Kw-logo-smaller

Dark Shadows: Johnny Depp “Vamps” It Up

May 09, 2012

By: Lynn Barker

Captain Jack, Edward Scissorhands, The Mad Hatter, Sweeny Todd, the voice of Rango and many more. Uber-talented Johnny Depp makes us believe anything is possible and takes us along for the wild ride. His new turn as stranger-in-a-strange-land vampire Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows is no exception. 

Maybe your parents or even grandparents watched a melodramatic, moody, romantic late 1960’s/early ‘70’s daytime TV series called “Dark Shadows”. This show marked the first time vampires, ghosts, witches etc. were on TV on a regular basis, long before today’s “The Vampire Diaries, “TrueBlood”, “Teen Wolf” and many more.

Johnny Depp was a teeny boy back then but he remembers watching the show and loving it. So does his director/pal Tim Burton.  They decided to bring back the story of the Collins family, witches curses, stolen true love and family patriarch Barnabas Collins who believes in family loyalty above all. 

This quirky, gallows humor/melodrama film, set in the 1970’s, was Johnny’s idea. He wanted to play Barnabas since he was a tiny kid.

  • Johnny: Just a wee tyke. It’s true.

Johnny's Barnabas posterJohnny's Barnabas poster

Kidzworld: You are also a producer on the film. Talk about that and how you got Tim Burton onboard to direct you as Barnabas.

  • Johnny: It’s almost impossible to consider myself a producer. I can barely produce an English muffin in the morning. But, as a fan of the TV show, I think it was during making Sweeney Todd where I just blurted out in mid conversation, “You know, we should do a vampire movie together. You know, where you actually have a vampire that looks like a vampire (not like gorgeous Edward Cullen)”. It was kind of a rebellion against vampires that look like underwear models and stuff. Dark Shadows was kind of looming on the edges. Then Tim and I started talking about it.

Kidzworld: How does Barnabas fit in your gallery of very weird, offbeat characters that you’ve played? And what did you find is the key to playing him? 

  • Johnny: I wanted Barnabas to come across as this very elegant, upper echelon sort of well-schooled kind of gentleman who was cursed in the 18th Century and was brought back to probably the most surreal era of our time, the 1970s. How would he react to how radically different things were? Not just with regard to technology and automobiles and such. But I mean actual items of enjoyment for people.

Kidzworld: Like?

  • Johnny:  Like pet rocks and fake flowers and plastic fruit and Troll dolls, lava lamps and lime green leisure suits and Earth shoes. Yeah. Just weird things that, you know. they didn’t make sense then and still don’t. Oh and macramé owls...they’re my favorite.

Barnabas with witchy Angelique
 

Kidzworld: Fun toys. So, you were directed in a music video by Sir Paul McCartney the famous Beatle. (Johnny used American sign language along with Natalie Portman for the beautiful “My Valentine”. He also played guitar). What was that like?

  • Johnny: I’ve known McCartney on and off over the years and ran into him and then he gave me a call and asked if I would be interested in being in his video. “Certainly. Let’s do it”. It was a yes. I had to learn the sign language thing, which apparently, I don’t know. I think sign language is not rote and it’s all kind of different. And apparently, instead of “love” I think I might have signed “murder”. But I was only copying what the guy showed me. So, track him down.

Kidzworld: What is so temping about vampires that made you want to play one?

  • Johnny: It’s a strange thing because, as a child, I certainly had a fascination with monsters and vampires, as did Tim. Whatever this darkness, this mystery, this intrigue is, as you get older, you sort of recognize the erotic nature of the vampire and the idea of the undead. What was most interesting in terms of Barnabas was the idea of the combination. It was a real challenge, but probably more for Tim than me. We wanted to make sure that this guy, clearly a vampire, fit back into this odd society and his dysfunctional family.

Kidzworld: Was your first “bite” as a vampire fun? How was that to maneuver?

  • Johnny: When I had the fangs in you wanted to be a little bit careful that you didn’t actually pierce the jugular. It was kind of like my experience shaving Alan Rickman, (while playing a barber in Sweeney Todd) which by the way neither of us wants to do again, especially Alan.

Johnny's Barnabas

Kidzworld: What about Barnabas’s cool costumes and your make-up?

  • Johnny: Generally, when you do a movie, depending on the character there’s some degree of make-up involved especially when you’re a vampire; all white and kind of dead. Colleen Atwood (Oscar-winning costume designer), with her amazing eye and incredible taste, has a real magic.

As soon as you don that armor that she’s created, the character starts to come alive so it’s almost like working from the outside in, in a sense. You put on this “suit” that you stand or walk a certain way in. The cane was one of the leftover things from the TV series. Pretty much the same design. It’s not a silver-tipped cane because (as a vampire), my hand would have burst into flames!

Kidzworld: You brought on a lot of the original TV cast as party guests briefly. Talk about that.

