Bela Lugosi Thought This Was The Key To Successful Horror Acting

In “The Immortal Count,” Lenning wanted to explode a popular misrepresentation of Lugosi’s habit of getting into character. Certain journalists at the time describe Lugosi’s practice of standing in front of a mirror in full costume, repeating the phrase “I am Dracula” with different intonations. The myth was that Lugosi shouted that line as if to insist to himself that he was indeed Dracula. This gave rise to rumors that Lugosi had taken his Stanislavski reading too seriously, and that he was “one of those” method adherents that were a pain to work with. 

In truth, Lugosi did not shout the line but was merely rehearsing it. 

In 1935, Lugosi expanded on the practice. He was indeed using the “I am Dracula” ritual to get into character, but it was more to put himself in the headspace of a vampire. The actor knew that Count Dracula was a wild, broad fantasy creature, but Dracula himself certainly didn’t think so. Lugosi said:

“Whether one thinks of films like ‘Dracula’ as ‘hokum’ or not does not alter the fact; the horror actor must believe in his part. […] I am not saying that I personally take seriously these vampires and monsters as such. I am saying that one must take them seriously when one is portraying. 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.”

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