EXCLUSIVE: Even after playing the iconic bloodsucker in Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, Gary Oldman hasn’t gotten vampires out of his system. He and longtime manager-producer Douglas Urbanski have signed a deal with the Simon & Schuster/Atria Publishing label Emily Bestler Books for Blood Riders. While Oldman and Urbanski have accumulated enough adventures in the actor’s long distinguished career for a memoir, instead they have settled on a first novel that tells the story of a mysterious man fleeing a curse in a town that the gold rush left behind. The intention is for the book to be published spring 2016, and Bestler acquired world rights.
Oldman and Urbanski have been together for 30 years, with Oldman the front man and Urbanski toiling behind the scenes as most producer-managers tend to be even if he has had screen turns in The Social Network and Robocop but mostly running his Douglas Management Group. Here, they share the stage and it came about because of the persistence of Gotham-based AGI Vigliano lit agent David Vigliano. He had been coaxing them to write a book on the political landscape or their adventures together (which included the discovery that an imposter posing as Oldman had joined the audition process for the 1999 Andy Kaufman pic Man On The Moon). Urbanski wasn’t swayed.
“I couldn’t think of anything more boring,” he said. “But back in 2009 when Gary was filming Book Of Eli, we came up with this story that had to do with vampires. Whether it might be a film, a series of books or a TV show, we didn’t pigeonhole it but we but buzzed by the idea. We met several times in my kitchen, mapped out the story and where it would go, reinventing the rules and realities of vampires and sex and the power of love. There were rabbit trails that went nowhere, but we concluded that we had landed on something we hadn’t seen done before.
“We’d always been fascinated in the area of cowboys and the gold rush. Vigliano came to visit to try again on the other book, saw the pile of notes on the kitchen table and I said, weirdly enough, we were working on something that might work as a book. While in New York on the Planet Of The Apes junket, we met with five publishers and got four offers. Now, we’re finishing the manuscript and feeling wonderful about seeing the characters come to life.”
Urbanski was spare on describing the plot, but said there is a strong protagonist who carries a curse. He said plans haven’t solidified yet on setting it up for a movie of TV project. “First concern is to make sure the book comes out and is really good and we are planning a series of three of them,” Urbanski said. “The first one ends leaving you needing to know what becomes of Magnus, the hero who had a curse placed on him by a vampire.”