In book and film, Dracula visibly changes aspect on a regular basis. He can be young or old. He can be nearly human or beast. He transforms into a bat, a wolf or a green mist.
Gary Oldman was equal to them all. It almost goes without saying, because I'm happy to add my voice to those who'd say he's one of the best actors of his generation. His versatility was pushed to the limit in this role.
On the IMDb forum, someone asks if Dracula was Gary Oldman's best performance to date. It's difficult to say, but only because he's generally this good. However, he certainly pulled out all the stops to capture the dark essence of the vampire.
Gary Oldman is a method actor. When the script called for him to utter a few lines in Romanian, he went and learned Romanian. In rehearsals, he and Winona Ryder got on really well. By the time they were filming, Winona felt some kind of threat. Something wasn't right, though she could never put her finger on it. She complained to the director that she instinctively picked up on the danger.
He was Dracula. She was Mina. She wasn't supposed to feel comfortable in those scenes. As soon as filming was over, he suddenly transformed into Gary again and all was well. But on set, he remained in character, always.
Bram Stoker's Dracula had a very strong cast. Anthony Hopkins was sinister as Van Helsing. Richard E Grant was manic as Seward. Sadie Frost was the most convincing Lucy that I've ever seen. Then there was Keanu Reeves.
It's practically a cliche to call his performance wooden in a review of this movie. But it's a comment that's richly deserved. It's also acknowledged by the actor himself. He later apologized, stating that he was exhausted during filming, having recently done one film after another.
Reviewers are more divided on evaluating Winona Ryder as Mina Murray. She wasn't in the same class as an actor like Gary Oldman, and it showed. But that wasn't to say that she wasn't decent enough. Her English accent was better than Keanu Reeves's anyway.
She's also been called insipid and wooden in the role, but that was her actual character. Mina is supposed to be the epitome of a stiff upper lipped, prudish Victorian woman. Winona Ryder nailed that.