Deadline Dayton has gotten word that Jackie Earle Haley is in talks to play the role of Willie Loomis in Burton’s upcoming big screen adaptation of the late 60s-early 70s era daytime soap Dark Shadows. He joins Johnny Depp, who is already slated to play Barnabas Collins, Loomis’ vampiric overlord, and negotiates alongside Bella Heathcoate, who is reportedly the first choice to take on the principle female role of Victoria Winters. Haley is coming off of two dark yet big budget roles playing Rorschach in the Zack Snyder film version of Watchmen as well as Freddy Krueger in the recent Platinum Dunes remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. It makes sense that the next logical step for his career would be to work with Burton, who has similar gothic if not a bit cartoony sensibilities.
In the original soap Haley’s character, Loomis, was a con man and thief who was turned into Barnabas’ slave after a failed attempt to rob the mausoleum where the vampire’s coffin was housed. “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” scribe Seth Grahame-Smith is writing this updated version, and when talking to MTV Burton had this to say about the script, “ … it’s been kind of a long time coming, but I think I’m getting a script that I like. I don’t really like talking because I’m not really sure what’s happening yet but I’m excited about it. I think, yes, finally for me, it’s getting to be the right tone.”
It’s been kind of a long time coming for me to like another Tim Burton film, and it looks like this one might be gathering together the right mix of talented people to make that happen. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t lost complete faith in the guy as a filmmaker, but a remake of a slightly campy 60s soap opera about vampires and ghosts and whatnot seems like a great fit for his aesthetic; and if Grahame-Smith’s script is able to deliver, this might be just what the doctor ordered to recapture some of that Ed Wood magic from a Burton and Depp collaboration.