Kevin Grevioux has had a long career acting in science fiction TV shows and movies, and he also created the story that became Underworld. And now, he's created I, Frankenstein, the story of Mary Shelley's artificial human fighting in a war between gargoyles and demons. He explains to us where this story came from, and why we're all Frankenstein's monster deep down.
Minor spoilers ahead…
Grevioux originally pitched I, Frankenstein back in 2007, after his Underworld concept took off — but the studio couldn't wrap its head around the complex mythos he'd crafted. So he had to go back and write the first script draft on spec, and also created an "accompanying IP" in the form of a graphic novel, so the studio had cool images to look at. This time around, the studio loved the concept, and a couple of other studios were also interested.
When Grevioux originally came up with the concept of I, Frankenstein, it wasn't actually about the eternal war between demons and gargoyles. He originally had gargoyles, vampires, and tons of other creatures, including "Icthyans" and "Pantherans." The main villain of the original storyline was Dracula, who wanted to use the Frankenstein formula to create an army of monsters and take over the world. When writer/director Stuart Beattie took over after the original director was fired, Beattie decided to change the vampires to demons and leave the gargoyles as "their major foil."
"Lakeshore felt that the audience wasn't going to understand more than two monsters," says Grevioux. "So they decided to get rid of most of them. But I still think we have a great story."
Grevioux's original concept was "Frankenstein in the modern world, trying to find out who he was — is he man is he monster, or is he both?" Grevioux was really attracted to the idea of turning Frankenstein into "an action hero," as a good way of following up the vampire/werewolf action of Underworld.
For me, Frankenstein is a character we can identify with, being human, just by virtue of the fact that he essentially is an abandoned child. He was holding his father accountable for creating him and teaching him right and wrong and this creature who was intelligent actually read the Bible and understood what God, the true creator, did for Adam: He taught him right and wrong and he never left him, even after he banished him from the Garden of Eden, he still taught him right and wrong.
And that's what Victor Frankenstein didn't do [for his creation] —and because of that, Frankenstein has this anger inside of him, and he became a monster. Monsters, in particular, make good metaphors ofsinful human beings.
Grevioux made sure to go back and re-read Mary Shelley's novel, because "you always want to start with the original material." And he was left with the feeling, at the end of her novel, that he wanted to find out what happened to the monster "after his sojourn at the Arctic, and that's where I pick up the story."
In I, Frankenstein, Grevioux is mixing supernatural creatures like demons with Frankenstein's monster, who was created by science. He enjoys creating those sorts of mixtures — like, in Underworld, he was taking "creatures that, in terms of lore, had always been supernatural" and bringing them down to a scientific level. This new movie "takes a different turn by bringing in the supernatural," but Grevoiux thinks it still works just as well.
It was a bumpy ride getting I, Frankenstein to the screen, partly because nobody understood Grevioux's original concept. He says:
It was a different creative process but I did not mind it because, at the end of the day my job is to tell a good story and I think we did that here. And of course going through a situation where the original director was fired, that's never good, but we wound up making a good movie despite that. You know, I find one of the biggest challenges for a writer is getting people to understand what it is you're doing.
One of the adages I've come to realize is true is that in this business nobody wants to be first, everybody wants to be second. And so most companies — most people — are unwilling to try new ideas or concepts that haven't been done before — which is why you have so many sequels [and] so many remakes... They keep going to back to that well because it works and it has great branding and people are familiar with it…
I think with Underworld, I was ahead of the curve too, because what I did was mix vampires and werewolves in a shared universe. That hadn't been done. And then the Twilight movies came out, which had vampires and werewolves at war in a shared universe. Then True Blood, [and so on.] I,Frankenstein is also ahead of the curve — if you remember the trades in 2010, after I Frankenstein was announced, a bevy of Frankenstein projects were announced [soon afterwards].
I, Frankenstein opens in theaters tomorrow, although many places are having early screenings tonight around 10 PM.