In 1998, ten years before Marvel Studios hit the pay dirt with Iron Man, New Line Cinema struck gold with the first Blade movie. Penned by David S. Goyer and directed by Steve Norrington, the first film introduced Wesley Snipes as the titular vampire hunter. Blade was a surprise hit with fans, thanks to its lightning-fast pace, high-octane action sequences and gritty visual tone. Created by legendary comic book creators Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan, Blade first appeared in print in Tomb of Dracula #10. Like its comic book predecessor, the film adaptation quickly became a cult classic, spawning two feature length sequels and a short-lived television series.
Much of the film trilogy’s success must be attributed to its superlative casting. Beginning with Snipes, the film built its stylish on-screen mythology around a cast of future A-list actors such as Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel. With its 20th anniversary fast approaching, we thought it’d be fun to pull a page from Oprah’s book and ask where our favorite bloodsuckers and vampire slayers are now. Some have gone on to achieve true superstardom in other comics-inspired properties such as Deadpool, while others have fallen off Hollywood’s radar completely. Whatever the case, we think you’ll be surprised by what we unearthed.
SPOILER ALERT! Spoilers ahead for all three films in the Blade Trilogy.
15. TRACI LORDS
Who can forget Blade’s blood-drenched opening sequence? Led by a seductive vamp played by former adult movie star Traci Lords, a young man looking for a good time finds himself the only human in a vampire blood rave. Although she only appeared for a few scant minutes on-screen Lords made quite an impression, before Blade made short work of her with a shotgun-propelled stake to the head.
Ultimately, Lords’ transition into mainstream media took a little longer to achieve than might have liked but she eventually got there. After Blade, she went on to appear in a number of cameo roles in films that typically flew under the radar. However, recently she lent her voice to the popular video game Hitman and embarked on a burgeoning fashion career in collaboration with Pinup Girl Clothing. Later this year, she’ll direct her first movie, The Unquiet Grave.
14. N’BUSHE WRIGHT
Aside from Blade, most people remember Brooklyn-born actress N’Bushe Wright for her simmering portrayal of Black Panther activist Delilah Benson in the Hughes Brothers’ Dead Presidents. In Blade, Wright played hematologist Dr. Karen Jenson, a character created specifically for the movie. Dragged into Blade’s violent world after she’s bitten by Deacon Frost’s henchman Quinn, Jenson evolves into one of the film’s most pivotal characters, weaponizing an anti-coagulant and developing a cure for vampirism. Although Blade rebuffs her offers of a cure for his own unique condition, Jenson does formulate a new, more potent serum for the taciturn vampire killer.
Largely absent from the screen in recent years, Wright’s last appearance of note on the big screen was in 2015’s A Talent for Trouble, a raunchy rom-com panned by critics that ironically failed to capitalize on her talent.
13. STEPHEN DORFF
Blade’s main adversary in the first film was Deacon Frost, a young, power-hungry vampire seeking to bring about a vampire apocalypse by resurrecting the blood god La Magra. Although brilliant in his way, Frost was ultimately undone by his arrogance, recklessness and overwhelming desire to level the vampire playing field by eliminating the distinction between pure-blood bloodsuckers and those who were merely turned.
A veteran of cult films such as Backbeat (in which he portrayed oft-forgotten founding Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe), Dorff has managed to keep himself relatively well-employed in Hollywood over the years—even if he hasn’t been able to sustain the success he enjoyed in the ‘90s. He played Stavros in 2011’s Immortals and is set to star as Texas Ranger Hal Hartman in this year’s upcoming Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel, Leatherface.
12. PARKER POSEY
Parker Posey burst onto the acting scene thanks to her head-turning role in Richard Linklater’s fan-favorite coming of age stoner flick Dazed and Confused. In Blade: Trinity, the third installment of the trilogy, Posey plays Danica Talos, an ultra-high maintenance vamp who successfully resurrects the first of her kind, Dracula, in a risky bid to cure her race of its aversion to sunlight. Her exchanges with Ryan Reynolds’ Hannibal King are some of the franchise’s most memorable, even if the film’s plot was a little predictable.
A versatile character actor of some note, Posey’s career after Blade: Trinity includes numerous appearances in film and on TV, including Superman Returns, Best in Show and Parks and Recreation. 2018 will see Posey take on the role of the nefarious Dr. Smith in SyFy’s Lost in Space remake of the original 1965 television series.
