The biggest new show of the season involves vampires—are you really surprised? The first pilot picked up this year was for Dracula, the vampire drama on NBC starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers. We talked to the female lead, Victoria Smurfit, to understand why vampires are so hot and why viewers only want fantasy shows these days.
OK!: Can you tell us about your character?
Victoria Smurfit: Lady Jayne Weatherby is a feisty, strong, capable woman. She’s very modern, quite ahead of her time. On one side of it, she is purportedly just a society queen… who has her husband squirelled away in a mansion somewhere, and on a hidden side, she’s part of the order of the dragons, which is this masonic-style order that has been running most of Europe through power, wealth, and corruption. She’s part of that order, but she’s got a second secret, which is the fact that she’s the only female vampire huntress in the order. She’s a helluva woman!
OK!: What’s the most fun part of playing her?
VS: Oh, there’s so much. I absolutely adore Lady Jayne. I adore doing the stunts, getting involved with the stunt team. I relish being in a scene with Jonathan [Rhys Meyers], where you never knew where he was going to take a scene. Going toe to toe with him, you had to be very strong and agile in the emotional scenes, the mental scenes, the witty scenes, and the physical scenes. There is no letting the ball drop.
OK!: Speaking of the physical scenes, what kind of training did you have?
VS: I learned to repel down caves, I learned broad swords, birka knives, backslips. I learned boxing, unarmed combat, how to fall off swords. I loved it. Then you get stunts like being naked in a bath with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and a crew of seventy. That’s a different kind of stunt!
OK!: Why are genre shows finding such success these days?
VS: It’s a vampire show, yes, but it’s also a love story, it’s a story of revenge. It’s also a story of unrequited love, it’s a story of danger. And it’s set in 1890, so you’ve got the glamour and the eye candy, the sets. We filmed it in Budapest, so you have the location. It’s big, big TV. Each episode looks like a film. Those who want just great horror will have to be put up the love story, and those who want a love story will have to put up with a bit of horror. Genre shows allow you to lift yourself up and out of what you’re watching.
OK!: The show is very sexy. Why are vampires so sexy?
VS: Vampires are sexy because they suck your neck and drain you of your life force! I think it’s as simple as that. And no vampire has been slayed by an ordinary joe who lives next door and refuses to pull his trousers up. Vampires are always slayed by dangerous, sexy, divine, delicious bad guys, and that’s what we want from our vampires. We want them to be everything you wouldn’t bring home to mother. And Johnny is such a gentleman, he’s such a pro, he’s such a sweet man, but he also has a fantastically difficult side to him, which he brings to Dracula. It’s charismatic. Every woman on the planet loves a bad guy they know they shouldn’t date. And if you haven’t dated him yet, it will happen!
OK!: What’s it like working with Jonathan?
VS: He’s such a delight, he really is. He’s an extremely kind and generous man, he’s fun. You get into a trust with him. You arrive on set day one, and you’ve got your corset and your hair and your lines, and you’ve gotta fall for this sexy guy. He’s just so fun to throw the ball to, because he’ll throw it right back at you. It was always good to walk into a room and know I got to play with Johnny.
OK!: You’ve had a wonderful career in the U.K. Are you ready to very famous in the U.S. as well?
VS: Oh, bring it on! You work, and getting known is just a product of the business. It’s like being covered in blood if you’re a butcher. It’s just going to happen. I’m very proud that my first foray into American television is with a part like Lady Jayne. I just adore her.
OK!: You’ve got two kids. Are they allowed to watch the show?
VS: No. No no no no no no no no. They cannot see their mother like this! [laughs] Flynn is four and a half and he’s so excited that his mummy kills vampires for a living. I’m very cool. I’ve sent in vampires to ward off any bad dreams, and it’s very cool.
Have you been watching Dracula? Do you like fantasy shows? Why do you like the character of Lady Jayne? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @OKMagazine.