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I heard that you called Tim when you heard he was making Dark Shadows?
Michelle: I did, I shamelessly called him (she laughs). Give me a job after twenty years! 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 of ours, and she knew how much I wanted to be in this movie.
She kept egging me on to call him. I don’t think I would have had the courage to do it.
I was obsessed [with the series]. 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 it always felt like I was somehow breaking the rules because it was quite terrifying and sexy, too, especially for that time.
I didn’t know if there was a part for me, it had been so long since I’d seen the series I didn’t remember [it]. I just said, ‘If there’s anything, I want to throw my hat in the ring.’ I hung up and thought, ‘I’ll never hear from him again.’ But I did.
Tim: It was a real joy to get a call from Michelle and find out that she was a closet fan of Dark Shadows. Between Michelle and Johnny, we were the only ones I think in the cast that knew the series. I don’t know if I showed it to anybody else.
You can’t really show Dark Shadows to anybody who doesn’t know it, because they’d probably run away screaming. So it was nice that Michelle played the head of the family.
Can you tell us a little about Elizabeth?
Michelle: Keeping up appearances is very important to her. She’s very proud and protective of the Collins name despite the fact that they have fallen on hard times. They are also rather weird, but I don’t think any of them realizes just how weird they are.
What were the key elements that you wanted to bring from the series?
Tim: Part of the appeal of Dark Shadows was the weird nature of all the elements that went into it. The weirdest challenge was to get the soap opera nature of the acting tone, which was a weird thing to go for in a Hollywood movie.
It’s not like you go to a studio and say, ‘We want to do weird soap opera acting.’ They’d go, (sarcastically) ‘Oh great.’ That’s why I was so grateful that all the cast, even the ones that didn’t know the show, got into the spirit of it, which is what made it Dark Shadows.
We tried to capture the spirit of what the show was.
Can you talk about the day the original cast came on the set and did their scene?
Tim: It was like having the Pope come and visit. I think for us, part of the reason we were there was because those people inspired us.
It was nice to see them back in their early seventies clothing. It was great.
The end of this movie lends itself to a sequel. Have there been any talks about that?
Tim: No, it wasn’t a conscious decision. That had more to do with the fact of the soap opera structure of it. There are Dark Shadows fans and then there is everybody else, and you can’t project what you think [is going to happen].
We made a movie that we wanted to see and then you just hope for the best.
Michelle was asked about Anne Hathaway playing Catwoman in the upcoming Batman movie. Click here to listen to Tim Burton’s disgusted reaction to that question, and Michelle’s polite reply.
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