Dark Shadows star Gulliver McGrath talks Tim Burton and tea with Scorsese

Gulliver McGrath may have missed out on the lead role in Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning film Hugo, but that didn't stop the 13-year-old from hitting it off with the veteran director.

After being flown to New York audition for the title character, McGrath lost out to Asa Butterfield but was offered a smaller role instead.

With the story of Hugo paying a tribute to the magic of cinema, it's no surprise that the young actor found himself bonding with Scorsese over a mutual love of old films. The pair even had tea in the director's trailer, with Scorsese gifting McGrath with copies of Nosferatu and Metropolis.

The Melbourne-born actor, who now lives in the UK with his parents and two younger brothers, will be seen next in Tim Burton's film revival of the 1960s gothic soap opera Dark Shadows.

In the film, McGrath plays the great-nephew of vampire Barnabas Collins (played by Johnny Depp).

"He's a very misunderstood little boy," says McGrath of his character. "He really likes Barnabas because Barnabas doesn't judge him. They become friends."

The film, which also stars Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter and Australian actress Bella Heathcote, shot for five months at Pinewood Studios in the UK.

The young actor particularly enjoyed his scenes with Depp. "He was a very nice guy," he says. "Very sweet and funny – a very talented actor." He is also full of praise for Daniel Day Lewis, who plays his on-screen father (and the President of the United States) in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln.

Gulliver, or Gully, as he prefers to be called, first started out in acting after being cast in a commercial when he was six. He has also appeared in an episode of Rush and horror film The Loved Ones.

 Dark Shadows opens in cinemas May 10.

Gulliver McGrath, Jonny Lee Miller, Michelle Pfeiifer and Chloe Moretz