Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the fifth in the franchise, opens this Friday, May 26th 2017. It’s been seven years since the last film in the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – this one was worth the wait.
Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow, this time down on his luck and fighting to survive. He will have to fight even harder when Captain Salazar, (Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men) escapes from the Devil’s Triangle, with one goal in mind – killing Jack. He recruits the help of Jack’s biggest rival, Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech).
Geoffrey Rush and Javier Bardem spoke with us about the new movie at the press day for the film.

What did you think the first time you saw what Johnny was doing with Captain Jack Sparrow on The Curse of the Black Pearl?

Pirates of the Caribbean 5 - Geoffrey Rush
Pirates of the Caribbean 5 – Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) ©2017 Disney Enterprises

Geoffrey: When Johnny and I met he blew me away. I was a big fan of his. I’d never met him before. We met about 20 days before shooting. We were in pre-production with costume fittings and make-up tests.

He said, ‘We can’t do stereotypes here. We’ve got to create characters that are really going to surprise people.’ He started talking about Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, and I went, ‘That’s a good way of thinking of it.’

Johnny said, ‘What do (pirates) do? They drink a lot of rum, because the water is terrible. And they’re in the sun all the time. Their brains must be fried. They spend half their time on land, and half their time on a boat.’ He started toying with the idea that Jack Sparrow never gets his land legs or his sea legs right.

For a guy that made Edward Scissorhands and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, he was going into what became a tent pole, blockbuster summer release with complete irreverent, imaginative actor (ideas). Because that’s the kind of guy he is.

People were shocked when the first dailies came back. They were like, ‘Where is the Errol Flynn quality we were looking for?’ Bless him. He got an Oscar nomination for this.

Javier, you worked with Johnny Depp in 2000 in the movie Before Night Falls

Pirates of the Caribbean 5 - Javier Bardem
Pirates of the Caribbean 5 – Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) ©2017 Disney Enterprises

Javier: He looks exactly the same as he did 17 years ago. I was like, ‘Oh man, what happened. I’ve aged and he hasn’t?’

This time you were coming into his franchise, how was it working with him now?

Javier: He was exactly the same. Back in the day, 1999, he was a gentle guy, nice, caring, generous actor who flew from the States to Vera Cruz, Mexico, to help us. He played two roles. I was a little star struck when he came to the set. In one scene we had a kiss. He didn’t write me back! (he laughs) Then he kissed my wife (Penelope Cruz) in Pirates 4, so it’s in the family now.

When I worked with him in this one, I was just amazed by how skilled he is as a clown. He becomes this character so easily.

The first time we did a scene they had to cut the take because I was laughing. He would do and say anything he wanted and he was brilliant. He likes to play, but he won’t ever let you down. That’s my experience with him.

Pirates of the Caribbean 5 - Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Depp
Pirates of the Caribbean 5 – Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) ©2017 Disney Enterprises

Geoffrey, after all these movies, do you have a shorthand with Johnny when you work now?

Geoffrey: We do. Johnny’s quite a shy guy. He likes his solitude. In the first few films we shot, he would always live on a boat. It’s a big studio film and I don’t think he’d been used to that kind of elevation. He thought, ‘I’m just going to enjoy the experience of this and have the chance to live at sea.’ I liked all of that. He does have a very absurdist send of humor.

In Dead Men Tell No Tales is, (our characters) finally meet where he has been shanghaied into this wedding. He’s always trapped somewhere and he’s got to get out of it. I manage to come in and save him.

We always play around with what’s our opening dialogue meeting up years later? I said, ‘Ah Jack, I knew we’d meet up again.’ And the first thing he said, which was an adlib on the day, ‘Did you bring me a present?’ That’s pure Johnny.

Pirates of the Caribbean 5 - Javier Bardem
Pirates of the Caribbean 5 – Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) ©2017 Disney Enterprises

The way Captain Salazar’s hair waves, like it’s underwater, is very clever – what did you think of it?

Javier: I didn’t know how it was going to look, and the first time I saw it on screen I was really pleased and grateful for the people who did it, because it really helps the performance.

Did you have to sit in a makeup chair for hours, or was it all CGI?

Javier: It was me without sunscreen (he laughs). There were 3 hours of makeup involved, but I know women that take longer to put their makeup on!

The first thing that they do is give you a coffee, they’re nice, it’s 5 a.m., it’s cold; it’s Australia. You know you have a 14 hour day ahead of you. The second thing they do is put glue all over your face with a brush. Then they say, ‘Now don’t talk, eat or drink for the next 3 hours.’ And then you start to get crazy.

Pirates of the Caribbean 5 - Geoffrey Rush
Pirates of the Caribbean 5 – Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) ©2017 Disney Enterprises

The compass in the movie points to anything that a person desires. If you had that in real life, what do you think it would point to?

Geoffrey: I don’t know, hopefully longevity of a career. [That said] it is beautifully used (in the film). That defines Jack Sparrow. It’s like the book The Dice Man, where you throw the dice to find out how random your life can be. Jack is (on) a freewheeling, existential road trip. He just goes wherever the compass says to go; whereas Barbossa is more of a manipulative control freak.

Captain Salazar just wants to become human again. Is there something in your life that you want as much?

Javier: I would love to become human again (he laughs). My mom tells me that I was kind of human at three years old, but then something happened. I don’t know what. Oh, I became an actor!

The only thing I want the most is love and peace. There is too much pain in this world. That’s also a reason why you’re a father and you want to make a movie that entertains and brings joy and laughter. I think this is a good film, the end of the movie is spectacular.

Pirates of the Caribbean 5 - Javier Bardem
Pirates of the Caribbean 5 – Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) ©2017 Disney Enterprises

Pirates of the Caribbean 5 Soundbytes

I asked Geoffrey how his character got the name Hector – click here for his replay
Javier was asked his memory of seeing the first movie in the franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.