Famously just losing out on the role of The Batman to Robert Pattinson, now Nicholas Hoult has been cast as the lead in Renfield at Universal Pictures and Skybound Entertainment, according to Deadline.

Renfield was a character in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. In various incarnations across multiple adaptions, he has been portrayed as anything from a workman who encountered Dracula while unloading boxes of Earth at Carfax Abbey, Jonathan Harker’s boss responsible for sending him to Transylvania, through to Harker’s predecessor in dealings with Count Dracula.

He has been played by actors ranging from Klaus Kinski to Jack Shepherd.

In the book, Renfield is simply an inmate at the lunatic asylum overseen by Dr. John Seward. He suffers from delusions that compel him to eat living creatures in the hope of obtaining their life force for himself.

Later Renfield’s own testimony reveals a connection with Count Dracula and it was Dracula sending him insects, which he begins consuming. He starts with flies, the death’s-head moth, then develops a scheme of feeding the flies to spiders, and the spiders to birds, in order to accumulate more and more life.

When denied a cat to accommodate the birds, he eats the birds himself. Doctor John Seward diagnoses him as a “zoophagous maniac”, or a carnivorous madman. Later Renfield builds up his own courage to harm Dr. Seward, acquiring a knife and cutting his arm; as Seward’s blood drips from his hand, Renfield licks it off the floor. From Seward’s own journal in the novel, he is described thus:

“R. M. Renfield, aetat 59. Sanguine temperament, great physical strength, morbidly excitable, periods of gloom, ending in some fixed idea which I cannot make out. I presume that the sanguine temperament itself and the disturbing influence end in a mentally-accomplished finish, a possibly dangerous man, probably dangerous if unselfish. In selfish men, caution is as secure an armour for their foes as for themselves. What I think of on this point is, when self is the fixed point the centripetal force is balanced with the centrifugal. When duty, a cause, etc., is the fixed point, the latter force is paramount, and only accident or a series of accidents can balance it.”

Outside of the novel, the term Renfield syndrome was coined by psychologist Richard Noll in 1992, originally as a joke term, to describe clinical vampirism, related to vampire personality disorder (VPD); a diagnosis for clinical vampirism, used for the behavioral profiling of serial killers compelled by bloodlust and for patients who act out violent vampiric fantasies. Fun for the whole family.

Filmmaker Chris McKay (The Tomorrow War, The LEGO Batman Movie) is in the frame to direct after Dexter Fletcher left the project. The story will be an original concept from The Walking Dead author Robert Kirkman with Ryan Ridley (Rick and Morty) developing the script.

Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst, and Sean Furst produce.