11. TRIPLE H
Paul Levesque, better known to wrestling fans around the world as Triple H, played Jarko Grimwood, Danica Talos’ hulking, metal-mouthed henchman in Blade: Trinity. Ostensibly a fill-in for Donal Logue’s memorable (and durable) Quinn in the first movie, it’s okay to admit if you were surprised about how long Grimwood lasted in the trilogy’s third chapter — or just how much you liked him and his vampiric Pomeranian.
A mainstay in the WWE’s front office, who still manages to fit a few matches in, Triple H hasn’t had much time for acting in recent years. His 2016-17 feud with Seth Rollins led to a match at Wrestlemania 33, which saw the perennial heel lose to his foe in an unsanctioned match, by way of his own signature move, the Pedigree.
10. RON PERLMAN
As one of the most respected character actors in Hollywood, it’s not like Ron Perlman really needed a comic book movie on his resume. Or did he? Blade II served as something of a dry run for director Guillermo del Toro and Perlman before their big screen adaptation of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. Perlman first garnered critical acclaim in Hollywood, for his role as the caveman Amoukar in 1981’s Quest for Fire, quickly establishing his ability to express himself even through multiple layers of prosthetic makeup.
Never lacking for work, his most notable role after Hellboy is easily Clay Morrow, president of the Sons of Anarchy outlaw motorcycle club, in the FX series of the same name. Look for Perlman alongside Michael Shannon in Pottersville, a comedic take on the Bigfoot phenomena.
9. KRIS KRISTOFFERSON
A true renaissance man, actor, writer and musician, Kris Kristofferson can also boast that he is the only supporting cast member to appear in all three films of the Blade Trilogy. As Abraham Whistler, Kristofferson brought a gruff, rough-and-tumble pragmatism counterpoint to Snipes’ taciturn, ultra-cool vampire hunter. A cagey tactician and brilliant sergeant-at-arms, who provided Blade with most of his toys throughout three movies, Whistler finally met his end for good at the hands of the FBI in Blade: Trinity.
A true badass cowboy, who became notorious for his unique brand of outlaw country along with fellow Highwaymen Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, Kristofferson also possesses an extensive filmography. Most recently he starred alongside Luke Hemsworth in Hickok and is set to appear in Blaze, a biopic of country music legend Blaze Foley, directed by Ethan Hawke.
8. PATTON OSWALT
One of Hollywood’s ever-growing number of genuine nerds, comedian, actor and comic book writer Patton Oswalt has never been shy about his passion for all things geek. Still active on the comedy circuit, Oswalt’s notorious wit and political observations are also a staple in the Twitterverse. In Blade: Trinity, he played the Nightstalker’s resident weaponsmith, Hedges. Think Whistler but with a sense of humor.
Oswalt might be best known to comic book fans as the co-writer (along with Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns) of Justice League: The Lightning Saga and for his portrayal of the fan-favorite Koenig brothers on Marvel’s Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. His next comic book-inspired project will be starring as the voice of the eponymous imaginary blue winged horse in the Syfy TV adaptation of Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s manically violent comic book series, Happy!
7. DOMINIC PURCELL
You might know him from his roles as Lincoln Burrows from Prison Break or more recently as Mick Rory (aka Heatwave) from DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, but Dominic Purcell’s first comic book-related project was playing Dracula in Blade: Trinity. A physically imposing screen presence no matter the role, Purcell’s natural charisma was also on full display as the seductive progenitor of the vampire race.
A veteran of dozens of movie and television appearances, Purcell recently returned to his Prison Break family as both star and producer. The follow-up limited series takes place several years after the show’s original run and chronicles Lincoln Burrows’ latest attempt to save his brother from the fictional Ogygia Prison. The role reunites him with fellow Arrrowverse alum Wentworth Miller, continuing a working relationship that has endured over two different franchises and networks.
6. DONAL LOGUE
In the first Blade film, popular character actor Donal Logue played Quinn, Deacon Frost’s smart-assed, bumbling (if incredibly durable) chief enforcer. Over the course of the movie, Quinn suffers epic amounts of physical punishment at the hands of Blade. He had both hands chopped off (on separate occasions), was burned to a crisp, fell out of a hospital from several storeys up, had his face shredded by an onrushing subway and was finally put out of his misery when Blade severed his head with a garrote.
