there are, among actors, only two types who matter at the box office. They are heroes and villains. The men who play these parts are the only ones whose names you will see in electric lights outside the theater. Obviously you will not find me competing with Clark Gable or Robert Montgomery! Therefore, I have gone to the other extreme in my search for success and public acclaim.”
-Bela Lugosi, Film Weekly, July 1935