It was a dream about a mysterious young woman on a train that led to the creation of the gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows”, which originally aired from 1966 to 1971. With the twisted tale of vampire Barnabus Collins and his endless search through time to find his lost love, Josette du Pres Collins, I was enthralled at an early age.
I vividly remember watching reruns of the series on the small black & white television in the kitchen of my childhood home. Thus, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Josette herself, Kathryn Leigh Scott, about her new novel, “Dark Passages“, and her cameo in the upcoming Dark Shadows movie directed by Tim Burton.
Kathryn Leigh Scott: I had several auditions for the series over a period of four months. I was actually in Hollywood doing a screen test when my agent called and said I would be doing a camera test for Dark Shadows at 9 am the morning after I returned to NY from California…and I’d find a script on my doorstep. Whew! I still can’t believe I got the role of Maggie Evans. Forty-five years later I got a call inviting me to film a cameo in the new Warner Bros film starring Johnny Depp… I was thrilled! I’d written to both Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton, sending each of them copies of my Dark Shadows books for reference, and wishing them well with the film. Both are such fans of Dark Shadows, I think the idea of having Jonthan, David, Lara and me in the new film meant as much to them as to us.
BD: What was it about the show that appealed to you?
KTS: First and foremost, it was a job… my first! And then I realized how incredibly lucky I was, straight out of drama school, to be playing costume drama. I had the opportunity to create four different characters in four time periods and work with truly wonderful veteran actors. Dark Shadows is a gift that just keeps on giving!
BD: When did you start writing your new novel Dark Passages?
KTS: I had always wanted to write about my first year in NY and capture that youthful exuberance and intense period of change. Finally I just sat down and wrote it, then when it was finished it occurred to me… what if? What if the main character was a real vampire? I rewrote the entire book from April to August, incorporating the paranormal elements.
BD: How much of the book is true and how much is fiction?
KTS: The book is complete fiction. Not a single thing that happens to Meg Harrison happened to me in my own life… but I did write about a period of time and a world I know well. I was raised on a farm, went to NY with dreams of becoming an actress, worked as a Playboy Bunny to support myself until my “big break,” a role on Dark Shadows but that is all background and setting. The story itself is entirely fiction.
BD: Dark Passages is written in first person. Is that your preferred method? Is there reason behind that?
KTS: I wrote two memoirs (The Bunny Years and Dark Shadows Memories) in first person, and felt comfortable writing Dark Passages entirely from Meg Harrison’s POV. But I am currently going back to a novel I wrote in third person, and that feels comfortable for the story I’m telling. I also have notes for another story that I would like to tell in first person in three different voices.
BD: What was your initial reaction to the new film being announced?
KTS: Many years ago I did an episode of 21 Jump Street and the moment I arrived on location in Vancouver, I was told that Johnny Depp was a huge Dark Shadows fan. I think he’s ideal casting, and I loved the idea that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp would bring their talents to this third Dark Shadows film.
BD: For the short time you were on the set for your cameo, what was your reaction?
KTS: Awe! The sets are amazing. Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helene Bonham-Carter and everyone involved with the production was so warm and welcoming… it felt like a homecoming!
BD: What are your hopes for the film?
KTS: I hope Dark Shadows leaves Harry Potter in the dust and becomes the new long-reigning box office champ! I also hope we get to play cameo roles in all the sequels!
Dark Passages is an affectionate nod to Dark Shadows, the ’60s cult soap opera featuring vampire Barnabas Collins, in which Kathryn Leigh Scott played Josette DePrés, his vampire bride. Dark Passages is a coming-of-age story encapsulating the romance and innocence of JFK’s Camelot era and the tumultuous “dark passages” of Meg Harrison. Arriving in New York City to pursue acting, Meg is a beautiful ingénue who also happens to be a vampire. She joins the cast of the cult hit “Dark Passages” only to face her nemesis who is bent on destroying her and those she loves.
It is available in stores and via Kathryn’s website.