[Interview] Kathryn Leigh Scott, “Dark Shadows: Return to Collinwood”

With mixed reactions of the recent big budget remake still rolling in, original Dark Shadows fans can take solace in the fact that Kathryn Leigh Scott has published a new book, co-written with Jim Pierson. Dark Shadows: Return to Collinwood is an amazing in-depth look at five decades of the classic Gothic horror soap opera that made sympathetic vampire Barnabas Collins a pop culture phenomenon.

With a foreword by the late Jonathan Frid, the book is an enticing look back on making the original series and the new film. Full of amazing stories and photos, it is a must have for fans of the original series.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Scott again recently about her experiences with the new film and her favorite moment with Jonathan Frid.

BD: Since Dark Shadows, we’ve had numerous hits in the vampire genre. Do you feel that perhaps Dark Shadows has fueled vampire love stories – and they all somehow reflects the love story of Barnabas and Josette?

Kathryn Leigh Scott: It’s so tempting to give you a one-word answer: YES! Barnabas Collins’ curse is his unrequited love for Josette, a mortal, who could only be his bride by sharing his curse. The “reluctant” vampire was originated by Jonathan Frid, who portrayed Barnabas with vulnerability and human passions.

BD: Prior to the remake – did the cast keep in touch?

KLS: We are family! And stay in touch by attending the Dark Shadows Festivals and working together on the Big Finish audio dramas. We get together privately to socialize whenever we can.

BD: Are there any special reunions planned now with the remake?

KLS: We are having a gala event July 28 at the famous Tarrytown estate of Jay Gould, “Lyndhurst” where House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows were filmed. We will miss Jonathan Frid, who was to be our guest of honor, but the event will be a tribute to him. Please check the Dark Shadows Festival website for more information.

BD: In the book, you mention the short-lived incarnations of the show since the original – Which were you involved in? Did you ever think any of them would have the clout of the original?

KLS: I camera-tested for the role of Elizabeth Collins-Stoddard in the WB pilot, a production that was so misguided (in my opinion) that it didn’t stand a chance of appealing to Dark Shadows fans. Everything about it was wrong. I published a book by Jim Pierson about the 1991 NBC series that Dan Curtis produced and directed with Ben Cross as Barnabas Collins. It was really quite good.

BD: What did you think about the new Dark Shadows from reading the script?

KLS: I thought the early version of the script I read was very interesting and I loved the Rip Van Winkle twist to the plot.

BD: After being on set, how did you feel?

KLS: I felt privileged and quite thrilled that I could be part of the new incarnation after 46 years! The sets were amazing, and Collinsport truly came alive for me when I saw the harbor, cannery and street scenes on the Pinewood back lot. I felt a bit of nostalgia, but also very much in the moment because I was with Jonathan, Lara and David.

BD: Jonathan Frid passed away recently – what can you share about your time together working on the original Dark Shadows? A favorite memory perhaps?

KLS: Really, Johnny Depp, who barely knew Jonathan, said it best: he was elegant and magical. My favorite scene of all the 700 + episodes I did was my first encounter with Barnabas Collins in the Collinsport diner. I think Dan Curtis saw our chemistry together and was inspired to create the Barnabas/Josette love match.