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With 30 Days of Night, Ben Foster is appearing in his third comics-based film in three years. After playing Spacker Dave in The Punisher and Angel in X-Men: The Last Stand, Foster plays the Stranger in 30 Days.

Not surprisingly, Foster said he was a fan of the IDW Publishing comics story by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith.

"It was just something that just really turned me on," Foster said. "And I've known David (Slade, the director) for a few years now and he gave me a shout and said, 'You know I think I'm thinking of making a vampire film.'

"I said, 'Great, fantastic, what is it?' He says, '30 Days of Night. I was like, 'Wonderful. What can I do for you?'

"And so we met in a coffee shop and in Hollywood and he said, 'I'm not going to sell you anything, I'm just going to show you.'"

Slade proceded to open his laptop and show Foster some brief footage of camera tests that he did on the vampires.

"And being somebody who's spent a great amount of time watching films and reading books and comics and dressing up as vampires for Halloween for years, it was startling how different these vampires looked," Foster said. "And we didn't even talk about a character at first. I was just in, 'I'm in, I'm in, I'm in.'"

But they did eventually talk about the character, the latest in a very diverse careeer for Foster, who went from the scrawny Spacker Dave to the buffed-up Warren Worthington.

"In our first meeting, Ben started grilling me about the character -- questions I answered gleefully," Slade said. "He asked where the Stranger is from, and I said, 'It would be great if he was from the South.' Ben spent his own money learning a note-perfect Cajun accent, which is terrifying and enriched the character."

Slade said that the Stranger performs a very specific role in 30 Days of Night, one rooted in vampire lore.

"If this were Bram Stokeršs world, he would be Renfield," Slade said. "The Stranger is the helper who wants desperately to become a vampire. He's seen horrific things, lived amongst them -- when the film begins, as far as he's concerned, it's his last night of being human -- and he has great glee of the expectation of becoming something else.

"Ben repressed all the craziness that could have ensued, and instead made the role incredibly emotional. He found a way not only to make an absolutely vile, disgusting character, but one that you have absolute sympathy for -- absolute sympathy for the devil."

Foster said he was intrigued by the character.

"He has a level of fanaticism," he said. "What kind of person would get involved in a group and be willing to die for that group? For me, it became a metaphor -- and it was a fun one to play with."

Costume designer Jane Holland said that Foster even helped contribute to the look of the Stranger.

"Ben said, 'I'm going to go to a surplus store and put something together,' and I said I'd do the same thing," Holland said. "He sent me a photo, I sent him a photo, and we had the Stranger. It was a nice thing to have that discussion beforehand; when he arrived we had his costume, all tattered and dirtied. He put it on and just like that -- there was the Stranger!"

Foster, who has expressed interest in returning as Angel in the X-Men franchise, praised the work of Josh Hartnett, who stars in the lead role of Eben.

"Josh did a hell of a performance and it's a tricky genre to be able to hand in a leading-man role, surrounded by vampires," Foster said. "This is not an easy task and he hands in a fantastic, very haunted character. This is not your usual kick-ass leading man. This is a tortured soul surviving a very difficult and terrifying scenario."

The only disappointment about 30 Days of Night for Foster is he didn't get to play a vampire. He admitted to a bit of a vampire fetish.

"Vampires and the stories surrounding them have crossed so many different cultures through thousands of years," Foster said. "There is something deep in our blood that responds immortality and living off the source fluid. It's just deep in there.

"Although they're the bad guys, there's something very appealing and free about these creatures."

30 Days of Night opens on Friday.

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