We Swear Johnny Depp Is in This ‘Dark Shadows’ Photo

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Nowadays, it seems like the easiest way to make sure a potential blockbuster coughs up some official stills during production is to encourage the paparazzi to take unauthorized on-set photos first. Take "The Amazing Spider-Man": Our first glimpses of Andrew Garfield as Spidey came from hidden photographers hanging around the shoot, and so Sony quickly sprung into action and gave us an approved web-slinger photo. So when a (really goofy) image of Johnny Depp as the vampire Barnabas Collins surfaced last week from "Dark Shadows," his new film with "Alice in Wonderland" director Tim Burton, you could take it to the bank that the studio would gather the cast together for a fast photo-op. And behold, here it is!

We confess to being unfamiliar with the 1970s soap opera that "Dark Shadows" is based on, but clearly we're not the only ones since Entertainment Weekly, along with producing this exclusive photo, has a detailed explanation of who's playing what in the feature film version. An official photo is usually a film's way of saying, "See, everything's cool here. Don't worry, this movie will be fantastic," but the Warner Bros. sales job goes beyond just that, probably figuring that audiences need to understand this cast of characters.

Anyone who knows Burton's work will instantly see his trademark uber-gothic look in this photo. (Is Burton's partner Helena Bonham Carter contractually obligated to always have garish eyeshadow in his movies?) But while cast members Eva Green and Jackie Earle Haley remain recognizable in their get-ups, the biggest shock is probably Depp, who is right there dead-center in the picture, although we didn't realize it for several moments. EW mentions that Depp's freaky visage is inspired by "the aged-little boy look" of the original Barnabas Collins, who was played by Jonathan Frid. Apparently, being a vampire in "Dark Shadows" makes one very, very sad. At least he doesn't look like Michael Jackson anymore.

Johnny Depp's true 'Dark Shadows' vampire revealed! -- EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK [Inside Movies/Entertainment Weekly]