tim burton dark shadows Tim Burton Interview For Dark Shadows

Director Tim Burton brings the cult classic series ‘Dark Shadows’ to the big screen featuring an all-star cast, led by Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter. In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is 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. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harbouring their own dark secrets. ’Dark Shadows’ stars Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Bella Heathcote, Chloe Moretz and Gulliver McGrath.  The film is released in cinemas May 11th.

What was it about the ‘Dark Shadows’ series that inspired you to bring it to the big screen?

Tim Burton: It should have sent me away from it (laughs), because it’s not the most logical thing to bring to the screen. Part of what I loved about the series was the strangeness of it, you know? The weird phenomenon of it. Part of it was the time, being a weird teenager at the time and going home to watch this strange supernatural show. It’s more about a feeling than actually remaking it. So we just tried to capture the weird, soap opera style and acting of it. It was a strange thing to try to do (laughs). You try to pick projects that are close to your heart, you take something that is meaningful in your life. It’s less about remaking something and more about trying to capture a spirit of something that had a lot of impact for you.

A big part of this film is the dysfunctional family dynamic….

Tim Burton: That’s one of the things I loved about this. Families are just such a strange thing. I mean, for me it doesn’t matter if people are rich or poor, whatever nationality, all families have a strange dysfunctional thing to them….good families, bad families, there’s always a twisted element to them. Which is one of the reasons I wanted to do this, it explores the weird natures of what families are – any family. I always thought my friends families were much better than mine, then you kind of dig into the surface and it’s like they’re all weird (laughs).

tim burton dark shadows 2 Tim Burton Interview For Dark Shadows

This is your eighth collaboration with Johnny Depp, I can imagine when you’ve worked with someone that many times there still must be an element of surprise?

Tim Burton: Oh yeah, we wouldn’t be working together still if it didn’t have that element. I think that’s important for both of us. I think with anyone you work with more than once or twice, it’s always important to keep in that working relationship a sense of surprise. So I think that element is really important for both of us, and for any collaboration, you’ve got to keep that, it keeps it interesting.

I could see right away that Johnny had a passion for ‘Dark Shadows’ when he came to me, and he really wanted to do it – we’d be talking about doing it for a couple of years, several years. So I knew it was something that was stewing inside of him for a long period of time. And he always puts 100% into his characters, so I was really excited what this one would be, Barnabas Collins, in this absurd time, with this family.

Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard, what qualities did you see in her that made you think she would be the right person for the part?

Tim Burton: I love Eva Green, when I first met her I just thought, “This is it, this is the perfect person.“ She’s got that kind of quality which is good for that character, but is also the kind of quality I like….she’s like an old time movie actor. In this day and age where you know everything about everybody, she’s still got a sense of mystery about her, which is something that is lacking in our modern day and age. It’s something I find quite strong and alluring, that strength of mystery and power. She was fantastic.

You hadn’t worked with Michelle Pfeiffer since ‘Batman Returns,’ how was it working with her again on ‘Dark Shadows’?

Tim Burton: Even before I got really involved with ‘Dark Shadows,’ she called me, I hadn’t worked with her since ‘Batman Returns,’ when she played Catwoman, which was actually one of my favourite performances of anybody I’ve worked with. But I really hadn’t talked to her for a long time, and she called me out of the blue and said, “I heard you might be doing ‘Dark Shadows,’” and she said, “I never do this,” which I know she doesn’t (laughs), “But, I’d be really interested.” So we were really blessed to get her, because like I said, she was somebody who really was into the series, in fact she watched it every morning in the makeup chair. She’d be like, “Look at this one, remember that one?” (Laughs).

The look of the film is striking, how was it for you working on practical sets?

Tim Burton: The house and the environment is a character in it, you know? Collinwood is a character. So it had to go from being a newly built Manor to a decayed Manor….the details of that were really important. Also, after previous movies having worked a lot on green screen, it was nice to work with sets again because it’s not really heavy on special fx. The environment was very important and also I think it helped the actors, in terms of trying to get the right tone. Being on the sets, feeling the textures of rooms, things like that. A project like this where you’re trying to create a weird vibe, and not a lot of the cast knew what ’Dark Shadows’ the series was, it was something the actors and crew could get the vibe off, it’s extremely helpful to have sets.