Friday, May 04, 2012

Bonham Carter on Working with Burton, "Dark Shadows"

Actor Daniel Radcliffe recently interviewed Helena Bonham Carter for Interview Magazine. You can read the interview in its entirety here, but here are some relevant excerpts from the conversation about working with her director/partner Tim Burton on Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Dark Shadows:

RADCLIFFE: ...What's your relationship with musicals? Did you listen to them growing up?

BONHAM CARTER: I love musicals. Honestly, I'd always wanted to be in a musical, and I'd always wanted to be Mrs. Lovett [her role in Sweeney Todd], so when Tim said, "I'm going to make it, but you can audition if you want, you know . . .

RADCLIFFE: I remember you practicing singing.

BONHAM CARTER: Yes, again, you were there!

RADCLIFFE On the fifth [Harry Potter] film. I remember thinking, What is going to happen to Tim if she doesn't get this part? I think it's important to say you were also auditioning for [Stephen] Sondheim [a co-author of the original musical who was consulted for Burton's film]. And that's incredibly tough. What was that experience like?

BONHAM CARTER: It was one of the worst humps in our marriage. Not that we're married, but it's really hard—

RADCLIFFE: That's so brilliant. So can you talk about Dark Shadows? 'Cause I don't know the series really—

BONHAM CARTER: I didn't know it. I knew that Tim used to race home when he was a school kid and watch Dark Shadows, which was this really crappy soap opera-sort of Gothic soap opera, but it's all set around 1970. It's basically about Barnabus Collins, an unhappy vampire—a reluctant vampire.

It’s Tim Burton. He’s a genius. You can’t turn him down just because you go out with him and have two children together.

RADCLIFFE: Oh, cool! And you play Dr. Julia Hoffman?

BONHAM CARTER: I play the resident psychiatrist, who's an alcoholic. There's this sort of odd family . . . Barnabus Collins is resurrected from his coffin, and he comes back to his family. He's been away for 200 years. And Michelle Pfeiffer is, I guess, his great-niece by seven times.

RADCLIFFE: Excellent.

BONHAM CARTER: It was kind of worrying when I read it, because there's a sexy witch part. At the beginning of the film, before casting, Tim said, "I think we should take a break, because you get to work with all these other directors and I never get to work with other actors." I said, "Fine, absolutely understand it. Let's just be grown-up about it." And then [producer] Dick Zanuck—he's the most amazing man. He's 77, he's Daryl Zanuck's son, and he has produced flops, sensations—Jaws, The Sound of Music. I mean, he's a legend. So I'm on the Golden Globe red carpet, unfortunately dressed as usual, and Dick comes up to me—

RADCLIFFE: Oh, was this the different shoes?

BONHAM CARTER: Yeah. But you know, it was good because how do you do the carpet for an hour and half? So I thought, [forget] it. I looked at the dress and I thought, It's not gonna be well received, so let's just distract. At least you've got some control, you know?

RADCLIFFE: That's, frankly, inspired.

BONHAM CARTER: So Dick comes up to me and says, "Have you read it?" And I said, "Yeah, but he doesn't want me to be in it." He said, "No, no. You're the doctor . . . " I said, "Angélique, the sexy witch, right?" He said, "No, not Angélique. You're Dr. Hoffman." Doctor Hoffman! An alcoholic psychiatrist.

RADCLIFFE: Right, so you had pictured other actresses?

BONHAM CARTER: Well, I had, but I also thought, What is it about an alcoholic psychiatrist that makes you naturally think Helena?

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