IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Kevin Grevioux Talks 'I, Frankenstein,' a Possible Sequel and Crossover with the 'Underworld' Franchise

Tuesday, 21 January 2014 15:09 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Kevin Grevioux Talks 'I, Frankenstein,' a Possible Sequel and Crossover with the 'Underworld' Franchise

Over the last two decades, actor/screenwriter/comic book creator Kevin Grevioux has built a strong niche for himself in the comic book and genre film world!

Beginning his career as an actor in such comic book adapted films as The Mask, Batman Forever, Steel, Men in Black II, and Hulk, he was eventually cast in Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes. But it was his role as Raze in Underworld, which he created and co-wrote with director Len Wiseman that made him so beloved by comic book and genre fans. He would eventually return to his role in the Underworld prequel, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, before turning his attention to creating comic books. In addition to writing the popular New Warriors comic book for Marvel, Grevioux created two comic book imprints, Astounding Studios and DarkStorm Studios. It was with DarkStorm Studios that he sold the original script for the film adaption of his graphic novel I, Frankenstein, which will open in theaters on January 24th.

I, Frankenstein follows the original monster of Victor Frankenstein, Adam Frankenstein (Aaron Eckhart), who is the only force that stands between the human race and an uprising of supernatural creatures including gargoyles and demons that are determined to overthrow the world. In addition to creating the graphic novel and the story for the film, Grevioux also plays one of the film’s villains, Dekar. The movie is written and directed by Stuart Beattie (Tomorrow, When the War Began), and also stars Bill Nighy (About Time), Yvonne Strahovski (TV’s Chuck), Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers), and Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard). 

I recently had a chance to speak with Kevin Grevioux about I, Frankenstein. The actor/comic book creator discussed the process of creating the graphic novel, getting it made into a film, working with screenwriter and director Stuart Beattie, casting Aaron Eckhart in the title role, the character that Grevioux plays in the film, the importance of attaching himself to the project as an actor, reuniting with his Underworld co-star Bill Nighy, an unused end credit scene featuring Kate Beckinsale’s Underworld character, and a possible sequel.

Here is what Kevin Grevioux had to say about I, Frankenstein, a possible sequel and crossover with the Underworld franchise:

IAR: To begin with, can you talk about the genesis of I, Frankenstein, first as a comic book and then as a screenplay, and coming up with the idea to reinvent the famous monster as an action hero?

Kevin Grevioux: Yes, well the way it worked is that I promised myself after Underworld that I was never going to write a naked screenplay again, because there are just too many ways that a film can go off the rails. Fortunately for Underworld that did not happen but I felt it would when I started to get into other concepts. So I remember I pitched Lakeshore Entertainment the idea with a nice treatment beating out all the story points and they didn’t understand it. One of the bigger problems was what you just mentioned. No one could understand Frankenstein as an action hero because to Lakeshore he was a monster with bolts in his head. So I realized what I had to do. I went back and decided to just write the screenplay on spec and I was hoping that they would pay me to write it and they haven’t. So I went back and wrote the screenplay but other people got a hold of it. They were posed to make me an offer but Lakeshore got wind of it and they wanted to see it. It was at this time that I created an intellectual property to go along with it in the form of comic book pages to help illustrate the world I was trying to convey. So I gave the screenplay and the pages to Lakeshore and they loved them and snapped them right up. So I wrote the screenplay before I wrote the graphic novel. The reason being because when you are turning things upside down the producers don’t understand. Remember, these are not genre people. A lot of producers are older people who didn’t grow up with this stuff. So I grew up with it and I knew what it could be. I knew how to turn these concepts on their ear and that’s what we were able to do. At the time Patrick Tatopoulos (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans) was attached to direct and we had created this amazing world. But then Stuart Beattie came aboard about 18 months later and he understood everything that we were trying to do. He then wrote his draft and now here we are. 

How did you like working with screenwriter and director Stuart Beattie, and what did you think of the changes and additions that he made to your original concept?

