"Johnny's always wanting to hide behind a character"–Tim Burton in January's TOTAL FILM

The January 2007 issue of TOTAL FILM (U.K.) features a four-page interview with director Tim Burton. Although the focus of the interview is the recent re-release of his classic THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, Tim does answer a few questions about his upcoming project, SWEENEY TODD, the Stephen Sondheim musical which stars Johnny Depp as the demon barber of Fleet Street.

TOTAL FILM: It’s rumoured that your current project, SWEENEY TODD, will be R-rated. Have you made gruesome sketches for that too?

TIM BURTON: Well, I do my little doodles, but the movie’s being designed by Dante Ferretti who’s such a brilliant draughtsman. He did a lot of Fellini films, so that’s exciting. But I have done a couple of little doodles . . . and I’m not going to skimp on the blood. I’ve seen some SWEENEY TODD productions that try to be politically correct, y’know? [shakes head] We’re talking about a serial killer and cannibalism, so you can’t exactly skimp on that stuff! It’s a politically incorrect movie; soften it up and it just doesn’t work. And also, we’re doing the full-on musical version. It will be . . . interesting.

TOTAL FILM: On SWEENEY TODD you’ll again be surrounded by friends and family. Does it help you relax on set?

TIM BURTON: I like to mix it up. Sometimes I’ll work with new people and sometimes I’ll work with those I’ve worked with before. It’s not something I consciously go out of my way to do, but obviously, with certain people, there’s a shorthand in terms of discussion. But I don’t like to rely on that, because it makes it too easy. With each film, you want to keep that energy going.

Johnny’s fun to work with, though–it’s always something different. He’s more of a character actor than a leading man. It’s fun to work with an actor like that, much more exciting than somebody who wants to come in and do the same things every time. Johnny’s always wanting to sort of hide behind a character, become a character. I’ve always loved great character actors.

The January TOTAL FILM also comes packaged with a preview calendar for 2007–look for a classic photo of Captain Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann (from THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL) in the month of June, as TOTAL FILM predicts AT WORLD’S END to be the biggest blockbuster of the year. The Zone thanks Gilbert’s Girl for breaking the news and transcribing the Tim Burton interview–you can read more details on the News & Views forum.