Johnny Depp's true 'Dark Shadows' vampire revealed! -- EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK

Photo by Leah Gallo

Behold the real visage of Johnny Depp’s vampire from Dark Shadows!

Last week, long-range paparazzi shots of the actor wearing ghostly white makeup, large sunglasses and a pulled down fedora made fans of the original 1966-71 supernatural soap opera bristle nervously, with complaints he looked simply too strange.

Nevermind that he’s playing a 200-year-old vampire, which is strange enough.

As you can see from this cast shot, Depp’s bloodsucking pater familias Barnabas Collins actually borrows heavily from the aged-little boy look of original Dark Shadows star Jonathan Frid — not that anyone would be happy to see this guy show up as your prom date either.

Still, this official First Look may reassure those die-hard fans of the original series, memorably offbeat ABC daytime drama about a vampire whose extended family are bedeviled by ghosts, witches, and other gothic woes.

Depp, who fought for years to make this movie, is one of those fans. “I do remember, very vividly, practically sprinting home from school in the afternoon to see Jonathan Frid play Barnabas Collins,” the actor says. “Even then, at that age, I knew — this has got to be weird.”

Weird certainly sums up this particular family portrait — a shot director Tim Burton, who also obsessed over Dark Shadows as a boy, staged in the early days of production.

“I remember seeing a group photograph of the cast of the original series,” he tells EW. “For me it captured the weird Dark Shadows vibe in a single image. I had a brief window of opportunity to have our cast present at the same time, the day before principle photography began. We decided to stage a similar picture instead of rehearsing, to see if we captured the Dark Shadows feeling.”

Here’s who those family members are, one by one.

Barnabas Collins (Depp) — He was an 18th century gentleman, a businessman just before the Revolutionary War, who was transformed against his will into a vampire and buried in a tomb for two centuries. After he finally emerges, uncovered by construction workers in the year 1972, he seeks out his descendants — as well as some long-ago foes and a possible lost love.

“He’s been alive this whole time and very hungry, with no idea what’s going on outside,” says screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith (author of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which Burton is producing as a film.)

Barnabas is one vampire who is just as frightened of our times as we are of him, says producer Richard D. Zanuck: “Two-hundred years later, he’s suddenly walking into the town he saw being built and seeing girls in skirts, cars for the first time. It’s a man-out-of-time, supernatural horror story, but I put ‘horror’ in quotes.”

Despite his confusion, he’s still a ladies man. “In some sense he can be a terrifying killer; on the other hand, women have a weakness for him and he has a weakness for women,” Grahame-Smith says. “He can be a very well-mannered, well-meaning vampire most of the time, until his stomach is empty or someone challenges his beloved Collins family.”

Here’s that family, from left to right:

Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) – From Alice in Wonderland’s Red Queen, to the cannibalistic cook Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Burton can’t help but cast the mother of his children as a deranged person. This prim and proper psychiatrist, who has taken up residence with the Collins family to care for their troubled youngest boy, might seem to break that trend — but don’t bet on it. “Dr. Hoffman’s been there for years, working with David [the little boy in the photo] but not making any progress. He still claims he sees ghosts and talks with his dead mother,” Grahame-Smith says. “She’s crazy but brilliant. Obviously she’s an eccentric, and definitely likes a drink or two. She’s definitely a little bit off her rocker, and is a woman with a lot of secrets herself.” The writer teases: “She’ll also become interested in Barnabas in more than one way. “

Carolyn Stoddard (Chloë Moretz) — Though she played a voracious child vampire in the acclaimed (but little seen) Let Me In, Moretz is on the human side of the spectrum in Dark Shadows — though that doesn’t mean this cousin of young David Collins (and daughter of Michelle Pfeiffer’s character, seen on the far right) isn’t without her own peculiarities. “Carolyn is your typical early-1970s teenager,” Grahame-Smith says. “She likes her music and likes her magazines, and does not like anyone in her family. She likes to keep her door closed and keep to herself. She’s pretty normal, but appearances can be deceiving. I wouldn’t say there is a normal person in this photo.”

Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green) — The Bond girl from Casino Royale turns up here as the villain of the story. “Angelique is a witch who has known Barnabas since the 1700s, when they had an affair that went sour. She is the one who cursed him to be a vampire and locked him in that box,” Grahame-Smith says. “Since he has been away, Angelique has made it her life’s mission to destroy the Collins family. So when Barnabas turns up again after all these years, she’s not very happy to see him.”

