Corpse Bride, co-directed by Tim Burton and Mike Johnson, hit theaters in September 2005, just nine weeks after Burton's 2005 adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Both films were darkly comic musicals aimed at children, with Johnny Depp in the lead role and featuring Burton's then-partner, Helena Bonham Carter. Corpse Bride seems to have held up as the more memorable film between the two, and for good reason. It's a melancholy fairy tale with a sinister side that enchants and delights over its well-judged 74-minute runtime.
The animated feature follows Victor (Depp), a young man with a nervous disposition and an arranged marriage to the mild Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson). Victoria's ghoulish parents (Albert Finney and Joanna Lumley) have organized the union for not entirely altruistic reasons. While practicing his vows in the woods, Victor accidentally slips his wedding ring onto the finger of the titular Corpse Bride (Bonham Carter), reawakening her and transporting him into the Land of the Dead. He discovers, though, that the spirit world is actually far more lively than the "living" one. Meanwhile, the Everglots intend to marry Victoria off to dastardly (and potentially murderous) Barkis Bittern (Richard E. Grant)
Corpse Bride grossed over $118 million worldwide and garnered rave reviews from critics, scoring an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Film. It's remembered as one of Burton's best works and is amongst the finest vocal turns for each member of its legendary cast.
Just in time for spooky season, EW caught up with the cast of Tim Burton's Corpse Bride to see where they are now.
Johnny Depp (Victor Van Dort)
Born in Owensboro, Ky., Johnny Depp made his film debut in Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) before becoming a household name through the series 21 Jump Street. He then starred in Edward Scissorhands (1990) — his first of many collaborations with Corpse Bride director Tim Burton — and appeared in Cry Baby (1990), What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), among other films. In 2003, Depp took on his most famous role as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, earning his first Oscar nomination in the process. He later reprised the role in four sequels.
Depp segued into a specific type of character acting around this time, taking on projects that were more focused on baroque costumes than compelling scripts. He appeared in Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), netted another Oscar nom for Sweeney Todd (2008), starred opposite Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger (2013), and reached his nadir in Mortdecai (2015).
Depp's personal life has been dotted with controversy in recent years, with high-profile court cases against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, involving allegations of abuse and defamation. After being removed from the Fantastic Beasts franchise, Depp has resurfaced in European-financed films, such as Jeanne Du Barry (2023) and the upcoming Modí, which he is producing and directing.
Depp was romantically attached to actresses Jennifer Grey, Winona Ryder, and model Kate Moss. He was in a long-term relationship with French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis from 1998 to 2012, with whom he shares two children, Jack and the actor Lily-Rose Depp. He then married Amber Heard in 2015. They divorced less than two years later in 2017.
Corpse Bride was Depp's first animated film. He spoke at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival about balancing the fulfillment of a longtime dream with his parallel duties while shooting Chocolate Factory. "[Animation] was something I kind of always wanted to do, especially since having my first child," Depp explained. "I've been watching nothing but animated films now, so I've really developed a respect and love for them. But more than anything, what drew me to this was Tim."
Depp was stunned when he discovered the responsibilities of Corpse Bride were to run consecutively with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. "Tim arrives on [the Charlie] set and says, 'Hey, you know, maybe tonight we'll go and record some of Corpse Bride.' I was like, 'sure, course we can.' I have no character. I didn't know what the guy was going to sound like or anything, but good fun though."
Helena Bonham Carter (Emily, the Corpse Bride)
Helena Bonham Carter's breakthrough role for American audiences was as Lucy Honeychurch in A Room With a View (1985). In addition to many British period films, she took on memorable roles as Marla Singer in Fight Club (1999), Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter franchise, and her Oscar-winning turn as Queen Elizabeth in The King's Speech (2010). She's also been a staple in many Tim Burton films, including Big Fish (2003), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Sweeney Todd (2007), Alice in Wonderland (2010), and Dark Shadows (2012). She often stars opposite her Corpse Bride costar Johnny Depp.
In recent years, she's appeared in Ocean's 8 (2018), Enola Holmes (2020) and its 2022 sequel, as well as her Emmy-nominated performance in Netflix's The Crown.
