Depp cuts a dash at Todd premiere

The actor Johnny Depp has met fans in London for the premiere of the film Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, based on the hit musical.

He was joined in Leicester Square by co-stars Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall.

Depp, 44, plays legendary 19th century serial killer Todd, a role which required him to sing.

Hundreds of fans were waiting for the star. He spent almost an hour talking to them and signing autographs.

The film's director Tim Burton was also there. He said he had wanted to make a film version of the story ever since he saw a stage production in London as a student.

Sporting a goatee beard, Burton joked he did not want to be shaved by someone he did not know.

The story of Sweeney Todd actually dates back to the 1840s. It is a vicious tale of murder and revenge, and is one of the first examples of a fictional serial killer.

It was turned into a play in 1973 and became a hit Stephen Sondheim musical six years later. Some of those revamped songs were being played out as the stars arrived in sparkling rain on a very wet red carpet.

The fans were even wetter. Some had arrived from Russia. A group of four from Japan said Depp was now the biggest star in their country.

The wait seemed to have paid off. After Depp moved on, one girl who had been there since the morning was screaming into her mobile phone: "He touched my hand, he touched my hand!"

Considering the nature of the film, Depp himself was dressed appropriately in black with an open necked shirt.

He spent a lot of time meeting the fans and signing autographs but still seemed shy.

Although Depp has played guitar in a rock band, he said he had never sang: "It was a great challenge to see if I could do it.

"You've got to try something at least once and I gave it a shot."

Alan Rickman, who plays Todd's nemesis Judge Turpin, was also popular with the fans - and admitted to similar concerns with the singing.

"It was less singing and more careering from one note to another," he claimed.

Burton said he had always planned to cast actors who could sing, rather than singers who could act.

It is the sixth time the director has collaborated with Depp. Their previous films include Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow.

Burton has defended the film's bloody murder scenes, which have earned it an 18 rating in the UK.

"By having more blood, it actually made it a bit less graphic, because sometimes when you don't show stuff it has a tendency to be more real and disturbing," he said.

His partner, Helena Bonham Carter, who co-stars in the movie, loved the gore. She plays Mrs Lovett, who recycles Todd's victims by serving up some particularly unpleasant pies.

"It's one of the best written roles for women ever. I loved it from the age of 13. I think I've always wanted to be Mrs Lovett."

The film has been nominated for four Golden Globes in total, including best picture.

It opens in the UK on 25 January. ( BBC )

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