CATEGORIES Features'Alice in Wonderland' marks director Tim Burton's seventh collaboration with Johnny Depp, a relationship that stretches back 20 years to when the director cast the then 27-year old actor in in his fourth full-length film, 'Edward Scissorhands.'
Since then, Depp has become Burton's muse for many of the filmmaker's most notable movies (Pee-Wee Herman not withstanding, of course). Prepare for the release of 'Alice in Wonderland' by getting up to speed on one of the most creative collaborations of the past two decades. 'Alice in Wonderland' marks director Tim Burton's seventh collaboration with Johnny Depp, a relationship that stretches back 20 years to when the director cast the then 27-year old actor in in his fourth full-length film, 'Edward Scissorhands.'
Since then, Depp has become Burton's muse for many of the filmmaker's most notable movies (Pee-Wee Herman not withstanding, of course). Prepare for the release of 'Alice in Wonderland' by getting up to speed on one of the most creative collaborations of the past two decades.
'Edward Scissorhands' (1990)
Depp Plays: A sweet, yet metacarpally challenged, synthetic human with a penchant for topiary and ice sculptures.
RottenTomatoes.com Score: 90%
Weirdness level (out of 10): 5
Backstory: Based on an original drawing depicting the director's sense of isolation as a child in Burbank, CA, Burton and screenwriter Caroline Thompson used their love of fairy tales and old horror films as inspiration for the main character. After scrapping the initial idea to turn the film into a musical, Burton brought on Depp, who studied Charlie Chaplin movies to prepare for the role of the virtually mute protagonist.
'Ed Wood' (1994)
Depp Plays: Notoriously terrible filmmaker Ed Wood, whose 1950s films, including 'Glen or Glenda' and 'Plan 9 From Outer Space,' were short on production values and long on passion.
RT Score: 91%
Weirdness level: 6
Backstory: Based in part on Burton's own relationship with horror king Vincent Price (who appeared in Burton's 1982 short 'Vincent' and as the inventor in 'Edward Scissorhands'), the semi-biographical film led Depp to reportedly jump at the chance to play the cult director.
'Sleepy Hollow' (1999)
Depp Plays: Ichabod Crane, a New York detective sent to the titular town to investigate a decapitating serial killer.
RT Score: 68%
Weirdness level: 4
Backstory: Burton, a former Disney animator, has repeatedly cited the 1958 animated film 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' as a major influence on his own interpretation of the story. Liam Neeson, Brad Pitt and Daniel Day-Lewis were all considered for the role, but it eventually went to Depp, who originally wanted to play the character with oversized ears and a long nose. Depending on who you ask, either Burton or Paramount nixed the idea.
'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' (2005)
Depp Plays: Willy Wonka, the warped, solitary owner of an outlandish candy company.
RT Score: 82%
Weirdness level: 8
Backstory: Roald Dahl, author of the original book, reportedly detested Mel Stuart's 1971 film adaptation, claiming it strayed too far from the source material. After numerous actors and directors were attached to, and subsequently detached from, the project, Burton met with Dahl's widow and daughter, the overseers of Dahl's estate, and won approval from the pair.
'Corpse Bride' (2005)
Depp Plays: The voice of Victor Van Dort, a young man living in Victorian England that accidentally marries the titular character after placing a ring on her dead finger.
RT Score: 83%
Weirdness level: 8
Backstory: Burton's first full-length stop-motion animation film as director (he co-wrote and produced 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'), the painstakingly-designed movie used over 100,000 individually animated frames. It paid off though, earning Burton and crew an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature Film.
'Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street' (2007)
Depp Plays: A bitter, murderous barber that makes meat pies out of his unsuspecting customers.
RT Score: 86%
Weirdness level: 5
Backstory: Based on Stephen Sondheim's acclaimed 1979 musical, Burton was a frequent viewer of the original and took over from director Sam Mendes ('American Beauty,') who opted to do 'Jarhead' instead.
'Alice in Wonderland' (2010)
Depp Plays: The Mad Hatter, not-so-sane tea party host and accomplice to the Red Queen-battling Alice.
RT Score: 62% (so far)
Weirdness level: 8
Backstory: One of two movies Burton signed with Disney to direct in 3-D (the other being a remake of his 1984 debut 'Frankenweenie'), the filmmaker's interpretation is an attempt to, as he noted at last year's Comic-Con, "make 'Alice' feel more like a story as opposed to a series of events." To develop the role of the Mad Hatter, Burton and Depp drew and discussed sketches of the character before filming began.
'Dark Shadows' (2011)
Depp Plays: Barnabas Collins, an 175-year old vampire who longs to be human.
Backstory: With filming set to begin later this year, Burton is planning to remake the 1960s TV cult vampire hit with Depp in the lead role. When asked about the role in 2007, Depp told Entertainment Weekly, "If [the film] comes to fruition, that's a dream come true, man. Barnabas Collins -- when I was a kid I wanted to be Barnabas. He was super-mysterious, with that really weird hairdo and the wolf's-head cane. Good stuff."