David Collins (Gulliver McGrath) — Lonely, confused, and neglected by his pompous father (Jonny Lee Miller, over on the right next to Pfeiffer), David has no one to confide in except his bizarre psychiatrist — and the dead people he claims to see. Grahame-Smith describes him as “a sweet, curious, precocious little boy whose family has branded him as slightly crazy.” Then he finally gets a new caretaker to look after him …

Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote) — This young woman arrives to become David’s new governess, only to find herself swept up in the vampire-witch melodrama. “When Barnabas meets Victoria, he’s instantly reminded of the woman he lost in the 1700s, before he was cursed to be a vampire,” Grahame-Smith says. “I wouldn’t say he falls in love with her, but there’s an instant attraction, an instant connection.” Is she the reincarnation of his doomed lover Josette du Pres? “We get the sense at the beginning she has a secret past, and that’s unraveled as it goes on,” the screenwriter says.

Mrs. Johnson (Ray Shirley) — “Poor old Mrs. Johnson …” Grahame-Smith sighs when talk turns to the old woman seated in the back behind Depp. “She is the mostly blind, mostly deaf maid, who has been with them for decades and decades. You might find her polishing a piece of silverware with a slab of baloney because she thinks it’s a polishing cloth. I don’t think she actually says anything in the entire film. She’s just sort of there.” He laughs: “Adding her was Tim’s idea.”

Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley) — How awesome is it to play an actual Groundskeeper Willie? The Oscar-nominee for Little Children is a slightly more competent servant than Mrs. Johnson, but that’s not saying much. “He’s the guy who takes out the trash, mows the lawns, and fixes the cars, except he’s usually so drunk and so disinterested that he doesn’t take his job seriously anymore,” Grahame-Smith says. “The lawn is overgrown, the house has fallen into disrepair, and all the cars are on cinder blocks. His heart’s definitely not in the job anymore.”

Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller) — This scion of the once-great Collins family is one of the main reasons the aristocratic clan has fallen into such disgrace. “He’s a creepy, self-centered guy who likes to order Willie around, likes to pretend the family is still on top of his game,” Grahame-Smith says. Not only is he a bad father to David, but he is a poor manager of whatever meager wealth the family retains. “When Barnabas shows up and has some very specific ideas about how to make things right, he’s obviously going to bump heads with Roger Collins.”

Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) — The mother of Carolyn Stoddard, and mother-figure to David, she’s the one adult member of the Collins clan who is at least slightly competent. “Elizabeth is the rock of the family. She’s the matriarch,” Grahame-Smith says. “She’s the keeper of the Collins history, and a fierce protector of what remains of her family. She’s the one that insists on the best care for the children, even though money isn’t what it used to be. She’s a very strong woman who unfortunately has been dealt a very difficult deck.” With a witch perpetually trying to destroy her, and a long lost vampire relative turning up to reclaim control, “there’s just too much for her to handle,” Grahame-Smith says.

When the movie opens May 11, we’ll see how she holds up.

Follow Anthony Breznican on Twitter: @Breznican

Read more:
Johnny Depp on ‘Dark Shadows': Can a vampire get corn stuck in his fangs?
Johnny Depp is ready to sink his fangs into Tim Burton’s ‘Dark Shadows’
Johnny Depp’s Signature Roles

Comments (402 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2 3 17
  • UGH

    The real star is Jackie Earle Haley!

    • abadstroller

      My aunt loved this show when I was growing up. DS scared me and fascinated me. The one character from the original show that sticks with me today is Barnabas Collins. This new version looks like freaky wild fun!

      • ChaCha

        I loved this show too when it was a soap back in the day. No other soap ever came close, tho’ some tried. Dark Shadows was one creepy soap opera. When Barnabas brought Angelique back from the grave, it scare me so badly that I hid from the television set!

      • Tam

        I watched that show as a young child and when reruns came on of Ds, My eyes were glued to the tube. Almost literally! My mom watched it with me too! I’ll admit that photo of johnny is a bit daf! I’m willing to give the movie a shot!!Both Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are fans of the show. If yA have the $$ why not try to re-make a great show! Remember its all interpretion of the actors and directors! I will go see it! Hey, I’ll be the first one to say if it was a thumbs up or a thumbs down! Give it a chance! DS- and it’s actors and catchy music will always be in my soul! I adore the ds theme!! (I can just here it and see Collinwood The waves and ocean crashing around it!!). Sighs,let the show start in may!!!!

