Tim Burton Compared Edward Scissorhands to Sweeney Todd: The Main Difference Between the Johnny Depp Characters

Tim Burton has been the man behind many of Johnny Depp’s most memorable eccentrics — Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter, Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd, Willy Wonka, and more. Yet, two of Depps’ Burton-ized characters are quite intimately attached to sharp blades. Edward uses his scissor-based hands to create art — in gardens and atop heads. The other — Sweeney — uses classic shaving razors to slit throats and help turn men into meals. 

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp attend The Royal World Premiere of Tim Burton’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’ | Jon Furniss / Contributor

Though Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney and Edward may boast skills with sharp objects, there is not much connecting the two characters outside the physical space. During an interview with Female, Burton spoke about Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Edward Scissorhands, noting the intrinsic characteristics that separate the two men.

Outside the ‘sharp instruments angle,’ Todd and Edward look at the world from different viewpoints 

When speaking about the connection between the two projects — which boast a 17-year gap — Burton explained how his characters are not similar. One is a bit more brooding and dark than the other. Burton shared: 

“I think for me it is only the fact that we did that movie and we did this movie and we are not lost on the sharp instrument angle, but the thing about this character that I love that is different from that is that we did that a long time ago and I was certainly more optimistic, where that character is represented, where now the Sweeney character is more interiorized, darker character, which I love.”

Burton | Female

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Burton explained that watching Depp channel both characters was quite the treat:

“To see Johnny do both of those things was really amazing for me to see because I think this character for me is one of my favorite characters hes done just because I love the interior brooding quality of the character and you put that with him singing and together and it just to me created an amazing new thing.”

Burton | Female

Johnny Depp explained that Edward was more innocent than the other men he has played for Burton 

Depp chimed in, concurring with Burton’s assessment, adding comparisons between Todd, Edward, and the likes of Sleepy Hollow’s Ichabod Crane. Depp said: 

“Compared to Scissorhands? No. I think similarities in the sense that with Scissorhands or even Sleepy Hollow and Ichabod Crane in the way the characters were very much, like he was talking about, living inside their own heads kind of thing. Edward was a bit more innocent. I think there was only one moment when you saw Edward get angry.”

Depp | Female

Though both Sweeney and Edward boast a proclivity for sharp objects, Edward looks at the world through an innocent, loving, and sometimes naive lens; Todd has been beaten down by life and has resorted to cynicism and emptiness.