Ahoy, Splotters! One of the biggest movie series of all time, Pirates of the Caribbean, will release its 4th movie, On Stranger Tides (rated PG-13) starring Johnny Depp. He plays Captain Jack Sparrow (one of the best movie roles of all time!). He’s captured by a ruthless con artist, Angelica (played by Penelope Cruz) and forced to sail with her and the pirate, Blackbeard and his crew of zombies. They are searching for the Fountain of Youth, and have all kinds of crazy adventures along the way.
We’ve got the scoop straight from mega-superstar producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and actors Astrid Bergès-Frisbey (Syrena) and Sam Claflin (Philip). Check out these behind-the-scenes interviews:
Q: How involved are you in shaping the story?
Jerry: I’m in there when the cards go up on the board. When the writers start formulating ideas, they will pitch them to me. I’ll be involved and we will throw ideas around.
Q: Does Johnny Depp have input into the story as well?
Jerry: Absolutely. We will come up with a form of verbal outline, where we will pitch the story, and we will bring him in on it, and he will say, “No, I’m not sure about this,” or “Why don’t we do this?” He came up with the Philip character in the movie; it’s really his idea to make him a missionary. So you know, he comes up with interesting ideas that we use.
Ratha: Although I read that when the first movie came out, studio executives thought he was basically crazy! His acting was not what was they planned for, but then it turned into a signature of the movie.
Q: What aspects of the film are you personally excited about?
Jerry: There’s a mermaid attack, which is spectacular. There’s The Fountain of Youth at the end of the picture, which is a big sequence. And I think bringing Captain Jack to London is so much fun—the fish out of water aspect of the pirate and the aristocracy, and the king.
Q: These films have gotten successively bigger and bigger and bigger. Do you ask yourself, “How will we top what we’ve done before?”
Jerry: No, it’s all about story and your characters. And even though Disney cut the budget, it’s still a huge movie. In Greenwich [England] we had 465 extras that had to be dressed, and fed, and in makeup and wardrobe every morning, And they were there for two weeks. That’s a lot of people, and we are making a big, epic movie.
Ratha: Pretty cool, considering it all started because of a theme park ride. Pirates of the Caribbean was originally a ride at Disneyland; then it inspired the movie!
Q: Are you planning a fifth Pirates movie?
Jerry: We are already working on another story. We at the beginning stages of that.
Ratha: You heard it here, folks!
Astrid Bergès-Frisbey plays the mysterious mermaid, Syrena. Here is what she has to say. . .
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your character and how she fits into the story?
Astrid: She’s a mermaid, and she spends a long time with the pirates because they need her. And she has a special relationship with Philip, who is played by Sam Claflin. I’d say she’s very interesting because she is a mix between a creature and a human.
Q: Did you spend a lot of the time in the water?
Astrid: Yes, most of the time! I don’t really have a physical tail because it’s CGI [computer generated]. So I have a special costume—a CGI costume—and it changes depending on what I have to do. It depends on whether I’m completely in the water or only half in the water.
Q: What was it like when you met Johnny Depp for the first time?
Astrid: I remember when I came for an audition and saw the costume room. There were all Johnny Depp’s costumes. The wigs, everything. And it was “Wow! That’s Captain Jack Sparrow!” And Johnny keeps in character when he’s on set as Jack. I’ve seen lots of Johnny’s films – since I was a teenager – so it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to work with him!
Finally, here is Sam Claflin who plays Philip, a young, idealistic missionary who gets caught up with the unholy alliance of Captain Jack and Barbossa to find The Fountain of Youth.
Q: How would you describe your character?
Sam: My character is a youthful missionary who is very naive to the ways of the world and how it works. Basically, through the journey to The Fountain of Youth his eyes are opened to reality.
Q: How does Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides compare with the first three films?
Sam: I like to think that this one is actually getting back to basics, in a sense. Philip believes that everything these pirates do is wrong. Then there’s the fear that these people could kill me at any moment!
Q: Why do you think they chose you for the role?
Sam: I have no idea why they chose me—I’d love to know myself! I know that there was at least one other boy [up for the role] and it came down to him and me. I’d say we looked quite different, so at the same time, it’s either one or the other.
Ratha: Wow – I wonder what made the final decision.
Sam: I actually had a really bad cold when I had my screen test. I was like, “Oh no, nobody is going to want a snotty Philip.” But somehow I managed to pull it off. And I’m blessed to be offered the part.
Q: When did you first meet Johnny Depp?
Sam: I met Johnny at the read-through in Hawaii. We had two weeks of prep before we started filming. We all sat in a room around tables and read the script aloud. For the first time, we all heard each other and saw each other.
Ratha: I’d love to have been a fly on the wall for that!
Sam: And so I met Johnny that day and we went out for dinner that evening. Johnny is a really lovely guy – he couldn’t be nicer. And obviously, he’s a fantastic actor, one of the very best. It’s a privilege to be working with him.
Are you guys planning to see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides? I’m hoping it is as good as the first one. That was hands down my favorite of the series. Let us know what you think in the Comments below!
— Ratha, Stacks Writer
Images and interviews courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures