‘Renfield:’ Awkwafina on Her First Horror & Working With Nicolas Cage

Apr 12, 2023

In Chris McKay’s upcoming Dracula sequel, Renfield, starring Nicolas Cage and Nicholas Hoult, comedian and actress Awkwafina plays police officer Rebecca Quincy. Though somewhat removed from the roles audiences are used to seeing her in, such as her Comedy Central series Awkwafina is Nora from Queens, Ocean’s Eight, and Crazy Rich Asians, during an interview with Collider’s Steve Weintraub, Awkwafina tells us what about this project was actually a career first for her, and what about the dark comedy didn’t surprise her.

While the role of New Orleans traffic cop, Rebecca Quincy, may seem like it came out of left field for fans of the Golden Globe nominee, Awkwafina’s part in Renfield still serves up comedic relief on top of the dose of reality she brings to the fantastical horror. Though still camp (considering it depicts a toxic relationship between Cage’s Count Dracula and his indebted servant, Renfield, played by Hoult), the movie has a lot of blood, like, “you know, bodies getting broken in half, arms being torn off, and things like that.” So even though she’s done her fair share of action sequences battling Soul Eaters as Katy Chen in Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Awkwafina tells us she was amazed by the special effects and McKay’s “very gory intention” on set.
In her interview for Renfield, which you can watch in the player above or read below, Awkwafina walks us through how the cast and crew had to pull off a oner, a scene you can catch a snippet of in the trailers, and discusses the practical effects utilized on the set, from rigs to fire. She also shares some of the behind-the-scenes magic of working with a stunt team on location in order to film a “monster of a sequence,” and what it was like to be working alongside Cage. You can next catch Awkwafina voicing the lovably noisy Scuttle in Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid. For more on Renfield, which hits theaters April 14, check out Maggie Boccella’s review from the Overlook Film Festival calling it “…a delight to watch.”

COLLIDER: I want to start with congratulations. I was surprised at the amount of action and blood in the movie and I’m curious, what did Chris tell you going in about the amount of blood he was looking forward to putting on screen?

AWKWAFINA: I think Chris always had a very gory intention with the movie. I didn’t really know how much blood was gonna be involved, I think until we were shooting, and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of blood.’ But I think, yeah, he definitely probably planned that all along to have a lot of blood.

I could be wrong about this, but I don’t think you’ve ever been involved in shooting action like this, on this scale, with so many action set pieces. What actually surprised you about the process of doing action like this?

AWKWAFINA: Well, I definitely have never been in kind of a horror movie. I’ve been in other action movies, but the cool thing about Renfield is that we had an amazing special effects team. We had a lot of practical effects going off, a lot of things were rigged, like squibs and stuff like that. A lot of practical fire and things like that that I’d never worked with. And our stunt team was so great.

In the restaurant sequence, there was basically a oner where the whole room was rigged, and you’d have to run the scene, and if you missed a line, or whatever, you know, you pretty much had like one chance to do it. But that part was so cool about it.

Image via Universal

I love the shot where Nick is in the apartment building where he’s jumping off and he’s going down, he’s basically breaking the body in half, and he’s winking at you, and you’re standing there. I love that shot. So what was it like filming that sequence? I love that scene.

AWKWAFINA: Yeah, that sequence was– Man, that was a monster of a sequence. But the cool thing is, we really did shoot at a kind of abandoned motel that was his apartment building. So all of that was like it was on location. None of it was done on a stage, or whatever. So that was all practical. That was really cool because there [were so many] unnecessary, crazy things in that, like, you know, bodies getting broken in half, arms being torn off, and things like that. So it was a crazy couple of days, but I mean, it was so fun, so fun working with our stunt team.

Image via Universal

I am a huge fan of Nic Cage. I would imagine you’re also a huge fan of Nic Cage. How long did it take when you saw him on set before you started geeking out with him over his previous roles?

AWKWAFINA: [Laughs] Oh man, it kind of took a while. I think I didn’t wanna like come in hot with the, ‘Oh my God,’ kind of behavior. But I think after a couple of times– I mean, he’s such a nice guy, and he’s so into the process, and really generous with his time and himself. So it was really a pleasure. But yeah, I really enjoyed our, you know, me, Nic and Nick kind of just hanging out in between scenes and stuff was really cool.

Renfield is in theaters April 14.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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