Tim Burton’s goth masterpiece (gothsterpiece?) Edward Scissorhands is turning 30. Get your Robert Smith hair going, put on some black leather, and let’s see what you know about one of the most iconic films of the 1990s.
1. The studio wanted Tom Cruise to play Edward Scissorhands.
After the success of 1989’s Batman, 20th Century Fox was willing to take a gamble on Tim Burton’s offbeat little suburban fantasy, but they wanted him to cast a big star in the lead role. Specifically, they wanted Tom Cruise, who at the time was riding high on the success of Rain Man. Burton talked to Cruise, noting later that “he was interesting, but I think it worked out for the best” that he went with Johnny Depp instead. “At the end of the meeting I did feel like, and I probably even said this to him, ‘It’s nice to have a lot of questions about the character, but you either do it or you don’t do it.’”
2. Edward Scissorhands was the first of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's many collaborations.
Though he wanted to go with an unknown actor for the part, Burton compromised on Johnny Depp, who at the time was a teen idol known mostly for his television work. “I didn’t really know him,” Burton said. “I hadn’t seen that TV show he’d been in [21 Jump Street], but I must have seen a picture of him somewhere.” The film would be the first of their eight feature film collaborations (so far).
3. The studio worried that Edward Scissorhands's appearance would turn off moviegoers.
Studio execs were so worried that potential moviegoers would respond poorly to Edward Scissorhands’s appearance (it wasn’t exactly Depp’s typical look at the time) that they tried to keep images of his full ensemble from being released until the film came out.
4. Stan Winston built Edward Scissorhands's hands.
Edward’s iconic hands were designed by makeup and special effects icon Stan Winston, who was best known for his work on the Terminator movies, Jurassic Park, and Aliens, among many other projects. It was Winston who decided to use real scissors for Edward’s fingers. When Winston first showed his sketches to Burton, the director responded that, “I didn’t think he’d actually have scissors for fingers. I thought they’d just be long sharp pieces of metal that weren’t finished—but this is much better!” Winston would go on to work with Burton again on Batman Returns and Big Fish.
5. The Boggs family's neighborhood in Edward Scissorhands is a real place.
Though based on Burton’s hometown of Burbank, California, Edward Scissorhands was filmed in a real subdivision near Tampa, Florida. Production designer Bo Welch prepped the houses for Burton’s distinct off-kilter palette by painting them pastel colors; while the redesign was going on, some of the residents still lived there. “Initially they didn't like it, but I think they got used to it,” Welch told Entertainment Weekly. “It made it more of a fun place.”
6. Winona Ryder could not relate to her Edward Scissorhands character.
Winona Ryder’s blonde cheerleader Kim was a far cry from both Ryder’s own personality and her previous Burton role (Lydia Deetz in Beetlejuice), a fact that tickled Burton pink (or, well, a black sort of pink) to no end. “I thought the idea of her as a cheerleader, wearing a blonde wig, was very funny,” Burton said. “I think she might even say it’s probably the most difficult thing she’s ever done because she did not relate to her character. She was tortured by these people at school herself. It was so funny. I used to laugh every day when I saw her walk on the set wearing this little cheerleader outfit and a Hayley Mills-type blonde wig. She looked like Bambi.”
7. Edward Scissorhands exists, in part, because of Dianne Wiest.
If you love Edward Scissorhands, you can thank Dianne Wiest. Not only did she play Edward’s first friend—the infectiously chipper, Avon-selling, suburban mom Peg Boggs—she was also the first person to read the script and one of the movie’s most tireless champions. Because she is so respected, once she had given it her stamp of approval, others soon got interested," Burton said of Wiest. "In many ways, she was my guardian angel.”
8. Edward Scissorhands gave Tim Burton the chance to work with his personal hero.
In the small role of Edward’s creator/father was horror legend Vincent Price, one of Burton’s personal heroes. After shooting Edward Scissorhands, Burton began interviewing Price for a documentary titled Conversations with Vincent, production on which came to a halt when Price passed away in 1993. The film was released two years later.
9. Johnny Depp reprised his role as Edward Scissorhands in 2012.
Depp reprised his role as Edward Scissorhands for one of Seth MacFarlane’s signature cutaway gags in the 2012 Family Guy episode “Lois Comes Out Of Her Shell.”
10. Thanks to Edward Scissorhands, there's a fossil named after Johnny Depp.
In 2013, a 505 million-year-old fossil, Kooteninchela deppi, was named after Johnny Depp. The reason? “When I first saw the pair of isolated claws in the fossil records of this species I could not help but think of Edward Scissorhands,” paleontologist Dr. David Legg, who named the prehistoric animal, said. “In truth, I am also a bit of a Depp fan and so what better way to honor the man than to immortalize him as an ancient creature that once roamed the sea?”
Additional Sources Masters of Cinema: Tim Burton, by Aurélien Ferenczi
Burton on Burton, by Tim Burton
This story has been updated for 2020.