LOS ANGELES — To Tim Burton, there are two types of people in the world: “Dark Shadows” fans and everybody else.
The Academy Award-nominated director wasn't surprised that his friend and frequent collaborator Johnny Depp could be counted among the followers of the late 1960s-early '70s supernatural soap opera. But Burton, 53, was a bit taken aback when the actor brought the idea of a “Dark Shadows” movie to him, simply because Depp hadn't instigated any of their seven previous cinematic collaborations.
“We've talked about it for many years, but I think this was the first project that I ever remember for Johnny where he sort of said, I think (you said) you've wanted to play this ever since you were a little boy,” Burton said, turning to the actor sitting beside him.
“Just a wee tyke,” Depp confirmed during a news conference that gathered cast and crew in the swanky SLS Hotel.
“I mean, you knew Barnabas Collins before you knew your own father, didn't you?” Burton said with a sly grin, launching the first of many joking volleys they exchanged in the 40-minute meeting with the media.
“Pretty much, yeah,” Depp answered with his signature charming smile.
For their eighth project together, the three-time Oscar-nominated actor took on the most enduring role in “Dark Shadows,” as the elegant but definitely undead vampire Barnabas Collins.
The TV series, which aired on daytime television from 1966-'71, has mostly slipped out of the mainstream collective consciousness, though it retains its share of die-hard devotees who fondly recall its strange mingling of soap-opera melodrama and horror-flick characters and occurrences.
“It's a tricky tone. I mean, we all recognized that when we talked about ‘Dark Shadows,' part of its appeal was the weird nature of all the elements that went into it. You know, it was very serious, but it was on in the afternoon on a daily basis,” Burton said.
“The weirdest challenge was to get the kind of acting tone, the kind of soap opera nature of the tone, which like I said, is a weird thing to go for in a Hollywood movie.”
Although his character's look and behavior is more Nosferatu than Edward Cullen, Depp, 48, said his primary inspiration was Jonathan Frid's original turn as Barnabas. The Canadian actor, along with his “Dark Shadows” castmates Lara Parker, Kathryn Leigh Scott and David Selby, visited the set and filmed cameos in a party scene before Frid's death in April at the age of 87.
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Travel and accommodations provided by Warner Bros.