The big screen adaptation of cult classic television series ‘Dark Shadows’ is showing in cinemas everywhere in the quirky and bizarre way that only the pairing of actor Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton deliver.
As the story goes, Barnabas Collins (Depp) is a rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy; until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972.
We caught up with the movie star who talked about his first memories of the TV show, about playing Barnabas Collins and being surrounded by a wonderful cast.
What were your memories of the TV series?
I just remember having to get home to see it quickly, because you would get out of school and it was already starting, so you just didn’t want to miss anything. Anything, especially a soap opera, something in the afternoon television arena that had vampires and werewolves and zombified guys with eyeballs hanging out and things -- It definitely piqued my interest.
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Barnabas Collins, what a great character. Who is he in your eyes? How do you see him?
Thank you. He’s the reluctant vampire. Extremely well-educated, elegant being from the eighteenth century, cursed to be a vampire and locked in a box for two hundred years, and then thrown into quite possibly one of the weirdest periods of human existence. 1972 was a very strange time. That’s why Tim chose 72 as the idea of all this weird stuff going on, like Pet Rocks and macramé owls, plastic fruit and weird music.
And those are great toys to play with as an actor. What did you enjoy about this character?
As the character, to experience things for the first time and to experience, well, what would he make of a television set, which is what we portrayed in the film. “My God! There’s this little woman inside this box. This is some kind of strange magic. I have to get her out of there.” Or seeing a lava lamp and thinking it’s a pulsating blood urn. That was the fun of the character -- just being able to experience these things that we accept as everyday normalcy.
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You are surrounded by an extraordinary cast. What do you think about working with that great cast and also with someone like Michelle Pfeiffer, who you’ve worked with before and we thought is just great.
It was perfection. Each time I would get a call from Tim when he was going through the process, when the script was being written and honed and he was meeting people, and each time I would get a call, it just got better and better. When Michelle climbed on board, it was super exciting because she’s such a brilliant actress and she’s so talented. Then Eva Green, who has is wonderful and equally as talented as Michelle -- both goddesses with this sort of air of mystery. There’s Jonny Lee Miller who is hysterically funny. And then there’s Jackie Earle Haley. Tim just kept putting these people that were exactly right and perfect for ‘Dark Shadows’.
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Also beautiful were the sets. Johnny, about that, about working in Collinsport that was built, in Collinwood mansion. It’s quite extraordinary.
It was astonishing. Rick (Heinrichs, production designer) and Tim have worked together on and off for many years, known each other for a long, long time. I’ve had the great opportunity of working with Rick a number of times myself. He just truly outdid himself on this. It was magnificent. It was beyond -- I’d never seen sets like that. To build the entire town of Collinsport in the back with water with boats, large boats in it, in the back lot of Pinewood-- And the detail, his attention to detail, in terms of Collinwood, it’s magnificent work. It was crazy.