Did you hear the one about the actress from the Dracula 2000 movie who was afraid of blood? It sounds like a joke, but British thespian Justine Waddell can tell you there’s really not much of a punch line: She had to get past her fear of the red stuff to play the object of the Transylvanian count’s desire.
The Wanderers: Waddell (pronounced wah-DELL, not WAD-dle) was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1976. Her family (three sisters and a brother) traded that country’s political unrest for the more peaceful Scotland when she was 10. Four years later, the clan relocated to London—where Waddell still lives—so they’d be closer to Justine and her sister in boarding school.
Bridget Jones Can Relate: “I’m hoping I’ll fall in love,” says the single Waddell, 24. “I suppose I’m a romantic that way.”
Devouring Information: To prepare for her role as Mary Van Helsing, the daughter of the legendary vampire hunter, Waddell bit off as much as she could chew. “My character is Catholic, so I spent time in church. I also had my palm and my tarot cards read, I went to a couple of voodoo shops and I did this amazing vampire tour when we were shooting in New Orleans.”
So That’s Why He’s Called the “Dark Prince”: “Dracula was always so appealing because he was the dark side of life,” she says of his enduring relevance. “That’s why the story is so sexy.”
What’s Your Favorite Line in the Movie? “When Dracula knocks [vampire hunter] Jonny Lee Miller [Trainspotting] out cold, then turns to me and says, ‘Mary, you’re afraid. [pause] Don’t be.’ Then I turn and run.”
Like a Banshee: “I scream a lot in the movie. I also do a lot of gasping, hyperventilating and hiding.”
Dressed to Kill: A veteran of the period films Anna Karenina and Mansfield Park, Waddell appears here in her first contemporary flick, which had its pluses. “It takes half as long to get dressed in the morning, and it’s certainly easier to breathe sans corset. I got to drive a car, too, which was very exciting.”
Pass the Soap: It was also the first time she appeared in a movie with swearing, though she didn’t get to do any herself, dammit! “I’ve got a mouth like, oh dear, like a sewer.”
How, Exactly, Does One List “Stabbing” on a Résumé? “Gerry Butler [Dracula] was very nervous when I had to do a stunt, the theory being: If I’ve spent my whole acting life in a horse and carriage, I’m not really qualified to stab him with a knife. I certainly thought I was qualified.”