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Feature: Pirates of the Caribbean

Shiver Me Timbers!

Still shivering me timbers…

Just what the hell is Johnny Depp doing in a Jerry Bruckheimer movie? We hunt down the high-seas pirate and demand answers…!

Just when it had looked like the pirate movie had been scuppered, along swaggers Johnny Depp to prove the cynics wrong. Not only has the independently-minded star of such diverse affairs as Cry Baby and Edward Scissorhands and From Hell hoisted the Jolly Roger over the Hollywood box-office again with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, he’s done it with great style and wit.

The way Depp (playing the swash-buckling but often silly Captain Jack Sparrow opposite Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush) tells it, such adventures were just waiting for the right time to be unleashed once again upon the high seas of cinema.

“The pirate movie got a bum rap for a number of years for some reason,” says Depp who lists vintage films like Treasure Island, Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk among examples of the genre that made him excited. “Maybe the more recent ones were no good, that’s why they didn’t work?”

When he got the call to head a movie inspired by the Disney theme ride ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ he grabbed the chance – but there was one condition. If he starred in the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced movie, he would only do so as long as he was allowed to portray the pirate skipper in the way that appealed to him.

This meant having his teeth capped to give him a dazzling set of gold molars, wearing eye make-up and having a hairstyle that’s like a combination of Rasta dreads and a member of Guns ’n’ Roses. He says that much of his inspiration for his pirate performance was the legendary Rolling Stone, Keith Richards.

“Pirates are like the rock ’n’ roll stars of the 18th Century and I thought the greatest rock star was Keith Richards. He is the quintessential rock star who ever breathed. He is also a kind of pirate. So I took that part of Keith.

“When I looked at Pirates I thought it would be very easy to do the swashbuckling type of thing and the classic kind of pirate. But it seemed to me that more than just the pillaging, plundering kind of pirate that another important element was the myth, the legend. Kind of like a rock ’n’ roll star. So I thought that Jack Sparrow would be a guy who would want to propagate the myth.”

by John Millar

Get the full interview in
Film Review (Aug)

Photo © Buena Vista
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Film Review (Aug), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Aug)
#634, August 2003
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