    • Nita

      You too, just like Daji & Becca

      This board is not for trying to “sell” your website, or a site you may be involved with. This board is for posting comments regarding Dark Shadows ONLY. Your comment should be removed. We don’t know you, we don’t know your best friend, and we don’t care! Go TROLL somewhere else, but stay off this board.

    • Nita

      What is wrong with you people!

      This board is not for trying to “sell” your website, or a site you may be involved with. This board is for posting comments regarding Dark Shadows ONLY. Your comment should be removed. We don’t know you, we don’t know your best friend, and we don’t care! Go TROLL somewhere else, but stay off this board.

    • di

      you need to be on the correct web-site, this isn’t for the love-lorn or singles-matchup, it’s concerning Dark Shadows ONLY

    • di

      first Depp, then Jackie Earl Haley, he is one of my very favorites!!! I HATE that Human Target got cancelled. The romance between Chance * Ilsa was great but the younger girl was unnessary.

      • Jose

        nevnearaj8d on October 24, 2011 if you want a free hd tv go to this link , make an accout, complete any one offer from the list and get the no. of referrals they tell you and you are done your TV will be on its way!hdtv(.)freebiejeebies(.)co(.)uk/22496 (remove the ()’s)please use the exact link and help me to get referrals!

    • SBubba

      This is a great cast and should be fun for people who liked the show. Burton is the perfect director to keep and enhance the mood.
      I remember running home from school as a kid to watch this. It was on at 4pm and the Flintstones at 4:30. That hour was my favorite part of the day. I haven’t ever seen DS reruns so I am looking forward to it.

      • Jackie

        Wait, wait, wait.
        First, no need for Quentin (and that’s closer to episode 657 you’re thinking of him showing up in kids, not all the way in the 1100s. What’s missing from this era is Joe Haskell (RIP Joel Crothers). Are you all missing the giant plot issues? Roger never ran the Collins enterprises; Elizabeth was the woman in charge, even if she never did leave the house. Dr. Hoffman was a MD, not a PhD and was originally called in to deal with Maggie Evans’ mental block after her kidnapping, not as David’s shrink (Where is Maggie, btw?). WILLIE unearthed Barnabas, not construction workers. Mrs. Johnson didn’t lose her mind until David Collins and Amy Jennings drove her out of it (at Quentin’s bidding). And if you’re in need of a DS fix until May, Netflix it.

      • justjohn

        Well, the thing to keep in mind, both narratively and meta-narratively, is that this is just another alternate timeline, relative to the series (just as the series itself had multiple timelines, simultaneously), so while we all may miss Quentin, the movie really is about Barnabas… of course, if the movie does *really* well (and a May 11th lead-in means the powers-that-be are hoping it will do very well), we could possibly have a sequel… One can certainly hope! :)

    • RRR

      Nita… and everyone…
      Those link posters are NOT ‘people’… they are AD-BOTS. So IGNORE them… better yet message the webmaster to clean up their board.

    • Diana

      I am so Happy they are doing a remake of this show it is a old time favorite. can’t wait and johnny Depp as Barnabus .

  • Marcie

    Waah! Where’s Quentin Collins? I realize he came on the show later, but I was in love with him. Aah, dear Quentin…..

    • znachki

      That was my first reaction too! What – no Quentin??

    • Mia

      I agree, Marcie.

      When I saw SOCIAL NETWORK for the first time and the lawyer for the Winklevii twins appeared, first thing I thought was “QUENTIN COLLINS!!!” David Selby may have aged handsomely, but he will always be QUENTIN COLLINS

      • Lisa Simpson

        He has aged well, hasn’t he? He was also in an episode of Mad Men. Quentin was always my favorite, and I do hope there’s a sequel so that we get his story. Though nobody could match David Selby.


        I agree with Lisa Simpson.dAVID IS DOING A WALK ON IN THE MOVIE .

      • Troy

        The movie is going to based on the story of Barnabas Collins and how he came to be a vampire.

