Stu Woolley Q & A


Stu Woolley answers questions from Lucard List members:

I'm going to try to answer the questions posed in a direct, organized manner. But before I do, I think I need to inject a few disclaimers, just so everyone knows the framework of my responses.

  1. It's been years since I gave "Dracula: The Series" any serious thought. My participation in this short-lived series was, well, short-lived. I have to go back to 1990 in search of answers—answers that I may not have possessed at the time, let alone now.

  2. The suppositions I'll offer are mine and mine alone. I was not the creator of the series; I was not part of the creative team. The conceptual landscape for the series belonged to others, namely Laurin, Davis, Bedard & Lalonde. I wouldn't presume to speak for them collectively or individually.

  3. Television is a business. It's the business of selling warm, human bodies—preferably conscious ones—to advertisers who pay the freight. TV is slaving, pure'n'simple. If good work is executed in the process, it's happenstance, a mere by-product of other commercial impulses. I feel uneasy about demystifying the process for you because I'm concerned that the creative fertility that you've invested in the series as intelligent, insightful viewers will be compromised.

  4. Since many questioners asked similar questions, I'll respond to each theme only once. However, if there are any subsidiary questions or need for clarification of what I've said, we can try this forum again.

Okay, let's give it a whirl, shall we?

From Sarah T.:
I'd like to know exactly what [you] thought happened between Lucard and Margo Burton in New York, before. And what was Lucard doing in New York, anyway? When was it? Was Klaus along with him? Did she meet Lance Burton afterwards, or did she know him at the time? (In other words, what does "This is the man you married instead of me" mean, exactly?)

Stu's answer:
Margo met Alexander Lucard in New York prior to marrying Lance Burton. Having global financial interests, should anyone be surprised that Lucard spent time in New York, perhaps shuttling across the Atlantic on a weekly basis? The specifics were not germane to ILL, so they were never nailed down. A subsequent episode might have taken us to NYC in flashback and shown us a different Lucard—possibly even a "Lucard In Love".

Remember, I was playing the Casablanca card in ILL. Not a 100% fit. But that was the general conceit. So, yes, I think there was a doomed affair between Margo and Alexander in the Big Apple, just as there was doomed affair between Rick and Ilsa in Paris prior to French capitulation. I don't know the details of the New York tryst, but based on the way ILL plays out, I think it's fair to assume that it was a grand, reciprocal passion, possibly consummated (although that prompts some "interesting" technical queries about vampire anatomy) and most certainly a folie-a-deux in the respect that we may fairly ask: "A mortal may love a vampire—but where would they make a home?"

I can't speak for the originators' schemata, but the psychology of Lucard that I subscribed to in ILL is that Lucard is evolved enough to secretly long for release from his Immortal life—to know love, sorrow, innocence, the simple, transient pleasures of fleeting human existence. Like Macbeth, he is what he must be—yet he suffers for it, in his own way. This is what sets him apart from Nosferatu, who is a brute, knows no art or culture, has not a fraction of human refinement in his nature. And it's the theoretical tension in Lucard's divided nature that makes him interesting to me. He is at war within his own vandalized soul from the moment Margo returns to his world. "Of all the gloomy castles in all the world, she has to walk into mine!" In general, I think, Lucard suppresses what yearns to be human in him with relative ease. But Margo reminds him of all that he cannot quite reach now—nor would ever reach were his life to last 100,000 years. In Casablanca, Rick's self-contained world begins to crumble when, with Ilsa's arrival in the Vichy-controlled dependency, the full vulnerability of loving washes back over him. Genuinely, painfully—and, for Margo, fatally. When you're a vampire, you always kill the ones you love!

Lance Burton is problematic for me. He's clearly a pompous fool. This is a weak point I hadn't intended; it happened in the translation to screen; I hadn't foreseen the potential for error in the way I developed the character. And this undermined Margo's character more than I wanted. Also, here the Casablanca borrowing broke down. Burton is no Viktor Lazlo. He wasn't meant to be, but it's a question of degree of jerkhood. Lucard is rightly exercising his contempt for his careless adversary when he claims disbelief at the poor quality of man Margo chose as her lifemate. Sour grapes? Perhaps.

Did Margo jilt Lucard in New York? Yes. But only because she knew it was hopeless to try to hold him. Once the truth about his real nature surfaced, she must have realized that it would be inviting mutual destruction to continue the match. Perhaps Lucard offered to make her immortal and she refused, electing the bitter-sweetness of mortality. Obviously, a flashback episode would have been a nice touch. Your commitment to ILL—and your questions—are proof.

