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Neil Jordan gets teeth into vampires

Helmer attends premiere of 'Byzantium' at Toronto

Blame Anne Rice for the vampirization of popular culture, says Neil Jordan, who himself has made a pair of vampire pics 18 years apart.

“Anne’s stories, which I love, are really what I think got it going,” said Jordan, who’s at Toronto for the premiere of “Byzantium.” He also directed 1994’s “Interview with the Vampire,” based on the 1976 Rice novel.

Jordan’s new pic, starring Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton as immortals, addresses themes of mother-daughter relationships, teen romance, the connection to forgotten ancient cultures and the longing for death. It premiered Sunday at the Ryerson.

“With vampires, there’s really a whole suitcase there,” he added. “They can represent whatever you want.”

He’s seen only the first of the “Twilight” films — “I think Catherine Hardwicke did a good job” — and says he’s a particular fan of Francis Ford Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and Abel Ferrara’s “The Addiction.” The Irish director heartily praised Arterton and Ronan, noting that they were able to rehearse for only two days prior to an 11-week shoot.

“Saoirse’s able to portray this unnatural stillness that’s uncanny,” he added.

Jordan is headed back to Budapest on Tuesday to get back to work on the third season of TV series “The Borgias,” which he created and writes. His other feature credits include “The Crying Game.”

Jordan said he’s not surprised to be asked about vampires. “After ‘The Crying Game’ came out, I got asked a lot about transsexuals,” he recalled.

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