Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 11:32 UK

Profile: Tim Burton

US director Tim Burton will head the nine-member jury at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Tim Burton
Tim Burton has had a long and varied career

Burton, known for his visually arresting and off-kilter movies, will help determine the winner of the Palme d'Or, one of the most prestigious film awards in the world.

Although in great demand now, as a child Burton chose to spend the majority of his time drawing, painting and watching films by himself.

After attending the California Institute of the Arts, he took his first job as a concept artist for Walt Disney.

It was there that he worked on his first movie - The Fox And The Hound (1981) - although he was quickly transferred to work on the darker Black Cauldron because, he said, "my foxes looked like roadkill".

In 1982, Disney gave him $60,000 (£38,795) to make his first short film, Vincent.

The five-minute stop motion animation was based on a poem Burton had written about his horror movie idol, Vincent Price - who later agreed to narrate the story.

Vincent was showcased at the Chicago Film Festival to critical acclaim - but Burton chose to move into live-action film for his next projects, a Japanese-themed production of Hansel and Gretel and short film Frankenweenie.

The latter, a parody of Frankenstein in which a young boy tries to bring his dead dog back to life, was supposed to be shown in cinemas before Disney's 1980s re-release of Pinocchio - but was pulled after test screenings reduced children to tears.

Big budget

Still relatively unknown by film fans, Burton had nonetheless begun to cause a stir in the industry.

According to legend, Horror writer Steven King was a huge fan of Frankenweenie, and recommended it to a film studio executive, who in turn played it for TV star Paul Reubens, who was hoping to make a big-screen vehicle for his hit TV character Pee-Wee Herman.

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure was among the 20 most successful US films of 1985, making $40m (£26m) - and Burton was approached to direct black comedy After Hours as a result.

However, when the studio's first choice Martin Scorsese suddenly became available, Burton graciously bowed out.

It was several years later, in 1988, that Burton really made his impact on the film world with low-budget horror comedy BeetleJuice, starring Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder.

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp
He is a unique and brave soul, someone that I would go to the ends of the earth for, and I know, full and well, he would do the same for me
Johnny Depp on Tim Burton

The grotesque, bizarre story of a couple who can't accept they have died, the film won an Oscar for best make-up and was later made into a cartoon series.

A big-screen adaptation of Batman followed in 1989. It was the director's first big budget movie, but it proved problematic.

Burton clashed with producers over his decision to cast Keaton as the character, because his average physique went against the muscled frame normally associated with superheroes.

But, after being backed by the biggest marketing campaign in film history at the time, the film proved to be a massive success, with both Keaton and Jack Nicholson, who played the Joker, winning critical acclaim.

Burton revisited Gotham in 1992 for Batman Returns, adding a darker tone (and Michelle Pfeiffer in a catsuit) to the comic book stylings of his first attempt.

In between, he co-wrote and directed one of his most enduring movies, Edward Scissorhands.

The fairytale, another spin on the Frankenstein legend, marked the director's first adventure with Johnny Depp.

Since that first collaboration, the pair have made six more films - Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland.

In the autobiographical Burton on Burton, Depp contributed the foreword.

"What more can I say about him? He is a brother, a friend, my godson's father. He is a unique and brave soul, someone that I would go to the ends of the earth for, and I know, full and well, he would do the same for me."

Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter
The couple met when they made Planet Of The Apes

Music collaboration

The 1990s saw a string of commercial successes for Burton, including sci-fi spoof Mars Attacks, as well as a return to stop-motion animation in The Nightmare Before Christmas and Roald Dahl adaptation James And The Giant Peach.

In 2001, a "reimagining" Planet Of The Apes became another pivotal movie in the film maker's career.

Not only was the film a huge hit in its opening weekend at the box office, but Burton also met his current partner, British actress Helena Bonham Carter, during filming.

They have gone on to make five more films together, including Sweeney Todd, which won the Golden Globe Award for best motion picture - musical or comedy.

The couple, who have two children together, now divide their time between Los Angeles and London.

In the past they have talked openly about their unconventional living arrangements - they occupy separate houses next to door to one another.

They have never wed - Burton appears to have been gone off the idea since a short-lived marriage to German artist Lena Gieseke in the 1980s.

He remained similarly unattached to his muse during the 1990s, model Lisa Marie, who also appeared in several of his films - including, awkwardly, Planet Of The Apes.

Success and ability

One of the few modern film-makers who manages to combine a unique personal style with commercial sensibilities, Burton has nonetheless been an outsider for much of his career.

He has never won an Oscar, Bafta or a Golden Globe - despite earning more than $1.6bn at the box office over the last 25 years.

But his talent was recognised in 2007 when he was given a lifetime achievement award at the Venice Film Festival.

And earlier this year he received one of France's highest cultural honours at a ceremony in Paris, alongside actress Marion Cotillard.

He is no stranger to Cannes, either, after Ed Wood was nominated for the Plame d'Or in 1995.

He will return to the Croisette in May to lead the festival's judging panel, calling the role, "great honour".

"When you think of Cannes, you think of world cinema. And, as films have always been like dreams to me, this is a dream come true," he said as the announcement was made.

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