Far too many people still have not seen this masterpiece from director E. Elias. Merhige. Shame on you. Shadow of the Vampire tells one version of the making of F.W. Murnau's groundbreaking silent film Nosferatu (which you had also better see). The catch, of course, is that Max Schreck, the actor hired to play Count Orlok, just happens to be a real vampire. Murnau (played by John Malkovich) knows and has incredible scenes with Schreck (Willem Dafoe in arguably his best performance ever) in which they discuss life, death, art, and film.
The rest of the cast and crew believe Schreck to be the epitome of a method actor. He is living his role in order to best portray the character. (Un)Naturally shenanigans ensue, people get bitten, and Murnau must change his script in order to dispatch the fiend.
Udo Kier, who has played vampires and other weird characters his entire career, gets a chance here to be one of the more normal characters and fulfills his role admirably. Eddie Izzard plays the actor who plays Thomas Hutter in Nosferatu (the Jonathan Harker equivalent in this Dracula rip-off), His overacting for the silent film parts make me wonder just how well he would have done for an actual silent film. Someone should make this happen.
Dafoe was nominated for an Oscar as was the make-up team who turned him into Schreck. It's a rare treat when make-up and acting gel into a complete performance.
Also worth noting, Nicholas Cage was one of this film's producers.