Best buds Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have been itching to work together on a new Gothic endeavor: a film treatment of the supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows. Who better to join them in their latest bit of dark whimsy than Freddy Krueger himself and an actress rumored to play a pale-skinned, black-haired young woman in a movie not featuring the Edward Scissorhands duo?

Jackie Earle Haley is reportedly in talks to join Burton’s project – one where he won’t play either a child molester and/or homicidal maniac – and Bella Heathcote is also said to be the top choice for an important role in the fantastical melodrama.

Deadline says that the light-haired Heathcote was in contention for the female lead role in Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman before Kristen Stewart emerged as the front runner. Dark Shadows would feature the little-known actress as Victoria Winters, the governess of the estate wherein lies the coffin of the late Barnabas Collins – a fellow who, it turns out, technically has been not of the living for a while now, seeing that he’s a sunken-eyed, blood-sucking creature of the night. Naturally, that’s the role Depp would play in the film.

Haley, of Nightmare on Elm Street and Watchmen fame is in line to play the con man Willie Loomis, a fellow who attempts to grave rob the deceased Mr. Collins of his impressive jewelry (no, that’s not a metaphor – get your mind out of the gutter). Things don’t work out well for Willie as the vampiric Barnabas makes the would-be thief his whipping boy and servant instead. That’s still a better deal than Haley got when he chatted up Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island.

Haley opposite DiCaprio in ‘Shutter Island’.

Creepy creatures of all types paraded about in ABC’s original Dark Shadows TV show, which was a cult hit in the 1960s and bears a strong resemblance to Burton’s breed of filmmaking (stylized sets, off-kilter musical accompaniments, Gothic production design, etc., etc.). It seems all the more appropriate that Burton should helm the movie adaptation, which will hopefully be a return to form after the box office behemoth but critical letdown that was his (gloomy) candy-colored 3D take on Alice in Wonderland.

Equally intriguing is the fact that Dark Shadows will be scripted by Seth Grahame-Smith, the man who authored the surprisingly not campy titles Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, among others. Burton’s films tend to be more intentionally hammy and tongue-in-cheek than Smith’s genre mashups, but it shouldn’t be that much of a stretch for the writer to try his hand at delivering something more comedic in tone than his history and literary “re-envisionings.”

Dark Shadows will mark the eighth (and probably not the final) joint effort from Burton and Depp, who each have numerous other upcoming projects on their plat to handle as well. Rest assured, they’ll find time to work together again, with Depp once more bearing an abnormally pallid complexion onscreen.

Production on Dark Shadows was previously rumored to be getting underway this spring, with a 2012 release date in mind. Expect to hear a more official statement about the matter in the near future.

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Source: Deadline