Designer Colleen Atwood Spills 'Dark Shadows' Set Secrets, 'Thin Man' Fashion Forecast

The costume designer talks about Jonathan Frid's time on the "Dark Shadows" film set and her wardrobe preparations for "The Thin Man," Depp's new film.

We had a great time chatting with three-time Oscar winner (and nine-time nominee) Colleen Atwood this week about the costumes featured in Johnny Depp and Tim Burton's passion project, Dark Shadows, which opens May 11.

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THR got all the scoop on her inspirations for the '70s styles, where she found the fabric for Barnabas's daywear (no easy trick for a vampire who can't tolerate sunlight) as well as which characters take a turn for a surprise ending. You can read all about that next week in  The Hollywood Reporter magazine and on Fash Track.

But Atwood also talked about meeting the real Barnabas Collins, Jonathan Frid, the original star of the TV series. "It was great to get to meet the real Barnabas," she told THR. "He’s got a cameo in the film. You only see him for a second, saying hello to Johnny at a party and passing the torch, as it were."

Frid, a classically trained actor with a degree in directing from Yale, died on April 14, 2012,  at the age of 83.

"It's so sad that he died but he was really quite frail," says Atwood. "It was a big trip for him to come and very nice of him to do it because I'm sure it wasn't easy because of his health. What was also sweet was to see was how all the cast members were very kind and caring and genuinely concerned for him on the set."

Four of the original cast came to the set in Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England: Frid, Lara Parker, Kathryn Leigh Scott, and David Selby, and all have cameos as party guests in a disco scene.  

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Scott, who has written several books about the TV series, played several roles including Josette du Pres, the ghostly lover of Barnabas. Parker played the witch Angelique for five years on the series. Selby played the werewolf Quentin Collins.

And just like The Twilight Saga's hunky werewolf Taylor Lautner, Selby achieved heartthrob status from the role and even recorded two songs during the show's run, "Quentin's Theme" and "I Wanna Dance With You."

"In a way, it was a weird dysfunctional family because they really hadn’t seen each other for years," Atwood said.

She went on to praise all the stars of the long-running TV daytime drama that ran from 1966 to 1971 and attracted 20 million viewers in its hey day.

"What they did was so impressive for its time. Those were live performances, not taped, no rehearsals and they did it for so many years. They were so far ahead of their time and I give them so much credit." 

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Colleen is now boning up on yet another time period, the fashions of the '30s. She's doing the costumes for Depp's new film, a remake of The Thin Man (1934) -- based on Dashiel Hammett's novel. The film starred William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, a dapper and usually inebriated former detective and his glamorous socialite wife who solve crimes just for the good sport of it all. Oh, they also have a schnauzer dog named Asta. I can see a Golden Collar Award nod for the lucky canine actor who sinks his teeth into this role.

Rob Marshall, who recently directed Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, is directing what Atwood calls "a speeded up, hip '30s that's going to be really fun." The Thin Man's mustachioed detective is yet another role that seems tailor made for Depp's increasingly comedic sensibilites. But the original 1934 film was no lightweight: It was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Actor in a Lead Role, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Writing, Adaptation.

The film led to five more movies and a TV series. Atwood says she is rewatching them all and declares that "they still hold up." 

No word on which actress will play Nora. However, the Hollywood casting rumor mill has mentioned Emily Blunt, Emma Stone and Kristen Wiig