When Dark Shadows opens next month, Johnny Depp will be seen playing an icon who loomed large in his childhood, Barnabas Collins, the vampire from Dark Shadows. Depp took time Thursday to pay tribute to Jonathan Frid, the Canadian actor originally behind the cloak, and whose death April 13 at the age of 87 came just weeks ahead of the film’s premiere.
Depp has said he used to rush home from school to watch Dark Shadows, the gothic soap opera that ran on ABC from 1966-1971 and inspired the Tim Burton-directed adaptation set to open May 11.
“His elegance and grace was an inspiration then and will continue to remain one forever more,” Depp told the LA Times. “When I had the honor to finally meet him … [he] generously passed the torch of Barnabas.”
Depp met Frid on the film’s set, where the original Barnabas Collins and four of his Dark Shadows TV series costars shot cameos. Kathryn Leigh Scott, an original Dark Shadows cast member, wrote of that that day on her official Web site, thanking Depp for allowing the cast to reunite.
“I won’t ever forget the moment when the two Barnabas Collinses met, one in his late 80s and the other in his mid-40s, each with their wolf’s head canes,” Scott wrote. “Jonathan took his time scrutinizing his successor’s appearance. ‘I see you’ve done the hair,’ Jonathan said to Johnny Depp, ‘but a few more spikes.’ Depp, entirely in character, replied, ‘Yes, we’re doing things a bit differently.’
The original television series was known for bloopers and shoddy props that have helped elevate it to cult classic status. Despite those imperfections, Depp said last year the show transported him to “some other dimension” he had never seen before.