It probably won't surprise you that Johnny Depp is a long-time vampire fan, however this is the first time he's ever played a bloodsucker. For the actor, his approach was something of a reaction against the watering down of the monstrous archetype. "When Jonathan [Frid, the late actor who played the character on the original TV series] was playing Barnabas," Depp told Collider "there was a rigidity to him, like he had a pole of the back and this elegance that was always there. Tim and I talked early on that a vampire should look like a vampire. It was a rebellion against vampires that look like underwear models. There was a bit of 'Nosferatu' in there, too." But there's sex appeal and a sense of family in the same breath as well. "There’s this darkness, this mystery, this intrigue. And then, as you get older, you recognize the erotic nature of the vampire and the idea of the undead. What was most interesting, in terms of Barnabas, was the combination. It was a real challenge, probably more for Tim than me, to make that vampire, who is clearly a vampire, fit back into this odd society and this dysfunctional family, and I think he did it rather seamlessly."
The East Coast port that much of the story revolves around was built from scratch on a backlot in England.
Burton lives in England, and most of his movies have shot there in recent years, and "Dark Shadows" is no exception: curiously, it turned out to be cheaper to built a port from scratch in the Pinewood backlot than to shoot in Maine. Production designer Rick Heinrichs talked Hero Complex through how the set is just as crucial to the plot as the characters: "A few months ago there was just string here to show where the road would be and the canneries and the pier. It’ll be a little sad when we tear it all down. These buildings say a lot about the families. Once there was a competition, but now the Collins Cannery is derelict — as is much of the town — but the AngelBay Cannery is thriving, and you get the feeling it’s sucking the life out of the town.”
Burton hasn't worked with Pfeiffer since "Batman Returns" in 1992, but as soon as it was announced that he was making "Dark Shadows," she was on the phone: it turns out that the actress was, like Depp and the director, a big fan of the original. Burton told Collider, "It was a real joy to get a call from Michelle and find out that she was a closet 'Dark Shadows' fan. I knew she was weird, but that confirmed the whole situation. It was great. Michelle and Johnny and I, we were the only ones of the cast that knew 'Dark Shadows.' You can’t really show 'Dark Shadows' to anybody else that doesn’t know it ‘cause they’d probably run screaming out of the room. It was nice that Michelle, playing the head of the family, was a fan. It just made me realize how much I enjoyed working with her." The director added, tongue-in-cheek, "But, she did have trouble walking down the stairs in this movie. Some people’s powers diminish, at some point."
Eva Green's meeting with Lara Parker, who played her role on the original series, was a little awkward.
Unlike some of her co-stars, Eva Green, who plays devious witch Angelique, wasn't familiar with the original series, which made her feel a bit awkward about meeting her TV counterpart Lara Parker. It turns out it was doubly awkward for another reason, as Green told GQ. "When I met her I was thinking, 'Oh no, I haven't done my homework!' It was weird: she thought she was playing Angélique, because she had a cameo."