Renfield: Ben Schwartz and Awkwafina talk Nicolas Cage

Appearing opposite Nicholas Cage’s unhinged Dracula in Renfield – the upcoming action-comedy-horror that puts the focus on Nicholas Hoult’s eponymous vampire assistant – was something of a dream come true for Ben Schwartz. Renfield reaches UK cinemas on 14 April 2023.

Video transcript

JACK SHEPHERD: See you play a villain before. How fun was it to play against type?

BEN SCHWARTZ: It was so fun. To be like the crazy person that like drives recklessly and does cocaine and shoots, all things that would never do ever. It was really, really fun. And then to have fight sequences and to kick butt, and then to get my butt kicked, and then to get choked out by Nic Cage, come on! There's, what else could you possibly want? So I think it's so fun that I can try to go from like doing "Sonic" to doing a hard R comedy that's an action movie. So I was in heaven.

JACK SHEPHERD: Something Nic Cage has been talking about this, and he said that anything worth doing is worth overdoing. I mean his Dracula is incredibly intense in this. Like, how is it to act across from someone who is perhaps giving a performance that's so unhinged?

AWKWAFINA: He was so into the process, into the character. I think he knew exactly what he wanted to do with it. And he was, it's pretty intimidating to see Nicolas Cage fully dressed up as Dracula, just kind of like wandering the set, you know, like in between takes. So that was definitely disarming. But yeah, I mean, it was such an inspirational experience to see an actor completely in his own and like in his wheelhouse.

BEN SCHWARTZ: It's the best, because I have an improv background, so my whole thing is, any time we can explore a scene or keep going this way or this way, and he is down. Like, whenever he feels the need to whatever, I love to be surprised in scenes. Because I think you get the best reactions. You get real reactions and stuff like that.

So I was in, I was absolutely in heaven. I love, I mean, you and I grew up on his movies. I mean, I've watched "The Rock," "Face/Off" and "Con Air" 1,000 times. So the fact that I get to play with him in these scenes, it's amazing.

JACK SHEPHERD: And you'd be kind of freaked out by just look around and you just see like [HISSES] in the corner.

BEN SCHWARTZ: We would do a scene, and then they say cut, and then he'd like laugh a little bit and we sit down in our chairs and we're just talking about whatever movie's out. He's like, oh yeah, is it good, you like that movie? Yeah, it was good. You know what I really like? But he's literally big fingernails, blood down his face, he's just, it's the funniest thing in the world.

JACK SHEPHERD: You as an actor have kind of go from "Jumanji" to "Shang-Chi" to this. It feels like your action prowess has really grown and grown. Does that, because you're a comic, does it feel like against type, or is that a very natural evolution for you?

AWKWAFINA: It's like the larger "Curb Your Enthusiasm-esque" quality of my life that I continuously get thrown into these action movies where I don't really know what I'm doing. But "Renfield" was definitely very unique experience, because it was kind of a horror action comedy, of which I really never have done before.