Johnny Depp reprises his iconic role of Capt. Jack Sparrow in the much anticipated Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, embarking on a quest to find the legendary Fountain of Youth while encountering some new faces and a few old mates. From director Rob Marshall and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, to newcomers Sam Claflin and Astrid Berges-Frisbey, to A-listers Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp, all dished on their wild experiences while making Pirates 4. And, of course, we couldn’t help but ask Depp a few extra questions about whether or not he would consider directing again, what naughty Spanish words he learned from Penelope and details about his next film, The Lone Ranger.
Q: As director your goal is to take the audience on an adventure. How did On Stranger Tides take you on an adventure?
Rob Marshall: Well, listen, I mean, I’m so blessed to work with this extraordinary cast and working with Penelope again was a huge, beautiful highlight for me. This is a very different genre for me, but actually when I began working on it, it felt very akin to things I’ve done before. I mean when you’re doing an action set piece, it’s very similar to choreography in a way because it’s shot that way, it’s meticulous how it’s rehearsed.
I could talk for seven hours about Johnny Depp but, please, there’s no one like him. He has this amazing ability to watch something and then pick it up and do it within seconds. He’s extraordinary physically, as the entire cast is. This is an incredibly physical group; I was very lucky.
Q: Penelope, what helped you get into character--the clothes or learning the sword play? Did you have anyone that inspired you in the way that Keith Richards inspired Depp?
Penelope Cruz: For sure in a character 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 two or three months in Hawaii, and then they built a beach in Universal Studios. I thought it was my English that I didn’t understand what they said, but there was really a beach at Universal Studios! But all of that helped me a lot to try and imagine what the pirate world [was like at] that time. It’s so far from our reality that to create a character is all about your imagination, and I think it really helped to be in those beautiful places.
Q: Johnny, you’ve said “none of my movies will ever make any money.” Any thoughts on that?
Johnny Depp: It’s not my fault. I did my best, even to the point of trying to get fired on the first one and they just couldn’t bring themselves to do it. [Laughs] No, it’s interesting to experience that kind of ride after well, essentially 20 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 process 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.
Q: Do you see yourself hanging on, doing this for decades, or…?
Depp: Yeah, I think they could wheel me in, yeah. Might have my dreads get tangled in the wheels of my chair. I don’t know, I mean, sure. Interestingly enough, for me, a character like Captain Jack, you feel like the possibilities are endless, limitless, you could – there’s any possibility of madness and absurdity that could commence. So you feel with this character you feel you’re never really done.
Q: Geoffrey, this is your fourth time around here. You’re a veteran of the Pirates world. What is it that really brought you back?
Geoffrey Rush: I have to thank Johnny because in the development of the screenplay, we kept the Barbossa and Sparrow [relationship] as an old married couple that’s constantly bickering. It goes back to the first film, the ownership of the Pearl is at the heart of that conflict, and I think it was only on this film that we started to talk about the Black Pearl as a sort of shared girlfriend because it kind of made that plotline a little bit more interesting than taking about a boat. But they keep shape shifting the character which is quite good. I start as the outright villain spat out of the mouth of hell. And then in 2 and 3 sort of became more of a diplomat, and I think now he’s really landed on his feet--or foot. Barbossa’s vain and 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 which was a lot of fun.
Q: The last two films were criticized somewhat for being too confusing. Did you intend to address any of that with this film, and what was the balance you had to strike to make sure everything was clear?
Jerry Bruckheimer: I think that 2 and 3 get bashed a little bit, but you have to understand that 2 is the biggest of the bunch. It was an enormous success and 3 reached almost a billion dollars. So they were enormously successful movies even though the media didn’t understand them as much as the audience did, and that’s who we make movies for. We didn’t really have to address [anything] because we started fresh, we finished our trilogy and we paid off all our characters so we started introducing new characters. It makes it much easier to not have as long of a movie because you have less characters and less plot lines. Rob accomplished this very well by making a picture that’s shorter, not quite as complicated because you have less characters to deal with.
Q: Astrid and Sam how excited were you two when you got the call to come onboard?
Sam Claflin: I never imagined that this was even possible. I mean the moment my agent called me to say, you have an audition today for Pirates of the Caribbean, I was like, oh, what’s the point? It’s never going to happen, it’s impossible. From the get go I’ve been so nervous the whole way through and so anxious to see what people think about it and my first sort of step on the ladder.
Astrid Berges-Frisbey: When I went to the first audition, I don’t even speak English so it was quite really unreal. I learned so much, and I felt so lucky and it was an extraordinary experience to work with Rob, with Jerry, with all.
Q: Johnny, any similarities between you and Capt. Jack Sparrow?
Depp: We’re completely – we’re totally different – nothing that I can relate to in Captain Jack whatsoever. [Laughs] With every character you play, there’s a part of you 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 it. He won’t leave me alone. He just sort of keeps showing up at odd times.
Q: Has your Spanish improved after working with Penelope again?
Depp: She taught me the raunchiest Spanish. I mean, it’s so foul that I couldn’t bring myself to repeat it here and now. No, no, I think it’s a bad idea. I’d carry that on my back for the rest of my days. I mean, going to work with Penelope again, having done the film Blow together 10, 11 years ago, something like that, was – well the weird thing, it felt like when we saw each other, it felt like we’d wrapped Blow like a week before or a few days before.
It was Rob’s brilliant idea to bring her in and I think when he brought up the idea to me, he maybe got out a consonant and I went, great idea. I knew that she would be not only a worthy opponent but someone who could just kill the scenes and she did. 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.
Q: Johnny, would you consider directing again?
Depp: No, no, I tried that once. Yeah, first one’s free. No, no, if I ever thought of directing again, I mean – I don’t know, even the idea of directing a film is a strange one for me, because I sort of – I feel kind of anti-mathematics in a way.. Anti – 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. So maybe I’ll just make little films at home with my phone never to be released.
Q: Let’s talk about The Lone Ranger.
Bruckheimer: Nothing new yet on the casting. We’re in process of meeting people right now, so it’s just starting for The Lone Ranger.
I think it’ll have its own tone, it’s going to have a whole different kind of feel to it than what we’ve done in the past but it’ll be special because Johnny’s in it, and so he’s got a real interesting beat on the character of Tonto.
Depp: I mean I feel like what we’re creating in these story meetings and script meetings in terms of character and in terms of story, yeah, I couldn’t say you could compare it to Pirates but I supposed tonally there is a relationship, because there is a kind of fascination with the absurd that’s involved in The Lone Ranger as well. But you need that, right? You’ve got to have that.