Thursday, February 3, 2011

One in a minion

Posted By on Thu, Feb 3, 2011 at 1:42 PM

Well, that’s interesting: Nikki Finke is claiming that Jackie Earle Haley may be playing Willie Loomis in Tim Burton’s finally underway Dark Shadows.

click to enlarge willie_loomis2jpg

Loomis, as fans know, is the tortured Renfield-type character who serves at the beck and call of sensitive vampire Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp). But what’s interesting is that the casting harkens back to 1991’s NBC reboot of DS, rather than the classic ’60s soap on which it was based. Haley seems a great fit for the filthy, rotten-toothed Loomis that actor Jim Fyfe depicted in the remake series – whereas John Karlen, who originated the role, was far more of a James Dean-type presence, brooding but handsome in a quasi-beatnik kind of way.

Is Burton paying more heed to the revival than anybody had a right to expect? Depp himself certainly seems closer to the matinee-idol Barnabas played by Ben Cross in the ’90s than to the more avuncular version of the role as created by Jonathan Frid. (OK, some viewers found Frid “sexy,” but the late ’60s were a weird time, especially for people who could stay home all day.)

I wouldn’t be so surprised by Burton’s apparent choices had anybody watched the remake in the first place. Its inaugural episodes were bounced around the schedule by NBC’s coverage of Operation Desert Storm, so it never had a fair chance to find an audience and was canceled after half a season. Since then, it hasn’t attained any sort of cult standing outside of the existing DS cabal. Suffice it to say that nobody cried out “Barnabas!” when Cross walked onto the screen as Spock’s dad in 2009’s Star Trek, and that clips of a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt (DS’ David Collins) are never shown in “Before They Were Stars”-type features that erroneously identify Third Rock From the Sun as that actor’s first big gig.

The revival was quality piece of work, though, so I hope Burton and Depp give it a shout-out when they’re called upon to explain their bold creative “vision.”

Wanna feel even weirder? Imagine how you would have reacted back in 1978 if someone had told you a bald, middle-aged Jackie Earle Haley would one day be considered “perfect casting” for role after role. Rorschach, Freddy Krueger, Loomis

are there really that many sniveling little creeps in this society? And if so, did Leif Garrett just give up to soon?

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