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Johnny Depp is having too much fun playing pirate to give up on Captain Jack Sparrow anytime soon

Johnny Depp is having too much fun playing pirate to give up on Captain Jack Sparrow anytime soon

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Are you actively looking for a way to tick off producer Jerry Bruckheimer? Then suggest to him that the last two installments of Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" film franchise were too long. Or worse than that, criticize "Dead Man's Chest" & "At World's End" for being unfocused. For having storylines that were far too complicated & confusing.

At a Beverly Hills press conference yesterday for "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," Bruckheimer was quick to defend "Dead Man's Chest" and "At World's End" to members of the media. Suggesting that - while the critics may have had some issues with those two motion pictures -- audiences worldwide were still incredibly enthusiastic about the stories that those parts of the "Pirates" trilogy told.

 "You know, 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," Bruckerheimer explained. "So ("Dead Man's Chest" and "At World's End") 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."


Jerry Bruckheimer (R) with Johnny Depp on the set of "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger
Tides." Photo by Peter Mountain. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Which isn't to say that - when it came time to make "On Stranger Tides" - that Bruckheimer and his team didn't take full advantage of being able to hit the reset button on Disney's "Pirates" film series.

"We started fresh. We finished our (original "Pirates of the Caribbean" film) trilogy and we paid off all (of those) characters. So we started (off "On Stranger Tides" by) introducing new characters," Bruckheimer continued. "And it (made) it much easier to have not as long a movie because you have less characters and less plotlines to deal with (this time around)."

Of course, what was kind of interesting about the development of "On Stranger Tides" was that this film was something of a hybrid. In that it took some of the characters & story threads from the initial "Pirates" trilogy and then blended them in with places & plot points that Tim Powers developed for his 1987 historical fantasy novel.


Copyright 1987 Ace Books. All rights reserved

"Buying (that) book gave us a starting place, gave us a lot of ideas to work on," Jerry admitted.  "Screenplays are the hardest things to try and get right. They look so simple when they work, but you really destroy your brain cells trying to get them there. So we took our time. We got it right. Johnny was really instrumental in working on the script process with us and actually created Sam (Clafin)'s character, (missionary Phillip Swift).

In fact, to hear the panelists from yesterday's press conference talk, Johnny Depp played a huge part in the shaping of "On Stranger Tides" 's screenplay. Johnny supposedly suggested  bringing a Spanish element into the story. Not to mention insisting that Geoffrey Rush's Barbossa character be brought back and then be given a sizable role to play in these proceedings.

"I have to thank Johnny," Rush said in yesterday's press conference. "Because -- in the development of the screenplay -- he said 'We must keep Barbossa / Sparrow as an old married couple, constantly bickering.' Because it goes back to the first film, the ownership of the Pearl is at the heart of that conflict. And 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 just talking about a boat."


Photo by Peter Mountain. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Geoffrey was also quick to praise Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio (i.e. the screenwriters for all four of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films) for always finding inventive new ways to make Captain Barbossa incredibly fun to portray.

"(Ted and Terry) keep shape-shifting the character. Which is quite good," Rush enthused. "You know, I started out as the outright villain, spat out from the mouth of Hell. And then in 2 and 3 he became more of a diplomat. And I think now that he's really landed on his feet (SPOILER) 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 work with. Which was a lot of fun."

But that said, having a great screenplay is just the starting point when it comes to creating a summer tentpole film like "On Stranger Tides." As Bruckheimer explained, logistics play a key role in a project of this size as well.


Rob Marshall (standing, far right) confers with Sam Clafin (L) and Ian McShane (center)
at yesterday's "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" press conference.
Photo by Angela Ragno

"You also have to find the cast availability too. Johnny's busy and a lot of our other cast members were busy too. We were very lucky when we finally found a time when they were all available together, " Jerry said.  "And then finding Rob (Marshall) ... it was a real coup to get him. We're so fortunate that he agreed to do this ... He's an ultimate master of what he does."

Johnny Depp was also quick to praise Rob Marshall. Who - following in the footsteps of Gore Verbinksi (i.e. the director of the first three "Pirates of the Caribbean" films ) - had quite an act to follow. But - even so - Marshall leaped right in and made a motion picture that, while reminiscent of the "Pirates" pictures that had proceeded it - was still uniquely its own.

"Some filmmakers go into a film and they've already got it shot and cut in their head. I didn't get that feeling from Rob. What I got from Rob was that he saw (the story of "On Stranger Tides") as music in a weird way. Rhythmic, with its own unique tempo, " Depp explained. "His sense of comedic timing is impeccable. He'd have us shave an eighth of a millisecond, a sliver off of a beat and it would change the whole dynamic of a scene."


Johnny Depp is flanked by his two "On Stranger Tides" co-stars, Astrid Bergés-Frisbey (L)
and Penelope Cruz (R) at yesterday's press conference. Photo by Angela Ragno

Speaking of Mr. Depp ... There was a story in the Hollywood Reporter earlier this week that - while Jerry Bruckheimer has allegedly already received Terry Rossio's first draft of "Pirates of the Caribbean 5" - Johnny supposedly wasn't all that eager to buckle on his swash again anytime soon.

Here's the quote from Depp that had everyone buzzing at yesterday's "On Stranger Tides" press conference:

 "It's not something where I would say, 'Let's shoot ("Pirates 5") next month to get it out by Christmas 2012.' We should hold off for a bit. (These films) should be special, just like they are special to me."


Photo by Peter Mountain. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

So what is exactly going on with "Pirates of the Caribbean 5" ? Well, Bruckheimer did admit that he had recently received Rossio's screenplay for this proposed production.

"But you know, it took us a while to get (the script for "On Stranger Tides") to a place where we were all comfortable with it. We just got a very rough first draft in (for "Pirates 5'). And it'll take some time (to get that screenplay in shape as well)," Jerry continued. "Hopefully we can bring ("Pirates 5")  to you quicker than we did the last . We hope that happens. But it's going to depend on getting a great piece of entertainment that everybody will enjoy. That's what it's all about. It's about quality."

So what did Johnny Depp have to say about all this? He never actually addressed that Hollywood Reporter story during yesterday's press conference. But based on some of the comments that he made over the course of the afternoon, it sounded like Johnny is still having so much fun playing Captain Jack Sparrow that he could go on playing this character for decades yet.


Photo by Peter Mountain. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"Yeah. (In the future), I think they could wheel me in. Might have my dreads get tangled in the wheels of my chair," Depp laughed. "(With a ) character like Captain Jack, you feel like it could just continue. The possibilities are endless. So you feel (that) -- with this character -- that you're never really done."

Or should I say that - when it comes to Johnny Depp - Captain Jack Sparrow isn't quite done with him yet?

"With every character that you play, there's a part of you goes into them in terms of the ingredients of making this whatever 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 while I was getting my kids ready for school. I had to shoo him away," Johnny concluded.


Photo by Peter Mountain. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Well, here's hoping that Depp doesn't shoo Sparrow away for good anytime soon. At least until "Pirates 5" is in the can.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" opens in theaters nationwide on May 20th.

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