Spotlight: frequent collaborators

Three days. In just three days time Alice In Wonderland will be hitting the screen and in honour of the latest, and seventh, Burton / Depp combination, I’ve decided to take a look at some of Hollywood’s most frequent collaborators courtesy of much digging about on IMDb:

  • Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson = 4 films
  • Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks = 4 films
  • Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio = 4 films (+ 4 in development)
  • Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter = 6 films
  • Coen brothers and Steve Buscemi = 6 films
  • Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney = 7 films (3 in same series)
  • Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro = 8 films (+ 1 set to be released in 2011)

While this list is in no way exhaustive (I don’t know the names of every film director and I haven’t included collaborators who were working in the same film series) it does get me thinking as to why the actors choose to work with the same directors.

Taking Johnny Depp and Tim Burton as an example, their first foray together was in Edward Scissorhands back in 1990. Since then both Depp and Burton have both been nominated for an Oscar (Burton = Best Animated Feature Film of the Year for Corpse Bride and Depp = Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Finding Neverland and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street).

Depp has gone on to work as a pirate, an astronaut and Willy Wonka. Burton on the other hand has continued to make films in the style he is now famous for: dark and quirky with a magical and, sometimes, sinister edge.

So why does Depp keep coming back to Burton’s bizarre world? While actors try their hands at anything, when it comes to being masters of one specific trade, directors have their own personal brand of movie magic. Burton is the Emperor of the Eccentric and Depp clearly loves working with him.

On the subject of Depp and Burton’s relationship, Jonathan Ross on his Friday night television show on 28 February said: “This partnership clearly works. It is clearly something that you both feel comfortable with but you do still make films with other people.” Burton explained how he will always go to Depp if he feels the part is right and thinks he would like it.

So, for a partnership which has lasted for 20 years, to create and make new films which always have a dedicated following is really something. Take for instance Alice, even if I didn’t already love the story I would still want to see it for the simple reason that it is another Depp and Burton combination. After making him sing, dance and act with scissors for hands, I look forward to seeing what Depp/Burton brings after Alice.

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