Johnny Depp makes creatures of the night erotic again

Depp brings his charismatic vampire into focus.

Aside from being a huge fan of the original 1960s TV series, there was another reason Johnny Depp was so keen to team up with Tim Burton for “Dark Shadows” — about a dysfunctional New England family with a vampire patriarch played by Depp. The star had noticed a troubling trend in the depiction of vampires thanks to the popularity of the “Twilight” series. “I think it was during ‘Sweeney Todd’ where I think I just blurted out in mid-conversation, ‘God, maybe we should do a vampire movie together where you actually have a vampire that looks like a vampire,’” Depp remembers.

Depp and Burton — who have teamed up on eight films now — share an appreciation for the darker elements of horror.

“As a child … I certainly had this fascination with monsters and vampires as did Tim and whatever this darkness, this mystery,” Depp explains. “Then, as you get older, you recognize the erotic nature of the vampire and the idea of the undead.”

So what does a vampire look like, according to Depp and Burton? Pale skin and fangs, to be sure — but Depp also had to don elaborate prosthetics to give his fingers an extra joint, plus long, pointy fingernails.

“In every film that I’ve been lucky enough to do with Tim, there’s always some form of torture, and the nails were Tim’s idea,” Depp says. “But it was OK, because I had a troop of people who would help me go to the bathroom. They had to have treatment afterwards but they’re OK now.”

And then there are the teeth. The film finds Depp’s Barnabas Collins awakening in 1972 after being interred for 200 years. Needless to say, he’s a bit caught off-guard — but nearly as much as the poor construction workers that find him.

“I felt as though I was biting one of the Village People,” Depp says of his first onscreen kill as a vampire. “When you had the fangs in, you wanted to be a little bit careful that you didn’t actually pierce the jugular, kind of like my experience shaving Alan Rickman [in 'Sweeney Todd'] — which, by the way, neither of us want to do again — especially Alan.”

Staying in character

Captain Jack Sparrow. Sweeney Todd. Edward Scissorhands. Over the course of his 28-year career in film, Johnny Depp has collected an array of oddball alter-egos. What if he could pick one to inhabit for the rest of his life?
   
“Wow,” he says, giving the idea some serious consideration. “Probably the Earl of Rochester.” Depp is referring to a rather bold performance in his lesser-known 2004 film, “The Libertine,” in which he starred as John Wilmot, a 17th-century poet who famously drank and debauched his way to an early grave, dying of syphilis at 33. Nice work if you can get it.



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