Michelle Pfeiffer Describes How She Asked Tim Burton for Her Dark Shadows Role
05.08.12 by Ryan
Much has been made of the fact that the upcoming adaptation of Dark Shadows will be the eighth collaboration between actor Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton, but the movie is also the second teaming of Burton and actress Michelle Pfeiffer. It's been 20 years since the pair worked together on 1992's Batman Returns, but her role as family matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard was a dream come true for the actress, a "diehard follower" of the original, late 1960s-early 70s Gothic soap opera that is the basis of the movie.
I was obsessed. It was the first vampire show ever on television. My mother probably assumed, given that it was on in the afternoon, it was safe for me to be watching, but I always felt like I was somehow breaking the rules because it was quite terrifying and sexy, too, especially for that time.
At the Dark Shadows press conference over the weekend, Pfeiffer revealed that it wasn't Burton that sought her for the movie. Rather, she called Burton and begged for a role.
I did, I shamelessly called him. "Give me a job after twenty years." I know, it was really horrible. It's not done. And I don't think I would have had the courage, but I was working with a mutual friend, and she knew how much I wanted to be in this movie and she kept egging me on to call him because I don't think I would have had the courage to do it. At that point, I don't even know if there was a script, really, so I didn't even know if there was a part for me, and it had been so long since I'd seen the series I didn't even remember... I just said, "If there's anything, I want to throw my hat in the ring." And then I hung up and thought, "I'll never hear from him again." But I did.
Burton, meanwhile, said that working with Pfeiffer only reminded him "how much I love working with Michelle."
[It was a] long time ago, but it just flooded back, because I never watched the movie again, but it sort of flooded back, like how impressed I remember being with Michelle. You know, she learned how to use a whip and jump around on roofs in high-heeled shoes, birds fly out of her mouth, cats eat her — very impressive stuff. So, it was a real joy to get a call from Michelle and found out she was a closet Dark Shadows fan. I knew she was weird, but it confirmed the whole situation. Which was great, because between Michelle and Johnny, we were the only ones on the cast that knew Dark Shadows. I don't know if I showed it to anybody else, because you can't really show Dark Shadows to anybody else that doesn't know it because they'd probably run screaming out of the room. So it was nice that Michelle played the head of the family, and it just made me realize how much that I enjoyed working with her. She did have trouble walking down the stairs...
Pfeiffer took the bait from Burton, as the director laughed. "I did," said Pfeiffer. "My first day of shooting he had me in 8-inch, platform shores walking down that treacherous staircase and I wasn't allowed to look down. Great laughs at my expense from Mr. Burton."
"They didn't look down in Dynasty or Dallas," Burton joked, recalling the soap opera origins of the movie. Sounds like a DVD extra to us.
Dark Shadows was adapted by Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and co-stars Eva Green as Angelique Brouchard, Jonny Lee Miller as Roger Collins, Chloe Moretz as Carolyn, Gulliver McGrath as David Collins, Bella Heathcoate as David's governness Victoria, Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman, and Jackie Earle Hayley as caretaker Willie Loomis.