Courtesy of Disney.
Orange County School of the Arts

Behind-the-scenes of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’

Five years after “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer Films return with the latest installment of the beloved franchise: “Dead Men Tell No Tales.”

The swashbuckling and perpetually drunk Jack Sparrow, played by Johnny Depp, is back to crash another young man and woman’s adventures across the seas. He’s accompanied by the return of Hector Barbossa, the ruthless pirate played by Geoffrey Rush.

“What’s great about [Geoffrey Rush] is that he thinks about the movie 24 hours a day,” explained producer Jerry Bruckheimer. “He dreams about it. So whenever you sit down with him or he walks by, he says, I have an idea! He’s always got something new for his character in the movie and it’s just so great to watch and work with him. Geoffrey Rush is constantly inhabiting that character.

Courtesy of Disney

The great performances given by Academy Award winner Rush are a result of his approach towards acting—a technique that explores the surprising elements of storytelling.

“As an audience member, I like to be thrilled by performance virtuosity,” Rush said. “Not in a show-off kind of way but in a way that the imagination of the performer you’re watching is gear-changing and thrilling you with characterization that constantly shifts, giving you revelatory moments in your imagination. I aspire towards that; I don’t know if I always make it.”

In this film, the audience is given a look into not only Barbossa’s backstory but also Jack Sparrow’s origins. Director Espen Sandberg called Jack the “spice of the story,” a character with no arc because as Joachim Rønning sees it, “He learns nothing.” Jack Sparrow’s backstory neatly ties in with the new antagonist in the film, Captain Salazar, played by Javier Bardem (whose wife Penelope Cruz, star of the last “Pirates” film, convinced him to take the part).

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Bardem’s villain is a high-ranking officer of the Spanish Royal Navy, dead set on the extinction pirates. The first Spanish actor to be nominated for and win an Academy Award, Bardem praised the film’s diversity and inclusion.

“What I found on set was a huge amount of respect. It’s very easy to respect the stars, but I’m always very aware of how they respect the crew members,” said Bardem. “And everyone was very well taken care of. Everyone mattered. That’s why that translated into the screen because they do it in reality.”

Bardem along with the two young newbies were given a warm welcome into the family. Similar to the original “Pirates” film, “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” this movie stars a young man, Henry (played by Brenton Thwaites) and a young lady, Carissa Smyth (played by Kaya Scodelario). Thanks to their chemistry, two newcomers had the freedom to experiment with their characters through trusting in each other completely.

“What I love about Kaya is that she wasn’t afraid to share ideas,” observed Thwaites. “The confidence to say something and the conviction and fearlessness saves a lot of time. We get to the meat of the scene and what’s happening. It was nice to work like that.”

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Their characters experience their own revelations in the movie—throughout the adventure, their perspectives shift. In his own life, Thwaites has experienced multiple revelations about the world of filmmaking.

“Making a sausage is very different from how it tastes,” he reflected. “Filmmaking is extremely hard work. It requires everything from you. Sometimes you’re working in the middle of muddy fields with no trailer and no coat on projects that may not be loved. There are such risks. You’re away from your family, your home, everything. As a kid you want to be part of the movies because you love watching the movies. With filmmakers and actors and people in this industry, there’s a certain fire you need to have to survive in this business, and that kind of shocked me.”

However, what grounds the “Giver” star and the “Maze Runner” actress is the people they surround themselves with.

“For me personally, the thing that I hold on to the dearest are my friends and family who aren’t from this world,” said Scodelario. “They have nothing to do with movies. They don’t care. I can just go to the pub with them and talk about the guys they’re dating and the dramas on the ‘Bachelor.’ That really grounds me and puts all of this into context.”

And for those who do have the fire for storytelling? Bruckheimer gave advice for young people who want to enter the business.

“Stay in school. Get an education. Read whatever you possibly can about what you want to do; you want to produce, direct, act—just be knowledgeable about that material,” said Bruckheimer. “Take any job you can to get into it. I started in the mailroom. A lot of people want to start out as an associate producer but it doesn’t work that way. You have to understand what everybody does.”

And, he adds, take risks. Without the giant leap of faith that Disney took back in the early 2000’s, the world would be missing out on iconic and ubiquitous Jack Sparrow gifs.

“The shocker of all this is that you make a movie about a theme park ride,” said Bruckheimer, recalling the negative press surrounding the initial announcement of the first “Pirates” movie. “When the media walked in and saw this movie, they couldn’t believe what they saw—a character who’s so fresh and interesting. You have to hand it to Disney to let us go ahead and create this character.”

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” sails into theaters May 26.

Courtesy of Cassandra Hsiao.
Courtesy of Cassandra Hsiao.
Courtesy of Cassandra Hsiao.