Actor in film 'The Raven' honors Edgar Allan Poe
Saturday, October 8, 2011
BALTIMORE (AP) — Actor Luke Evans and director James McTeigue laid a wreath at Edgar Allan Poe's grave as they paid their respects and talked about their upcoming film "The Raven," which reimagines the American writer's last days.
Evans, 32, plays a young Baltimore detective hunting for a killer who is using Poe's grisly stories as the inspiration for a string of murders. John Cusack plays Poe, who joins the hunt.
Poe died in Baltimore on Oct. 7, 1849.
Evans said he was captured by Poe's biography and considers him the "godfather of American literature." He said he learned of Poe's heartbreak and alcoholism and his unique role in history as the first American writer who tried to make a living by writing.
"This man started something that's still thriving today, the murder stories and the detective," Evans told The Associated Press. "He was the beginning of all of that."
The movie is a blend of fact and fiction, marrying Poe's tumultuous life with his stories, which sets it apart from other Poe films, McTeigue said.
Poe's famous poem, "The Raven" figures into the script in a scene where he gives a dramatic reading of the poem to a lady's society luncheon. It's clear, though, that Poe is just "going through the motions because he has to make a living," McTeigue said.
Both Evans, who is Welsh, and McTeigue, who is Australian and known for his film "V for Vendetta," were eager to visit Baltimore for the first time. McTeigue said he researched Baltimore scenes for the film, but it was shot in Budapest, Hungary, for its older architecture.
Visual effects were used to add the historic Baltimore Harbor, Fell's Point and the city's Washington Monument to the film.
"The Baltimore of 1849 doesn't exist anymore," McTeigue said. Still, he said, "it's nice to come and walk the streets and be where Poe is."
Evans also stars in the upcoming films "The Three Musketeers" and "Immortals," in which he plays Zeus, king of the Greek gods. His film career is less than four years old after starting his career on stage in London's West End. His role in "Clash of the Titans" put Evans on the film map.
"The Raven" opens nationwide on March 9.
While Evans had to create an American accent for "The Raven," he didn't try to adopt that unique Maryland way of saying "Bal-more" for his detective character, he said.
"I didn't want to embarrass myself because it's quite a specific accent," he said.
After Evans and McTeigue laid a wreath at Poe's downtown grave in a one-time church cemetery, Evans rubbed the nose of Poe's likeness in a penny that's part of his tombstone as tourists and locals gathered around to snap pictures. The filmmakers also toured the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum.
They bemoaned the possible closure of the Poe House after the city cut off funding for the museum this year and said they hope the movie can draw attention to his life in Baltimore.
"He left such an incredible legacy and this city sort of owns it," Evans said. "It's a really special thing."
Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House, said the museum has enough money to stay open until June but will need at least $85,000 a year to continue beyond then. The city has hired consultants to find a way to make the museum self-sustaining and perhaps transfer its ownership to a private group.
Few groups are looking to acquire a museum house, though, Jerome said.
Attention generated by the movie in the months ahead will be good for the Poe House, which continues to raise private funds on its own, he said.
"This movie hasn't even opened yet, and it already has generated a lot of controversy" over its fictionalization of Poe's final days, Jerome said. "You have to suspend your belief when you see a film like this. I'm very excited about it."
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