  • Johnny: It was great for Tim to bring them into the fold, as our way of saluting them. Jonathan Frid (who played the original Barnabas) was terrific. He had written me a letter a couple of years before and signed a photo to me sort of passing the baton to Barnabas which I thought was very sweet.  He had his original Barnabas cane and I wasn’t sure that he wasn’t going to attack me with it when he saw me but he didn’t. 

Kidzworld: Johnny you look so young in your films. Do you have a deal with the devil?

  • Johnny: You’re missing the point. I AM the devil and I’ve been sleeping under your couch for months! (laughter)

Kidzworld: Yikes! Hey, come out from under there and visit! Okay let’s ask the important stuff. Going to the bathroom with those long, spiky vampire nails on.. difficult?

  • Johnny: In every film I’ve been lucky enough to do with Tim, there’s always some form of torture and the nails were Tim’s idea and the length of the fingers too but it was okay because I had a troupe of people who would help me go to the bathroom. That is true.

 

 

>
>

readers voted!

Comments

girlzombie

girlzombie wrote:

i really wanna see REALLY wanna see this movie it looks halarious!And i love johnny dep...
commented: Mon Jun 04, 2012

justinbiebercupcake
Omg!! I Cabot wait to see this movie!!!! It seems so funny
commented: Thu May 31, 2012

geraldine10054
i hate him
commented: Thu May 17, 2012

there are 31 more comments

Please login or register to add comments

share with your friends


Twitter Facebook Myspace Digg


like this article?
Sign up now to get more just like!

latest videos

F1121120501515

Fave Johnny Depp Movie?

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • Edward Scissorhands.
  • I don't like Johnny Depp.

related stories

Micro_pre-chloe
We’re asking the femme stars of the campy horror flick a few Q’s
Micro_piratesofthecaribbean4-micro
Johnny Depp is back as Jack Sparrow alongside a new cast of characters in the fourth instalment o...
Micro_depp_micro
Check out this Q&A with Johnny Depp, who plays the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonder...
From swashbucking pirate to eccentric chocolateir, Johnny Depp has done it all. Get the 411 on th...

Entertainment in the forums

Kiken
Kiken posted in TV Shows:
Degrassi!
reply about 1 hour
Pokemaster235
Pokemaster235 posted in Movies:
Nosferatu, an ACTUAL vampire movie! That's right, they KNEW what a vampire was... *cough*85yearsago*cough*.
reply about 2 hours
Duma
Duma posted in TV Shows:
I like P.P.L It's so freagin awesome!!!
reply about 6 hours
astronaut18
Q. What has a face and two hands but no arms or legs? A. A clock! Q. What is the easiest way to double your money? A. Put it in front of the mirror of course! Q. What has a thumb and four fingers but is not alive? A. A glove. Q. What has to be broken before you can use it? A. An egg. Q. What has a neck but no head? A. A bottle. Q. What gets wetter as it dries? A. A towel. Q. What goes up and doesn’t come back down? A. Your age. Q. What belongs to you but is used more by others? A. Your name. Q. Everyone has it and no one can lose it, what is it? A. A shadow. Q. It's been around for millions of years, but it's no more than a month old. What is it? A. The moon.
reply about 9 hours
astronaut18
Q: What did the ground say to the earthquake? A: You crack me up! Q: Why did the music teacher need a ladder? A: To reach the high notes. Q: What's the worst thing you're likely to find in the school cafeteria? A: The Food! Q: What kind of plates do they use on Venus? A: Flying saucers! Q: Why did nose not want to go to school? A: He was tired of getting picked on! Q: How do you get straight A's? A: By using a ruler! Q: What did the pen say to the pencil? A: So, what's your point! Q: Why did the kid study in the airplane? A: Because he wanted a higher education! Q: How did the music teacher get locked in the classroom? A: His keys were inside the piano! Q: What do elves learn in school? A: The elf-abet! Q: What did you learn in school today? A: Not enough, I have to go back tomorrow! Q: What holds the sun up in the sky? A: Sunbeams! Q: What object is king of the classroom? A: The ruler! Q: When do astronauts eat? A: At launch time! Q: What did the pencil sharpener say to the pencil? A: Stop going in circles and get to the point! Q: How does the barber cut the moon's hair? A: E-clipse it! Q: What happened when the wheel was invented? A: It caused a revolution! Q: What do librarians take with them when they go fishing? A: Bookworms Q: What is the world's tallest building? A: The library because it has the most stories. Q: What vegetables to librarians like? A: Quiet peas. Q: Why did the clock in the cafeteria run slow? A: It always went back four seconds. Q: Why didn't the sun go to college? A: Because it already had a million degrees!
reply about 9 hours

play online games

Candy-100

A great online version of the famous Candy Crush. This is the best game launched...

1515_gl_kidzworld_100x100_jpg_fz

Intriguing planets, weird and wonderful characters; challenge friends and find a...

157262_(2)

When you go back to Candyland, you’ll wonder why you ever left in the first plac...

100x100_ra_logo_girl

Uncle George has left you his farm, but unfortunately it’s in pretty bad shape. ...

_thumb_100x100

Shoot blobs with different properies to merge yellow blobs. Your blobs can be re...