A while back we were given the opportunity to visit the New Orleans set of the new film, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant. Based on the children’s series, Cirque is the story of Darren Shan, (the pen name of the author of the books), a child of boring suburbia. When he and his friends sneak into a freak show one night, he sees an act with an amazing trained spider. (What, he couldn’t just get a dog?) Darren (played by newcomer Chris Massoglia) becomes obsessed with the spider and steals it from its trainer, Mr. Crepsley…who just happens to be a vampire. Through a series of events, he gets himself turned into a half-vamp by Crepsley and leaves his life to join the freak show. These are not happy little novels. They deal with some pretty heavy subject matter for children’s books; death, betrayal, and some serious violence.

Director Paul Weitz (About a Boy, American Pie) told us, “There’s some really dark stuff in the books which is part of what appealed to me about it. I mean in the books, the kid fakes his own death, which is a horrible thing to do to your parents, obviously. Crepsley is completely morally ambiguous. He’s taking this kid to be his assistant and mentor, without worrying too much about what this is going to do to his private life or normal childhood. And I think that aspect of it was what got under my skin.”

The film stars John C. Reilly (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) as Mr. Crepsley, and Salma Hayek as a bearded lady. No, really! Producer Andrew Miano told us that all the guys on the set were a little disturbed at their reactions to the stunning bearded beauty. Weitz said, “Salma was really cool. In terms of the bearded lady, I wanted someone who was traditionally; femininely voluptuous, juxtaposed with this beard growing out of her in the middle of a take…The only person who didn’t think she was hot was my 16 month old son. He started freaking out and screaming…but other than that, everybody’s been into the beard.” We got to watch a clip, and I can certainly see why. Also joining the cast is Willem Dafoe as a vampire general. We got to watch the filming of a scene between Reilly and Dafoe, where the general comes to arrest the vampire Crepsley. Dafoe’s look was described to us as “1930’s early Salvador Dali”. He certainly looked it in the scene. Spatz, skinny mustache…very creepy.

We interviewed Oscar nominee John C. Reilly in a snake boy’s tent. No, really. Reilly plays Larten Crepsley, the morally ambiguous vamp who turns Darren. Reilly is hardly the first name that comes to mind when thinking creature of the night, but then, he isn’t known for being typecast. This theatre-trained actor/singer has played a porn star, a soldier, a rockstar and an average Joe. Hell, why not a vampire? We talked to him about the books, teen angst, and, of course, vampire fights.

On his approach to playing a vampire:

“You know, it’s not like a traditional vampire movie, because it’s so dictated by the rules of the world of the book. So, I may have taken a different take if I had total creative license. But I felt I should try to honor what Darren Shan created in the books. I kind of had the parameters of the character already sketched out for me.”

On is favorite vampire movies:

” I actually really liked the one that Willem did. (Shadow of the Vampire) It’s not a vampire…well, it’s kind of a vampire movie cause he really is a vampire in it…but nobody realizes he’s really a vampire. I think he did a great job. And, of course, the original Nosferatu.”

The film is slated for release by Universal Pictures on October 23, 2009.

Read the entire article, including the rest of the interview with John C. Reilly here.

I have yet to read this series, but it is definitely on my short list now!  It sounds really dark and interesting, definitely not a typical vamp story. I gotta say…I am amazed at all the big-name movie stars that are in this movie. I really hope the movie turns out as creepy and interesting as it sounds!

Have you read the Cirque Du Freak series?

Do you think this adaptation will stay pretty true to the books?

Will you go see the movie?