Eight movies deep, the Johnny Depp and Tim Burton tag team is still going strong
INDING Halloween costumes is probably not a problem at Johnny Depp’s house. Since his early days in the business, the actor has had it written into his contracts that he’s allowed to keep his wardrobe from movies. He stores the clothes in a personal archive that’s ‘‘properly catalogued, as much as any archive at any studio,’’ says Colleen Atwood, an Oscar-winning costume designer who often works with Depp and director Tim Burton.
Their latest collaboration is Dark Shadows, a new spin on the gothic 1960s TV soap opera about 200-year-old vampire Barnabas Collins with Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard.
Freed from a coffin in 1972, Barnabas helps his family restart their fishing business.
Dark Shadows also casts Chloe Moretz as a bored teenager and Eva Green as an immortal witch who threatens to destroy Barnabas’s family if she can’t have him.
Burton says as a boy, he used to race home from school to watch the show. ‘‘I wasn’t doing my homework. I was watching this weird TV show,’’ he says.
He says he, Depp and Pfeiffer were the only people on set who watched the TV show when it aired from 1966 to 1971.
The film begins in 1760 Liverpool, England, with the Collins family preparing to move to the New World.
After Green condemns him, Depp’s vampire is found buried in his coffin by construction workers. He returns to his family home to find he is living in a different era. At one point, he challenges a neon Mcdonald’s sign.
He vows to restore his family to its former glory, but Green’s fatal attraction threatens to stand in the way as she declares: ‘‘If I can’t love you, I will destroy you and your family.’’
Rocker Alice Cooper – who Depp declares ‘‘the ugliest woman I’ve ever seen’’ – has a cameo.
As in other Burton films, Depp almost disappears beneath layers of fabric and makeup to become Barnabas.
‘‘At our first fitting, we all got together and we put the fingers on and the costume and the wig and then Johnny started gleefully running around the house hiding in dark corners and Tim was taking pictures of him,’’ Atwood says.
Like the character in the original series, Depp’s Barnabas is always impeccably dressed.
‘‘He wasn’t a casual guy. He was a gentleman from another time, so he wasn’t someone who hung around in a T-shirt and jeans,’’ Atwood says. The wig was inspired by the Barnabas from the original series (played by Jonathan Frid). On days of heavy action, Depp’s bangs were held in place with glue.
Multiple sets of fangs were made for the film’s star – some shorter, some longer, some curved. One set worked by dropping into place whenever Depp opened his mouth.
Joel Harlow, Depp’s longtime (and Oscar-winning) makeup artist, says Burton thought it was crucial Depp’s Barnabas had long fingernails.
‘‘Tim wanted Barnabas to be tactile. His hands sort of lead the way, like they’re feeling things out,’’ Harlow says.
Depp and Burton first collaborated in 1990’s Edward Scissorhands. They also worked together on Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd, and Ed Wood, among other films.
Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins in
Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard.