Johnny Depp on 'Dark Shadows': Can a vampire get corn stuck in his fangs?


Image Credit: PR Photos; Everett Collection

“What I’d like to do with him is maybe stretch him out a bit — in the extreme. Just ever-so-slightly take him a little further, beyond what may be considered… corny.”

Wait, corny?

That’s Johnny Depp talking about his upcoming role as centuries-old, lovelorn vampire Barnabas Collins in Tim Burton’s new take on Dark Shadows.

Remember Dark Shadows?

Maybe it was the original daytime version of the vampire saga. Maybe it was the early ‘90s prime-time reboot. Depp sure remembers it, and now that he’s about to begin work on the big-screen remake, he is reflecting on his boyhood days, running home to see the world’s most peculiar soap opera.

“Barnabas Collins… ” Depp says, wistfully speaking the name of  his character. “I do remember, very vividly, practically sprinting home from school in the afternoon to see Jonathan Frid play Barnabas Collins. Even then, at that age, I knew – this has got to be weird.

The show ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971 with Canadian actor Frid in the lead role. Depp would have been between 3 and 8 years old when it aired. Dark Shadows was known for its cheap, campy effects, and bizarre, supernatural storylines – including ghosts, monsters, and other creatures of the night, beyond vampires — which set it far apart from its rival romance-based daytime dramas.

Then they rebooted it in the early ’90s featuring Ben Cross (and a very young Joseph Gordon-Levitt), though that venture was far more short-lived than Barnabas, enduring only one season.

Depp says his inspiration comes from the original, which had a hand in warping his young mind. “I loved it. I loved the show,” he says. “This soap opera with gothic vampires. I knew, ‘This is not All My Children.’

He even intends to incorporate the show’s goofier aspects. “As naïve as the early, early episodes are, in his approach to Barnabas, Frid was such a striking presence, there’s definitely a sliver of him [in the new version.]” That’s when Depp says those immortal words: “What I’d like to do with him is maybe stretch him out a bit — in the extreme. Just ever so slightly take him a little further, beyond what may be considered … corny.”

Depp explains, laughing: “I’ve always sort of liked that. The idea that maybe you’ve got to go through bad acting to get to what may be really bad acting or — something interesting.”

Hey, it worked for Jack Sparrow, a performance the studio originally hated… until it started making them billions of dollars.

Dark Shadows starts shooting in London next month. It’s expected to hit theaters next year.

For more on Johnny Depp, check out this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now. And for more movie news, follow Anthony Breznican on Twitter @Breznican

Read more:
Johnny Depp in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 4′: This Week’s Cover
Johnny Depp is ready to sink his fangs into Tim Burton’s ‘Dark Shadows’
Johnny Depp’s Signature Roles

Comments (95 total) Add your comment
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  • QJ201


    When the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) ran the series in the early 90s, I taped all the episodes and watched the entire series!

    • lover

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      Have you checked its profits overseas, and in video sales? Tourist is a hit also. Critics missed on that one.

    • john

      Dark Shadows Worst remake ever thanks to Burton and Depp

      What the hell were these two DUMB asses thinking? The worst so call actor and director if you can call them that. Screwing up a great classic story. they can’t make a normal movie no they have to make it look stupid because there to scared to make a great movie. Will anyone ever do it right or is it screwed up forever. i have waited 40 years for someone to redo dark shadows i’d wait 40 more for a good actor and director to do it right.

  • AuntieMM

    This was my friends and my absolute passion in our tween years bad production values and all. It will be interesting to see how Depp does the character. I’m not fond that they cast Nicole Kidman as Elizabeth though.

    • Flip

      They didn’t. They cast Michelle Pfeiffer.

      • AuntieMM

        Thanks for the correction. Next time I’ll check IMDB before relying on my friends.

      • Tom

        Well it sure beats light shadows or blurry hazy grey ones.

    • BlkIrish559

      They didn’t cast Nicole Kidman as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. Michelle Pfiefer has been cast for the role. The same woman who played witches of eastwick, dangerous liasons, I am Sam and Batman. I think she will surprise many when she pulls this role off.

  • Gayle

    A corny Barnabas? What does that even mean?

    • theREALdarkshadows

      Exactly! What the h*ll is he thinking going in that particular direction with this character.

      • Tom

        I think him and jack white should have a wrestling match.

  • jets

    Chloe Moretz will be in this too! So excited!

    • Clark

      Sad but true they don’t look like Johnny Depp. Score one for the Ninjas though. Since their face is ceoervd you can imagine they look like anyone you want. And they probably smell a bit better too. Oh yeah, they don’t talk either another plus. (Pirates 0 Ninjas 1)

  • bob

    i can’t believe they’re ruining this movie with johnny depp. they might as well cast jim carrey and make it a total farce.

    • Marge

      Depp’s a modern-day Midas – every role he touches turns to gold. I’m sure he’ll be fine as Barnabas.

      • Brett

        Riiight. That’s why “The Tourist” was such a huge hit.

      • Soleil

        Have you checked its profits overseas, and in video sales? Tourist is a hit also. Critics missed on that one.

  • sonnie

    Hey ! If it has Johnny Depp in it, I’ll watch it. This great grandmother loves Mr.Depp, no matter what he does. It must be that voice. No Wait ! It must be that smile ! Wait ! I has to be the whole package !

    • Mojo

      Wait. Did you say you’re HIS great grandmother?

      • Cheri

        His great grandmother has been dead for years.