Bonham Carter was romantically linked to Kenneth Branagh before she began dating Burton, whom she met on the set of Planet of the Apes (2001). They lived in adjoining houses in London until their separation in 2014. They have a son and a daughter. She's been in a relationship with art historian Rye Dag Holmboe since 2018.
Many of the projects shared by Bonham Carter, Burton, and Depp are patently dark. Speaking to Vulture in 2010 about Corpse Bride, Bonham Carter remarked "With Tim, when I saw some of his drawings, I was like, 'Oh, Jesus, it's a bit disturbing.' And he said, 'No, no, you'd be disturbed if I couldn't draw.' If you get rid of it, you exorcise it. It's therapeutic."
Emily Watson (Victoria Everglot)
Emily Watson had her breakthrough role in Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves (1996), a role she won after Bonham Carter left the production, and which netted her an Oscar nomination. She earned an additional nod from the Academy for playing famed cellist Jacqueline du Pré in Hilary and Jackie (1998).
The acclaimed English actor went on to star in Gosford Park (2001), Equilibrium (2002), and Punch-Drunk Love (2002) before taking on the role of sweet-natured Victoria in Corpse Bride. She's since appeared in The Book Thief (2014), The Theory of Everything (2014), and HBO's Chernobyl, earning Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for the latter. She can next be seen opposite Cillian Murphy in the historical drama Small Things Like These.
Watson married Jack Waters in 1995. They share two children and live together in London.
Tracey Ullman (Nell Van Dort, Hildegarde)
Amongst her many accomplishments, prolific comedian and actor Tracey Ullman helped launch The Simpsons, which premiered as a series of shorts on her variety series The Tracey Ullman Show.
In addition to her extensive career on stage — where she has performed opposite Morgan Freeman in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew and in Eric Idle's What About Dick? — Ullman has also excelled on screen. She appeared in Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), collaborated with Woody Allen in Bullets Over Broadway (1994) and 2000's Small Time Crooks (which earned her a Golden Globe nomination), and worked with John Waters on A Dirty Shame (2004). Ullman also led the television character showcases Tracey Takes On and Tracey Ullman's Show. She is the recipient of seven Emmys, a Golden Globe, and numerous other awards.
Ullman married Allan McKeown in 1983. They shared two children, a daughter, Mabel, and a son, Johnny, until his death in 2013 from prostate cancer.
Richard E. Grant (Barkis Bittern)
Decorated actor, writer, and director Richard E. Grant had his first film role in the classic dark comedy Withnail and I (1987) before rising to international prominence in Warlock (1989). (The less said about 1991's Hudson Hawk the better.) He later worked in Francis Ford Coppola's take on Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) and starred in Gosford Park (2001) alongside Corpse Bride costar Emily Watson.
The same year as Corpse Bride, he wrote and directed Wah-Wah, a semi-autobiographical film based on his childhood. In addition to turns in buzzy films like The Iron Lady (2011) and Jackie (2016), the Swazi-English actor has also made waves on television, with parts in Fraiser, Downton Abbey, and Game of Thrones.
Grant won the 2018 Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Can You Ever Forgive Me. He's since appeared in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), the recent adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion (2022), and Emerald Fennell's upcoming thriller Saltburn (2023).
Grant married vocal coach Joan Washington in 1986. They share one daughter and a stepson from her previous marriage. Washington died in 2021 from stage four lung cancer.
Christopher Lee (Pastor Galswells)
Before playing many of the most famous monsters of all time, Sir Christopher Lee served in the Finnish army fighting the Soviet Union during World War II. Once the war ended, Lee got his start in London's theater scene, which led to prolific work with Hammer horror films. He appeared in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) as "the Creature" before starring in Dracula (1958) and its six sequels, The Mummy (1959), and The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960).
Lee continued to act for decades, notably appearing in The Wicker Man (1973) before landing franchise roles as Francisco Scaramanga in the Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels, and Saruman in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. He also surfaced in numerous Tim Burton works, including Sleepy Hollow (1999), Alice in Wonderland (2010), and Dark Shadows (2012).
