The day after watching a screening of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” I got the wonderful opportunity to attend the press conference. It was a series of small, quick visits from the cast, the directors and Jerry Bruckheimer.
First up was Capitan Salazar, Javier Bardem. One obvious thing right away, he is quite a good-looking man! No, really – I wasn’t expecting to be taken aback by that, but I was. The first question was, of course, Penelope Cruz (his wife) being in “Stranger Tides” and how did that effect anything? Apparently Javier went to the set a few times when Penelope was on set. He was delighted by the grandeur of the set, and mentioned to Jerry how he’d love to be a part of something like that. Not that he was asking for a job, just that he knew if was a part of that it was going to be good.
When Javier spoke about playing Salazar, he really lit up. For his character he researched Spanish pirates from that time and found that most came from the south of Spain, so that is where his accent came from. The character is complicated because Salazar puts pride and honor above everything, even food or drink, when he is alive. When Salazar is dead he is driven by the “pain of his rage”, which I found so tragic. He did have he kids on set – “But only when Salazar was alive, never when he was dead” Good Dad, right there.
Next we had the ‘kids’ – Kaya Scodelario (Carina) and Brenton Thwaites (Henry). Coming into this established series as the new kids, Kaya was intimidated and blown away by the talent she got to work with – Brenton was a fan of the Pirates movies from the get go, and was very happy to be on set. They both had interesting opinions of the talent they got to work with. Brenton said that keeping up with Johnny Depp and his improv was so much fun, and all the takes that he would do. Kaya said that it was confusing working with Javier, because he played this terrifying character but when the cameras weren’t rolling he’s brilliant and “fluffy.” These kids have both been in the business for a while, and hopefully they continue for some time. They are both quite talented and very down-to-Earth.
Geoffrey Rush as Barbosa was our next visitor. Let me tell you, his baritone voice is not an affectation or a character choice, that’s his speaking voice. Apparently Barbosa was only supposed to be in the first Pirates movie and that’s it. But as shooting continued, they decided to make him a part of the overall series. At one point, he sat down with Terry Rossio (writer) about what they could do with Barbosa’s character and how they could stretch it. I think perhaps that’s why the choices were made for this Pirates film and Barbosa (no spoilers!). One thing I found interesting is whenever he gets fan mail, he handwrites responses to every one. What a guy!!
Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg are the directors If you haven’t heard of them, don’t worry about it, they are fairly new to the blockbuster scene. They directed “Kon Tiki” which was nominated for an Oscar. They grew up together in Norway watching films, and to get ready to direct this Pirates they re-watched the first Pirates to get the feel of the series. This is the first big budget film they had ever done, so getting ready for such a big film with such big actors listening to input from everyone on set was important for them. In getting Javier Bardem, they knew they had to get a strong actor for this strong character. They mentioned that Salazar is “the matador when he’s alive and the wounded bull when he’s dead” I thought that was a poetic way of putting it.
The best part of the conversation was how they got Paul McCartney. Originally they wanted to bring back Keith Richards, but he was unavailable because he was on tour. So they sat down with Johnny Depp and made a list of rockers they would have liked in Keith’s place – Paul was on the top of the list. The directors began to lament on how they were going to try to contact Sir Paul when Johnny realized he had him in his phone. “Want me to text him?” And the rest is history.
The day concluded with a sit down with Jerry Bruckheimer. He told us about the beginnings of Pirates – when the script for a pirates movie was brought to him through Dick Cook , he immediately went to Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio where they came up with the pirates that turn into skeletons in the moonlight idea. What was the most interesting was the fact that the studio, upon seeing the dailies of the film freaked out at Johnny’s interpretation of Jack Sparrow. We have all heard that he modeled the characters after Keith Richards, he apparently also had a dash of Pepe Le Pew as well. Basically, Jerry told the studio to chill out and let the movie be, and look what came out!
Coming away all these years from the first Pirates to here, the fifth, Jerry learned a lot from film to film. He told us, “It’s always how can we make these stories more effective, how can we add more interesting characters, how can we layer the characters?” This time around they decided to simplify the plot and make the film shorter (20 minutes shorter than the previous one). He didn’t want the audience to suffer ‘Jack Sparrow fatigue’. I don’t think that time will be coming around any time soon.
It was obvious from everyone in this press conference that they are all very proud of this installment of the Pirates franchise. It’s a lovely addition to the series and I do hope all fans get the opportunity to catch this film in the theater. It’s a wonderful way to kick off the summer!
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