Many thanks to Kathryn for being so kind and generous with us!!!
Kathryn Leigh Scott who played Maggie Evans and Josette Dupres in the fabulous 1960s TV series "Dark Shadows,' Kathryn was very gracious to us here on JDR! I hope you enjoy our chat, she was very honest and is just fabulous!
JDR: Kathryn, you must be running ragged with interviews!
KLS: No, I’m just doing three this morning and I did three yesterday, so I’m doing good!
JDR: That’s great! I appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule to talk to us.
KLS: I’m delighted to do an interview with you; you’ve talked to a lot of interesting people!
JDR: I have and they always surprise me! But everyone is always so nice! Tell me what’s been happening with you . . .
KLS: I lost my husband in April and that’s a really hard blow. I still can't quite believe that.
JDR: Oh gosh, I’m so sorry to hear that, I didn’t know.
KLS: Thank you. But then, just a about a month and a half after my husband passed away, I went off to do the cameo in the Dark Shadows movie . . . going off to England to do that, and then to work on this book, which turns out to be a sort of tie-in book, has come along at a good time. Welcome distractions! It’s been really good for me to have something so involving to do, along with everything else one has in one’s life. Working on the book has been a really fun thing. I think I will see my first book March 1st!
JDR: So does that mean they will be in the stores then as well?
KLS: Well, I think that probably Amazon and Barnes & Noble are going to start releasing them early.
JDR: That’s fabulous news!
KLS: Yes, so they’ll be available in March.
JDR: So, did you write the book knowing that there was going to be a film?
KLS: This film has been germinating for a long time. The backstory is that that I did an episode of “21 Jump Street” and when I went up to Vancouver and walked into the make-up room that first day, everybody said “Johnny Depp’s favorite show is “Dark Shadows” and some day he wants to play Barnabas Collins.” So, I’ve been aware that he’d had that interest for a long time. He was just a kid then, just starting out. But I kept it in mind as I watched all of the other roles that he did, everything from Jack Sparrow to Ed Wood and all of the others and I thought that all of the ingredients are there for a wonderful Barnabas Collins. But then about three years ago, we started hearing that he might really do it. He acquired the rights from the Dan Curtis estate, and once Tim Burton became involved, I had the feeling that this thing was really going to move forward.
JDR: And it did!
KLS: Yeah, it really did! And I was hoping that we would have cameos in the film. Normally that doesn’t happen. “Star Trek” is an example where it DID work. But in most of them [remakes] it doesn’t. Nobody wants to acknowledge the original cast, they just don’t. But I had a feeling because Tim Burton and Johnny Depp were both childhood fans of the show that things might be a little bit different. And there were early signs because Johnny Depp would make references to Jonathan Frid. Then when it really looked like it was going to happen none of us said a word. We all just kept our fingers crossed. I sent copies of my “Dark Shadows” books to Johnny Depp and his sister, and I sent copies to Tim Burton because I figured they would use them for research, if nothing else, but I also wanted them to be aware that we were all still a close knit group forty five years later. So, it worked out. We got our cameo roles and I started writing right away. I took notes of course, from the beginning, because I’m a writer—that’s what I do. Then I turned to David Selby and Lara Parker, both of whom are also writers, and said, “please contribute” —and they both did. David has written a poem, a wonderful poem about Dark Shadows, and Lara Parker wrote a piece, and Jonathan Frid wrote the Foreword.
JDR: Isn’t that wonderful!
KLS: So what I’m presenting is really five decades of “Dark Shadows” —literally the new film is one fifth of the book because we also covered the “House of Dark Shadows,” in which I appeared, “Night of Dark Shadows” and then also the 1991 series that was on NBC and another pilot that never made it to the air. So people will be seeing color photographs from all of these incarnations, including the one thousand, two hundred and twenty five episodes of the original series. So it’s truly five decades of “Dark Shadows” — a full color book with a lot of photographs that were found just in the last two years. I did my last “Dark Shadows” book six years ago, so there’ll be new photographs throughout. And then there’ll be something on the CD dramas that we’ve been doing through Stuart Manning and Big Picture. The book is really a compilation that gives context to the new “Dark Shadows” film. I think the reason why Tim Burton and Johnny Depp and Warner Brothers have been so supportive of the book is that it does give context for fans of the original show and new fans. We get more fans every time another book comes out or DVDs are released. Now we’ve got a couple of generations of “Dark Shadows” fans.
JDR: The fan base is amazing, I’ve not been to any of the “Dark Shadows” festivals but, but a friend went last year and she was moved by the number of fans there! The fans still hold the cast in such high esteem; it’s such a wonderful experience!