From Kathy B.:
Does he really love her? Or is he just using her at that moment? If she'd decided to stay, would he really have stayed with her? How and when did she find out "what he was?"

Stu's answer:
Does he love her? Yes. Was he using her? Yes, again. They're not mutually exclusive. We have divided selves about many things. Our ideas are contradicted by our feelings; our behaviour falsifies our principles. So, too, with Lucard. His love for Margo is real, but there is a stake pointed at his heart—the book that will unmask and destroy him in the present incarnation, which he clearly relishes. Lucard prioritizes his vampire nature over his human affectations. He must survive on an as-is basis; this is paramount. And for him to survive as-is, his "lover" must die. Man, if this ain't opera, I don't know what is. And if it were an actual opera, Lucard would sing a truly great baritone aria in the Tag as he hurls his snifter into the fireplace.

How did Margo uncover Lucard's true identity in New York? That's part of the episode that might have been but never was. How about I give you all an exercise. Play writer for me, and I'll rate the winners: 1,2,3. Give me a one paragraph "pitch"—no more than 75 words—telling me how you think Margo discovered the dashing, cosmopolitan Alexander Lucard was an immortal. [To submit a "pitch," send e-mail to lpetix@dpcc.com with "Pitch for Stu" as the subject.]

From Susan R.:
How far back in history did Lucard and Nosferatu go? Who was the older vampire, and did either of them create the other? How come Nosferatu could transform into other forms of people yet Lucard couldn't?

Stu's answer:
The Lucard-Nosferatu conflict was given to me by LDB&L. So was the shape-shifting motif. I took it from there. (I happen to think it's a great title.) My personal speculation is that Lucard and Nosferatu, in this series, at least, stand in the same relation as Prometheus and Epimetheus of Greek legend: the fore-thinker and the after-thinker. Lucard is a genius well-attuned to the verities of nature and history; Nosferatu is a trog, a thug, a heavy-handed user of vampire "magic" and forever fated to be bested by Lucard, the superior thinker, combat after combat. Presumably, the two have battled through time; and this might well have been a returning theme in future seasons. DD only laid out the bare bones of the territorial struggle between them; it could have been developed by me or others into something less mechanical and more meaningful.

As to issues of creation and age, I draw a blank. Sorry. But I can explain the shape-shifting. Could Lucard shape-shift? I imagine he could—and with nonchalant brilliance, too. But I rather suspect that shifting-shape to make a kill was beneath him—undignified, not sporting, rather, hmm, déclasée. Lucard would not stoop to Nosferatu's vulgarities because, having a keen mind, he didn't have to. Remember, it was Nosferatu who was Hitler's éminence grise—or so I proposed—and forgot to wake him on D-Day. Lucard is right to call him a "bungler". Nosferatu may have brute powers, but they are no match for Lucard's.

From Emma:
If given the chance, would you alter any of the episodes? If yes, which ones and why?

Stu's answer:
Good question. In ILL, I'd revisit Lance Burton without doubt—to make him more obsessed than pigheaded. In DD, I'd try to resolve some of the confusion that seems to have penetrated the episode. I think the Teaser would be the place to start.

From Grace G.:
What other storylines would [you] have liked to introduce into the show? If [you] had the chance, what would [you] have done with the characters in terms of situations and/or character developments?

Stu's answer:
I no longer recall what I would have pitched to LDB&L for my Season 2 episodes. Most likely, I'd have received concept assignments. Mind you, I can share with you, one of my pet ideas about vampires as a class in the context of one episode that I would loved to have written. Vampires are evolved homo sapiens; they are superior beings, meta-humans, who, despite the occasional blood meal, have the welfare of humans at heart. After all, they have to protect the food-source, don't they? I have loved to design a murder mystery set in the castle. Get this: Lucard calls together the great minds of the age: philosophers, scientists, humanitarians, etc.—vampires all—to discuss Mankind's penchant for self-destruction. During the conference, one of these worthies is murdered—and suspicion falls on Lucard. It becomes a traditional closed-room mystery—possibly with a traditional body-drop plot—that Lucard, the suspect, deftly solves à la Poirot. I could have had some fun with that using as a model "And Then There Were None", a 1944 movie adapted from the Agatha Christie tale, "Ten Little Indians".

From Kathy B.:
How much of [your] original scripts made it in the final taping (vs. the cutting room floor)? Did [you] have to do a lot of revising? (Meaning: did the actors have to re-learn changes in dialogue or suddenly have to learn additional scenes?) How much time did [you] get to write each episode? How many episodes of D:tS did [you] see before he wrote [your] episodes? Or did [you] just get a list of guidelines and background info? Or both? Did [you] get any feedback or input from the cast or production staff?

