Johnny Depp's upcoming film 'Dark Shadows' is based on the campy soap opera of the same name that ran from the late 1960s through the early 1970s. The actor is an avowed fan of the series, so the recent death of its star, Jonathan Frid, just weeks before the movie's opening hit Depp especially hard.

Although it was only just made public, the 87-year-old Frid apparently died April 14 in his hometown of Ontario, Canada from complications following a fall.

Frid played vampire Barnabas Collins in the TV series, the same role Depp takes on in the movie. In a statement released Thursday, Depp said:

Jonathan Frid was the reason I used to run home from school to watch 'Dark Shadows.' 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, as he so generously passed the torch of Barnabas to me, he was as elegant and magical as I had always imagined. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. The world has lost a true original.

At its peak, 'Dark Shadows' attracted 20 million viewers and generated 6,000 fan letters a week to Frid, who also reportedly makes a cameo in the Tim Burton movie. But even though the TV role firmly ensconced Frid in pop culture history, he originally wasn't even sure he should take it.

Back in 1991, he told People, "I only did the part for some pocket money to go teach on the West Coast. And, of course, because I didn't particularly want the job, I got it. An audition room full of cadaverous-looking creeps, and I must have really looked the part."

He was also fully aware of the campy nature of the show, adding, "I always thought I looked like this damn silly ass. I couldn't believe people were ever really scared."

The film version of 'Dark Shadows' opens in theaters on May 11.