Monday, May 7, 2012

Lara Parker On The Dark Shadows Movie

As the beautiful witch Angelique on the original Dark Shadows, Lara Parker became one of the show's most memorable and enduring characters. We caught up with her to talk about her cameo in the new movie and her thoughts on the project...

So Lara, what was your reaction when you heard that Dark Shadows was heading to the big screen?
I never thought it would get made – I was so pessimistic. This is a reinterpretation, and I feel – with all humility – that it's to Dark Shadows' credit that someone can find a new way of doing it. That's what we did on the original show – we reinvented things like Dracula and Turn of the Screw and Dorian Gray...

Do you think this film is still Dark Shadows as we know it?
When I was on the set, seeing what was going on, I could tell that the tone was significantly different. I had misgivings, I’ll admit. I thought hopefully it would be OK, but it could be a real bomb. But then I saw the first trailer and was kinda taken with it! It's an homage – it's a recognition of the value of the original material, to have made Tim Burton's imagination take off with it the way it has.

Director Tim Burton has spoken a lot about wanting to capture the 'vibe' of the original show. What do you take that to mean?
I've been asked so many times what I think was the most distinguishing characteristic of the TV show, and I think it was that the acting was realistic. Now that's not true of everyone... There were some more arch performances – people like Grayson [Hall] (Julia Hoffman) and Chris Pennock (Jeb Hawkes) – but for the most part, we played it with conviction. We were encouraged to be believable, so when a bat came in the room – and it was a Halloween toy dangled by some anxious prop man – there was no question of rolling our eyes or letting the audience in on the joke. It was played with total conviction. So here were all these absurd situations – telling ghosts to go back to their graves – but played with total conviction. That gave Dark Shadows its tone. I think audiences are smarter than they used to be. Tim Burton is letting the audience in a little more on that joke.  

He’s spoken several times about wanting the film have a balance between being funny and scary…
And that's the way Johnny Depp works as an actor. He lets you see that things are tongue in cheek – that it's meant to be witty. I think he's very, very committed to this movie. He and Tim Burton took this very seriously. You look at those sets and see the money that was spent. Movies are a harsh business, and they could lose all that money. They want this to succeed and have made choices that they feel will resonate with today's kids.

So did you feel at all proprietorial about the original series when confronted by those choices?

No – I have no sense of ownership. It's a little sad to see someone else play Angelique. But on the other hand, she's not going to do it the same way I did. I was so, so excited when I saw Eva Green in Camelot. She's such a marvellous presence – so sexy and beautiful. 

And Angelique’s gone corporate in this story, running a rival business…
Eva Green mentioned playing Angelique as 'ballsy Barbie'. I guess if I'd have been asked to play her running a big company, I'd have acted sorta brittle too. Of course, there's this whole level beneath that, driven by Angelique's heartbreak. Her attitude represents the major banks and their attitude towards the world. I think there are several levels to the story.

We also have Johnny Depp’s Barnabas trying to restore the Collins family’s identity and uphold their heritage…
Yes, he and Jonathan Frid's Barnabas still have a lot in common – that love of the Collins family and the great house of Collinwood. And they also share a duality – of the monster who feeds on blood, and the man who feels wretched over his predicament. Johnny plays Barnabas bewildered – he's a fish out of water, which I think is great. They've decided to actually pay attention to the outside world here – the outside world didn't exist on our show. So Johnny has to face the fact that he's 200 years behind, and is totally mystified.

That sense of awkwardness does seem reminiscent of Jonathan Frid’s Barnabas…
I love that shot of Barnabas sitting in Carolyn's room on the beanbag! His body language just somehow reveals how uncomfortable he is – yet he's really determined to carry it off and get back on top of things. So there's still a duality, just like Jonathan had. Johnny Depp's an amazingly inventive actor. You look at that trailer, and he's just so spot-on in those moments. 

So what was it like meeting him when you filmed your cameo?
Johnny Depp has a reserve. When we were on set, he was in costume and make-up, but he was also in character – with that white make-up, he looks like he's carved out of marble. He said a few nice things and was very polite, but he didn't really joke around or get into deep conversation. He wasn't cold, but he just didn't break character. 

And presumably Pinewood was a step up from the old Dark Shadows studio…
I thought the sets were beautiful – I was staggered by the beauty of them. Also, Tim Burton shoots with smoke and a lot of coloured lights, so everything takes on a painterly effect. I think it's gorgeous.

What are your hopes for the finished film?
I wish them the best, and I am just so thrilled that it happened. I hope they make ten of them! I hope that Dark Shadows lives forever!

And you’re going to be attending the US premiere at Grauman's this week…
Yes! [laughs] I have no idea what that will be like. I keep picturing the Academy Awards, then I realise it'll be nothing like that. I think that's the only red carpet I've ever seen. Hopefully I'll have a nice dress by then.

Do you know what you'll be wearing?
I do. 

Can't you give us a hint?
[Laughs] Well… You're never sure till the last moment, but I'm putting this thing together. It's black silk and has some lace with it.

I’m sure Angelique would approve!
Yes, she would! 

Check back soon, when we chat to Lara about her new Dark Shadows novel Wolf Moon Rising. And you can keep up to date with all her latest activities though her revamped website at


Jeff said...

Have always thought Lara was such a gorgeous woman. Those eyes! Loved the interview. I remember my uncle back in the 80s telling me how sexy he always thought Angelique was on Dark Shadows.

Parabolic Muse said...

This is cool. I just saw Lara and Kathryn on my DVR taping of Good Day L.A. and they are both so gracious. I am enjoying the first book of her trilogy, and I like the fact that, here as in other interviews, she always speaks with candor and a wide view of things. And she appears to have a great sense of humor.

The original cast of Dark Shadows has always struck me as being a team of friends as well as professionals.

Sharon Lynn H. said...

Enjoyed the interview w/Lara Parker DARK SHADOWS iconic witch Angelique. All the legendary Cast & Crew of the orginal DARK SHADOWS are unique extraodinary Actors to have to go through reading scripts daily 5 days out of the week to memory is no easy trask. They did their job w/passionate Heart(s) and that is revealed in all of DARK SHADOWS 1245 episodes. Family is a treasure and The DARK SHADOWS (The Collins, The Evans, Jennings, The Hawkes, Collins-Stoddard, etc.,.) Family is one I will always embrance to Heart. I look forward in seeing the new Tim Burton/Johnny Depp DARK SHADOWS Movie revisited/version...'it looks stunning & Epic Brilliant.

dishy said...

@Parabolic Muse - when you said you are enjoying the first book of her trilogy are you referring to Lara's book? I loved that, however it's quite a few years old and was not aware it was going to be a trilogy - but I sure hope so!
@Sharon Lynn H. You REALLY know your DS families! Love this attention on DS. Began the series from very beginning (again) am up to the first month or so of Barnabas. One forgets how great it was then, with Maggie's "mysterious" illness - and the young Willie Loomis! All good - let's make this flick a hit so they do a sequel and they finally release the NEW VERSION of Night of Dark Shadows!!!

Greg farfel said...

I just saw the movie it was great but i read Jonathan had a line at the party there was none can you tell me why ? the actress that played your part was great but you were so pretty and you have the prettiest eyes thanks said...

Lara Parker your words are always thoughtful and gracious. Thank you so much for SO MUCH over the years. You have a home in all our hearts forever!