Johnny Depp's upcoming movie, "Dark Shadows," might strike audiences as a typical one for the actor -- Tim Burton, cooky costumes, pasty skin -- but the role has a more significant meaning for Depp: He is paying tribute to the late Jonathan Frid, the actor who originated the role of vampire Barnabas Collins.

"His elegance and grace was an inspiration then and will continue to remain one forever more. When I had the honor to finally meet him … [he] generously passed the torch of Barnabas," Depp told the LA Times via email.

The Canadian actor died on April 13 at the age of 87. The two had a chance to meet on the set of Tim Burton's big-screen remake of the 1960s TV series, but Depp was a fan long before that.

“Jonathan Frid was the reason I used to run home from school to watch ‘Dark Shadows,'” Depp told the Times. He explained that he was so enamored with the character, he used to copy some of Frid's mannerisms. When a now-fragile Frid appeared to film a cameo in Burton's film, Depp said he was "as elegant and magical as I had always imagined.”

Kathryn Leigh Scott, an original 'Dark Shadows' cast member, wrote about the meeting of the two actors on her blog.

“I won't ever forget the moment when the two Barnabas Collinses met, one in his late 80s and the other in his mid-40s, each with their wolf's head canes. Jonathan took his time scrutinizing his successor's appearance. ‘I see you've done the hair,' Jonathan said to Johnny Depp, ‘but a few more spikes.' Depp, entirely in character, replied, ‘Yes, we're doing things a bit differently.'"

"Dark Shadows," starring Depp, Eva Green, Helena Bonham Carter and Chloe Moretz, opens May 11.

[via LA Times/ THR]