It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Tim Burton grew up loving monster movies and always identified more with the monsters than with the humans. This affinity was an inspiration for the creation of Edward, a tragic monster with an artist’s soul. Burton told the Los Angeles Times, “I hope the feelings are pretty universal,” adding that the film “isn’t a new story. It’s Frankenstein. It’s Phantom of the Opera. It’s ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, ‘King Kong’, ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ and countless fairy tales.”
According to Vox, sci-fi and horror B-movies have been a major influence on Burton’s aesthetic and the themes he explores in his films. Burton even provided a list of movies like The Mummy’s Tomb, Nosferatu, and Revenge of the Creature. Burton told Danny Elfman during a discussion for Interview Magazine, “What I love about the old monsters is that they had such a strong, instantly identifiable image… Even in ‘Creature From the Black Lagoon.’ the guy had a full costume so it felt like there was a human underneath.”
Johnny Depp’s Edward exudes vulnerable humanity with his sad, expressive eyes. As Rolling Stone’s Burton David Breskin said, the tragedy of Edward and Monster films is that they are about characters who are misperceived. “I love a character who is open and sensitive to everything,” he said. “There’s something very funny and tragic about it.” Burton linked this to Depp himself, telling Elfman for Interview Magazine, “Johnny isn’t ‘Tiger Beat,’ even though the rest of the world saw him that way… He has a lot more depth, a lot more emotion. There’s a certain sadness when that happens to people.” There was a lot of heart and soul in Edward Scissorhands, and Depp was the perfect actor to bring it to life.