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October, 1999
Tim Burton's 'Sleepy Hollow'

By Mark Salisbury
Photographed by Stephane Sednaoui

Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, and the Headless Horseman come together on the creepy set of Burton's latest otherworldly adventure.

Dressed all in black, a beret covering his tangled locks, director Tim Burton stomps around an English graveyard, waiting for the sun to cloud over. He hangs his coat on a tombstone, which rocks gently in its setting--but then it would, for it's fake, as are all the others here. The cemetary is part of a town created--at a cost of $1.3 million--for Sleepy Hollow, Burton's version of the Washington Irving tale, due in theaters November 19. The month-long location shoot, which took place about an hour's drive west of London, was one of the few times the production ventured outdoors; the majority of the exteriors, and all of the interiors, were shot on stages at Shepperton and Leavesden studios. "I wanted to get back to making a movie where you're building sets," Burton says, "where it's less computerized. You feel the reality despite its looking unreal."

With its dreamy, gothic-horror feel, the story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman is quintessential material for the director's macabre mind-set. "I had never really done something that was more of a horror film," says Burton, who hadn't read Irving's novella prior to signing on but was a big fan of the Disney cartoon adaptation, which he calls "a good mix of humor and scariness." It's a combination he too is striving for. The cast--which includes Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Casper Van Dien, Christopher Walken, Jeffrey jones, and Burton's girlfriend, Lisa Marie--is headed by Johnny Depp as Ichabod, a police constable (in Burton's version) who's dispatched to the titular town to investigate a series of decapitations. For Depp, reuniting with his director from Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood was "like coming home," even though the part required him to play the action hero. Typically, Depp isn't playing it entirely straight: His Ichabod is part Roddy McDowell, part Angela Lansbury. "I've tried to make him prissy, almost like a nervous preteen girl," Depp says with a laugh. "You couldn't fit a pin up his ass, he's so uptight."

Inset: Tim Burton works the graveyard shift.
(Image coming soon.)

Inset: "This isn't a jokey movie; it's not a campy movie--it's serious," says Tim Burton. "But there's humor in it, I think."

Inset: Christina Ricci and Johnny Depp during the pivotal windmill scene.

Inset: "I faint a lot, and I scream. I'm a sad little blond girl," Ricci says of her character, Ichabod's love interest, Katrina VanTassel. Says Burton of Ricci, "If Peter Lorre and Bette Davis had a child, it would be like her."

Inset: "I can't help but think that Tim gets some sort of perverse enjoyment...he likes to see people in funny situations, especially people that he knows really well," Depp says. "I think he finds it hilarious."

Inset: Lisa marie, a veteran now of three Burton films, plays Ichabod's mother in dream sequences. "It's just nice to do this stuff sometimes and have somebody that you love around," Burton says of their on- and off-screen collaborations.

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