Popular money-maker franchise Pirates of the Caribbean just keeps going and going with its fourth installment, On Stranger Tides. Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow, with a new female love interest in Penelope Cruz. His continuing nemesis, Geoffrey Rush, joined them in a sit-down interview with Buzzine, and they told us about the difficult stunts they had to learn, and how the saga will continue on into the future…
Izumi Hasegawa: Johnny, this movie is based on a ride at Disneyland. Have you ever been there and seen your likeness on the ride, and if so, what was your reaction?
Johnny Depp: It’s pretty psychedelic, actually. Yeah. I suppose you could make it more psychedelic, but we probably shouldn’t go into that now. The idea of wandering through this ride and suddenly there you are three times on the thing – I mean, Geoffrey [Rush] has a similar experience there. He has to go in and see his head in there as well. It’s quite an honor, in a weird way. It’s a great honor. Some sort of thing that you took part in creating becomes this forever object.
IH: Penelope, was there a lot of preparation for you doing an action movie, and did you get to go one-on-one with Johnny, or was that all a stunt double?
Penelope Cruz: We did have a lot of preparation. We started a couple of months before the shooting started, with Rob [Marshall] and John DeLuca and our teachers — a team that they had on the other three movies. They are amazing, and they taught me with patience. So I knew most of the choreography because they put them together like choreography, almost like when we were doing Nine together. So it was very helpful that I knew most of them before we started shooting. Then we did a lot of it together, and of course everything was safe because of my situation then. But they were really protective at every moment, and that meant so much to me.
IH: I know that some of this team is going to bring us The Lone Ranger. What kind of movie can we expect in that? Will it be funny like this?
JD: I feel like what we’re creating within these story meetings and script meetings, and in terms of character and in terms of story… I couldn’t say that you could compare it to Pirates, but I suppose, tonally, there is a relationship because there’s a kind of fascination with the absurd that’s involved in The Lone Ranger as well — somewhat of an irreverence. But you need that. You have to have that.
IH: Penelope, what was the key thing for you, in terms of creating this character — the clothes or learning the sword play…? And did you have anyone who inspired you in the way that Keith Richards inspired Mr. Depp?
PC: For shooting a character a like this, it really helps to have those costumes, to be in the real locations. It was very helpful that we didn’t go into a studio until after we shot already for two or three months in Hawaii. Then they built a beach at Universal Studios, and when they told me that, I thought it was my English — that I didn’t understand what they said. Then I went there, and there was really a beach at Universal Studios. Then we went to Puerto Rico to this deserted, private island, and then we ended up in London at Pinewood. But all of that helped me a lot to try to imagine what the pirate world at that time was, because it’s so far from our reality to create a character like that. It’s all about your imagination, and I think it really helped to be in those beautiful places.
IH: Johnny, you once said, “None of my movies will ever make any money.” Do feel really guilty now?
JD: It’s not my fault. I did my best, even to the point of trying to get fired from the first [Pirates], but they just couldn’t bring themselves to do it. It’s interesting to experience that kind of ride after essentially 20 years of enjoying a career based on failures. Suddenly, something clicks. The weird thing is that I never changed a thing. The process is still the process, as it ever was. The fact that people decided to go see a movie that I was in was probably the most shocking thing I’ve ever been through.
IH: Do you see yourself carrying on with this role for decades?
JD: Yeah. They’ll wheel me in. My dreads will get tangled in the wheels of my chair. I don’t know, sure. Interestingly enough, for me, a character like Captain Jack, you feel like you could just continue. The possibilities are endless and limitless. There is any possibility of madness and absurdity that could commence, so you feel that, with this character, you’re never really done.
IH: Geoffrey, what was it about this particular script and taking your character forward that really attracted you to come back?
Geoffrey Rush: I have to thank Johnny because, in the development of the screenplay, he said, “We must keep Barbossa and Sparrow as an old married couple, constantly bickering.” It goes back to the first film. The ownership of the Pearl is at the heart of the conflict. Early on this film, we decided to talk about the Black Pearl as a shared girlfriend, which made that plotline a little more interesting than talking about a boat. But they keep shape-shifting the character, which is quite good. I started out as the outright villain, spat out from the mouth of hell. And then, in Pirates 2 and 3, he became more of a diplomat. Now he’s really landed on his feet, or foot. Barbossa is vain, arrogant, and pompous enough to think that he actually does belong in the court. That gave me a terrific new set of variables to play with, which was a lot of fun.
