Aaron Eckhart Makes for a Manly Monster in ‘I, Frankenstein’

Bryan Enk
Movie Talk
Aaron Eckhart as the new Frankenstein
Aaron Eckhart as the new Frankenstein

Who says Frankenstein's creature can't be kind of a good-lookin' fella?

"The Dark Knight" star Aaron Eckhart is bringing his square-jawed, all-American handsomeness to a rather unlikely role: the monstrous protagonist of Mary Shelley's classic gothic tale, "Frankenstein," the wretched creation of a misguided medical student whose abandonment and rejection by a cruel world drives him to take vicious revenge against his "father" and his loved ones.

[Related: Aaron Eckhart Filmography & Biography]

Eckhart's appearance in the latest cinematic adaptation of the book, "I, Frankenstein," certainly makes for a new kind of creature. There are no bolts on the neck like with Boris Karloff's iconic portrayal in James Whale's "Frankenstein" (1941) nor excessive scarring to the point of hideous disfigurement like Robert De Niro's poor wretch in Kenneth Branagh's "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (1994).

In fact, this creature is actually kind of a hunk, whilst still having gruesome features that identify him as a "monster." "There's no neck bolts in this film, but we do get a sense that he's made up of about six corpses," said Eckhart to Entertainment Weekly. "Every day in makeup, we did a pretty extensive scarring session."

Eckhart is no stranger to extensive makeup and "scarring sessions," as his star-quarterback good looks were hideously burned (well, half-burned, anyway) in his transformation from Gotham City's well-intentioned if hot-tempered D.A. Harvey Dent into the villainous Two-Face in "The Dark Knight" (2008).

Eckhart also says his character is more like Shelley's original creation, an intelligent, cunning being who knows how to speak just fine and has "serious daddy issues." But like most screen adaptations of Shelley's novel, "I, Frankenstein" offers its own radical spin on the old chestnut.

"It's a contemporary story about the monster, the unwanted so-called abortion, the aberration, the unworthy son created and thrown out of the house," Eckhart told Yahoo! Movies in a recent interview. "And he has to go find his soul, find his purpose in life, and he does that in a fantastical world with gargoyles and demons. And these demons are against him and the gargoyles are sort of for him in a way."

[Related: It’s Alive! Aaron Eckhart Adds Life to New ‘I, Frankenstein’ Motion Poster]

"I did six months of the Filipino art of Kali stick fighting," added Eckhart, who tries to learn a new skill for each picture he fights in. "I have extensive stick fighting scenes in this movie. I’m lucky to be alive, man. Fighting with sticks is a dangerous business. So it’s going to be a good thrill ride."

Adding demons and gargoyles to the "Frankenstein" story seems to be in line with an "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to genre filmmaking lately. "Pacific Rim" had both giant robots and giant monsters, and HBO's "True Blood" brings an almost "Avengers"-like scenario to its supernatural world, one inhabited by vampires, werewolves, witches, fairies and who knows what else.

"Frankenstein" itself is suddenly very popular again, as "I, Frankenstein" is only one of several new adaptations in the works, including one that's set to star "Harry Potter" alum Daniel Radcliffe as the scientist's lab assistant, Igor. Frankenstein and his creature will also be featured characters in another gothic mashup, Showtime's upcoming "Penny Dreadful," which will find classic horror characters such as Dracula and Dorian Gray interacting in Victorian-era London.

"I, Frankenstein" will be featured at the Lionsgate panel at the San Diego Comic-Con this coming Saturday from 1:35PM-2:35PM in Hall H and Yahoo! Movies will be there to share the highlights. The film, which is directed by Stuart Beattie and co-stars Mirando Otto, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski and Jai Courtney, will hit theaters on January 24, 2014.

[Related: Comic-Con 2013: ‘The World’s End,’ ‘Kick-Ass 2,’ ‘The Hunger Games’ and Marvel Phase Two Invade San Diego]

Adam Pockross contributed to this report.