Edward Scissorhands 25th anniversary: Tim Burton on the Johnny Depp film's legacy
Nine short stories about the origin and aftermath of the gothic fable.
Twenty-five years later, Edward Scissorhands is still one of the sharpest knives in the drawer.
Fox released a new Blu-ray of the 1990 film this week, and with the quarter-century mark approaching, Entertainment Weekly spoke with director Tim Burton about the legacy of the lost soul with the razorblade hands.
It couldn’t come at a better time.
During a Sept. 30 segment on cable news channel HLN, host Yasmin Vossoughian brought on a man named Jon Hendren to discuss the Edward Snowden government secrets debate — but every answer he gave was about a different Edward.
“To cast him out, to make him invalid in society simply because he has scissors for hands, I mean, that’s strange,” said Hendren, a comedian who goes by the name @fart on Twitter. “I mean people didn’t get scared until he started sculpting shrubs into dinosaur shapes and whatnot.”
Cable news gets trolled and hoaxed all the time, but what’s remarkable about this one is how long Vossoughian and the producers let Hendren go on before ending the segment, never hitting back with so much as a “Huh?”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Another actor in the film who’s now long gone, sadly, in Vincent Price. But you knew him before this, from the short film Vincent, about a little boy obsessed with the actor. Can you tell me about befriending him?
It was just like Christopher Lee. Vincent, that was my little short and he responded very quickly. He got it. He got the fact it wasn’t like just a fan thing. He sort of the got the emotional side of it, which I felt really amazed by. And so then he came in and narrated it.
That must have been a thrill, since you were that little boy.
It was amazing to meet somebody who you grew up watching, and they’re a nice, really interesting person. It’s a great energy to experience that, instead of, like, meeting somebody that you grew up loving, and they’re like, “Get out of here, you little a–hole. Go, get off my lawn.”
Edward Scissorhands turned out to be his last big role onscreen. He died a couple of years after.
He worked up until that point, but I think he was fading.
How was he on set? Do you recall much about that?
Oh, he always had a spark. He just had a gravity about him, and a generosity about him with people, and a humor. You sort of have these flashbacks to House of Usher, Dr. Phibes — everything! And it’s like — there he is.!
Entertainment Weekly: Edward Scissorhands originated from a drawing you made — were you an adult when you did that, or was that something you drew when you were a kid?
Tim Burton: I was in my early 20s, probably. I was 20ish.
I remember from one of our earlier talks, you said as a kid you used to go to the graveyard that’s below the Burbank airport flight path and draw and read, and I wondered if that was sort of Edward’s birthplace.
Well, it was very much like Ed Wood — I mean, I always thought that cemetery was the one, the one in Plan 9, because it was the same kind of geography and same kind of setting, and so I mean, there’s a lot of those feelings, those kind of things there
SONG AND DANCE
Is it true that you had, for a while, considered making the movie originally as a musical? I thought perhaps that was true because it’s so stylized.
No? Ha ha, well, that was something I read, and I was like… hmm.
No, no, no. Anthony, don’t believe everything you read.
I know! Well, that’s why I asked the source.
I thought of doing it like an Ice Capades show, but no. Not a musical. There would be music in it, but it would be on ice.
Entertainment Weekly: Apart from the cable-news prank, do you have a favorite homage to Edward Scissorhands? I know scientists named a fossil for this little trilobite crab that had particularly sharp-looking pincers, they named it Kooteninchela deppi, so Johnny gets the name.
Well, having a small crab named after you would be — I’m sure he feels quite honored.
That’s the goal, right?
[Laughs] That’s good, yeah. Good for him. Who needs an Oscar?
Entertainment Weekly: The final thing I wanted to ask was, in this era of revisiting everything, do you ever feel the urge to return to Edward and tell another story about him?
Tim Burton: No. I think things like that are nightmares. For me, they’re very singular things, and I think — yeah, some things, I easily get why you make more movies. Trilogies, and sequels, and octogoni. I get it. But for me, they’re usually just singular things.