This bit of news certainly had me raising an eyebrow in a display of Spock-like wonder. The one-man controversy machine (and to use my first oxymoron of the day, one seriously funny guy as well) Sacha Baron Cohen is reportedly in talks to star opposite Johnny Depp in Tim Burton's adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Broadway hit Sweeney Todd, the musical tale of the "Demon Barber of Fleet Street." Depp plays Benjamin Barker (aka Sweeney Todd), a barber who leaves a trail of slit throats in his quest for revenge for his wrongful imprisonment. According to Production Weekly, if negotiations are successful, Cohen will play "The King of Barbers", Aldolfo Pirelli, who engages in a contest of skill with Todd to prove who the most capable barber is. Obviously the role of barber has changed quite a bit since the period in which the story takes place, as the contest includes a tooth-pulling event.

Fortunately I have two eyebrows, so while one was arched in surprise at the Cohen news, the other was free to leap up and join its compatriot upon hearing that Cyndi Lauper may also join Burton's cast. This news, which comes from Lauper's tour blog by way of Film Experience Blog is vague at best. Lauper simply says, "I went in to audition for Tim Burton for a movie which was exciting." Burton is casting for Sweeney Todd, and Lauper is a singer, so this doesn't require a huge leap of faith. No word on what part Lauper might play, but the Film Experience article points out that there are three female roles in the play: Mrs. Lovett the pie shop owner, Todd's daughter Johanna, and a mysterious Beggar Woman who wanders in and out of the narrative. Lauper is too old to be playing Johnny Depp's daughter, so it's probably safe to assume she is filling one of the other two roles.

For the record, my favorite interpretation of Sweeney Todd was the one performed as a school play by Ben Affleck, George Carlin, and little Raquel Castro in Kevin Smith's Jersey Girl. It was a hilariously gore-soaked scene in an otherwise mediocre film.

Production of Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd is set to begin in early February at Pinewood Studios in London.


[via Big Screen Little Screen]