Home » Top Ten Dracula Actors

Top Ten Dracula Actors

The House of Dracula also known as Dracula directed by Terence Fisher.

[soliloquy id=”10849″]

With more film adaptations than any other fictional character, Dracula has been portrayed by a vast number of actors over the years. Some of them have were classic actors and some of them were not, but all of them put their own personal spin on the project.


Duncan Regehr portrayed the Count in The Monster Squad. While he was surrounded by a bevy of other monsters, he was the primary antagonist and pushed the Count into a sort of James Bond villain status. He’s cold and commanding, not threatening in a creepy or outwardly horrific way, but he has a very strong presence. He calls back to the Universal era, especially in his appearance, but at the same time he has a wit and a sense of action that is wholly 80’s. He is the only Dracula to blow up a tree house and it is still one of the cruelest things the Count has ever done on screen.


Carradine took over the role at the tail-end of the Universal era, playing the Count through House of Dracula and House of Frankenstein, as well as in Billy the Kid vs. Dracula. His performance as the Count was dryer than Lugosi’s, but the character was physically much, much closer to the novel than the original Count made famous by Universal. He wasn’t given terribly much to work with in terms of story, particularly when the Count is trying to cure himself of vampirism through modern medicine, but nonetheless a performance shines through.


Palance was an unconventional choice for Dracula. He’s an Academy Award winning actor known mostly for his roles in Westerns and gangster films. But Palance gives his all as the Count. The movie gives him a lot of character depth to work with too. This was a more romantic version than previous adaptations, bringing in a new subplot that would reappear years later in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and also tied the fictional vampire to the real historical character for the first time.


Like Palance, Jordan was a more romantic Count. Unlike Palance, it wasn’t the character that was written romantically. This version of Dracula is similar to the cruel character of the novel, but Louis Jordan brings a romantic elegance to it that makes it very endearing to watch. There’s not a lot of physical acting, it’s subtle, but really interesting. He does a lot of the acting with his eyes.


Now, Bela Lugosi was a fantastic Dracula, obviously. He is the performance that everyone seems to base theirs on and he is the classic image of Dracula, but that’s both a blessing and a curse. Because he doesn’t have a ton in common with the novel and the original film doesn’t totally hold up, but his performance is great. His scene with Van Helsing in the office is incredible acting from both of them. His voice draws you in, and there is a reason it’s lasted for so long.


If Duncan Regher is the James Bond villain of Draculas, Frank Langella is the James Bond of Dracula portrayals. He is suave, intense, seductive, so heroic that you forget that he is actually the villain. This was very much a Dracula at the onset of the Anne Rice generation, and definitely works well as that. And Frank Langella is perfect as this new incarnation of Dracula. He oozes charisma and confidence in a way that actors in the role before him had not done, making this Count a very welcome and fresh take.


Gary Oldman is one of the great living actors. He brings a lot to every role and in many ways his version of Dracula had to do some of the hardest things to pull off. They needed a very, very good actor in the role for the movie to work at all, considering what they had Dracula doing. Three full body prosthetics, full old-age prosthetic and a general vampire face. Plus the prologue sequence, playing Vlad the Impaler and wearing the elaborate armor. Dracula is a chameleon in this movie and yet, through all of that, the performance shines through. While the appearance changes drastically, the character is fluid from one scene to the next and that is the testament to a truly incredible actor.


While F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu was an unofficial adaptation, it was an adaptation nonetheless. And the performance that Schreck gives is so remarkable that a (satirical) film was made in 2000, with Dafoe as Schreck, that suspects the actor himself may have been a vampire. Because that’s how good he is in the film. It’s all so elaborate that you actually feel like he may be exactly as he appears to be. The transformation he undergoes is intense and the physicality is chilling. One of the most instantly recognizable vampires of all time, and always will be.


The only thing that tops Schreck in Nosferatu is Kinski in Nosferatu. Which is actually not true, because Kinski was playing a very different version of the vampire, despite the physical differences. The major difference separating the original Nosferatu from Herzog’s version is the fact that the latter film is not an unofficial adaptation. So the character is at least called Dracula here, and has more characteristics in common with Stoker’s Count from a story standpoint, mostly because this was also a talking adaptation as supposed to the original silent film.


Christopher Lee played Dracula through several films, some he didn’t really want to do, but he brought a level of grace and class to the role every single time. He had a presence as Dracula that never dulled and he commanded your attention every time he stepped on screen. Even with numerous actors before him and after him in the role, he’s had a lasting legacy as the character. He could be charming, classy, and sophisticated, but he was also vicious and cruel, and exuded a sense of evil through every single scene he was in.


Liked it? Take a second to support Nat Brehmer on Patreon!
Share This Post
Written by Nat Brehmer
In addition to contributing to Wicked Horror, Nathaniel Brehmer has also written for Horror Bid, HorrorDomain, Dread Central, Bloody Disgusting, We Got This Covered, and more. He has also had fiction published in Sanitarium Magazine, Hello Horror, Bloodbond and more. He currently lives in Florida with his wife and his black cat, Poe.
Have your say!