        I don’t know how close to the series the movie is going to follow but I suspect that much of the movie will be based upon the Barnabas – Angelique – Josette love triangle

        Quentin Collins didn’t made an appearance in the series at this point, (his first appearance was episode 1109 in the series). If there is a second Dark Shadows movie we Quentin would probably show up in that one (if not the next one)

      • Julie

        OMG! Quentin! I kissed his poster so much that I wore off his mouth!! LOL! Did any of you have the “DS” Album? I still have it and the book Kathryn Leigh Scott wrote about “our” show! Yep, and ran home from Junior HS every day to watch it. Was sad when SciFy stopped playing it. C’mon cable; someone pick it up again before the movie comes out !

      • Teresa Lewis Watts

        Yes, where is Quentin Collins? It won’t feel the same as the show I rushed home from school to see if David Selby’s character isn’t in it! David Selby will always be the epitome of Quentin Collins for me (sigh). I recall having dreams about Quentin as a kid! Hope there’s a sequel that includes Quentin—perhaps after the new version of “Fright Night”, Colin Farrell could play Quentin—nice pun with his first name, too! :)

    • Mary

      I want to know : What about Jerimah Collins, why isn’t he in the remake?

      • RRR


    • Sandy

      sI hear you. David Selby was the best in that role (I had a big crush at the time), and what a role it was. Too bad the character, Quentin, is missing!

      • UGH

        People. People.
        That’s what sequels are for.

      • bmj2k

        It isn’t as bad as you think, Selby, Frid, and some other orignial members have cameos, though probably not as family members.

      • FilmAlicia

        David Selby had a good supporting role in “The Social Network” in case you missed it.

    • Donna

      I just saw on that Selby will be in this movie. It doesn’t give his character’s name though. At least you’ll get your Selby fix. ;o)

      • Troy

        David Selby’s role is unknown but it has been reported that it will be a cameo appearance, as well as Jonathon Frid (Barnabas), Lara Parker (Angelique) and Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie, Josette and more).

        This was reported at the San Diego Comic Con earlier this year.

      • MLF

        Ok, so for that longest time. I larecl visiting a tall dark estimate my parents house. It might always pass on my attention after i was cleanin my face within the bathroom or after i is at my bed room. I larecl always hearing something strange pre and post. I can not larecl the sounds though. But somebody explained that seeing exactly the same shadow for several years means something. What could it mean/be??

    • meinnyc

      Hahahaha….Quentin Collins….LOL….LOVED this Show, as a kid….did the same thing…ran home to see

      They’re also forgetting another MAIN Character…lol…That HOUSE…and the Killa Creepy Music…lol…it BETTA be in the Film, it’s essential….LOL…

      • TOM

        That house was great, they did location shots at Lyndhurst castle in Tarrytown NY

    • di

      yes, we want a really great Quentin, I was so in love with him & the Victoria love match, e, my cousins watched this show religiously, We got into playing only Dark Shadows, I hnad made period costumes for our Barbies & Kens, drew the proper ahir of fangs on the faces, we had a doll for each & every character & still talk about how much fun we had as kids playing this!

      • Jorge

        wweacian on October 25, 2011 Come on, boy. Hold on to that hat! Run forit, boy! Run straight home and don’t stop ’til you getthere!

    • romma

      They may be saving him for the sequel…

    • Shadows of the Night

      Let’s hope this movie is so successful, t here are many sequels to come that will include Quentin.


    Michelle looks oddly like Sandra Bullock.

  • lauren

    can’t wait…i love johnny depp, tim burton and helena bonham carter!

  • Yoda’s House of Pancakes

    Michelle Pfeiffer looks a bit like Pam from True Blood.

    • SirLizard

      I knew she reminded me of someone in this pic. You are SO right… that’s who I was trying to think of.

    • Sarah

      i thought that was who it was!

    • emjay

      Yes! That’s it!

    • kate middleton

      TOTALLY. I thought it was Kristin Bauer-van Straten at first.

    • Delon


      The 5 of you are the dumbest b****es ever that have walked the earth.

      • diana

        Whow you are one mean person. They are dogs they are ladies, but you are a ##$@*

      • Delons MoM

        Don’t forget me! Even though you are the abortion that got away, i still love you!

    • Lou

      THAT’S who she looks like! I couldn’t put my finger on it.

    • SBubba

      Agreed. Let’s hope she has half the balls and spunk of Pam in True Blood. That character is hilarious.

  • Bruce Pinkwood

    This film has a stellar cast but I wish it was for a better project.

    • Mandy

      I think it’s a fantastic project

  • Courtney

    This looks so AWESOME!! Can’t wait for the movie!!

  • mage?!

