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Set in 1799, "Sleepy Hollow" is based on Washington Irving's classic tale The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Faithful to the dreamy custom-bound world that Irving paints in his story, the film mixes horror, fantasy and romance and features an extraordinary cast of characters that dabble in the supernatural. In essence, it is perfect material for director Tim Burton.

"I'm a big fan of all the Hammer horror films of the '50's and '60's and this script had a lot of classic beautiful horror images," says Burton. "What I liked about the script is that it's respectful of the original story but takes it into new territory. It also has a great mix of drama and humor. I had known the story of the Headless Horseman mainly from the Disney cartoon. It's one of the few American horror stories. I don't know what the power is exactly, but there's a certain reason why people always remember the Headless Horseman. He's a great symbol."

Tim Burton is the director of the top-grossing motion pictures "Batman" and "Batman Returns," and one of the producers of "Batman Forever." He also directed and produced the highly acclaimed "Edward Scissorhands," and created and produced the stop-motion animation feature "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas." Burton's first feature-length film was "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure," which he followed with "Beetlejuice." He was a producer of "James and the Giant Peach" and more recently directed the comedies "Ed Wood" and "Mars Attacks!"

In "Sleepy Hollow," Johnny Depp stars as Ichabod Crane, an eccentric and earnest constable with an avant-garde approach to solving crime. Ichabod's contemporary investigative ways are put to the test when his superiors send him to the small village of Sleepy Hollow to probe a string of murders, allegedly committed by a headless horseman.

"Ichabod is someone who is basically behind the times and ahead of the times," says Burton, "and it's the contradictory aspects of his character which are always fun and interesting. One of the original images that I had in my mind is a character who lives in his head versus a character with no head, which I always thought was a wonderful symbol."

"Sleepy Hollow" marks Depp's third film with director Tim Burton. Depp's compelling performance in the title role of Burton's "Edward Scissorhands" established him as one of Hollywood's most sought-after talents and earned him a Best Actor Golden Globe nomination. He was honored with a second Golden Globe nomination for his performance in "Benny & Joon," an off-beat love story in which he starred with Aidan Quinn and Mary Stuart Masterson. Depp was reunited with Burton for the heralded "Ed Wood," the story of one of America's most eccentric B-movie directors. His performance in this film garnered Depp his third Best Actor Golden Globe nomination.

"I love Johnny because he's willing to try anything. I appreciate actors who like to transform and are not afraid to get messy, dirty and dragged through the mud," says Burton.

Depp starred in Mike Newell's critical and commercial hit "Donnie Brasco," alongside Al Pacino, and in "Don Juan DeMarco," opposite Marlon Brando. His other films include Jim Jarmusch's "Dead Man," Lasse Hallstrom's "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," Emir Kusturica's "Arizona Dream," and Paramount's thriller "Nick of Time" with Christopher Walken. More recently, Depp directed, co-wrote and starred in "The Brave," featuring Marlon Brando, and starred in Terry Gilliam's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

"The initial attraction was the opportunity to work with Tim again. He is a great visionary," relates Depp. "The added plus was that I loved the story and have always loved this cult idea of the Headless Horseman. It's a great classic story, but with Tim's twist on it, I knew it would be special.

"What's exciting for me playing this character," Depp continues, "is th

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