The latest collaboration between actor Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton is a remake of, cult soap opera, Dark Shadows. Depp plays Barnabas Collins, a rich, powerful playboy who's turned into a vampire and then buried alive. Two centuries later, he's freed from his tomb and emerges into a very changed world. Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloë Grace Moretz, Helena Bonham Carter and Jackie Earle Haley also star.
The remake was Depp’s idea who was as a fan of the show and initially talked to Burton about it when filming Sweeney Todd, “God, maybe we should do a vampire movie together where you actually have a vampire that looks like a vampire”, he remembers blurting. “Dark Shadows was kind of looming on the periphery, and then Tim Burton and I started talking about it, and then Tim and I got together and started figuring out how it should be shaped, and then screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith came on board and the three of us just riffed really.” When asked about those who suggest nobody wants another TV show remake, Depp added “I think Warner Brothers went into it hoping that it was unwanted. I mean, I think everybody should probably approach a film that it’s another unwanted thing. That’s going to be seared onto my brain for the rest of my life. Thank you for that.”
Burton said he and Depp had talked about Shadows for many years, but remembers this being the first project that Johnny mentioned wanting to play ever since he was a little boy. “It’s one of those kind of things where the show had a lot of impact for some of us. Johnny, Michelle and I were there at the time when it came out so we just recall it being a very strong, interesting property.”
Michelle Pfeiffer was a huge Dark Shadows fan too. “It was a real joy to get a call from Michelle and find out she was a closet Dark Shadows fan”, Burton said. The film marks their first collaboration since Batman Returns where she played Catwoman 20 years ago. Pfeiffer would not have had the courage to call Burton directly but she was working with a mutual friend who, knowing what the property meant to her, pushed her to do it. When one reporter asked Pfeiffer for a comment on Anne Hathaway playing Selina Kyle/Catwoman in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises she politely replied, “I love Anne Hathaway, I’m a huge fan and the nature of these characters is that they are played by different people. I think she’s great and I think she’s going to be awesome.”
Making a soap opera in 2012 Hollywood was tricky for Burton. For him the weirdest challenge was to get the acting tone, the soap opera nature of the tone which is a weird thing to go for on a Hollywood movie. “It’s not like you go to a studio and go, ‘We want to do weird soap opera acting.’ Like they go, ‘Oh, great.’ Whatever that means. So it was an odd challenge to get but that’s why I was so grateful to all the cast because even the ones that didn’t know the show kind of got into the spirit of it which was what made it Dark Shadows, was trying to capture the spirit of what the show was.”
The end of the movie seems to leave it open for a sequel to what Burton clarified, “I think it’s because of the nature of it being kind of like a soap opera, I think that was the structure. It wasn’t so much of a conscious decision to say get ready for the sequel. First of all, it’s a bit presumptuous to think that anything would get a sequel. If something works out that’s one thing but you can’t ever predict that so that had more to do with the fact of the sort of soap opera kind of structure of it.”