For a while there, it seemed like Logue was everywhere. Between 2012 and 2015 alone, the versatile actor contributed his exceptional skills to multiple TV shows, including Sons of Anarchy, Copper, Vikings and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He currently plays the pragmatic, curmudgeon, formerly corrupt cop Harvey Bullock on Gotham.
5. JESSICA BIEL
One of the breakout stars of the old WB’s 7th Heaven, Jessica Biel starred in Blade: Trinity as Abraham Whistler’s estranged daughter Abigail. As a member of the Nightstalkers, Abigail teamed up with Blade versus Dracula, using her trademark bow to kill scores of vampires. One infamous story from the set tells how Biel’s very real archery skills cost the production a $300,000 camera.
After her star turn as Abigail Whistler, Biel’s stock soared and she starred in several big-budget flicks such as The Illusionist, Total Recall and The A-Team. Her latest project, The Sinner, is set to debut on the USA Network. In it, she plays an amnesiac young mother who is arrested by Bill Pullman after she murders a man on a public beach full of witnesses.
4. NATASHA LYONNE
Natasha Lyonne has been acting since the age of seven, and by the age of 16, she was cast by Woody Allen in Everyone Says I Love You. However, it wasn’t until she appeared in 1999’s American Pie as Jessica that she became a household name. In Blade: Trinity she portrayed Sommerfield, a geneticist and researcher who developed Daystar, a bioweapon capable of tracking and killing vampires using their DNA. She’s eventually captured by Drake, who tortures and kills her.
These days, Lyonne plays recovering drug addict Nicky Nichols, one of the inmates at the Litchfield Penitentiary on the critically-acclaimed Netflix series Orange is the New Black. The role garnered Lyonne her first Emmy nomination. She’s also set to appear in four movies in 2017, including A Futile and Stupid Gesture, a biopic about National Lampoon comedy writer Doug Kenny.
3. NORMAN REEDUS
There’s probably not much we can tell you about Norman Reedus that you don’t already know. He starred Blade II as Scud, a slack-assed, smart-mouthed weaponsmith, who stood in for Whistler after his apparent death in the first movie. Eventually revealed to be a double agent for the vampire Shadow Council, he was blown up by Blade, who revealed he was aware of Scud’s betrayal the whole time.
In 2010, Reedus won a place on the cast of The Walking Dead as Daryl Dixon, an original role created specifically for him, after the part of Merle Dixon went to Michael Rooker. And so a love affair with an entire generation of viewers began. Reedus also stars in the AMC reality TV series Ride with Norman Reedus, in which he rides his motorcycle to a new destination in America with a different guest each episode.
2. RYAN REYNOLDS
If you don’t know what Ryan Reynolds has been up to over the last year or so, then you were probably in a coma. Even if you didn’t see his blockbuster movie Deadpool, the star is one of the most social media-savvy celebrities on the planet and not a day passes that one of his tweets doesn’t pop up in your news feed.
Popular for his ability to mix comedy and action, Reynolds seems built for this Golden Age of Comic Book Movies. His first such role came in Blade: Trinity, in which he portrayed the wise-cracking Nightstalker Hannibal King. While not necessarily a breakout role in the strictest sense of the word, fans did get a sense of the shape of things to come. Reynolds is currently filming the second installment of the Deadpool franchise in his hometown of Vancouver, B.C.
1. WESLEY SNIPES
Finally, we get to the man himself. Can you really picture anybody else besides Wesley Snipes in the role of Blade? A proven actor and accomplished martial artist of various disciplines, Snipes seems to have been tailor-made for the role of the stylish vampire hunter. Brooding, violent and sometimes even funny, Snipes’ portrayal of Blade hit all of the right notes. Too bad that counts for nothing with the IRS. In 2008, Snipes was convicted of tax fraud and sentenced to three years in a federal prison.
Few, if any, of his appearances have lived up to the talent he showed in Blade and other films. The days of Demolition Man and Passenger 57 are long past, it seems. Still, after a supporting role in the short-lived TV series The Player and a starring role in 2017’s Armed Response, perhaps there is hope left for the one-time prince of ass-kickery!
Who’s your favorite Blade cast member? Let us know in the Comments!
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