KLS: It IS a wonderful experience; we try to make it that way for the fans. Without mentioning some of the other cult shows that have fan followings and festivals, we don’t isolate ourselves at all. We have a banquet where we sit among the fans instead of sitting at some head table just talking among ourselves—and we don’t isolate ourselves in roped-off areas. We are there the whole time, available to the fans the whole time, and we also set aside time when cast members can be together. We’re family!
JDR: When you started in “Dark Shadows” you were playing Maggie Evans, you did not come into the show playing Josette. I was one of those kids who used to run home after school to watch “Dark Shadows” did you have any clue back then that forty five years later we’d still be in love with the show?
KLS: No, there was no clue at all. I think at the time we all thought that our show was special because we had our own little studio. We were sort of isolated from the other soap operas. The first time that we realized that there was a real fan following was when Joel Crothers, who played my boyfriend on the show, learned that we had about five days off and I was going to go to Rome to see my boyfriend and he got tickets on the same flight and surprised me. Well the stewardesses when they saw us!… I have to tell you, it was Maggie Evans and Joe Haskell are running off together! And then the crowd of fans outside the studio— all of a sudden we just had crowds, and I think it was then that we started realizing how popular the show had become.
JDR: You didn’t know that you were playing Josette, you came on as Maggie.
KLS: Josette didn’t exist. The show began with the Collins family. Sam Evans and Maggie Evans were the only townspeople in the story. I remember at one point the producers said that we were going to have a masquerade ball, and the director said “but there are only eight people in this town. There’s the guy who runs the hotel, there’s a waitress, there’s the artist and some goofy people, that about it in Collinsport.” We were a very tight little group. Then Dan got the idea of introducing the paranormal and had the woman in the portrait come alive. I happened to stop by the studio that day to pick up scripts. I saw the producer and the wardrobe woman working with this clothes dummy wearing this shredded clothing, a wig, a hairpiece sort of thing and a fan blowing on her. I said. “what’s that?” And they said this is Josette DuPres. She jumped to her death because of a vampire. What do you think?” And I said “it looks like a clothes dummy.” So the producer said, “OK, smart aleck, do you want to stand in for the dummy?” Well, I did! When Dan Curtis saw me embody this creature, with all of the terrible makeup and so on, it was one of those light bulb moments and I became the first of the actors to play a second role.
JDR: You eventually did four roles, right?
KLS: I did four roles, and that was the beginning of it. When we turned to paranormal and supernatural, that’s when the ratings took off. Jonathan Frid also came on as the vampire, and that’s when the show went through the roof.
JDR: You just mentioned that you were picking up scripts. How far in advance did you get those scripts?
KLS: Oh sometimes we only got them a day or two in advance. But we were young and with an agile brain and you can learn those lines so, so quickly.
JDR: It was live television then, was there any ad-libbing?
KLS: Yes! It was live television and you ad-libbed to get yourself out a hole. We had strict timing so you couldn’t play around too much. But we never re-did a show, so if something went wrong, it stayed in. One of the most entertaining things about “Dark Shadows” was the so-called blooper reel. We really, really had a good time and we really were family. I really hope and trust it’s true that Warner Brothers and Tim Burton and Johnny Depp and Richard Zanuck realize that had it not been for those of us who wrote books, attended the festivals, encouraged the fan participation, there wouldn’t be a “Dark Shadows” today. It’s really the chemistry with the original cast members and the bonds that we have formed with the fans. Otherwise nobody would remember what it was like forty five years ago were it not for the “Dark Shadows” books and the stories that we tell at these festivals. That might also be why Johnny Depp and Tim Burton want to acknowledge us. Fans are so ardently loyal to the show and have such vehement feeling about the new film—and I think they know we wouldn’t support anything that wasn’t true to "Dark Shadows".
JDR: Even here on JDR, it’s open for people to make comments, and I’m on the fence about this one, I wanted this new “Dark Shadows” to be a romantic, re-imagining of what we saw and I’m not sure if we’re (the fans) going to like what we’ll be seeing or not.
KLS: I know. It’ll be real interesting, I don’t know which way it’s going to go, but I’ve said from the beginning to whoever will listen, that you’ve got to support that fan base because they are the ones who are going to see the movie two, three, four times, they’re the ones who will buy the DVD. And you can’t go too far a-field. Johnny Depp has done his part in demonstrating his regard for Jonathan Frid. Let me put it this way, my husband started “Los Angeles Magazine,” which was the first city magazine in the country. I remember my husband saying every time he did a new cover design and slightly tweaked the logo or whatever, he’d get letters from irate people who were going to cancel their subscriptions because they didn’t want change. My husband said he always kept in mind that the magazine didn’t belong to him, but to the readers. I’m sure you understand the analogy. “Dark Shadows” does not belong to us. We originated these roles but “Dark Shadows” belongs to the viewers. They’ve invested themselves in it and they need to be acknowledged, their wishes honored.
