December 1999

Hair-raising: Burton calls ‘Sleepy Hollow’ “funny and scary at the same time.”

The 'Sleepy Hollow' director was a teen misfit and a Disney dropout.

What appealed to you about the tale of the Headless Horseman?

When I got the script, I had been working on Superman for a year and when that fell apart, I was devastated. It wasn't a movie ‑ it was a corporate franchise that had to be protected. So after that, I could relate to a character with no head.

This is your third outing with Johnny Depp, after 'Edward Scissorhands' and 'Ed Wood.' Why do you work well together?

He's good at dealing with subject matter that's not real and giving it a reality that works. Part of it is also that he's willing to look ridiculous.

Why did you shoot 'Sleepy Hollow,' which is set in New York, in London?

It allowed me to focus on the work. In America, there's this Access Hollywood‑ization, where everybody on the set knows how much the film is costing.

Do you feel pressure to have a hit with this film?

Any time you spend any amount of money, you have a responsibility, and I treat that very seriously. But I don't live or die by it. I'm always surprised if my movie makes money.

You got your start as an animator for Disney. What was that like?

I didn't do very well. I was working on The Fox and the Hound, and it was all these cute foxes. If there had been a car‑accident scene, I would have done a great job.

Is there a day from childhood you'd like to relive?

I don't want to reexperience any of it, because I felt very old at the time. I graduated from high school a semester early, and I remember people saying, "You're missing the biggest party of your life." I was like, "Get me out of here."

But you missed your prom?

Well, you've seen Carrie, haven't you?