    • Kate

      No, that is not what she said. Sheesh. Reading comprehension anyone?

  • Valerie

    I can’t wait to see my all time favorite actor Johnny Depp – in the Role of my all time favorite Gothic Soap Opera vampire Barnabas Collins. No one is more perfect than Johnny Depp to do this – and as a Dark Shadows fan – I feel quite honored and thrilled to have Johnny Depp bring childhood memories alive once more for all of us who have kept the memories alive in our hearts. Mr. Depp may I please walk the red carpet with you all at the Premier? With heartfelt appreciation for the upcoming Dark Shadows movie starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins!!! Valerie from Boston

  • Dicazi

    In the days before VCRs, I remember making my mother watch Dark Shadows to tell me what happened while I went to summer camp. At the time, I loved it better than Star Trek. I can only hope this is better than the remake of the ’90s. And who’s playing Julia Hoffman?? As important a role as Barnabas.

    • AuntieMM

      Supposedly Helena Bonham-Carter. Bad move..why does Burton have to stick her in everything?

      • @Rip

        cause he is sleeping with her? That and for the same reason he sticks Depp in everything.. cause he thinks they are both talented

      • Dicazi

        Okaaaay……well, I did like both her and Depp in Sweeney Todd.

      • leepinlannie

        ummmmm hes married to her for many years lol

      • Jahangir

        I was taken back by the trailer.I too didn’t want it to be seen as a cemody.But as my husband reminded me,it’s Tim Burton,what do you expect? It took me awhile to get over the long nails. But knowing that Tim & Johnny were fans of the original,they would surely do justice to the movie.I respect them as director & actor respectively.I am still excited as a 16 year old giddy, girl to see the movie. Best thing they could do is show it at midnight when all vampires are out on the prowl !

  • Jeannette

    Please don’t screw it up.

    • Channing Taintum

      It’s Tim Burton, he’ll find a way

  • Linda

    I remember racing home after school to beat my sisters to our tv so I could watch Dark Shadows and deny them The Big Valley. I thought how bad could it be to be a witch if I could be like Angelique – she was my fave.

  • theREALdarkshadows

    Oh dear God Johnny, what are you thinking?Do NOT portray Barnabas Collins as corny or campy. You are missing the point completely dear.
    Frid was elegant and subtle if he was anything, he played vulnerable and violence with equal adeptness.
    Think carefully Johnny. Reflect on how this great character will be portrayed to the original fans if you don’t do DS justice by paying proper homage to the original cast & stories.From frilly pirate to one of Americas most beloved vampires is a wide gulf between the two. Don’t you freaking get that?

    • Kiki

      Good lord, it’s not Hamlet. Lighten up.

      • Nancy Hastings-Trew

        Yes, but please, a little respect…

  • theREALdarkshadows

    “Bad acting” is he seriously commenting on Frids acting style?Johnny Johnny Johnny, try and think before you speak.I’m sure you could have come up with something more positive to say about the original show & cast other than that!

    • theREALdarkshadows

      PS I would have tried to get acor Christian LeBlanc to portray Barnabas if it were my film. Just sayin….

    • Kate

      He wasn’t saying Frid’s acting is bad. Your reading comprehension isn’t on target here.

  • Sebastian

    I loved the original Dark Shadows in the 60’s with Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins and Joan Bennett as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. The 70’s film was awesome. It was based on the 60’s soap with the same cast…I like Johnny Depp and am excited about this movie…I just hope that he does not play it up too campy like they did in the remake of the awful The Stepford Wives with Nicole Kidman. Bad move.

    • queen of disrepair

      Oh no – You have to watch The Stepford Wives remake again. Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick are really wonderful together. It camps out when Glenn Close goes all bahooey but the rest of it holds nicely together. As long as Depp holds Jonathan Frid’s fine line between monster and victim, it will be fine. I am shuddering thinking about Katy Perry wanting to star in a reboot of “Mary Poppins”.

      • Ben

        Glenn Close was the only saving grace of that train wreck.

      • claudenorth

        Sorry, but that Stepford Wives remake was appalling.

  • Ms. Dipesto

    I can’t wait for this! Johnny Depp as Barnabas is genius casting, I can’t think of anyone better to play Barnabas. I am, however, on the fence about Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth. I would have rather seen Susan Sarandon cast in that role.

  • theREALdarkshadows

    PS I would have cast actor Christian LeBlanc in the role of Barnabas if it was my film.he was one of the few actors I can honestly *see* capable of portraying the depth required to cover a character like Barnabas Collins.Watch Mr LeBlancs work on YR daytime soap and you’ll see what I mean.

    • Kiki

      Yeah, we know. You already said that above.

    • Nita

      This movie happens to be Johnny Depp’s project. He approached the folks at Dan Curtis Productions and told them he had always wanted to play Barnabas, and he gave them an overview of his idea for the movie. He got permission from them to do the movie, hence Johnny being cast as Barnabas. It was his idea and they approved it.

      • Linda

        If it was his idea to play the part of Banabs, I hope he does not screw it up. Please have some respect for the original show and cast. Johnny .I hope you can play the part well and dont dress like an idiot ,and not play a corny part and make Barnabas look like an idiot. Some of movies you did Like Willie Wonka, you ruined , I think it could of been better , then original show , Mr. Wilder played a great part, when you played the part I was really looking foward to it, but you ruined it for me. Please dont ruin Dark Shadows.

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