Grevioux: The important thing is that the actual story did not change, which was basically a discover story of Adam Frankenstein and who he is. So was he man, or was he monster, or is he both? So trying to understand that coupled with this villain who is trying to destroy him and use what created him in order to create more of him. That is what my story was about. Here you have Frankenstein caught in the middle between these demons and monsters. In my story I had more monsters. For me it wasn’t just gargoyles and demons, but it was gargoyles, demons, and vampires who were trying to basically use the Frankenstein formula and Frankenstein is all that stands between mankind and total destruction. So basically Stuart came in and simplified it but having just gargoyles and demons, but the story still works. I think we have a fantastic property. 

What was your opinion on the casting of Aaron Eckhart as Adam Frankenstein, and did he fulfill what you envisioned when you created the character?

Grevioux: Well, as I tell people, there is the movie that you conceive, there is the movie that you actually sit down and write, there is the movie you finish, there is the movie that you sell, there is the movie you develop, the movie you shoot, and the movie you edit. So during that process you have different versions of the character that you create in your mind. So since I also wrote myself a part in the film, I’m thinking that whoever plays Frankenstein has to be at least 6’4 because I’m 6’2” and they have to bigger and more intimidating then I am. With Aaron that wasn’t the case, I think he’s 5’10” or 5’11”. But he is a predacious actor and you look at the gravitas that he brings to each character he plays, it makes him larger. So he doesn’t need the size, he already plays that presence. That’s what makes the movie. He is Frankenstein!

You play Dekar in the film, was that the role you originally wrote for yourself, or did you end up playing a different character?

Grevioux: Yeah, casting changes happen. I wrote myself a different character in my original screenplay.  I wrote for myself an ally for Adam who had his own set of supernatural powers. But Stuart created this character that I play now and it is more of a villain, which is okay. But I like to create a part for myself in everything that I do. 

Is that something that you work into your contract when you sell a project? Do you always make sure that you are also attached as an actor in the film?

Grevioux: Most definitely, I think as a creator it is incumbent upon you being a smart businessman too. Since I am the creator, it gives me a presence on the set that people respect and look at. So you are more than just a cat who types on paper, you act, and you produce. Other actors and the filmmakers will come to me for questions and things of that nature. So you are there as a presence and I think that is fun. 

Your Underworld co-star Bill Nighy plays I, Frankenstein’s main villain Naberius. Did you have a role in his casting?

Grevioux: When I’m brought into casting it will be to talk about it at a certain point. I think what it is, is that they want to pick my brain. So they picked my brain about casting Adam. “Do you think he has to be a big guy? Who do you think should play him?” I was thinking Ray Stevenson (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) at first. Then I was thinking Idris Elba (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance). When I was thinking about Frankenstein in my head, he did not have Caucasian skin. His skin was sort of grey, but to that point anyone can play him under that make-up. But when Bill was cast I was happy. Everyone knows what Bill can do, so I thought he made an excellent choice for Naberius.

Finally, did you envision a franchise for I, Frankenstein when you created it, and if the film is successful do you have ideas for what might happen in a possible sequel?

Grevioux: Oh, yes. Whenever I write a script it is always with the sequels in mind. In fact, with this film what is unique is that my first creation Underworld was also with Lakeshore. So I was even thinking a crossover between the two series. In fact, one of the early drafts I did … you know the end credit scenes that Marvel Studios does with their movies? I actually had one with Adam and Selene (Kate Beckinsale). But they didn’t do that. 

Are there any Easter eggs left in the movie that might hint to that?

Grevioux: No, they are all gone. 

Well, maybe if the film is successful there could eventually be an I, Frankenstein and Underworld crossover film like Alien vs. Predator, or The Avengers

Grevioux: There could be, but producers have to understand that. You know a lot of them didn’t grow up with this stuff like we did. So they can’t necessarily understand doing that. It’s too confusing for them. It’s mingling, if I can use that word, which could cause problems. 

I, Frankenstein opens in theaters on January 24th. 

I, Frankenstein the graphic novel is currently available for purchase. 

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