Depp has had a lot of criticism hailed at him in recent years, some even from yours truly, saying that he is getting too comfortable relying on props and gimmicks to float through his performances in Tim Burton movies. Basically get the man a silly wig, have him imitate some sort of funny voice, animate a bunch of trippy stuff to happen around him, and you have a movie. No real acting necessary. That may be harsh, and it’s not entirely true, but there is a smidge of truth to it. There’s no denying the things he and Burton have been doing together in recent years have looked quite similar.
Well Depp tells MTV that with Dark Shadows he won’t be straying too far from the performance the original actor who portrayed Barnabas Collins gave in the 60s TV show. He said, “For me, even the conversations I’ve had with Tim, what Jonathan Frid did with that character and that classic look he created, I find it very difficult to stray very far from that. I think it’s going to be somewhere in that arena, with maybe just a couple of different touches here and there.”
What is inspiring this conservative choice from Depp, who is usually a rather quirky actor? Apparently a deep respect for how the character was originally conceived and performed. Depp explains, “There’s something about this vampire coming back after 200 years into this modern world, with a touch of the poetic, with maybe a tendency to maybe wax a little poetic now and again, I have a good feeling about it. But Jonathan Frid’s Barnabas was so special.”
That’s high praise indeed, coming from an actor as well respected as Johnny Depp. For a look at the specialness that Depp is going on about, watch this clip of Frid portraying Barnabas on the Dark Shadows TV show. There’s a real weight to the performance. As a matter of fact, Frid doesn’t even break his vampiric intensity when a fly keeps landing on his forehead.