The titular character of Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic horror novel has been the focus of countless adaptations — movies, plays, and now, a new drama on NBC. This most recent incarnation of Dracula is a sexy, brooding, tortured soul played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers ("The Tudors").
In the show, Dracula poses as an American entrepreneur named Alexander Grayson, who makes a splashy arrival in Victorian London. In a twist on the old story, he teams up with Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann) to battle an evil conglomerate called the Order of the Dragon.
The Order of the Dragon was a real religious society founded in 1408 that fought on behalf of the Pope. One of its members was the man on whom Stoker based his character — Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, aka Vlad Tepes, aka Vlad the Impaler.
In NBC's new version the lineage is more explicit than it has ever been before; Rhy Meyers's Dracula actually is Vlad Tepes. And it was the Order itself that turned him into a vampire back in the 15th century. Now, he's revived and hunting for vengeance. Of course, things get complicated when Grayson runs into a woman who is a dead ringer for his murdered wife (Jessica De Gouw).
Here are seven facts about the real-life Dracula:
1. He ruled what is now modern-day Romania from 1456 to 1462 and is still revered as a folk hero by Romanians for protecting the people.
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2. The name Dracula came from his father, Vlad II Dracul. Dracula is a patronymic name, taken from the father.
3. He got the name "Vlad the Impaler" due to his practice of impaling his enemies on stakes for everyone to see. It's likely where Stoker got the idea of staking vampires in the heart to kill them.
4. Thieves didn't dare try to steal anything in Wallachia as Vlad placed a premium on honesty. He even put a gold cup in the central town square, where it remained untouched for his entire reign.
5. Just like the character in Stoker's book, Vlad fought the Ottoman Turks after Pope Pius II called for a crusade against the invading empire in 1459.
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6. Vlad used biological warfare by sending some of his own people who were suffering from infectious diseases to infiltrate the Ottoman army.
7. Vlad liked blood — though he probably didn't drink it. He was a ruthless and cruel leader who killed between 40,000 and 100,000 people.
Watch a preview of "Dracula":
"Dracula" premieres Friday, Oct. 25 at 10 p.m. on NBC.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Jonathan Rhys Meyers
- Vlad Tepes
- Bram Stoker