JDR: I couldn’t agree more. On Twitter yesterday, David Selby commented that he would not be attending the Vista Theater event in LA in May, but would be attending the event in July in NY. Will you be attending the LA event?
KLS: In Los Angeles, yes! Lara Parker, Nancy Barrett, Jerry Lacy, we’ll all be there. David Selby and Jonathan Frid will not—though you never know he might just show up. It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s up to Warner Brothers, Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, all of them, to make a film that the fans are going to want to see. We have nothing to do with that—we’re simply supportive of “Dark Shadows” and thrilled that we were included!
JDR: Are you able to share with me a little bit about your cameo?
KLS: You know we signed these confidentiality agreements so we’re not really supposed to talk about it, but I think it’s fairly well known that we appear as party guests. And my book will be out next week and people will know. Everybody knows that Alice Cooper is in it. I think the reveal will be actually seeing us in the film and knowing just about where we’re going to show up. We’ve seen nothing.
JDR: I’m so thrilled that you have this book coming out, I’ve been all over the “Dark Shadows” blogs and sites and everyone is so excited about your book!
KLS: I’m very pleased about that. I’ve put a special offer of a signed photo for preorders on my website because I know that word of mouth is going to be so important. Check out http://www.kathrynleighscott.com
. . . and please review the book on amazon.com and Barnes & Noble! Those early reviews will be so important!
JDR: I know they’re going to be brilliant! I’ve started reading your “Dark Passages” book, and I know you new book will be great because I do have a couple of your other books upstairs.
JDR: You’ve just spent a lot of personal time going over the last forty five years for this new book, is there something that stood out, that made you laugh? Did any one thing pop up during the writing process that you had maybe forgotten?
KLS: I don’t know that I fully expressed it in the book, but there was a moment when I was on the set at Pinewood and realized that Johnny Depp is the same age that Jonathan Frid was when he played that role, 47. And young Bella Heathcote is just a year older than me when I created the role of Josette DuPres. And there was that moment, and it’s odd, but I did get a little choked up. I didn’t say that in the book, but you can certainly say it.
JDR: Do people still stop you when you’re walking down the street?
KLS: Yes, they do, especially in the grocery store, I think people recognize my voice. It’s kind of fun.
JDR: I told some women friends that I was so excited that I was going to interview “Josette” and they started jumping up and down. One of them asked me to ask you what it was like to kiss Jonathan Frid.
KLS: (laughing) What you have to say is that it’s a job, we kissed and it was lovely. That kiss you see is actually about six or seven kisses during the course of the day, doing the dress rehearsal and the run-through and the blocking and all of the rest of it. And there were a few playful kisses, too. There’s a picture in the book of Jonathan leaning in to spontaneously kiss me while we’re posing for a picture—he just leaned over and gave me a kiss! It was lovely. We had no romantic relationship off the set, but it was a very loving, romantic relationship when we worked together. I just love the guy. We have a very close relationship.
JDR: Being a fan of the show, I think it’s lovely that over the years, we all watched it back then, and I don’t know anyone who watched it back then who isn’t interested in it now. As a fan, watching it over the years, you can tell that y’all really like each other. And as a fan of the series and of your books, it’s such a joy for me to be able to talk to you! Look at how many people’s lives you touch!
KLS: Thank you very much for saying that, but I have to tell you that we get such a lot out of it. I mean we personally do!
JDR: Can you tell me a bit about your other book, “Dark Passages"?
KLS: The story behind that is that I wrote the whole book and then my literary agent and an editor said you know, have you ever thought doing something that’s more paranormal? Then I rewrote the entire book. At the time, my husband was very ill and while I was taking care of him, I worked on that book, so it’s very personal to me. I was able to read the whole book to him before he passed away. He have me some lovely comments on it and it will always remain a very personal book to me.
JDR: Another thing….you were a Playboy Bunny!
JDR: You and Gloria Steinem both!
KLS: Yes, we were in Bunny training together, although she was working as an undercover reporter and was a good ten years old than the rest of us.
JDR: One more question please, do you have any thoughts regarding Dan Curtis and what his reaction might be to the Depp/Burton interpretation of Dark Shadows?
KLS: As far as what Dan Curtis might make of all this, I have no idea until I see the film. I don't know what his reaction would be, but he had such a clear concept that he would probably bemoan any deviation from the original!
JDR: It’s been so much fun talking to you today, I’ll read “Return to Collinwood” as soon as it arrives and while I’m waiting, I’ll read “Dark Passages.” Thanks so much Kathryn, it’s been a real treat visiting with you today!
KLS: I really enjoyed talking with you.
Photos and book art provided by Kathryn Leigh Scott
Please check out Kathryn Leigh Scott's website
You can order her newest book, "Dark Shadows: Return to Collinwood here.
You can also order it here on Amazon
and here at Barnes and Noble.
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