Johnny Depp - Edward D. Wood Jr.
Martin Landau - Bela Lugosi
Sarah Jessica Parker - Dolores Fuller
Jeffrey Jones - Criswell
Bill Murray - Bunny Breckinridge
Norman Alden - Cameraman Bill
Tim Burton - Director
Tim Burton- Producer
Scott Alexander - Screenwriter
Stefan Czapsky - Cinematographer
Rick Baker - Make Up
Howard Shore - Film Score
"Greetings, my friend. You are interested in the unknown, the mysterious, the unexplainable . . . that is why you are here. So now, for the first time, we are giving you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony of the miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal. Can your heart stand the shocking facts of the true story of Edward D. Wood Jr.?"
So intones famed psychic to the stars, Criswell, in the opening prologue of Tim Burton's Ed Wood, a rigorously faithful adaptation of five tumultuous years in the life of the film director whose name has become synonymous with lack of talent. Touchstone Pictures is due to open director Tim Burton's quirky ode to Wood in October.
Poughkeepsie, New York, was the birthplace of Ed Wood, and the place where Burton decided to turn Ed Wood's life into a movie. Screenwriters Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander had written a treatment that, at first Burton thought he would produce, but not direct. "I was staying at a farmhouse out near Poughkeepsie," remembered Burton, "and I started to read Nightmare of Ecstasy [the Ed Wood biography]. Then I found that Ed was from Poughkeepsie and I started to get into it thematically. There were a lot of things happening that I could relate to and I started thinking about doing the movie.
"I wanted to do it, but we didn't have a script. Scott and Larry wrote the script in the quickest amount of time I've ever seen. They must have had it in their heads already, because they wrote it in about a month. I read the script and liked what they had written very much. Then I really wanted to direct it. I like it when things go real fast . . . there's not a lot of hashing it over. It just is, what it is."
"It's got a strange edge to it," said Martin Landau, a two time Academy Award nominee, who was Burton's first and only choice to play the pivotal role of Bela Lugosi. "Tim has an empathy for these underdogs," continued Landau. "He admired the fact that in the face of all this adversity, Ed Wood remained loyal to his troupe of players and was able to get these movies made, which were so abysmal. Yet, there's something about the movies that is fun to watch. They're so bizarrely awful that it's great.
After doing a big production like Batman Returns, Burton saw Ed Wood as a chance to do something more personal and on a small scale. "Time has the choice to do whatever he wants to," said Ed Wood's cinematographer Stefan Czapsky. "I think by picking something small to work on, it will show that he can be creative with the most simple and basic things.
At the present time, Burton has no idea how the film will be received, but finds the characters are what makes it so endearing to him. "This group of people are so special and tragic," said Burton. "You have Tor Johnson, Vampira, Bunny Breckinridge, Ed Wood, and Bela Lugosi. They're like faded royalty. There's something very compelling about seeing Dracula at this stage of his life. It's a very strange feeling."
To bring this assorted cast of down-on-their-luck characters to life, Burton was quite pleased with the performances he got from a cast that included Landau, Johnny Depp, and Bill Burray. "It was a fun group to work with," said Burton. In contrast to the pains-taking effort that has gone into duplicating scenes from Wood's movies, Burton noted he's glad he didn't adhere strictly to the known facts of Wood's life. "We didn't try to delve into the history of these people," explained Burton, "because there wasn't a lot you could delve into. I felt lucky that we didn't have to treat it as a realistic bio picture."
When Burton completes Ed Wood he hasn't decided what he'll tackle next, but admits to a desire to work on a Gothic horror film, like Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which are currently undergoing big budget remakes. Though Burton didn't mention it, Variety speculated that his next project might be House of Usher, as he awaits the completion of a script from the Catwoman movie at Warner Bros.
--LAWRENCE FRENCH from Tim Burton: Interviews, 2005
A selection of Ed Wood films.
Find Ed Wood on eBay.com
A selection of Ed Wood books.
A History of Horror
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