It’s not everyday you meet someone from Derry who was killed by a vampire on the banks of Strangford Lough.
Andrew Cassidy, 29, is from Prehen and he is also sits on the Board of Directors with Derry City Football Club.
Last year Andrew registered a profile with an agency which specialises in providing extras to production companies who opt to make movies and television programmes in the North of Ireland.
Andrew’s profile was only a few weeks old when he got the call from Extras NI to say he had been selected to appear as an extra in a new film about the world’s favourite vampire, ‘Dracula Untold’.
The film stars Luke Evans (‘The Hobbit’) and Dominic Cooper (‘Captain America’) and it uses the story of Vlad Țepeș a.k.a ‘Vlad the Impaler’ as context.
“It was an amazing experience - I loved every minute of it. Sadly though, I was killed by a vampire near Strangford Lough,” said Andrew laughing.
In the film, Luke Evans plays Vlad and when King Mehmed (Cooper) threatens his family he makes a deal with Master Vampire (Charles Dance). In exchange for the power to protect his family, Vlad, becomes a vampire.
Andrew was cast as one of King Mehmed soldiers and one of his first tasks as an extra was to travel to Belfast for a costume fitting.
King Mehmed was 15th century ruler of the Ottoman Empire and all of the costumes designed for the film were based on those worn by Turks during that period.
“I can’t convey to you how heavy the costume was,” recalled Andrew.
“Don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of fun wearing the costume but boy was it heavy.”
Andrew and the other extras were then trained by a British army drill sergeant in how to march as a unit.
“The training was tough - I won’t forget that in a while,” he said.
After he completed his training, Andrew was presented with a sword and shield and quicker than you can say ‘lights, camera, action’ he was on set and the camera was rolling.
“The director, Gary Shore, hand-picked all of the extras which made being selected extra special.
“I’d never done anything like this before but the money was good and I would be lying if I didn’t say I had a ball.
“We weren’t able to chat to the likes of Luke Evans and Dominic Cooper all of the time but any of the actors I encountered they were more than nice.”
Andrew also worked with a Turkish dialect coach and as well as appearing on set with Luke Evans and Dominic Cooper, he shared a scene with the son of Academy Award winner, Sir. Ben Kingsley, Ferdinand.
“There was one scene in the movie where we had to chant ‘Kaziklu Bey’ which is the Turkish phrase for The Lord Impaler. We chanted it at Luke Evans’ character Vlad in the scene. But afterwards, when we were all sitting in the canteen eating our lunch, Luke Evans walked past and we started to chant ‘Kaziklu Bey’ again - he turned around a laughed and said ‘and don’t you forget it’.”
One of the movie’s most action packed scenes was filmed on the banks of Strangford Lough.
King Mehmed’s men are camped out in the open when Vlad descends from the air with a horde of vampires and attack the men.
“The director told us that we all had to run from one tent to another and if a vampire got you, you had to lie down on the ground dead. Unfortunately, I was killed by a vampire near Strangford Lough - that’s where I died,” laughed Andrew.
After his work as an extra on the set of ‘Dracula Untold’ Andrew has since gone back to his job with Toys R Us and his duties with Derry City Football Club.
“It was a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the movies. ‘Game of Thrones’ will be filming scenes around Belfast in the New Year so fingers crossed,” he smiled.
‘Dracula Untold’ goes on nationwide release today and is showing at the Brunswick Moviebowl.