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Feature: Sweeney Todd:

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Winter Preview

Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter

As part of Film Review's Winter Preview, we talk to star Johnny Depp about this Tim Burton version of the Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim

From Edward Scissorhands to Sleepy Hollow’s Ichabod Crane, Johnny Depp has created some memorable Gothic characters with Tim Burton. So when it was announced that the director planned to bring Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, to the screen, who better than Depp to take on the role? “It’s enjoyable working with him,” shrugs Burton. “Some actors make a career out of being themselves in a movie. But I’ve always enjoyed those actors that just like to become different creatures and he’s that way. He’s always trying something different. On this movie he sings!”

An adaptation of the bloodthirsty Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim, Sweeney Todd is Burton’s first attempt at the genre. “Well, I’ve never been a big musical fan in terms of films,” he says. “But Sweeney Todd, it’s probably my favourite musical, a mix of horror movies and music together which is nice.” A gruesome tale, as Sweeney Todd resolves to brutally rid himself of anyone who has ever done him wrong, Burton promises his version is “uncharted territory” both for him and Hollywood. Promising to deliver an “old-fashioned horror movie” set to music, he notes, “I don’t think there’s that many R-rated musicals out there these days.”

As well as reuniting him with Depp, Burton also once again works with his real-life partner Helena Bonham Carter, who plays accomplice Mrs Lovett. Proudly selling the ‘worst pies in London’ from an establishment below Sweeney’s barbershop, she helps him in his diabolical plan by disposing of the bodies. “She’s bonkers,” laughs Carter. “She makes pies out of human hearts!” Carter admits the film was unlike anything she’d ever shot. “People kept on breaking out into song!” she says. “I surprised myself. I didn’t think I could sing. But it was merciless. It was really quite stressful. I wouldn’t recommend it for any relationship!”

by James Mottram

This is just one of many film previews for the Winter in
Film Review (Dec)

Photo © DreamWorks SKG
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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Film Review (Dec), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Dec)
#690, December 2007
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