By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 18, 2011 at 6:14AM
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have been talking about teaming up for an adaptation of 1960s vampire soap "Dark Shadows" for years now, but for a while, it was unclear if the always-busy megastar would find room in his schedule for the film. But if "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Alice in Wonderland" taught us anything in the last few years, it's that if the pair are attached to a VFX-heavy, production design-reliant project that plays right into their comfort zones, it'll happen sooner or later. And indeed, "Dark Shadows" begins production in the U.K. this week.
Latino Review received a press release announcing the beginning of principle photography, and it reveals that one more cast member has joined the ranks in the form of Jonny Lee Miller. The actor's career has been a bit stop-start since he broke through with "Trainspotting," but he's having something of a resurgence at present, between his villainous role on "Dexter" and his performance in Danny Boyle's stage version of "Frankenstein," for which he picked up some of the best reviews of his career.
Miller will play Roger Collins, the no-good brother of Collins family matriarch Elizabeth -- a role that Michael Sheen was in discussions for, until things fell apart for reasons that are still unclear. He joins an impressive cast that also includes Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham-Carter, Chloe Moretz, Bella Heathcote and Jackie Earle Haley. The press release also reveals that many of Burton's regular collaborators like Rick Heinrichs, Colleen Atwood, Chris Lebenzon and Danny Elfman are working behind the scenes on the film, while "Amelie" DoP Bruno Delbonnel will work with the director for the first time on the project, which does at least pique our interest a little.
The release also includes the first official synopsis, giving us a clearer idea for the first time of what to expect from the script, penned by "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" writer Seth Graeme-Smith -- read it below. Warner Bros. will release the film slightly under a year from now on May 11th, 2012.
In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet—or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy…until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Brouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive.
Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called upon live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), to help with her family troubles.
Also residing in the manor is Elizabeth’s ne’er-do-well brother, Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller); her rebellious teenage daughter Carolyn Stoddard (Chloe Moretz); and Roger’s precocious 10-year-old son, David Collins (Gulliver McGrath). The mystery extends beyond the family, to caretaker Willie Loomis, played by Jackie Earle Haley, and David’s new nanny, Victoria Winters, played by Bella Heathcote.