Actor Corey Hawkins, who plays Clemens in The Last Voyage of the Demeter, recently claimed that black characters like Clemens are not always centered in the horror genre.
Speaking with Fandango’s Jacqueline Coley to promote the film, Hawkins was asked, “Talk about you sort of joining in it. Was that sort of the appeal to it, horror in general, or was it maybe waht you saw in the character?”
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Hawkins responded, “It was a little bit of both to be honest and a lot of [director] Andre [Øvredal’s] vision.”
He elaborated, “First of all, when I read the script — and I know it’s been around for a long time — I saw this incredible character in Clemens, an opportunity that I thought was important for us to just go after. You know, you don’t have to hit the nail over the head with it, but he’s a black man and a black Cambridge educated doctor at the turn of the century. I think that was important because these men existed. So part of it was also the research and conversations with Andre and our producers who also wanted to make space for that. And I thought that was great and important especially in the horror genre because we’re not always centered in that way.”
“And it was great to watch this man, who I think is an outsider, who represents the other. And Dracula represents the other. Also the woman, the one woman on board, played by Aisling [Franciosi], Anna, she represents the other. So there’s this dynamic there that I thought was just incredible,” he continued.
Hawkins added, “And also I’m a horror nerd, I’m a horror geek. I never pictured myself actually like doing it and this being my first sort of real sort of leading, in this way, because I’ve been part of some really cool big franchises, but to be a part of bringing Dracula back is awesome.”
“And also with my first film, my first time being introduced to a vampire was Blacula in the 1970s. William Marshall and that blaxploitation era. So I just think it’s cool to — now, I didn’t see it in the 1970s, I saw them when I was alive, VHS, rocked it ’til the tape popped —But it’s one of those things for me was just incredibly special and it’s just a great opportunity,” he concluded.
Later in the interview, Hawkins described his character, “Clemens is a doctor. He is ill-equipped. He doesn’t even like guns. So it’s like, ‘Bruh, you gonna do what? You’re gonna…okay.’ And that’s the great part is like you get to watch this guy figure that out.”
“He goes from a scientist, a person who believes in science, a doctor, who doesn’t believe in the supernatural to a believer to then a hunter, right. Like he becomes that and it’s because he has to. It’s because he’s had to learn to adapt in life. He grew up on boats. So he’s an underdog,” he explained.
Hawkins went on to add, “He finds that constitution in himself where everybody on that ship is doubting him and doubting his presence and doubting his existence almost and believing in this other thing. He’s like, ‘No.’ He’s wrestling that back and taking that back. He’s facing that evil. And I think that’s really cool, you know?”
The Last Voyage of the Demeter is “based on a single chilling chapter from Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula” and “tells the terrifying story of the merchant ship Demeter, which was chartered to carry private cargo—fifty unmarked wooden crates—from Carpathia to London.”
The film’s production further detail, “Strange events befall the doomed crew as they attempt to survive the ocean voyage, stalked each night by a merciless presence onboard the ship. When the Demeter finally arrives off the shores of England, it is a charred, derelict wreck. There is no trace of the crew.”
Along with Hawkins and Franciosi the film also stars Liam Cunningham as the ship’s captain and David Dastmalchian as its first mate. It also stars Jon Jon Briones, Stefan Kapicic, Nikolai Nikolaeff, and Javier Botet.
The movie hit theaters on August 11, 2023.
What do you make of Hawkins’ claim that The Last Voyage of the Demeter centers black peoplethrough his character of Clemens in the horror genre unlike how they have been before?