Keith Staskiewicz
July 12, 2013 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Aaron Eckhart has played monsters before — like, say, a heartless white-collar predator in 1997’s In the Company of Men and his Janus-faced villain in 2008’s The Dark Knight — but never one so literal or iconic as Dr. Frankenstein’s creature. In this latest iteration of Mary Shelley’s classic tale, the monster looks a bit different from the flattopped fiend of Boris Karloff movies. ”There’s no neck bolts in this film, but we do get the sense that he’s made up of about six corpses,” says Eckhart. ”Every day in makeup, we did a pretty extensive scarring session.”

The actor says the character is more akin to the tragic figure in Shelley’s 1818 novel — an intelligent, articulate being with a major identity crisis and ”serious daddy issues.” However, unlike Shelley’s literary patchwork man, Eckhart’s monster is caught in an ongoing battle between evil demons and gargoyle sentinels. To aid in this war, he’s mastered the martial-arts skill of Kali stick fighting, something Eckhart himself spent six months learning so that he could do all his own stuntwork. ”The training was pretty intense for a guy stitched together from body parts,” he says. ”My trainer used to come in my garage, tie me up, turn off the lights, and then just leave.”

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