Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star Awkwafina is joining the cast of Renfield, a Dracula spinoff monster movie from Universal Pictures. Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix) plays the titular R.M. Renfield, who is a servant of Dracula stuck in an insane asylum. Nicolas Cage takes on the role of Count Dracula, with Chris McKay (The Tomorrow War) directing the project. The Walking Dead's Robert Kirkman came up with the story outline with a script from Ryan Ridley.
Deadline reports Awkwafina's role is currently unknown, though it's believed Renfield takes place in the current day, instead of it being a period piece. Awkwafina played Katy, a close friend of Simu Liu's Shang-Chi. While they had been friends for years, she was unaware of Shang-Chi's secret history and family ties. Katy joined Shang-Chi on his adventures and helped save the hidden village of Ta Lo. Awkwafina appears to have a future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as she joined Shang-Chi in the film's post-credits scene, which also featured cameos from Wong (Benedict Wong), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson).
"We're doing this cool movie for Universal that's a focus on Renfield," Kirkman said during an appearance on the Fatman Beyond podcast earlier this year. "It's a story about him being Dracula's henchman, and how shitty a job that is. It's a fun, extremely violent comedy, because I've got a crutch and it's violence."
Renfield is the latest addition to what would have been Universal's Dark Universe franchise. The studio originally planned to build a connected cinematic universe of movies starring characters such as Frankenstein, Dracula, the Invisible Man, Wolf Man, the Mummy, and more. However, after the disappointing box office performance of Tom Cruise's The Mummy, Universe scrapped its plans for a cinematic universe, instead choosing to lean into having each film stand on its own, allowing more freedom for directors to tell their own stories without worrying about connecting to one another. The success of 2020's The Invisible Man helped to speed up this process.
Another high-profile project Awkwafina is attached to is the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. In an interview with ComicBook.com's Brandon Davis tied to the release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Awkwafina discussed her experience working on the upcoming film.
"Oh man. I mean, that was so cool," Awkwafina said. "I mean, each one of these experiences is mind blowing in their own respect and very special, and for that one, it was so cool to work with Rob Marshall and Lin-Manuel [Miranda]. And I think that the world's going to really, really like it."
What do you think of Renfield adding Awkwafina to star alongside Nicholas Hoult and Nicolas Cage? Let your thoughts be heard in the comments.