IH: Johnny, what are your dreams for your future, both as an actor and as a family man?
JD: Smooth sailing! That’s what I hope for. I’m okay with no big ups and no big downs. That’s all right. I’m just full steam ahead, with all things well and good. As a family man, all you want as a dad is pure happiness for your kids. That’s a universal parent thing. Yeah, that’s it — that’s my dream. Happy kids.
IH: Penelope, where would you like to see the next movie go for your character in the future? You have the doll and Captain Sparrow’s memory with you…
PC: At least I hope she’s not going to die of hunger! I have the hope that, because she finds the doll, she has some of those voodoo powers from her father that she got from him. And maybe she’s going to be able to come back! But she can’t die alone out there! No.
IH: Johnny, what are the similarities between you and Captain Jack?
JD: We’re totally different. There’s nothing that I can relate to in Captain Jack, whatsoever. No, with every character you play, there’s a part of you that goes into that, in terms of the ingredients of making this stew. There’s most definitely a part of me in Captain Jack, and now, fortunately or unfortunately, there’s a great part of Captain Jack in me as well. Basically, I can’t shake him. He won’t leave me alone. He keeps showing up at odd times. In fact, he arrived this morning when I was getting my kids ready for school. I had to shoo him away.
IH: If you decide to direct again, would you take a lead role in the film?
JD: No, I tried that once. The first one’s free. No, if I ever thought of directing again, I don’t know. The idea of directing a film is a strange one for me. I feel anti-mathematical in that sense. I don’t like when things make sense. I prefer if they don’t. So if I made a film, it wouldn’t make any sense and no one would see it. Maybe I’ll just make little films at home with my phone, never to be released.
IH: Johnny, how was it to work with Penelope Cruz? Did she teach you any Spanish?
JD: She taught me the raunchiest Spanish that I’ve ever been told. It’s so foul that I couldn’t bring myself to repeat it here and now. It’s a bad idea. I would carry that on my back for the rest of my days. Going to work with Penelope again, having done the film Blow together 10 or 11 years ago, the weird thing was that, when we saw each other again, it felt like we’d wrapped Blow the week before or a few days before. It just clicked instantly. Whatever exists, in terms of chemistry, was just instantly firing on all cylinders. It felt completely right. It was Rob’s brilliant idea to bring her in, and when he brought up the idea to me, I went, “Great idea!” I was very, very excited to have Penelope come into this film. I knew she would be not only a worthy opponent, but someone who would just kill the scenes, and she did. She was incredible.
IH: What was it like to work with Rob Marshall?
JD: What a gift, to have someone of his caliber and someone of his talent to come in and drive this beast and shape this strange animal into something. It was incredible to experience. Some filmmakers go into a film, and it’s already shot and cut in their head. I didn’t get that feeling from Rob. What I got from Rob was that he heard it as music, in a weird way. It was rhythmic. And he knew tempo and a way to finesse the sound, which became visual as well. It was an incredible experience. His timing, and not just his choreographic timing, but his sense of comedic timing is impeccable. He would have us just shave an eighth of a millisecond off of a beat, and it would change the whole dynamic of the scene. It was quite something. The only problem is that he’s really mean. He’s really mean! No. He’s the kindest man alive.
IH: What’s the timeline for Pirates 5 and 6?
JD: There’s a very clever idea that is being hatched, in terms of Pirates 5 and 6. We’re going to actually shoot them on the ride, just going around in circles, non-stop, kind of like Andy Warhol’s Sleep. It’ll just be close-ups on everyone.
IH: Can you talk about doing the London street scene — jumping on the heads and the carriages? How much choreography and rehearsal went into that, and how much fun was that to shoot?
JD: It was horrible! It was grueling. It’s a very strange little sequence. I’ve never thought of doing many things in my life under the influence of life, and I’ve never actually thought of straddling two carriages while they’re moving before. That was an interesting experience. And then I was jumping on people’s heads and onto another cart, and then the thing catches fire. It’s all a bad dream, isn’t it? And this is how daddy brings home the bacon.
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