Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have teamed up again for another fantastical movie making adventure in the new comedy Dark Shadows. Based on the popular horror television series of the 1960’s, Depp plays an imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, who is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection. Depp sat down and talked about the film and working with his long time friend and collaborator.
Tell us about your character…
I play Barnabas Collins, who was cursed by a witch in the late 18th century over a kind of tragic love story, and she locks me in a coffin for 200 years, and I am finally released accidentally.
Now this film is an extension of the old television series. How closely, if at all, does it relate to the original?
It is Dark Shadows, but it is a very different angle on what the series is. It’s sort of taking what they did on the series and heightening that world a little bit, heightening the reality of things. It’s kind of a fine line between soap opera and reality.
You were also a producer on the film. Can you describe a bit of the development process for Dark Shadows?
We just sparked a whole series of ideas. You know, the idea of this very elegant man having been cursed to the undead in a box for 200 years to come back to 1972 which may be the worst time aesthetically in human existence. You know, where everything’s absurd. Kids of that era and people of that era accepted macramé owls and resin grapes, and you know lava lamps, pet rocks. So we thought what a great way to incorporate that to have this vampire come back 200 years later in 1972 and basically be the eyes that we never had back then, the eyes that could see the absurdity.
Barnabas awakens to meet the current family matriarch, Elizabeth Collins, played by Michelle Pfeiffer. How did she come to be part of the project?
Tim called me and said he had just spoken to Michelle, and she was a huge fan of the [television] show at the time as well because Tim and I both were on top of that show when we were kids. He asked me, “What do you think? Wouldn’t she be great as Elizabeth?” And I didn’t think there could be a more perfect choice.
You and Tim Burton have worked together on so many projects. What is it that he continually brings to all of your projects and this one in particular?
Without Tim, we would never have achieved what we did with this film in terms of what we did with tone and quality and humor and just in phantomness. He’s so brilliant you know. Dark Shadows is playing nationwide. The film is rated PG-13 for comic horror violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking.