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March 8, 2023

27 Behind the Scenes Photographs From the Making of ‘Edward Scissorhands’ (1990)

Johnny Depp, Tim Burton and Stan Winston collaborated to create an iconic fantasy character with the feature film Edward Scissorhands. This was the first time Burton and Depp worked together, and they became good friends while filming. To prepare for the role of Edward, Depp watched silent films starring Charlie Chaplin to get an idea of how to convey emotion without dialogue. His wardrobe and makeup took one hour and 45 minutes to apply.

“I read the screenplay and I was devastated, I mean I was just devastated. It was one of the most beautiful things for ever read. I just felt like I knew him. I had this universal feeling towards him, that feeling of not quite fitting in.” – Johnny Depp on Edward Scissorhands.

The character was based on an early drawing that Tim Burton did while still in high school. It was rough and only showed long line sketches for his fingers. It was Winston who took this basic idea and actually put real scissors in place of the fingers. In fact, when Burton first saw Winston’s enhanced drawings he said, “I didn’t think he’d actually have scissors for fingers. I though they’d just be long sharp pieces of metal that weren’t finished – but this is much better!” It’s a prime example of two complementing minds working better than one.

Although Winona Ryder was the first cast member attached to the script, Dianne Wiest was the first to sign on. “Dianne, in particular, was wonderful,” Burton said. “She was the first actress to read the script, supported it completely and, because she is so respected, once she had given it her stamp of approval, others soon got interested.”

When it came to casting the lead role of Edward, several actors were considered; Fox was insistent on having Burton meet with Tom Cruise. “He certainly wasn’t my ideal, but I talked to him,” Burton remembered. “He was interesting, but I think it worked out for the best. A lot of questions came up.” Cruise asked for a “happier” ending. Tom Hanks and Gary Oldman turned down the part, Hanks in favor of critical and commercial flop The Bonfire of the Vanities. Oldman found the story to be absurd, but understood it after watching “literally two minutes” of the completed film. Jim Carrey was also considered for the role, while Thompson favored John Cusack. Elsewhere, William Hurt, Robert Downey Jr. and musician Michael Jackson expressed interest, although Burton did not converse with Jackson.

Though Burton was unfamiliar with Johnny Depp’s then-popular performance in 21 Jump Street, he had always been Burton’s first choice. At the time of his casting, Depp was wanting to break out of the teen idol status which his performance in 21 Jump Street had afforded him. When he was sent the script, Depp “wept like a newborn” and immediately found personal and emotional connections with the story.

The movie, released in 1990, was shot on film using Panavision Cameras and Panavision Lenses with Stefan Czapsky as cinematographer and editing by Colleen Halsey, Richard Halsey.


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