Aaron Eckhart explains why Victor Frankenstein’s monstrous creation is just like everyone else.
THE monstrous creature that is Victor Frankenstein’s creation in the novel Frankenstein, stands at eight feet tall. Frankenstein had used discarded human body parts to form his “monster” and had been obsessed with the idea of reanimating the body. When it is successfully brought to life, Frankenstein becomes horrified by its grotesque appearance.
He shuns the creature, causing it to wander around alone with so much anger and confusion.
In a telephone interview earlier this week from New York, actor Aaron Eckhart said he empathised with the legendary creature.
“Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a compelling story with a universal theme. It’s about being unwanted, unloved and trying to find your purpose in life. People will find themselves asking the same questions that the creature has pondered upon. He was looking to be loved and he just wants to belong,” said Eckhart, 45.
The actor plays the creature, named Adam, in the film I, Frankenstein. Based on a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux, the film depicts how Adam is caught in the middle of a war between gargoyles and demons. For centuries, the gargoyles – led by its queen, Leonore (played by Miranda Otto) – has been able to prevent the demons from destroying humanity.
Eventually, demon leader Naberius (played by Bill Nighy) realises that the key to victory lies in Frankenstein’s method of reanimating corpses. If he could get his hands on Adam as Frankenstein’s only living specimen, he would be able to create his own legion of undead fighters.
Eckhart said the gothic-action film has reimagined Adam as a “dynamic fighter”.
“He’s got to be a lean, mean fighting machine. I think we came up with a new, nicer version of the creature.”
Eckhart performed his own stunts in the film and even mastered a new skill for his character. Instead of relying on just brute strength, Eckhart trained in the Filipino art of Kali stick fighting to give Adam an edge over his opponents.
“Yeah, if anyone comes up behind me in an alley and there’s a stick around, I could defend myself (laughs). I trained for five to six months to master the fighting. I really worked hard to make it look like I know what I was doing in the film.”
Adam also has a less-than-intimidating appearance working for him. Gone are the signature bolts at the sides of his head and stitches on his forehead. You can also forget about the familiar green, gangly appearance – which would have made him easy to spot, really.
“We tried all kinds of makeup during rehearsals and the process is really quite beautiful. We didn’t want to make him look so big and cumberstone. The team put a lot of thought into the scars around Adam’s face and body. We looked at the scars as an ingenious way of telling Adam’s story,” Eckhart shared.
Despite the radical way I, Frankenstein has changed the creature’s look, Eckhart believes its inner struggles remain the same.
“I think it’s not so much on how you look, but really how you feel on the inside. Adam still has so much rage in him due to how he feels after being ostracised and rejected by everyone, including his creator.”
Even in the company of the winged gargoyles, Adam is often being questioned over his identity. Since he is neither human nor demon, some of the gargoyles feel that he doesn’t belong with them.
On the other hand, Naberius’ clan wants Adam to be on its side but that would mean he has to turn his back on humanity.
“That’s the crux of the story. Adam has to make a decision based on his instinct. He doesn’t have anyone to help him. He doesn’t know what love and kindness feels like. He never experienced anyone being nice to him.”
Eckhart revealed that he can relate to how his character is always wandering around the world, all on his own. “I feel very much like Adam in that sense. I work in different cities all over the world. During weekends or between days off, I simply wander the streets and I don’t know anybody.”
The actor hopes audiences get to see Frankenstein’s infamous creation in a different light, despite numerous other films portraing him as a brainless monster with limited vocabulary. “Mary Shelley has written the creature as a sensitive, intelligent character. He has deep thoughts. He was looking for love and companionship.”
That said, however, Eckhart noted that he has mixed feelings about hearing everyone’s reaction to I, Frankenstein.
“(Laughs) I don’t know. I like hearing nice things and I don’t like hearing bad things. It’s quite nerve-racking because everyone has an opinion about it. I hope it’s a big success. But you know, that’s the way it goes. It’s the business. I’m kind of used to it by now!”
> I, Frankenstein is showing in cinemas nationwide.
Aaron Eckhart: Of monster and man