Stu's answer:
Ah, the practicalities...I'd say that up to 80% of my final work made it to screen. In ILL, the castle portion of the Tag was not in my draft. I viewed approx. 4 episodes of the series before I went to work on my first: DD. Here's how the process worked in my case:

I was given a basic theme by phone and a few days to consider it. Then it was time for a meeting—a colloquium, actually—with the series' creative team in their downtown Toronto offices. We shared ideas and beat-out a basic story structure in the Teaser, 2-Act, Tag format with A & B storylines. I took written notes—like a secretary taking minutes. That took an hour or two. I came away with a lot of scribbles on paper and voices in my head. Then it was time to write.

First, a beat-by-beat "treatment"—a fairly detailed blueprint of the episode. Then a draft: 22-24 pages in the standard architecture of a script page. I might have made a phone call or two for clarification, I can't recall. The writing, stem to stern, took 4-7 days, no more. The draft I submitted was a first draft as far as the creative team was concerned but represented three passes plus a polish on my end. I can't remember doing a second draft of either episode. I just handed over hardcopy plus diskette of my "first" draft and that was that; my job was done. The rest of the grunt work was done by the creative team—specifically whoever was assigned to story-edit that episode. The story editor/s massaged and re-worked the writer's draft and finalized a shooting script. They had complete liberty to do whatever they wanted to my writer's draft—including a Page-One re-write, if necessary, to junk every word of the writer's draft (except his/her name in the credits).

At that point, the episode teleplay is "finished"—until shooting begins. It's distributed to all necessary recipients and everything just waits in line until the shooting schedule brings it forward, at which time it will experience on-set re-writes (done by the story editors) based on the requirements of the actual shoot. That might be predicated on the comments/needs of the director or actors, new inspiration by the creative team or recognition that something that looked good on paper is unworkable on-set. The important thing to remember with respect to the assigned writer, once he or she has tendered his/her draft, he/she is out of the picture and has no further necessary involvement. If you're invited to set as a courtesy (some courtesy! Set is the meaning of boredom, itself!), you go and hobnob if you want to. But that's at the discretion of the production team. I wasn't invited; I didn't go.

It's not a glamourous process—not in the least, not for writers, at least. The operative word is "businesslike".

From Angel T.:
Like others on this list, I'd like to know if Lucard really did love Margo or if he was just using her to get the manuscript. It's a bit difficult to tell, in my opinion, because thus far we'd seen Lucard be ruthless, manipulative, etc. Never before had we seen him show some semblance of love, so it's difficult to tell if he really was at one point or still was in love with Margo.

Stu's answer:
Life is rarely a matter of either/or. It's about contradictory impulses and motivations. Lucard's love for Margo did not prevent his vampire survival impulse from using her and even murdering her. Such are the fortunes of war. And those of love. Consider poor Don Jose who must kill Carmen to be free of his desire to possess her. Cathexis is dangerous business, folks.

From Laura:
I've never understood the end of "Double Darkness" and I'd love to know how we are intended to interpret it. Did Nosferatu die when Lucard staked him, or did he somehow survive (if so, how?). What is the meaning of the disappearing coffin & hearse in the tag? Or is it meant to be ambiguous? Was it left open so that Nosferatu and/or Dr. Cross could return in a future episode?

Stu's answer:
Evil is immutable and eternal. And ubiquitous. Did Nosferatu die in DD? No. Nor did Lucard imagine that he would. The staking of Nosferatu was Lucard's way of telling his adversary to buzz off, to get lost. In vampire terms, it was a public put-down with overtones of parody that demonstrates Lucard's sheer contempt for a sniveller.

This was not their first encounter, after all, nor would it be their last; they'd been chasing each other, battling & brawling, throughout history. Lucard knew he was just winning the current round, not the whole prize-fight. Perhaps it's easier for a human to dispatch a vampire than it is for a vampire to do the deed. Anyone have any thoughts on that? Am I making that up? Or does it have the ring of truth? And if it rings true, tell me why. Another task for you all to ponder. I'll tell you what I think: Perhaps evil does not defeat evil—but only banish it for a time. I'm sure that had Max wielded the stake, Nosferatu would have been a goner.

As for Nosferatu's hearse being spirited away by his vampire minion, Dr. Cross...yes, evil survives, thrives, returns. It escapes in the dead of night to heal, transform and reappear in the next village bearing affliction and misery for all. There's no doubt in my mind that Nosferatu's skulking escape was a platform setting up the "return" of Nosferatu (and possibly both) in some future confrontation in which Nosferatu would be a much greater danger than he was in DD.


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