Lee married his wife, Danish painter and former model Birgit Krøncke, in 1961. They had one daughter and were married until Lee's death in 2015 due to respiratory problems and heart failure at age 93.
Joanna Lumley (Lady Maudeline Everglot)
Joanna Lumley has carved a legendary career, from playing a Bond Girl (1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service) to appearing in a Christopher Lee Hammer vampire movie (1973's The Satanic Rites of Dracula) and two Pink Panther films (Trail of, and Curse of, as different characters). But perhaps most famously, she's one-half of the consistently soused duo in Absolutely Fabulous beside Jennifer Saunders.
Lumley was briefly married to actor Jeremy Lloyd in 1970 before wedding conductor Stephen Barlow in 1986. She shares a son with photographer Michael Claydon.
Albert Finney (Lord Finis Everglot, Grandfather Everglot)
Born in England, veteran actor Albert Finney got his start on BBC dramas and in the Royal Shakespeare Company. His most famous roles include the titular character in Scrooge (1970), Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express (1974), plus turns in Miller's Crossing (1990) and Erin Brockovich (2000).
He starred in Burton's Big Fish (2003) prior to working with the director on Corpse Bride. He later appeared in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) as well as The Bourne Legacy (2012). His final film role was as the irascible groundskeeper Mr. Kincade in Skyfall (2012).
Finney has a son with his first wife, Jane Wenham. He was married to French actress Anouk Aimée from 1970 to 1978, and then to travel agent Penelope Delmage until his death in 2019 due to complications from kidney cancer. He was 82-years-old.
Jane Horrocks (Mrs. Plum, Black Widow Spider)
Jane Horrocks broke out in Mike Leigh's dark family comedy Life is Sweet (1990) and Nicolas Roeg's The Witches (1990) before going on to her most famous role as Bubbles, the spaced-out assistant on Absolutely Fabulous opposite her Corpse Bride costar Joanna Lumley. She also appeared in Chicken Run (2000), Arthur Christmas (2011), and Sunshine on Leith (2013). The actor's most recent work is the sequel Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget (2023).
Horrocks shares two children with her former partner, Nick Vivian, whom she dated from 1996 until 2017. She had previously been romantically linked to director Sam Mendes and actor Danny Webb.
Danny Elfman (Bonejangles)
Prolific musician Danny Elfman got his start as the lead singer-songwriter of Oingo Boingo before he moved on to scoring films. He's had a number of collaborations with Tim Burton, composing music for Edward Scissorhands (1990), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Mars Attacks (1996), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Planet of the Apes (2001), Big Fish (2003), Charlie and Chocolate Factory (2005), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Dark Shadows (2012), Frankenweenie (2012), Big Eyes (2014), Dumbo (2019), and the upcoming Beetlejuice 2.
Elfman dated Sonic Youth member Kim Gordon in high school and was previously married to Geri Eisenmenger, with whom he shares two daughters. He later wed actress Bridget Fonda in 2003. The couple has one son.
In July 2023, a Rolling Stone exposé alleged that Elfman had sexually harassed a fellow composer, signed a nondisclosure agreement with them, and failed to complete payments from an agreed-upon settlement. In October 2023, an anonymous woman filed similar charges against the musician. She alleged that Elfman harassed her between 1997 and 2002 in a fashion similar to the previous claims.
Paul Whitehouse (William Van Dort, Mayhew, Paul the Head Waiter)
Actor, writer, and comedian Paul Whitehouse was born in Wales. He launched his career on television with A Bit of Fry and Laurie before segueing into film by playing Sir Cadogan in 2004's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (his scene was later cut from the film).
Following Corpse Bride, Whitehouse teamed with Burton again by voicing the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland (2019) and its 2016 sequel. He also reunited with Depp in the unfortunate Mortdecai (2015). He's had a successful run recently, appearing in admirable British films such as The Death of Stalin (2017), Ghost Stories (2017), and The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019).
Whitehouse was married to his ex-wife Fiona for eight years before they divorced in the early 2000s. They share two daughters. He then had a third daughter with Natalie Rogers before he met shop worker Mine Conkbayir, with whom he had his fourth daughter.