[UPDATE: Fear not, this is not how Depp will look throughout the entire film. Click here to see Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows.]
Johnny Depp has made a career out of playing oddball characters in Tim Burton movies like Edward Scissorhands and Alice in Wonderland, and the actor’s current collaboration with Burton is no different. As the lead in Burton’s adaptation of the cult TV series Dark Shadows, Depp plays Barnabas Collins, an accursed vampire who finds himself rudely awoken after 200 years to discover that his estate is ruined and his descendants are struggling with a range of melodramatic problems.
When Depp was cast in the role, fans of the original series were excited. The actor always brings something unique to his characters and, when paired with Burton’s gothic sensibilities, has rarely made a misstep. However, while there was very little debate over whether Depp would do well as Collins, there was some debate over how Depp would look in the role. Now that we have our first look at Depp in character, I’m willing to bet that the debate is going to get even bigger.
The set images, which come our way via Celebuzz, show Depp in extremely heavy white make-up with highly stylized sideburns. The effect is rather striking and far different than how Jonathan Frid looked as Barnabas Collins in the original TV series, which will likely upset some Dark Shadows fans. Check out the images of Depp on set, as well as an image of the original Barnabas Collins below.
Tim Burton’s films all have a very unique visual style and it’s clear that his take on Barnabas Collins is in keeping with that style. Nevertheless, there are probably many Dark Shadows fans out there that are unhappy to see Depp wearing such heavy make-up. Personally, my problem isn’t that Depp is painted up, but rather that his look is reminiscent of his roles in the previous Burton films Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. For an actor that’s always giving you something different, this look has a kind of “been there, done that” feel to it.
[NOTE: As some commenters have pointed out, it's possible Barnabas is wearing heavy make-up because, as a vampire, he can't go out in the sunshine. This definitely makes sense and is probably the right guess (even if it doesn't explain the bizarre pointy sideburns).]
That being said, the original series was noted for its campiness and Depp’s over-the-top look may be in keeping with Burton’s equally campy vision for the film. Also, as is always the case with set photos, it’s unfair to pass judgment until you see the character on the big screen the way he was meant to be seen.
Does Depp look too much like Willy Wonka or the Mad Hatter here, or do you like Burton’s take on Barnabas Collins?