Disney’s latest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise arrived in theaters nationwide yesterday, and in keeping with all things peg-leggy and swashbuckly, I present selections from the On Stranger Tides press conference.
Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Rob Marshall, Jerry Bruckheimer, Ian McShane and Geoffrey Rush were front and center for the press event, with moderator Pete Hammond at the helm.
Here’s what they had to say.
On preparing for an action role and stunt doubles:
PENELOPE CRUZ: “We had a lot of preparation with teachers. We started a couple of months before shooting. Everyone from the other three movies were amazing, and they taught me with a lot of patience. I knew most of the choreography because they put them together like choreographies almost like when we (Rob Marshall) were doing Nine together. It was very helpful that I knew most of them before we started shooting, and then we did a lot of it together.”
On the physical demands expected of the cast, and their ability to perform:
ROB MARSHALL: “I could talk for hours about Johnny; there’s no one like him. To watch him, he has this amazing ability to watch something and then pick it up and do it within seconds — and he’ll hate me for saying this, but I don’t care, I’m going to anyway. He’s this genius dancer, he says he can’t dance, but he can. He’s extraordinary physically, as the entire cast is. Ian McShane was extraordinary, I mean I’m telling you right now, Sam, as Philip in this movie — I have never seen anything like it in my life. And Geoffrey has, that’s all him fighting; it’s extraordinary. This is an incredibly physical group. I was very lucky.”
On approaching to the new film, screenwriting, and getting the cast together:
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: “The book gave us a starting place and a lot of ideas to work with. Screenplays are the hardest thing to try to get right, they look so simple when they work, but they really destroy your brain cells trying to get them there. Johnny was really instrumental in working with the script process with us, and actually creates Sam’s character. You also have to find the casts’ availability too. Johnny’s busy and a lot of our other cast members were too. We we’re very lucky that we found a time that they were all available together and we could make the picture. Getting Rob was a real coup; we’re so fortunate that the agreed to do this. He’s an ultimate master at what he does.
On transforming into Black Beard, cursing, and taking the part:
IAN McSHANE: “I got to be the biggest, most badass pirate of all time. Penny Rose devised this extraordinary leather, biker, rocker, pirate outfit and by the time Penny fixed those twelve, black dead cats to my neck making this extraordinary beard – it was great. I didn’t miss the swearing; this is a Disney movie, not HBO. One of the wonderful things that attracted me to to the part is when Jerry and Rob asked me to do it, and I read the script. It was literate, funny, quirky, and a delight.”
On Depp’s insistence years ago that none of his films would ever make money:
JOHNNY DEPP: “It’s not my fault. I did my best, even to the point of trying to get fired on my first film; they just couldn’t bring themselves to do it. It’s kind of interesting to experience that kind of ride after, well, essentially twenty years of enjoying a career based on failures and then suddenly something clicks. The weird thing is, I never changed a thing. The process is still the same as it ever was. The fact that people decided to go and see a movie that I was in was probably the most shocking thing that I’ve ever been through.”
On reprising the role of Captain Jack Sparrow in the future:
JOHNNY DEPP: “Yeah, I think they could reel me in. Might have my dreads get tangled in the wheels of my chair. I don’t know, I mean, sure. Character like Captain Jack, you feel like you could just continue. The possibilities are endless, limitless; there is so much madness and absurdity that could commence. With this character you feel you’re never really done.”
On the fourth take on the Captain Barbossa character:
GEOFFREY RUSH: “We sort of keep Barbossa and Sparrow as an old married couple, constantly bickering. It goes back to the first film; the ownership of the Black Pearl is at the heart of that conflict, and I think it was only in this film that we started to talk about the Black Pearl as a sort of shared girlfriend. It makes the plotline a little bit more interesting than just talking about a boat. They keep shapeshifting the Barbossa character which is quite good. I start as an outright villain spat from the mouth of hell. In two and three he sort of became more of a diplomat; I think now he’s really landed on his feet — or foot. Barbossa’s vain, arrogant, and pompous enough to think that he actually does belong in the court, and that gave me a terrific new set of variables to play with. It was a lot of fun.”
On working with Penelope Cruz and Rob Marshall:
JOHNNY DEPP: “Penelope taught me the raunchiest Spanish. I mean, it’s so foul that I couldn’t bring myself to repeat it here now; I’d carry that on my back for the rest of my days. Going to work with Penelope again, having done the film Blow together ten, eleven years ago — it was weird. It felt like when we saw each other — like we’d wrapped the film Blow a week before or a few days before. It clicked instantly in terms of chemistry; was just instantly firing on all cylinders. It was Rob’s brilliant idea to bring her in. I was very, very excited to have Penelope come into the this film. I knew that she would be not only a worthy opponent but someone who could just kill the scenes, and she did. She was incredible.
And then Rob Marshall, what a gift to have someone of his caliber; someone of his talent to come in and drive this beast and shape this strange animal into something. Some filmmakers go into a film, and they’ve got it all; it’s already shot and cut in their heads. I didn’t get that feeling from Rob. What I got from Rob was that he heard it as music in a weird way, or rhythmic — sort of a new tempo, and a kind of way to finesse the sound or a way which became obviously visual as well. He’s unbelievably. His sense of comedic timing is impeccable. He would have us just shave like, an eighth of a millisecond — just a tiny little sliver off of a beat, and it would change the whole dynamic of the scene. The only problem is he’s really mean. He’s really mean. Look at him; look at how mean he is. (Laughing) He’s the kindest man alive.”
On the fifth and sixth POTC installments, and when we can expect to see them:
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: “As far as the timeline, it took awhile to get this script to a place where we all were comfortable with it, and we just got a great rough first draft (for five). It’ll take some time, and hopefully we can bring it to you quicker than we did in the past. We hope that happens, but it’s going to depend on getting a great piece of entertainment that everybody will enjoy, and that’s what it’s about. It’s about quality.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is currently in theaters.