The new $125 million “Dark Shadows” film got its start when Johnny Depp wondered if he and director Tim Burton could make “a vampire movie together where you have a vampire that looks like a vampire, not an underwear model.”
Both Depp and Burton were childhood fans of “Dark Shadows,” television’s Gothic afternoon soap that ran from 1966 to ’71 and introduced vampire Barnabas Collins, buried for two centuries.
Burton’s “Dark Shadows” is set in 1972 and finds Barnabas meeting Collins descendants: Michelle Pfeiffer’s steely matriarch; Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz), her rebellious 15-year-old; Roger (Jonny Lee Miller), her idiot brother; and David- (Gulliver McGrath), Roger’s mother-less son.
“As a child, I had this fascination with monsters and vampires, as did Tim,” Depp mused during a packed press conference Sunday at the SLS hotel in Los Angeles.
“Whatever this darkness, this mystery, this intrigue, as you get older you recognize the eroticism and this idea of the undead.”
His Barnabas Collins is ghostly white and walks stiffly, as if he is battling rigor mortis.
“What I wanted was this very elegant, upper echelon, well-schooled kind of gentleman who was cursed in the 18th century and brought back to the most surreal era of our times, the 1970s.
“And see how he would react to things and how radically different things were, not just through technology” — like cars, TV and paved roads — “but items of enjoyment for people like Pet Rocks, fake flowers, Troll dolls and lava lamps.”
“The important things in life,” Burton noted.
As for his first fang foray, Depp’s Barnabas rises from his coffin killing construction workers.
We’ll go back to the erotic nature of vampire,” Depp said, smiling. “I felt I was biting one of the Village People, a big, sweaty stunt man.
“When I had the fangs in,” he added,- “you wanted to be a little careful you didn’t pierce the jugular.”
The film, which opens May 11, also stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Eva Green, Chloe Moretz, Bella Heathcote, Thomas McDonell and Gulliver McGrath.