Aaron Eckhart’s ‘Frankenstein’ creature feels ‘unloved and unworthy’
By CINDY PEARLMAN For Sun-Times Media January 21, 2014 9:46PM
Aaron Eckhart in "I, Frankenstein." | LIONSGATE PHOTO
Updated: January 24, 2014 10:26AM
NEW YORK — Aaron Eckhart’s new film was filmed with nuts, but no bolts. In “I, Frankenstein,” he plays the classic movie monster, now given a modern makeover.
“This guy is active. He’s quick. He has to be energetic. This film is a new look at Frankenstein,” says the sandy-haired sex symbol.
“We had to ask ourselves: What do you do with the scars? How did they evolve over time? The argument that won out was this one: We wanted our hero to be presentable.”
But no bolts? “I don’t remember there ever being bolts in the original source work,” says Eckhart. “If you go back and read Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein,’ I don’t think she specified bolts. And in our new movie, Frankenstein is an amalgamation of body parts.
“He’s Frankenstein, reanimated.”
In director Stuart Beattie’s new take (opening Friday), the Frankenstein creature stages a centuries-old war between two immortal clans. There are gargoyles and demons to spare.
Eckhart, 35 and a native of Cupertino, Calif., says that he didn’t expect a call for the Frankenstein role. After all, his filmography includes “The Dark Knight” (2008) where he played Harvey “Two-Face” Dent, “Any Given Sunday” (1999) where he was a team doc and “Erin Brockovich” (2000) where he played the ponytailed neighbor who romanced Julia Roberts. Recently, he played the president in “Olympus Has Fallen.”
“Frankenstein wasn’t on my mind, but one day Stuart called me and said, ‘I want you to read something.’ I thought this was a great script,” Eckhart says. “It’s about the purpose of life and the journey of a man having the courage to make decisions and trust himself. That was this Frankenstein.”
To prepare for the film, Eckhart reread Shelley’s classic book. “Another reason I wanted to play Frankenstein is that I thought it would worth it for the kids to see it. Frankenstein is a character that feels like most kids do — awkward, unloved and unworthy.
“That’s how I felt as a teenager. I was just like this character of Frankenstein asking: Why am I here? What am I going to do with this life? Nobody likes me?’ Every teen feels that way, and hopefully it comes through in this movie.”
Eckhart says he wasn’t sure exactly what movie he was making during the “I, Frankenstein” shoot.
“You really have to trust your director,” he says. “It’s all green-screen work. You hear, ‘And later there will be gargoyles.’ In a sense, you’re flying without a net.”
He also got to learn stick fighting for the battle scenes. “My knuckles are recovering,” he says with a laugh. “It’s very dangerous. One little mistake with the sticks and you get hit on a cheekbone, ribs and knuckles.”
Eckhart didn’t even mind the two to three hours a day it took to put on the Frankie makeup. “It’s good to just sit there. You have time to sink into your character. They put a mirror in your face and you look at yourself. All you have are your thoughts.
“By the time, I’m out of the makeup chair, I’m ready to go. I could chew nails.”
As for the future, Eckhart will star later this year in “Incarnate” about an alcoholic exorcist.
“It’s a fun movie and was a good character to play,” he says. “It’s also larger-than-life, and I can only do so many demon and monster movies. I’d really like to find a script where I just sit in a room and talk to a normal wife and normal child.”
Does that rule out playing Harvey “Two-Face” Dent again in another Batman outing?
“Maybe they would use that character in the future, but I don’t think they would do it with me.
“Hey, I got a Pez character out of it,” he says with a laugh. “It’s me as Two-Face. I’ve done all I can do.”
Big Picture News Inc.