The Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter panel at WonderCon 2012 today began with a mock video featuring a mummified skeleton as producer Tim Burton doing a video remote from London, lying at death’s door in a hospital with a couple of buxom nurses and famed health and wellness specialist Dr. Andrew Weil. He wished he could be there, thanked the crew, and then promptly died.
Writer Seth Grahame-Smith came out and introduced director Timur Bekmambetov and Abraham Lincoln actor Benjamin Walker. At the panel, a sequence from the climax of the film was screened.
The climax sequence shown featured Lincoln and Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie) on top of a moving train defending themselves with axes and rifles against oncoming vampires as the train sped over a bridge that had just been set on fire. The rear cars of the train careen over the collapsed bridge and Lincoln and Johnson leap to safety across the intact side of the bridge at the last minute.
During the Q & A panel, Smith was asked how he merges such different concepts as Abe Lincoln and Vampires. He said the idea came to him during a book tour for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It was during the anniversary of Lincoln’s birth and every bookstore featured displays for both Lincoln and the Twilight series. Researching Lincoln’s history, Smith felt that Lincoln was really the first American superhero. Ben Walker found during the research for the role that Lincoln’s life was really dark and lent itself perfectly to the gothic genre of vampires.
Smith was thankful that Tim Burton had the balls to have faith in such a wild premise and back it one hundred percent.
A member of the audience mentioned that he works across the street at Disneyland’s “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” attraction, and they have Smith’s book on the shelf at the attraction.
Smith mentioned he did an incredible amount of research on Lincoln, because for such an outrageous premise, the foundation had to be rooted in earnest reality.
The train sequence at the climax and the role of Adam, king of all vampires (Rufus Sewell) are not in the book and were invented for the movie.
Smith said he has nothing against Twilight creator Stephenie Meyer (as she’s able to get more people to read and into theaters), but as a point of comparison, his vampires don’t sparkle. Walker appreciated that this film is a return to form of classic horror vampires.
The panel’s last question: Could Obama be a vampire slayer, and if so, what would be his weapon? Walker said his weapon would be diplomacy. Smith agreed that Obama would be a badass, and his weapons would be diplomacy and a Blackberry.