    I am so excited to see this, I hope that they can keep the creepy gothic feel that the series had, the original. Remembering my childhood and this show I vividly recall the tension present in most of scenes, like something unexpected was about to happen, and it most often did. The stories are slow by today’s standards and the NBC remake did not get it right either, so I am curious and excited to get to watch and see what Tim, Johnny and Helena have for us this time, I love the creepy feeling that it had.

    • liz

      “Tension present in the scenes, like something unexpected would happen”. Would that be a boom mike shadow in an actors face, forgotten lines or someone just wandering into a scene that didn’t belong there? That’s what made the show so great, those unexpected moments of hilarity when it all went so wrong. I’m psyched for the movie.

      • Lisa Simpson

        Oh, yes. Is it wrong of me to hope we catch a glimpse of a boom mic or some production assistant walks through a door?

      • Angelique

        and the amazing overacting Grayson Hall who played Dr. Hoffman – my husband and I have some of the tapes and it’s absolutely hysterical to watch her – like a female version of William Shatner during the Star Trek days

      • valjazz

        I’m looking forward to seeing the “Collinsport Fly” land on Barnabas’ forhead!

      • TOM

        How about when Josette goes off the cliff at widows hill and bounces back up into the scene due to the air matress she landed on despite the 1.98 budget they had Dark Shadows still had great stories and kept you on the edge of your seat.

  • Coleman

    @Yo H.O.P — Good call!

    I love Michelle P, and before seeing this picture I had no interest in Dark Shadows at all, but now I’m browsing through Netflix to brush up on it before the film!

  • Sheila G

    I can’t wait for this!

    • Grandma B

      Me either! I simply cannot wait. I am calling all my friends so we can go together. What fun! Something GOOD to look forward to!

  • Miss M.

    Finally there’s a cast portrait! Can’t wait for this movie!

  • WeHaveToGoBaaack

    Michelle Pfeiffer could nearly be Johnny Lee Miller’s mom.

    • Delon

      The age difference between the two is 14 years.

  • JLC

    Funny, but it looks like a shot that could have been taken of the original 60s cast. Hopefully it will calm the haters (but probably not).

    • Sue1

      The fact that “it looks like a shot that could have been taken of the original 60s cast” actually makes me a little sad.

      • JLC

        Why? It shows they’re going for understated and Gothic, rather than over-the-top Burton excess, which is what people were fearing. More Sleepy Hollow than Alice in Wonderland, as it were. I think that’s a good thing.

      • Sue1

        I know, there really are no new ideas, every story has been told before so what’s wrong with a remake every once in a while, or every other week. You’re also correct, if it’s going to happen, it’s good to see it’s going to be a Gothic tale. However, it just seems to be all about the money, cashing in on a very popular genre. Burton’s original films are wonderful, I wish he’d return to his own ideas.

      • Mohammad

        tpgireawable on November 7, 2011 Not to be a troll, but in my PERSONAL opinion I think neopets is funner when you don’t cheat ever 8 seconds. Its funner earning the Neopoints.

    • kate middleton

      I agree with Sue1 – I think that’s what makes it look awesome. Plus, it’s set in 72 so it needs to look somewhat realistic to that time period.

      I’ve never seen Dark Shadows, but my mom loved it as a teen. I can’t wait for this movie.

  • Katarina

    another Burton Trio movie never fails.. can’t wait for it!

    • diana

      Me either I use to run home to watch Dark Shadows after school I had a crush on Barnabas Collins lucky for me Johnny Depp is a wonderful replacement.

  • LucyLoo

    I totally thought Michelle Pfeiffer was Kate Vernon in that pic. I can’t actually remember the last thing I saw Pfeiffer in, but I always thought she was good. I’m looking forward to this.

    • Lois

      Pheiffer is a terrific actress who doesn’t work enough.

      • Lois

        oops! It’s Pfeiffer. My bad.

      • Jennifer

        420greyfox on August 24, 2011 is a REAL place to earn cash in your pp account and points to spend on amazon products. Get clothing, electronics, ANYTHING! ? wont you join me?


      If you haven’t seen Michelle Pfeiffer in Stardust from 2007 where she plays a soul eating witch or HAIRSPRAY ( the mom from HELL) from that same year than you are missing some great performances from her.

      • Tom

        Agreed. Strange that Pfeiffer, one of the most beautiful and talented actresses, is also one of the most underrated actresses.

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